Seated Bicep Curl: How To & Benefits

Written by Daniel Mesa
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seated bicep curl

If you want stronger and more defined arms, the sitting curl is a great workout. Mastering this exercise will completely transform your upper body workout, whether you’re a fitness newbie or a seasoned bodybuilder. This guide will provide a detailed guide on how to perform seated curls properly, including helpful tips for optimizing your form, highlighting common mistakes to avoid, describing the muscles used during this exercise, delving into its many benefits, and even providing alternatives for those looking to switch things up in their training routine.

How To Do Seated Curls

Seated curls are a good way to focus on your arms while using as few other muscles as possible. Follow these steps to do this exercise right:

Setup

Start by sitting on a flat bench with a straight spine, feet level on the floor, and knees bent to a 90-degree angle. Hold a dumbbell in each hand while letting your limbs hang at your sides.

Hand Position

Position your hands so that the palms face forward and your elbows are near to your torso. This is your starting position.

Curling Motion

Exhale as you steadily curl the weights while keeping your upper arms stationary. Continue raising the weights until your biceps are completely contracted, and the dumbbells reach shoulder height.

Maximum Contraction

At the movement’s peak, tighten your biceps for a moment to maximize the contraction.

Lowering Phase

Inhale and lower the weights back to the starting position while maintaining control and resisting the urge to swing the weights.

Repetition

Repeat this motion until the desired number of repetitions has been reached.

Our Tips For The Seated Curl

Tip 1: Maintain Proper Form

Maintaining proper form during seated curls is paramount for a safe and effective workout. To do this, keeping your back straight throughout the practice is important. This not only keeps the attention on your biceps but also keeps your lower back from getting too tight. Also, pay close attention to how your elbows are placed; they should stay close to your body. Not only does proper form get the best results, but it also lowers the risk of getting hurt.

Tip 2: Control the Weights

For sitting curls to work, you have to be in control. Focus on control both when you are pulling and when you are lowering the weight. This deliberate action reduces the chance of getting hurt by cutting down on momentum and makes the most of muscle growth and engagement. By changing the weights, you can make your biceps workout more intense and effective, which will lead to better results over time.

Tip 3: Gradually Increase Weight

Any exercise routine must get harder over time, and seated curls are no different. As you get better at working out, gradually add more weight to your work. But it’s more important to focus on form than on lifting bigger weights. The main goal should always be to keep up good form. Gradual weight increases test your biceps and helps them grow without hurting your form. This helps you reach your fitness goals safely and effectively.

Common Barbell Seated Curl Mistakes To Avoid

Mistake 1: Swinging the Weights

The most common mistake in seated curls is swinging the weights to gain momentum. This incorrect approach decreases the efficiency of the workout and increases injury risk. Swinging weights removes tension from your biceps and reduces control. Maintain a smooth, controlled motion while contracting the biceps to avoid this. This guarantees your biceps work, improving performance and reducing injury risk.

Mistake 2: Lifting Too Heavy

Lifting heavy weights is another common mistake. Although pushing yourself is crucial for progress, lifting weights above your capacity can damage your form and cause muscular imbalances. Starting with a weight that permits you to complete the repetitions with proper form can help. As you gain strength, gradually raise the weight, controlling each repetition with your biceps rather than momentum. This method balances muscle growth and decreases injury risk.

Mistake 3: Neglecting Breathing

Sitting curls require proper breathing, often overlooked yet vital to performance and safety. Breathing incorrectly might affect your exercise rhythm and steadiness. Exhaling while curling the weights will fix this mistake. This exhale aids exertion and control. Inhale while lowering weights for a controlled descent. This conscious breathing pattern keeps you steady, focused, and in control during the workout, improving outcomes and reducing accident risk.

Seated Curl Muscles Worked

Biceps Brachii

During sitting curls, the main muscle worked is the biceps brachii, which is often just called the biceps. There are two parts to this muscle group: the long head and the short head. Both of the heads of the biceps during sitting curls work hard to lift the weights. During this exercise, you focus on the long head, which runs along the outside of the upper arm. This helps you get that desired peak in your biceps.

Brachialis

The brachialis is a deep muscle that sits under the biceps brachii. The brachialis is also worked well by curls done while sitting. When you curl the weights, this muscle works harder, especially when you use a neutral grip (palms facing each other), which you usually do when you curl weights while sitting down. Strengthening the brachialis adds to the size of your arms and can help push your biceps up, making your arms look bigger.

Brachioradialis

The brachioradialis is a forearm muscle important for seated curls, especially when your hands are in an overhand grip (pronated). The brachioradialis helps bend your elbow when you lift weights. This muscle supports the curling action and helps the forearm grow when you work it. Your arms will look better and be more balanced if your brachioradialis is strong, so it is an important muscle to work on when doing sitting curls.

Seated Curl Benefits

Benefit 1: Targeted Bicep Development

Those who want to develop their biceps should try seated curls. The biceps brachii are the specific muscle group that this exercise targets, allowing for pinpoint definition. You may expect to see significant increases in the size and strength of this major arm muscle when you include sitting curls in your workout routine on a regular basis. 

