Reverse Barbell Curl: How To & Benefits

Written by Daniel Mesa
Last Updated On

FitDominium.com is independent and supported by our readers. We may earn commissions if you purchase through our links.


Have you ever thought about switching the order of your arm workout? You’re probably familiar with regular arm curls, but the Reverse Barbell Curl will change how you work out. 

Instead of normally curling the barbell with your palms facing up, this exercise has you curl it with your palms facing down. It may be a new move for you but don’t underestimate its potential. Not only does it uniquely work your arms, but it also has a lot of other benefits that can make your entire upper body stronger and look better.

Think of it as a secret weapon that not only helps you build big, strong biceps but also improves your wrist and grip strength. These are two of the most important things you need to be able to lift more weight and dominate compound exercises like deadlifts, chin-ups, and rows. Break out of your routine and add the Reverse Barbell Curl to your workouts. 

This guide will show you how to do it, give you tips from experts, and tell you about all the great benefits you can expect. Get ready to change the way you work your biceps and reach a whole new level of strength and muscle growth.

How To Do Reverse Barbell Curl

Mastering the Reverse Barbell Curl is all about form and control. Here’s how to perform it effectively:

Position Yourself

Start by standing up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and a strong grip on the barbell. The palms of your hands should be facing down.

Maintain Elbow Position

Keep your elbows close to your body as you move, and make sure your upper arms stay still.

Start the Curl

Keep your elbows close to your body as you move, and make sure your upper arms stay still.

Contract and Hold

Reach the top of the curl and hold it there for a few seconds. At this point, squeeze your arms to get the most out of your muscles.

Controlled Descent

Take a deep breath as you slowly lower the load back to the starting position. Keep tension on your biceps as you go down to get the most out of the workout.

Our Tips For The Barbell Reverse Curl

Tip 1: Keep Your Wrist Aligned

When you start to do backward barbell curls, one important thing to keep in mind is how your wrists are lined up. It’s necessary to keep your wrists in a steady, neutral position throughout the whole process. This easy tip keeps your wrists from getting too tired and helps you work your biceps better, which is the main goal of this exercise. By keeping your wrists in the right place, you give your muscles a strong base for engagement and growth.

Tip 2: Master the Tempo

When it comes to getting fit, taking fast cuts rarely leads to the best results. This is also true for the barbell curl with the weight on the opposite side. Move slowly and carefully to lift the weight instead of using momentum. Take your time lifting the barbell while contracting your arms, then let it fall. This strategy ensures that your biceps work hard to move the weight. Avoiding motion and focusing on controlled movement can grow biceps and improve workouts.

Tip 3: Squeeze and Hold

The rhythmic up and down of the barbell hides a chance for your arms to really stand out: the peak of the curl. Stop and focus on your arms at the top of the exercise. Forcefully squeeze them and hold for one or two counts. With this simple modification, the exercise becomes a bicep-building action instead of just reps. The tighter grip works the muscles harder, pushing them to expand. Stop, squeeze, and pay attention to your biceps when doing the reverse barbell curl.

Common Reverse Curl Mistakes To Avoid

If you want to maximize the benefits of the Reverse Barbell Curl, you need to avoid the most common pitfalls associated with the exercise. Avoid falling into these traps:

Mistake 1: Swinging the Weight

One of the most important pitfalls to avoid when performing the Reverse Barbell Curl is relying on your body’s swing to elevate the weight. This not only reduces the efficacy of the exercise but also diverts attention away from the biceps. Prioritize controlled and deliberate movements when lifting the barbell with your biceps rather than relying on momentum.

Mistake 2: Overarching the Back

Maintaining appropriate spinal alignment is essential to avoid unnecessary strain on the lower back. A common error is excessively extending the back, which can cause discomfort and hinder the targeted bicep engagement. Ensure your biceps are the primary movers throughout the exercise by maintaining a straight back.

Mistake 3: Poor Elbow Positioning

Your arm position is a key part of how well the Reverse Barbell Curl works. Letting your hands move away from your sides can make it harder to work your biceps and could make you feel bad. Keep your elbows steady and close to your body as you do the curl. This will help your biceps work quickly and effectively.

Muscles Worked By Reverse Barbell Curls

how to do reverse barbell curl

Brachialis

The Reverse Barbell Curl effectively targets the brachialis muscle, situated beneath the biceps. This engagement contributes significantly to the overall thickness and definition of your upper arms, creating a well-rounded appearance that complements your biceps.

Brachioradialis

The brachioradialis muscle, which is on the outside of your wrist, is used in this exercise. When you do a curl, this muscle helps stabilize your wrist by supporting it and helping you keep control of the movement. Strengthening the brachioradialis makes the wrist more stable and helps the arm grow in a well-rounded way.

