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There are so many exercises you can do for the biceps. And one of the most popular exercises is the barbell bicep curl. Many top bodybuilders, like Arnold, used to do heavy bicep curls with a barbell. It is one of the best exercises to build strength and increase the size of your arms.

However, there are some problems with the barbell bicep curl. Most people when they do a bicep curl with a barbell or a straight bar, feel pain or discomfort in their wrist or forearm. This happens usually because either you might be lifting heavy or due to a lack of wrist mobility.

You should not continue with the exercise if you are feeling any pain in the joints or tissue. It can create more problems in the future if you don’t address them now. So, if you’re having trouble with a barbell bicep curl, you should stop doing it for a while and try something else.

In this article, I have shared some of the best barbell bicep curl alternatives that you can do without any pain. Some of these exercises can be done at home if you have basic gym equipment. So let’s start with the alternatives!

Barbell Bicep Curl Alternatives

1. EZ Bar Curl

EZ Bar Curls How To Perform Them Correctly

If you have discomfort or feel pain in the joints while doing a straight bar curl, then the EZ bar is a great alternative option for you. Here, you hold a bar at a slight upward angle which puts less stress on the joints. So it’s much safer compared to regular barbell curl.

How to do

1. Stand straight with your chest up and shoulders retracted, holding the EZ bar’s close grip curve.

2. Maintain a straight down with your arms and elbows in front of your hips. This will be your starting position.

3. Now start lifting the bar while breathing out and bring it up to about shoulder height.

4. Squeeze your biceps at the top and then slowly bring the bar back to the starting position.

Recommended Reps- 10-12

You can target different heads of the bicep by changing your grip width. By keeping your hands narrow, you will target the outer head more whereas keeping your hands wider will engage your inner biceps more.

Most people have less wrist mobility and can’t balance the barbell during curls. So that’s why it is advisable to start with the EZ bar and then move to the straight bar curls.

2. Dumbbell Alternate Curls

Alternate dumbbell curls are one of the popular and effective exercises to hit the biceps. This exercise can be done at home or anywhere else and you only need a chair and a dumbbell. If you don’t have an incline bench to perform incline curls, then do this as an alternative.

How to do

1. Grab two dumbbells and stand straight with both feet at shoulder-width apart.

2. Keep your hands down to the side while holding the dumbbell. Keep your chest up and shoulders retracted. This will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise from one side by lifting the dumbbell while keeping your elbows in. Don’t bend your wrist as you curl the weight up.

4. Stop at the top when the dumbbell reaches shoulder level and the bicep is fully contracted.

5. Slowly bring your arm down to the starting position. Repeat same with the other hand.

Recommended Reps- 10-12

You can also do this exercise while sitting on a bench. This exercise will help you in building amazing fuller-looking biceps and will help you in getting bigger arms.

3. Dumbbell Curls With Single Dumbbell

This is another great exercise you can do in place of a barbell curl. You can do this exercise anywhere as it only requires a dumbbell. So, if you’re stuck at home on lockdown, grab a dumbbell and start this exercise right away!

How to do

1. Place your palm beneath the dumbbell and stand with your hips about hip-width apart while holding a dumbbell with both hands.

2. Maintain a straight posture with your chest up and shoulders back. This will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by curling the dumbbell up by keeping your hands forward and stopping at shoulder level.

4. Slowly bring your hands down to the starting position and then repeat.

Recommended Reps- 10-12

Make sure that you move at a full range of motion instead of partial reps. Also, keep your back straight through the entire movement.

4. Chin Ups

This is another great alternative exercise, you can add in place of barbell bicep curl. You can do this at home if you have a pull-up bar. Chin up is a bodyweight exercise that requires a good amount of strength to execute the movement.

If you are a beginner, then this might not be an exercise for you. Pull-ups are difficult to perform as you are pulling your own body up. So you should instead do dumbbell and barbell curls with moderate weights. Once you gain enough strength and build a good foundation, then you can start doing chin-ups.

Or else, you can also use someone else as a supporter who can support you from the bottom to push you while doing chin-ups. Another option is to use assisted pull-up machine where you can do pull-ups with the assistance received from the machine.

How to do

1. Grab a pull-up bar with an underhand grip. Your grip should be just under shoulder-width apart.

2. Hang on to the bar and keep your core tight. Look straight and then pull yourself up with the help of your arms. Kee the tension on the biceps as you go up.

3. Stop at the top when the bar is just below your neck and then slowly go down to the starting position.

Recommended Reps- 8-10

You can make this exercise difficult by using plates and dumbbells. You can use a belt for this. Tie a plate with the belt and hook it on your waist. This will allow you to increase the intensity and difficulty of the exercise.

