How To Do Manual Bicep Curls

Manual Bicep Curls (How To, Muscles Worked, Benefits)

Manual Biceps Curls are one of the cruelest and most magnificent curl movements ever invented. Manual Curls have you team up with a partner who will give you resistance until you basically come to the brink of complete failure.

Sound awesome? Of course it does.

In this guide, I’m going to teach you how to do Manual Bicep Curls including important coaching tips and benefits.

How To Do Manual Bicep Curls

Equipment Needed

  • Thick, Solid Broomstick*
  • Towel

Muscles Worked

  • Biceps Brachii
  • Brachialis
  • Brachioradialis
  • Forearm Flexors

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Kneel beside a bench, place your elbows on the bench and grab a broomstick with an underhand grip.
  • Have a partner sit on the opposite side of the bench and wrap a towel around the broomstick.
  • Extend your arms to what would be the bottom of a bicep curl.
  • Now, curl up and have your partner apply resistance by pulling on the towel.
  • Once you get to the top of the rep, your partner should pull you back down to the starting position.
  • However, now you should apply resistance and not allow your partner to pull you back to the start.
  • Continue this process until all reps are completed.

Coaching Points

*A solid, sturdy broomstick works best here although you can use other options. For example, a piece of PVC pipe if it is thick enough and strong enough can work as well. Whatever you choose, make sure it will not break under tension. If whatever you are using to curl with should snap it could lead to a serious injury.

Do not overextend at the bottom of the rep. You should always keep a bend in the elbow so as to not put the elbow in a compromised position.

If done correctly, you shouldn’t need more than 5 reps to completely exhaust the biceps.


Manual Bicep Curls are the ultimate in working a muscle to complete failure. Working to failure can help to recruit new muscle fibers, but is a technique that should be used sparingly as it is extremely stressful to the body and takes longer to recover from.

Having said that, used on occasion, Manual Curls can add some great variety to your workout program in addition to improving both size and strength.

Manual Bicep Curl Alternatives

Looking for an alternative to Manual Bicep Curls? Here are a few exercises you may be able to use as a substitution.


21s is a similar biceps curl movement that involves partial movements and a ton of time under tension.

Use a barbell (or EZ curl bar) in place of dumbbells and start by curling halfway up 7 times. Now bring the bar to the shoulders and lower it halfway down 7 times. Finally, perform 7 full reps – all the way up and down.

Seated Alternating Dumbbell Curls

Seated Dumbbell Curl
Turn a Hammer Curl into a Regular Curl by simply turning the palm up as you curl.

Want something a little more… simple?

Ditch all the crazy partial reps and partner resistance, sit down and do Seated Alternating Dumbbell Curls.

Sit at the edge of a bench and curl one arm at a time. By focusing on one arm at a time and because of the decreased overall time and tension, you’ll be able to use more weight and focus more on building pure strength.

More Links and Info

Want more biceps and triceps exercises? Check out the Arm Farm section of our Exercise Library. There you’ll find dozens of movements, all with complete detailed instructions.

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