How to Do the Dumbbell Biceps Curl

9 of 12 in Series: The Essentials of Weight Training

The dumbbell biceps curl exercise targets your biceps, the muscles you rely on to hold heavy objects and look buff in sleeveless shirts. Use caution if you have lower-back or elbow problems.

Performing biceps curls

Follow these steps to perform this exercise:

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet as wide apart as your hips.

  2. Let your arms hang down at your sides with your palms forward.

  3. Pull your abdominals in, stand tall, and keep your knees slightly bent.

  4. Curl both arms upward until they’re in front of your shoulders.

  5. Slowly lower the dumbbells back down.

    Keep your elbows close to your body while performing the dumbbell biceps curl. [Credit: Photograph
    Credit: Photograph by Sunstreak Productions, Inc.
    Keep your elbows close to your body while performing the dumbbell biceps curl.

Tips for doing biceps curls

Keep these tips in mind as you perform this exercise:

  • Keep your knees slightly bent and your posture tall. Don’t lean back or rock your body forward to help lift the weight.

  • Keep your elbows as close to your body as you can without supporting your elbows on the sides of your stomach for leverage.

  • Don’t rest when you reach the top or bottom of the exercise; instead, keep a constant tension on the biceps.

  • Lower the weight back to the starting position slowly and with control.

Gym alternative: Arm-curl machine

Use the arm-curl machine at your gym as an alternative to using dumbbells for this exercise. Follow these steps to use the arm-curl machine:

  1. Adjust the seat so that when you sit down and extend your arms straight out, they’re level with your shoulders, and your elbows are lined up with the moving hinge or pulley of the machine.

  2. Sit down and grasp a handle in each hand with your palms facing up.

  3. Bend your elbows and pull the handles until they’re just above your shoulders.

  4. Slowly lower the handles back down.

    The arm-curl machine is a gym alternative to the dumbbell biceps curl. [Credit: Photograph by Sunst
    Credit: Photograph by Sunstreak Productions, Inc.
    The arm-curl machine is a gym alternative to the dumbbell biceps curl.
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