12 Best Cable Bicep Curl Alternatives ( Works Same Muscles)

Published by Roshan S Pillai on

cable bicep curl alternatives

You might have seen many people in the gym doing bicep curls on a cable machine. It is among the popular exercise, especially for beginners. Many beginners are comfortable with the cable machine in performing curls instead of dumbbells or barbells as it is much easier and requires less muscle coordination.

However, there are many other alternative exercises out there that are better and effective as compared to the cable bicep curl. And you must know these alternative options as many times you might be stuck at home or the gym may be crowded and you can’t use cable machine.

That is why I have made this article so that you can have other alternative options if you cannot do cable curl. So in this article, you will find some of the best cable bicep curl alternatives, some of them can be done easily at home with home gym equipment.

Muscles Worked During Cable Bicep Curl

The primary muscle which is used when you do cable bicep curl is the bicep brachii. It has two heads – long and short head. When you hold a narrow grip, then it works the long head more however when your hands are wider than the shoulder width, then your short head is activated the most.

Apart from the bicep brachii, your front delts and your forearm also act as assisting muscles. You can also do cable hammer curls with rope and that activates the brachialis muscle. So everything depends upon your grip placement.

So now you should have a clear idea about different grips and how it targets different parts of the bicep.

Now let me share with you the alternative exercises here. Exercises are grouped according to the equipment used so that you have a better idea about which exercise is suitable for you according to the equipment you have. So let’s begin!

Cable Curl Alternatives With Barbell

1. Straight-bar Bicep Curls

This is the most popular exercise for the biceps. Here, you will be able to develop a good amount of strength and size. Most bodybuilders do this exercise to add some size to their biceps. You can do this with a barbell or a small size bar.

This exercise will work exactly like a cable bicep curl and can be used as an alternative. Also, you can do this exercise at home with a barbell.

Equipments Required- barbell and bumper plates

Targeted Muscles- biceps brachii

How to do

1. Hold a bar with both hands placed at about shoulder-width apart.

2. Stand straight while keeping your shoulders retracted and start curling the bar up. Breath out on the way up.

3. Fully contract your biceps at the top and slowly bring the bar down while breathing in.

Recommended Reps- 10-12 reps

Make sure that your form is perfect and you are not swinging too much. Your biceps will work the best when other muscles are not involved during the movement. For that, you should try to completely focus on your biceps and do not swing as it will involve more of your front delts. So try to do the exercise with the proper form and technique.

2. Barbell Drag Curls

This is another great alternative exercise which you can do at home with a bar. This exercise helps in targeting the long head of the bicep.

This is a great exercise to work on your biceps without involving a lot of shoulder muscles. Drag curls are a great way to add some size to your biceps. So try it out.

Equipments Required- barbell and bumper plates

Targeted Muscles- biceps brachii

How to do

1. Hold a bar with both hands placed at about shoulder-width apart.

2. Stand straight while keeping your shoulders retracted and this will be your starting position.

3. Start curling up by dragging the barbell towards your body such that the bar is in contact with your torso.

4. Fully contract your biceps at the top and then slowly bring the bar back to the starting position. Breath in on the way down.

Recommended Reps- 10-12 reps

Make sure that while you lift the barbell, your elbows should be in and going back. Also, remember not to shrug the weights up or lift the shoulder during the movement.

3. Barbell Spider Curls

This is a killer bicep move that will completely pump up your biceps. This works mostly the long head and will help you develop that amazing peak of the bicep. So definitely try this exercise.

Equipments Required- Ez bar, bumper plates and incline bench

Targeted Muscles- biceps brachii

How to do

1. Set up a bench at about 45° angle and place a weighted barbell in front of the bench.

2. Lay down on a bench with your chest hanging above the bench and let your training partner lift the weights to hand over to you.

3. While keeping your elbow perpendicular to the floor, curl up the barbell and fully squeeze your biceps at the top.

4. Stop when your biceps are fully contracted and then control the weights and bring the bar back to the starting position.

Recommended Reps- 10-12 reps

Here, you will be able to feel a hardcore burn on your biceps. After performing 3 sets of this, your biceps will look bigger and harder. You can add this exercise into your workout program if you want to focus more on the bicep peak.

Cable Bicep Curl Alternatives With Dumbbells

4. Seated Dumbbell Curls

If you are looking for the best cable curl alternative, then you can’t skip this exercise. Seated dumbbell curl is one of the popular bicep exercises which you can do even at home as you just need a stool and a dumbbell. This exercise helps in building the size and makes your bicep looks strong.

How to do

1. Sit on a stool or a bench with both feet on the floor close to each other. Keep your arms straight down to the side. This will be your starting position.

2. Start the exercise by moving the dumbbell up towards your shoulder. Keep your elbows in and chest up as you move.

3. Stop and squeeze your bicep at the top. Then slowly return to the starting position and repeat from the other arm.

Recommended Reps- 10-12 reps

Make sure that you focus on the bicep when you curl the weights. Most people don’t concentrate on the right muscle during an exercise. Due to this, they won’t get the best results from the exercise. But you don’t have to fo this mistake.

You should always try to engage and focus on the bicep and don’t allow other muscles like front delts to dominate during the movement.