Sitting curls are a great place to start when working out your arms if you want to build definition in your biceps and upper arms. This exercise is a must for any arm training routine because it targets the biceps specifically and allows for concentrated growth.

Benefit 2: Reduced Risk of Injury

One of the main benefits of seated curls is that they reduce the likelihood of injury. In contrast to compound workouts, which work for numerous muscle groups at once, sitting curls focus just on the biceps. In addition to reducing the risk of damage associated with complex, multi-joint exercises, isolating the biceps allows for a more focused approach to developing that muscle. 

Seated curls are safer than standing curls because they need more attention to form and more controlled movement. They are a great option for people of all fitness levels because they help everyone from new lifters learn the basics and avoid frequent overuse problems to seasoned veterans who want to keep their bodies in top shape.

Benefit 3: Improved Muscle Symmetry

Seated curls have a distinct benefit when it comes to balancing out your muscles. This exercise is great for addressing imbalances in strength or size between your arms since it allows you to focus on each arm separately. In many people, one arm is somewhat stronger or more developed than the other. This can cause unsightly and functional imbalances. 

You can fix these imbalances by performing seated curls. Your left and right biceps can grow in tandem if you put in the time and effort necessary to train them separately. Better balance helps you look better but also reduces the likelihood of overcompensation injuries, making your fitness journey safer and more long-lasting.

Alternatives To Barbell Seated Curls

If you’re looking to add variety to your arm workout routine, consider these alternatives to barbell seated curls:

Exercise Option 1: Hammer Curls

Hammer curls are a great choice for seated curls because they work the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles and the biceps. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip to do hammer curls, which means your palms are facing each other. This grip version puts a different kind of stress on the forearm muscles, which helps the arms grow balanced.

As you curl the dumbbells up, your arms will tighten up deeply. The neutral grip puts less stress on the wrists and can be helpful if you have problems with your wrists or just want to change your routine. Hammer curls are flexible and can be added to your arm workout to keep things interesting and work your muscles more.

Exercise Option 2: Preacher Curls

Preacher curls are a more difficult version of sitting curls, usually done on a preacher’s bench. This practice works the biceps even more by isolating them and putting the tension right where you want it. Because your arms are supported by the preacher’s bench, you can’t use motion to move.

One of the best things about preacher curls is that they give you a wider range of motion. At the bottom of the move, you can fully stretch your arms, which gives your biceps a deep stretch. As you bend the weight up, you’ll feel a strong peak contraction at the top. This makes preacher curls a great way to work the bicep muscle. Adding preacher curls to your workout routine can help you build bicep peaks that are hard to miss.

Exercise Option 3: Cable Curls

Cable curls are a great choice for people who want to keep their biceps working hard throughout the workout. By keeping the arms working the whole time, this constant tension helps the muscles grow and get more defined. You can do cable curls with either a straight bar or an EZ bar adapter, which gives you more ways to work your arms.

The beauty of cable curls is that they can be worn in many ways. You can change the weight and attachment to work on different parts of your arms. This makes it easy to work on specific areas to get a well-rounded workout. The cable also has a smooth resistance curve, which makes it less likely that your moves will be jerky and helps you focus on one muscle at a time. Adding cable curls to your workout routine can help you get a set of arms that are well-rounded and shaped.

Bottom Line On The Seated EZ Bar Curl

The seated curl is one of the most important exercises for building strong, well-defined arms. You can get the most out of this exercise if you use the right form, keep the weights under control, and don’t make common mistakes. In addition to making you look better, sitting curls can help you avoid injuries and make your muscles more even. Don’t be afraid to try new arm exercises to keep your workouts interesting and effective.

FAQs

How many sets and repetitions should I do for seated curls?

Typically, 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions are effective for building bicep strength and size.

Can seated curls be done with a barbell instead of dumbbells?

Yes, you can perform seated curls with an EZ bar or a straight barbell for variation.

Should I do seated curls at the beginning or end of my workout?

Seated curls are often performed near the beginning of your arm workout when you have the most energy and focus.

Can beginners do seated curls?

Yes, beginners can perform seated curls, but it’s essential to start with lighter weights and prioritize proper form.

How often should I incorporate seated curls into my workout routine?

You can include seated curls in your routine 1-2 times a week, depending on your overall workout plan and goals.

References

  1. Oliveira, L. F., Matta, T. T., Alves, D. S., Garcia, M. A., & Vieira, T. M. (2009). Effect of the shoulder position on the biceps brachii emg in different dumbbell curls. Journal of sports science & medicine, 8(1), 24–29.
  1. Pedrosa, G. F., Simões, M. G., Figueiredo, M. O. C., Lacerda, L. T., Schoenfeld, B. J., Lima, F. V., Chagas, M. H., & Diniz, R. C. R. (2023). Training in the Initial Range of Motion Promotes Greater Muscle Adaptations Than at Final in the Arm Curl. Sports, 11(2), 39. https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11020039

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