Craving Beautiful Biceps? You MUST Try Reverse Curls

Sculpting a strong, well-defined upper body is a vital part of overall fitness. In fact, the benefits of improving your upper body strength extend beyond the gym.

Poke fun all you want, but those gym rats who spend serious time sculpting biceps and triceps — not to mention a few other minor muscle groups — have better mental and physical health overall than those who focus on cardio only.

Take a look at a few of the many benefits to be gained from a well-defined, strong upper body.

Healthy Cardiovascular System

It's a fact that regular strength training exercises like weightlifting, bicep and tricep curls, and reverse curls significantly and positively impact your cardiovascular system. A strong and healthy heart can ward off artery damage and keep weight under control. This leads to a longer, healthier life.

An increase in circulation and blood flow helps raise oxygen levels in the body, which keeps arteries and veins flowing free from obstructions. Adding upper body exercise to your home workout will help to protect your heart and cardiovascular system. cardiovascular stystem

Faster Run Times

Runners, rejoice. Working your arms as well as your legs helps boost both speed and endurance when running. There is a strong, clear connection between arm strength and size as it relates to running efficiency and performance. Solid shoulders and upper arms help to generate forward momentum by adding thrust to catapult a runner forward. Toned arms swing quickly and more efficiently than untoned arms, helping to bolster step frequency.

Enhanced Workouts

Strength training can boost many types of workouts. Strong shoulders are needed for swimming. Well-toned arms help propel your body through the water, enhancing speed and performance.

A strong upper body makes challenging yoga positions more functional and manageable. It also reduces injuries resulting from improper posture or poor weight distribution across muscles and joints. 

Upper arm strength helps increase bone density, which is a critical factor in gracefully aging. In placing a moderate amount of stress on your bones and joints through weightlifting, your bones quickly adapt to this stress by strengthening themselves from the inside. This protects you from conditions such as osteoporosis and brittle bone disease. 

The Craze Is Real

Despite what may seem like an unrealistic obsession to build upper arms to new and inflated heights, there is solid science behind weightlifting and performing the correct sequence of exercises to ensure that muscle groups work well together to add to physical potential. However, there is one neglected group of muscles not getting the attention it deserves — the biceps.

The reverse curl is the answer to a well-balanced set of arms that can provide you with greater strength, ease of movement, and flexibility. Read on for an in-depth look at the reverse curl to see how incorporating it into an upper-body workout can improve the look and function in all your arm muscles.

Reverse Curls

While it's true that big biceps look impressive, they are nothing without the supportive framework of connective tissue and smaller muscle groups surrounding and lifting them up in all their glory. The reverse curl works smaller muscle groups in your wrists and forearms to enhance the look and performance of your bicep.

Muscles involved in the reverse curl exercise include the following:

Biceps Brachii

The biceps brachii is a fancy term for the muscle most commonly referred to as the bicep. This biaxial muscle crosses and affects the shoulder and the elbow. The bicep muscle has two originating points near the shoulder joint and an insertion point along your forearm.

Using this muscle allows for more efficient control of the shoulder and elbow, as well as rotation of the forearm. how biceps work


The brachioradialis is a primary forearm muscle. A well-developed brachioradialis will help push out your defined bicep muscle, making it appear larger since it is propped up from underneath. The brachioradialis works in combination with the biceps brachii to allow the elbow to bend. It also doubles as a forearm flexor.


The brachialis muscle is located just beneath the biceps brachii. It is another elbow flexing assistant that is particularly active at the beginning of any curling movement. Much like the brachioradialis, it can push your bicep up to add to arm size and shape. 

When effectively worked, all three of these muscles form a formidable source of size and strength that adds to overall upper body efficiency. As with any weight-bearing exercise, it is necessary to correctly perform the reverse curl to reduce the possibility of injuries and tears that can affect the arm muscles.

Performing Reverse Curls

At first glance, reverse curls are a pretty straightforward exercise to perform. However, injuries to the forearms and wrists can — and will!– occur from improper form and incorrect weight selection.

Following this simple outline for correct performance will ensure that those bigger biceps and stronger arms are more than just a pipe dream.


Hold your barbell with an overhand grip, hands hip-width apart. Place thumbs on top of the bar to prevent trying to use them as a crutch. The placement of the thumbs on top of the bar is known as a "false grip," ensuring that the right set of muscles is being worked on in the exercise.

Stand with feet firmly planted about shoulder-width apart, with knees slightly bent for balance. Rest your barbell across the front of your thighs, with arms hanging straight down. Make sure you stand straight with your abs tucked in before performing any pronated grip lift with the arms.


Without leaning forward or jerking, bend your arms upward, curling the bar all the way to your shoulders. Slowly and smoothly extend your arms downward and repeat as needed. At the very top of your movement, flex your wrists slightly to maximize the activation of the forearm muscles.


Proper breathwork is an essential part of any weight-training protocol. When your system is flooded with oxygen from efficient breathwork, the magic begins. Blood and muscle cells use vital oxygen for cellular processes that make movement purposeful and productive.

Focus on breathing in as you lower weights to a resting position against the thighs. Breathe out as you lift weights to a contracted position, working the forearms and wrists. man doing reverse curl

Benefits of Reverse Curls

Reverse curls are an integral part of any arm strength workout. Expect to see these benefits once they are a regular part of your workout routine.


Reverse curls have the unique ability to simultaneously work both the biceps and the forearms. This saves you time in the gym as you make the efficiency of this compound movement work for you. 

