Seated Dumbbell Curl

Seated Dumbbell Curls (How To, Muscles Worked, Benefits)

Seated Dumbbell Curls are a great finisher at the end of a tough workout. Of course, almost any biceps exercise is a great finisher at the end of a workout.

In this guide, I’m going to teach you how to do Seated Dumbbell Curls, what muscle groups they work and a few alternatives in case you need them.

How To Do Seated Dumbbell Curls

Equipment Needed

  • Flat Bench (although almost any kind of chair or box that you can sit on will work)
  • Dumbbells


  • Start in a seated position on the edge of a bench, knees bent with feet flat on the ground about hip-width apart.
  • Hold one dumbbell in each hand and sit tall with good posture. (Raising an adjustable bench to 90 degrees can help with this)
  • You can start with palms facing forward or facing in toward the body.
  • Now, curl both dumbbells up to shoulder level by flexing the biceps hard. Palms should finish up, facing the shoulder.
  • Squeeze the biceps at the top of the rep and then lower back down to the starting position.

Coaching Points

The biggest mistake I see with Seated Dumbbell Curls is swinging the dumbbells at the bottom of the rep. Lower the weights down under control and do not swing them at the bottom.

The other mistake I see usually comes when an athlete is trying to use too much weight. Instead of keeping the elbow, they allow the elbow to drift back which turns the movement into more of a row than a curl.

How Many Reps?

Seated Dumbbell Curls are a supplemental strength exercise. Recommended rep range is 2 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps.

Muscles Worked

Biceps Muscle 3D Body

Seated Dumbbell Curls work the biceps of the upper arms and slightly work the front delt and forearms.

More specifically, Seated Dumbbell Curls involve the Biceps Brachii, Brachialis and Brachioradialis and to a lesser extent the anterior part of the Deltoideus.

Seated Dumbbell Curls Variations

Looking to shake up your workout a bit? Here are a couple of Seated Dumbbell Curl variations.

Seated Dumbbell Hammer Curls

Hammer Curls

Seated DB Hammer Curls are a simple, but effective Seated Dumbbell Curl variation. Instead of turning the palms up, keep the palms turned in for the entire movement.

Hammer Curls focus on the Brachioradialis more than any other biceps exercise.

Dumbbell Curls

Another variation for seated curls is to just not sit. With Dumbbell Curls, everything stays the same except they are performed standing up instead of in a seated position.

Seated Dumbbell Curls Alternatives

If you can’t do Seated Dumbbell Curls, for whatever reason, here are a couple of alternatives.

Barbell Curl

Barbell Curl

If you don’t have dumbbells, don’t worry, Barbell Curls are a perfect (some would even say better) alternative to their dumbbell cousin.

Stand tall, grip the bar shoulder-width apart, keep elbows tucked and curl the bar up to shoulder level. Slowly lower back to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of reps.

Band Curls

If Dumbbell Curls bother your wrist or elbow, you may be able to give Band Curls a try.

Stand on one end of a resistance band and grab the other end with both hands. With Band Curls, you can use more of a neutral grip by keeping your palms facing each other.

Sometimes this type of grip (also similar to the grip used in hammer curls) can be less stressful on the wrist and/or elbow.

More Links and Info

Need a training program? The Horton Barbell Shop contains a wide variety of programs from Sports Performance Programs to Beach Ready Programs. So, whether you’re looking to improve in your sport, just want to look good at the beach or anything in between – we have a program for you!

Looking for more Biceps and Triceps exercises to help you ‘fill the sleeves’? Check out the Arm Farm section of the Exercise Library.

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