T Nation

No Love for Barbell Curls?


Just thinking about something that was brought up in another thread, figured I'd throw it out to the crew to get different takes on it.

Who here uses plain old barbell curls as part of their arm training? Either heavy with strategic cheating/non-textbook form, strict and controlled for plenty of reps, or something inbetween.

It seems like they've kinda been pushed aside and aren't "the in thing", with people using variations, dumbbells, cables, or anything but the classic straight bar.

Is it just that barbell curls are like the standard flat bench - useful for beginners, but once you reach a certain level of strength and/or development, you "progress" beyond it in favor of something that better targets the muscle?

Or is it a case of lifters forgetting the tried and true, one of the exercises that's been a bodybuilding and weightlifting staple for literally over a century, and instead jumping right to the different and new?



I kept trying them for years because I knew they were one of the things I was 'supposed' to do but whenever I got up to any kind of weight resembling heavy my elbows hated me for it. It just didn't feel right with my arms being so externally rotated so I gave up on them for a long time.

In the past couple of years I have made use of the ez bar and go for the semi-internally-rotated grip and I get on with them MUCH better.

I focus on moderate weight so 10-12 reps and a good ol squeeze most of the time. Occasionally I will throw in a few heavy sets with some body English allowed though. Hammer curl variations are where most of my heavy bicep work happens. This style of training has worked very well for me.


Fuck a barbell.

they always hurt my forearms so I took to tons of preacher curls and dumbbell curls.

I did use the ez bar on the preacher bench often for a while.


I hit bi's twice a week ... 6-10 sets each session.

The first workout always incorporates a few heavy (5-7 reps) BB curl sets, followed by a lighter drop set before moving on to another exercise

The second workout is more hammer curl and preacher oriented .... Higher reps for each

I honestly think I get more "muscle building" out of the second workout, but you can't get beat the bicep and forearm strength you get from heavy BB curls. Going heavy on BB curls always makes me stronger on my other bicep exercises.

Plus strict curling with 135 just looks cool, lol ....


Got away from BB curls for years, than recently started using them for 100s with the empty bar. I'm using them again now for heavy curls, and can't remember why I stopped. Lately have been thinking about finding a meet that has a strict curl lift, just for fun, and somthing to train for. 2cents


I hit bi's several times a week right now (it isn't always a whole workout of 3 exercises).

I think it has made a big difference lately. I haven't been going as heavy.


use them as a finisher or towards the end of my bicep routine. If i go at them fresh and use any decent weight, my wrists and forearms just take a beating.

Every now and again Ill get a real good warm up, and do a 3-10 sets of 3 heavy reps type deal. Only after a serious warm up though.

I also have really shitty biceps so theres also that to account for.....


Too much stress on the wrists.


I do them with fat gripz every couple of weeks on my dedicated arms day. I don't do all the same exercises every time, so I kind of cycle them in. I try to keep as strict of form as possible while going heavy. I find the fat gripz not only give me better activation, but my elbows don't ache like they do if I just use the bar.


I agree with the points X and HotShot made. I did heavy barbell curls for quite some time during my DC training period. I used loose form and focused on really driving the weight up as explosively as possible. I kept the rep range pretty high. Anywhere from 20-30 reps. However, after a bit, it really started placing stress on my forearms and wrists, so I had to back off. Oddly enough, something else that has caused stretch marks on my biceps is chins.


This. I opt for the EZ bar when doing BB curls because the wrist isn't at an awkward angle.


Chris, I feel that very large, muscular bodybuilders often have problems with the barbell curl because they lack shoulder external rotation mobility. as a result, when they use the straight bar, they have to compensate by supinating more, which can really put a lot of stress on the elbow joint and lead to pain.

An IFBB pro that I train used to rely heavily on barbell curls when he was younger but it's been at least 5 years since he's done them because they always mess up with his elbows.




For me I'm able to go heavy (well 6-8 reps) without elbow pain so I do them. I can feel them better than dumbell curls in my biceps for some reason though. I do use dumbells for hammer curls though, those are my main two bicep movements but I have been trying high rep spider curls from some of CT's old articles as a "finisher" I get a great pump but haven't done them long enough to really tell if they contribute to growth.

I personally hate EZ bars and use straight bars for any curl where a bar is used.


My wrists and elbows don't appreciate them. There's nothing special about the bb curl. No exercise is irreplaceable. If they're just right for some people - great. Just not my bowl of decaf.


Reverse grip bb curls ftw


I just did some axel curls today and found them very enjoyable, but whenever I have tried curling with a texas power bar it just torques me.


Im new here, but whats the point of a barbell curl when you could just do a (weighted) chin up? Arent chin ups generally better simply because they involve many more muscles?


What's the point of lateral raises when you can just do a press? What's the point of dumbbell flyes when you can just do a bench press?


I like olympic bar curls better than EZ curls. I get a better peak contraction and curling with a full size olympic bar feels less floaty than a shorter EZ bar.