5. Concentration Curls

This is another awesome exercise to train the long head of the biceps. Concentration curls can be done at home if you have a dumbbell. This exercise will help you to build that amazing peak.

Equipments Required- dumbbell and bench

How to do

1. Sit on a bench with a dumbbell in one hand. Place an elbow on the mid part of your thigh and place the other hand on the other leg.

2. Start the exercise by curling up the dumbbell and squeezing your biceps at the top. Don’t bend or roll your back during the movement.

3. Slowly bring the dumbbell down to the starting position and then repeat the movement.

Recommended Reps- 12- 15 reps

6. Single Dumbbell Curls

This is another great dumbbell exercise to hit the long head! you can do this anywhere with just a dumbbell and you do not require any additional equipment for this. So if you are at home, stuck at lockdown, then grab a dumbbell and start this exercise right away!

Equipments Required- dunbbell

How to do

1. Hold a dumbbell with both hands by placing your palm beneath the dumbbell and standing at about hip-width apart.

2. Keep your chest up and shoulder back and stand straight. 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- 12-15 reps

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

7. Incline Dumbbell Curls

Incline dumbbell curl is one of the great exercises to train the long head of the bicep. Here, the bicep gets in a good stretch which allows you to put extra tension on the long head. So you must add this to your workout program.

Equipments Required- dumbbell and bench

How to do

1. Pick two dumbbells and sit on an incline bench set up at a 60° angle.

2. Keep your arm straight down while keeping your head on the bench. Your arm should be back at a nice stretch position.

3. Start the exercise by curling the dumbbell up while keeping your shoulders retracted.

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

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.

Cable Bicep Curl Alternatives With a Resistance Band

8. Resistance Band Incline Curls

If you don’t have a bench, don’t worry. You can do the same incline curls with a resistance band. Resistance band incline curls can b done easily at home. You don’t need any heavy equipment or machine. All you need is a resistance band.

Equipments 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.

9. Band Resisted Barbell Curl

Band resisted curls will make your biceps work more as you take the barbell up. As the band is stretched more, it creates more resistance which will allow the biceps to work more at the top. This means that your biceps will work harder at the top.

Equipments Required- barbell and resistance band

How to do

1 Take a band and lower it down to the floor while holding it. Step over the band to create resistance.

2. Now bend down and grab a barbell while holding the band and then stand straight with your shoulders retracted. This will be your starting position.

3. Start curling the bar up and bring it up towards the shoulder level. Fully contract your biceps at the top.

4. Slowly bring the bar back to the starting position and then repeat the movement.

Recommended Reps- 10-12 reps

You can change the grip width for targeting the different heads of the biceps. For example, if you want to target the outer or the long head, then hold a narrow grip. However, if you want to focus on the short head l, then go wider than the shoulder width.

10. Resistance Band Lying Bicep Curl

This exercise is a great alternative to the lying cable bicep curl. 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 bicep will be looking much bigger and stronger.

Equipment Required- Resistance band

How to do

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

2. Kee your arms straight down with a slight bending of 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 part of the movement.

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

Recommended Reps- 10-12 reps

Bodyweight Alternative Exercise

11. Chin Ups

This is another great alternative exercise, which will help you in building bigger biceps. 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 the best exercise for you. You should do dumbbell and barbell exercises with moderate weight. Once you gain enough strength and build a good foundation, then go for 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.

Equipment Required- Pull up bar

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- 10-12 reps

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.

Alternatives To Rope Hammer Curl

12. Dumbbell Hammer Curl

The rope hammer curl is another exercise you can do on a cable machine. This exercise targets the brachialis muscle which pushes the bicep brachii muscle forward, making your bicep look bigger. So you should not neglect or ignore this small muscle.

Rope hammer curl can be replaced by dumbbell hammer curls. Dumbbell hammer curls can be done easily at home and you can also do it with alternate hands or with both hands together.

Equipment Required- Dumbbells

How to do

1. Hold two dumbbells on each hand and stand straight while keeping your arms down to the side.

2. Start the exercise by moving the dumbbell up while holding a neutral grip. The plate of the dumbbell should face in front.

3. Stop at the top when the dumbbell reaches shoulder level. You should feel the tension on the brachialis.

4. Slowly bring the dumbbell back to the starting position and then repeat the same from the other arm.

You can also do this exercise by 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 the body and stop at the top when the dumbbell is in front of the chest.

Final Words

so these were some of the very best cable curl alternatives. Many of these exercises can be done at home with some basic equipment. All of these exercises should be performed with the proper form and technique to get the best results.

Also, make sure that you design your workout program in such a way that there are different kinds of exercise. You should hit each of the muscles with different angles and positions.

For example, if you do preacher curls, with your elbows forward, then exercises like drag curls and incline dumbbell curl should also be there where your elbow is positioned backward. This way you will hit your overall bicep.

If you found this article helpful then please share it with your friends and relatives. Also, try all of these exercises mentioned above and share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Roshan S Pillai

Roshan Pillai is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer with more than 6 years of experience in lifting weights and guiding people to get fit. He has worked as a personal trainer in gyms and is the owner and editor of fitnessproworkout.com. He is passionate about fitness and helping people to get in shape.

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