Forearm Flexors

The forearm flexors, which include muscles like the flexor carpi ulnaris and flexor carpi radialis, are engaged throughout the Reverse Barbell Curl. This engagement not only reinforces grip strength but also adds an element of functional fitness to your arm training. Strengthening these muscles can have a positive impact on daily activities that require grip and forearm strength.

Biceps

When doing Reverse Barbell Curls, the main attention is on the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles, but the biceps also help. The biceps brachii, also called the biceps, help with the twisting motion as a whole. This exercise is a good addition to your arm workout routine because it works the biceps brachii. By using all of these muscles at the same time, you get a full arm workout that targets different areas for the best growth.

Reverse Bar Curl Benefits

revervse curl

Reverse barbell curls are an impressive exercise, but there is more to them than meets the eye. This is a dynamic addition to your arm practice that will have positive effects across your upper body and on your strength as a whole.

Benefit 1: Enhanced Bicep Engagement

The traditional bicep curl focuses on the long head of the biceps, but the Reverse Bar Curl works on the short head of the muscle, which is often ignored. This makes the biceps grow in a more balanced and complete way, giving them that desired peak and definition.

Benefit 2: Forearm and Grip Strengthening

The reverse grip places a unique demand on your forearm muscles and grip strength. Regular incorporation of Reverse Bar Curls contributes to a more robust grip, which in turn can elevate your performance in various pulling and lifting movements, enabling you to tackle heavier weights and amplify your overall upper body strength.

Benefit 3: Functional Arm Development

Beyond the mirror appeal, the Reverse Bar Curl promotes functional arm strength. As your forearms and biceps work in tandem, you’re not only building an impressive aesthetic but also enhancing your ability to perform daily tasks that involve gripping, carrying, and manipulating objects.

Alternatives To Reverse Grip Bicep Curls

Exercise Option 1: Hammer Curls

Instead of reverse grip arm curls, you can do hammer curls. Throughout this exercise, you hold the dumbbells so that your hands face each other. This is called a “hammer grip.” This version of the grip works not only the biceps but also the brachialis muscle, making your arms bigger. By working on the brachialis, you can make your upper arms look better and make them stronger generally. 

Hammer curls are a good choice for your arm exercise because they help you build your forearms and grip strength.

Exercise Option 2: EZ Bar Preacher Curls

If you’re looking for a way to isolate your biceps and minimize cheating through body movement, EZ bar preacher curls are an excellent pick. This exercise is performed on a preacher curl bench with an EZ bar, allowing you to focus solely on your biceps. The preacher bench provides support to your arms, reducing the likelihood of swinging and ensuring strict form. By isolating the biceps, you can target them effectively and stimulate muscle growth for a well-defined look.

Exercise Option 3: Incline Dumbbell Curls

Inclined dumbbell curls are a great way to work your biceps from a different angle. They give you a stretch at the bottom and a peak tension at the top. Curls done on an incline bench help shift the attention to the long head of the biceps, which helps build arms that are balanced and look good. 

The incline angle also makes it harder to get motion when doing standing curls, so you can keep your form and work your muscles more. By adding incline dumbbell curls to your routine, you add variety and work your arms from a different angle, which helps them grow in a more balanced way.

Bottom Line On Reverse BB Curls

When included in your arm routine, the Reverse Barbell Curl can help you see significant improvements in bicep thickness, strength, and overall arm aesthetics. You’ll be well on your way to a set of well-defined and powerful biceps that represent your devotion and hard work if you stick to perfect form, are consistent, and try out new exercises.

FAQs

Can I use an EZ bar for Reverse Barbell Curls?

Absolutely. An EZ bar provides a more ergonomic grip and can be easier on the wrists while still effectively targeting the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles.

Is it normal to feel forearm fatigue during Reverse Barbell Curls?

Yes, feeling forearm fatigue is common since the brachioradialis and forearm flexors play a significant role in this exercise.

How often should I include Reverse Barbell Curls in my routine?

Depending on your training goals, consider adding them to your arm workout 1-2 times per week, allowing adequate time for recovery.

Can Reverse Barbell Curls help with grip strength for other exercises?

Yes, the forearm engagement in Reverse Barbell Curls can contribute to improved grip strength, which can benefit various lifting movements.

References

  1. Marcolin, G., Panizzolo, F. A., Petrone, N., Moro, T., Grigoletto, D., Piccolo, D., & Paoli, A. (2018). Differences in electromyographic activity of biceps brachii and brachioradialis while performing three variants of curl. PeerJ, 6, e5165. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.5165
  1. Clocksin, B. D., Harrison, R. N., & Douglas, A. (2017). The Efficacy of Handheld Resistive Exercise Device (HRED) Training on Wellness Outcome in Older Adults. International journal of exercise science, 10(8), 1208–1225.

Leave a Comment