Stronger Grip

Grip strength is a significant part of a successful strength training program. Exercises such as rows, deadlifts, and pull-ups can put enormous strain on your hands and wrists. If your grip fails, your attempts at those last few repetitions may come to a screeching halt.

Not to mention the pain from injury if your grip gives out!

Working on your grip with reverse curls helps to make workouts more effective and efficient, allowing you to lift heavier weights and achieve more with your efforts.

Less Elbow Pain 

Muscle imbalances between forearm extensors and flexors can lead to sharp, unpleasant elbow pain. With the reverse curl, you're able to strengthen and correct imbalances between these muscle groups, helping to eliminate troublesome pain and inflammation common in this joint. 

Amazing-Looking Arms

If you want well-defined biceps and muscular forearms, reverse curls are a necessity for your workouts. This powerhouse move will not only add strength and efficiency to your movement, but will provide you with arms that look great in almost anything.

Greater Forearm Strength

Perhaps the most significant benefit of the reverse curl is greater forearm strength. Strength in the lower part of your arms adds to the efficiency and function of larger muscle groups, making it easier to work, play, and train.

Tips For Training Efficiency 

Get the most from your reverse curl session with these helpful tips and tricks collected from experienced trainers.

Use a False Grip

While some scream for the use of the thumb to help stabilize a bar or dumbbell, most seasoned trainers opt for a thumbless alternative. According to Cathe Friederich, trainer and fitness contributor to FitTV, "The change in grip is the key to getting additional benefits from the reverse curl exercise."

Though you'll be using lighter weights without the use of your thumbs, your efforts will be more rewarding because the secondary muscles in your forearms will have to work harder to lift and lower the weight.

Stabilize With a Wall

If you're tempted to get extra torque by throwing lifting efforts into your back and legs, find a wall and stabilize your body while you isolate the lifting movement with your arms. It will be nearly impossible to cheat with arms at your sides and your back against a wall. 

Use Chalk if Needed

Sweaty palms and fingers could cause serious injury — particularly if you're also pushing the limit with weights. Apply powdered or liquid chalk to the palms and fingers before a reverse curl set, especially if you leave thumbs out of the equation.

If you don't have chalk available, wipe your hands clean and dry them with a towel before and after each set.

Superset and Supplement with Regular Curls

If you've got extra time in the gym, why not go for the gusto? Supplement those reverse curls and end with a set with a bicep curl or hammer curls.

Do as many reverse curls as possible. When you feel you are reaching failure, change to an underhand, palms-up grip and crank out as many as you can from those guns.

Variations of the Reverse Curl

If standard reverse curls are too tedious or even too difficult for you, consider these variations of the exercise that will yield many of the same benefits. 

Thick Bar Reverse Curls

If you're up for a challenge, try thick bar reverse curls. Thick bars are harder to grip than standard bars and stop you from overlapping fingers. If you don't have access to a thick bar, try wrapping a towel around a standard bar or purchasing thick clip-on grip handles to take your workout to the next level.

Dumbbell Reverse Curls

Dumbbells work as efficiently as bars for reverse curls. As you perform your sets, you can curl together or alternate your arms for an interesting variation to your workout. man holding weight

EZ Bar Reverse Curls

If a standard bar is too difficult to hang onto, use the EZ curl bar to add stability to your reverse curls. An EZ bar has a zigzag pattern that allows you to place your hands in a semi-pronated grip, taking extra stress off your wrists and elbows.

Cable Curls

Make sure not to limit yourself to free weights or a simple bar for your workout. Attach a standard or EZ bar to a low cable and try reverse curls in a whole new way. Using a cable ensures no decrease in muscle tension at the top of your rep, so your wrists get a little extra oomph and can take advantage of the variation.

Preacher Reverse Curls

Using a preacher bench will immobilize your upper arms so you can't use other muscles to lift. Restricted movement is much harder, making it more efficient and effective. If you find yourself relying on your legs or additional momentum when trying to perform reverse curls, throwing a preacher bench into the mix will really amp up your efforts.

Wide and Narrow Grips

Varying your grip by moving hands closer together or further apart will differently work the muscles in your biceps and forearms. This provides your arms with muscle-building variations that will hit them from all angles, making compound movements more effective. woman using pullup

Do's and Don'ts

If you've before never worked out the muscles in your forearms, go easy at first. It's easy to strain and tear these muscles if exercises aren't performed correctly, and this will set you back as long as it takes to recover.

Don't: Use Legs and Back to Lift

Cheat reps might be occasionally useful, but they are not suitable for reverse curls. Cheating puts an enormous strain on your wrists and forearms, which can result in significant injuries. Use a light to moderate weight and employ a smooth tempo to maximize muscle work while reducing the strain on bones and joints.

Do: Flex the Wrists

Refrain from bending your wrists down while performing reverse curls. Keep wrists straight, or extend them at the top of your reps to maximize tension and add a little fire to the move.

Don't: Go Too Fast

Fast reps are used in weight training to build power. With reverse curls, however, it's slow and steady that wins the race. Controlled reps help keep your muscles under tension longer and will reduce injury when focusing on correct form and function. 

Do: Perform Back Exercises Before Reverse Curls

When your forearms are tired, performing other exercises like pull-downs and push-ups is difficult. Do your reverse curls after other upper arm exercises to make your upper deck day more effective. man holding weights doing curl

Get Ready For Your Best Body EVER

Whether you fancy yourself a bodybuilder, a powerlifter, or someone who just wants to get into better shape, adding the reverse curl to your workout will take your body to the next level of muscle tone and upper body fitness. 

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