To Top

Best Arm Flexors: How do I decide which curl exercise to do?

www.ironmanmagazine.comQ: Should I do dumbbell curls, barbell curls, EZ-curl-bar curls, spider curls, hammer curls, cable curls, incline curls, concentration curls or preacher curls?

A: All of those work the arm flexors—which include the biceps. When comparing the same degree of effort and wrist supination, arm flexion exercises are similarly effective; however, the EZ-curl bar and hammer curl don’t permit full supination of the wrists and don’t work the biceps as well as the others.

Considering how small the biceps is, it’s amazing how so much attention is given to it, and how many exercise variations there are to work it. The calf is a far larger muscle, as are the hamstrings and the spinal erectors, but each of those areas receives much less attention than the small biceps. Don’t neglect your biceps, of course, but don’t give exaggerated attention to them or neglect any of the bigger muscles. (I see so many guys give more attention to a selection of curls than to squats, deadlifts and chipups combined.)

Some curls are more risky than others. Generally, I recommend dumbbell curls rather than barbell curls—because dumbbells enable you to find the best wrist positioning for comfort—curls that permit full wrist supination and curls that don’t require a preacher bench.

If you train it properly—with correct technique, effort and a gradual increase in poundage—a single biceps exercise will do the job. Change the particular exercise when you change your program, but stick with each for long enough to make progress on it.

Always remember that if you want to build substantially bigger biceps, you need to build a substantially bigger physique overall; and that’s where hard work on squats, deadlifts, chinups and benches—or comparable exercises—is required.

—Stuart McRobert


Editor’s note: Stuart McRobert’s first byline in IRON MAN appeared in 1981. He’s the author of the new 638-page opus on bodybuilding Build Muscle, Lose Fat, Look Great, available from Home Gym Warehouse (800) 447-0008 or

Instantized Creatine- Gains In Bulk

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Arms

  • The Secret to Building Monster-Sized Forearms

    Who doesn’t want bigger arms? All men do. After all, nothing speaks more about strength and masculinity than arms that look...

    ironashleyNovember 7, 2019
  • How To Build Monster-Sized Forearms

    Q: One of my goals is to build monster-sized forearms because I almost always wear polo shirts that stop at my...

    Cindy MamAugust 6, 2018
  • Massive Triceps SuperSet

    If you want truly massive arms, you must prioritize your triceps training. After all, the triceps comprise two-thirds of the mass...

    Cindy MamJuly 26, 2018
  • Tips: On How To Get Two Inches On Your Arm In 12 Weeks

    Training the arms can be broken primarily into triceps training and biceps training. We’ll start with the triceps because they are...

    Cindy MamJune 28, 2018
  • Getting Bigger Arms

    Q: I’d like to try a training cycle to bring up my arms, which are lagging behind my other bodyparts. I’ve...

    Cindy MamMay 17, 2018
  • Work Your Arms – 12 Weeks Triceps

    Training the arms can be broken primarily into triceps training and biceps training. We’ll start with the triceps because they are...

    Cindy MamMay 7, 2018
  • Massive Gains From Head To Toe

    A total body overload plan for virtually guaranteed hypertrophy. By Sarah L. Chadwell, NASM-CPT   Broscience states that lifting heavy junk...

    Sharon OrtigasOctober 13, 2017
  • Pre-Exhaust Training

    Improve your form, keep your body balanced and continue progressing. By Heather Neff, CPT   Have you tried pre-exhaust training? Though...

    Sharon OrtigasOctober 5, 2017
  • Better Off Deadlifting

    The deadlift has stood the test of time because it works all of your muscles. By Sarah Chadwell, NASM CPT  ...

    Sharon OrtigasOctober 2, 2017