Also, make sure that you don’t just swing and use a lot of momentum. This will engage other muscles like lats and rhomboids and your biceps will not get a maximum contraction. So make sure that your form is good.

5. Incline Dumbbell Curl

Inclined dumbbell curls are one of the great exercises to train the long head of the bicep. Here, the bicep gets a good stretch, which allows you to put extra tension on the long head. So you must do exercises that put your bicep under that extra stretch.

How to do

1. Grab two dumbbells and take a seat on a 60-degree incline bench.

2. Maintain a straight down arm while keeping your head on the bench. Your arm should be back in a nice stretching position.

3. Begin the exercise by curling up the dumbbell with your shoulders retracted.

4. Pause at the top and squeeze your biceps, then slowly return to the starting position.

Recommended Reps- 10-12

Make sure that you completely stretch your biceps at the bottom. Also, keep your feet on the floor and breathe out on the way up.

6. Cross-Body Curl

A Description of One-Arm, Cross-Body Curls

This is another perfect alternative to the straight-bar or barbell curl. Here, you will be bringing the dumbbell across the midline of your body. This is another variation to hit the brachialis. You just need to hold a neutral grip and then lift the dumbbell by bringing it towards the midline of your body.

How to do

1. Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and a dumbbell in your hand. Keep your chest up and your back straight. This will be your starting position.

2. Start the exercise by lifting the dumbbell from one arm towards the midline of the body. Curl the weights up and bring the dumbbell to your mid-chest.

3. Stop at the top and squeeze your biceps hard. Then slowly bring the dumbbell back to the starting position.

4. Do the same with the other hand and then repeat.

Recommended Reps- 10-12

Make sure that you do this exercise slowly with proper form rather than going too heavy and just swinging weights without using your biceps. You won’t be able to build muscles if you are not able to use those muscles during exercise.

So, instead of looking at how many pounds you’re lifting, focus on the muscle you’re targeting.

7.  Resistance Band Lying Bicep Curl

This exercise can be done easily at home. You just need a resistance band and a floor to do this. So if you are stuck at home and don’t have enough time for a workout, then do 3-4 sets of lying curls with a resistance band and your biceps will look much bigger and stronger.

How to do

1. Lie down on the floor and roll a resistance band over your feet. Hold the band with both hands at about shoulder-width apart.

2. Maintain a straight down arm with a slight bend in the elbow. Keep your elbows in; your head should stay slightly up. This will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by curling up with your arms. Stop at the top when your bicep is maximally contracted. You can lift or move your elbows slightly up at the end of the movement.

4. Slowly return to the starting position and then repeat.

Recommended Reps- 12-15

Here, as you contract and stretch the resistance band, more resistance will be generated. So, during the second half of the movement, this exercise becomes harder. So this is another variation you can include in your workout program.

8. Resistance Band Incline Curls

Resistance band incline curls can be done easily at home. You don’t need any heavy equipment or machine. All you need is a resistance band.

This exercise is similar to an incline dumbbell curl. You can stretch your biceps completely at the end for a better range of motion.

Equipment Required- Resistance band

How to do

1. Fix a mid part of the resistance band at the corner of the table. Hold both the handles of the band and take 2 steps forward.

2. Keep your arms straight while keeping your elbows tucked in. Your arm should go back behind the body. This will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by curling forward and up. Make sure to keep your elbows back and you should only move your forearms.

4. Stop at the top when your biceps are fully contracted and then slowly return to the starting position.

Recommended Reps-12-15

You can also do this exercise on a cable machine. Just hold the handles and step forward while keeping your arms back just like in this exercise.

Final Words

So these were some of the best alternatives to barbell bicep curl. You can do these exercises without any pain or discomfort. Make sure that you do all these exercises with the proper form and technique. Always keep your focus and concentration on the right muscle.

Make sure that you design your workout program according to your goals and fitness level. You should not look for unrealistic expectations. Take smaller steps and slowly reach your desired goal. It is always advised to seek a fitness professional before starting any workout.

If you found this blog helpful, then do share it with your friends or share it on social media so that we can reach more people and can grow our website. Also, if you know of any other alternative exercises, then do mention that in the comment section below.

Also Read

  1. 6 Best Hammer Curl Alternatives You Must Try
  2. 15 Best Alternatives to Ez Bar Curl ( That Works Same Muscle)
  3. 13 Awesome Spider Curl Alternatives (Without Bench)
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