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Many of you might be familiar with a concentration curl. It is one of the popular bicep exercises, especially to build the peak of the bicep. You might have seen famous bodybuilders doing concentration curls.
But many people might be bored with this exercise and want to try something new or different to hit the same muscles. Or some might be having problems doing concentration curls.
So in this article, I have shared with you some of the best alternatives to concentration curl. Some of the exercises you might be familiar with whereas some exercises will be different and unique. You can also do some of these exercises at home.
Concentration Curl Alternatives
1. Close-grip EZ Bar Curls
If you want to target your outer biceps, then this is a great exercise for you. Here, you can focus on the long head as your hands are close to each other during the movement which targets the outer head of the bicep. So you can do this as an alternative to concentration curl.
How to do
1. Hold the close grip curve of the EZ bar and stand straight with your chest up and shoulders retracted.
2. Keep your elbows in front of the hips and arms straight down. This will be your starting position.
3. Now start lifting the bar while breathing out and bring it at 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 reps
You can also perform this exercise with a straight barbell if you have good wrist mobility. 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. Barbell Spider Curls
Another great exercise you can do instead of a concentration curl. This is a killer bicep move that will completely pump up your biceps. Spider curl works mostly targets the long head and will help you develop that amazing peak of the bicep.
So definitely try this exercise. You can also do this exercise with dumbbells. You just need to keep your elbows forward during the movement.
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- 12-15
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.
3. Single Dumbbell Curls
This is another great 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!
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.
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. Hammer Curls
Hammer curl is a very important exercise to make your bicep look bigger and fuller. This targets the long head and also the brachialis muscle, making it an amazing alternative option.
If you want to train your long head and build an amazing peak, then you need to train the brachialis muscle. The brachialis is situated at the lateral part of the bicep which pushes your biceps forward and increases the size of the bicep. So you cannot skip brachialis if you want fully developed biceps.
How to do
1. Hold a pair of dumbbells and stand straight at shoulder-width apart with your arms facing down to the side. This will be your starting position.
2. Start the exercise by moving the dumbbell up from one side while holding a neutral grip. Stop at the top when the dumbbell reaches shoulder level.
3. Slowly return to the starting position by keeping your hands neutral and then repeat the same from the other side.
Don’t go too heavy and just swing the weights. Always control the way up and engage your brachialis throughout the range of motion. Also, make sure to keep your chest up and back straight as you curl.
There are many other alternatives to dumbbell hammer curls that will hit the brachialis and will help you to build a bigger arm. You should also do those alternative exercises to bring some variation to your workout program. You can check those options here.
5. 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 and can replace concentration with this move.
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.
6. Cross Body Curl
This is another perfect alternative to concentration 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 the body.
How to do
1. Hold a dumbbell in your hands and stand straight with both feet at about shoulder-width apart. Keep your chest up and 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 the 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 from the other hand and then repeat.
Recommended Reps – 10-12
Make sure that you do this slowly with proper form rather than going too heavy and just swinging weights without using your biceps. You won’t be able to build muscle if you are not able to use those muscles during the exercise.
So always focus on the muscle you are targeting rather than looking at how many pounds you are lifting.
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 bicep will be looking much bigger and stronger.
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
Here, as you contract and stretch the resistance band, more will be the resistance. 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. Cross Body Cable Curl
Another effective way to use a cable machine! Here, you can focus on each side separately which is good for those who cannot feel their one side working while performing any bicep curl movements.
This exercise works similarly to the concentration curl. By using cables you can build a better mind and muscle connection which will make your concentration curls better, as now you can feel your biceps better.
How to do
1. Attach a handle on a low cable pulley and grab the handle with the opposite hand. This will be your starting position.
2. Stand straight while holding the handle and then start moving the arms up without moving your elbows.
3. Curl up and bring your wrist towards your mid-chest and squeeze your biceps at the top. Breath out on the way up.
4. Slowly return to the starting position and then repeat the movement. Do the same exercise from the other side as well.
If you have a muscular imbalance or if one arm is bigger or stronger than the other, then adding these unilateral movements will help you in reducing those imbalances which occur due to a lack of muscle activation.
These single-arm movements will also help you in creating a better mind and muscle connection. So if you have a complaint that you cannot feel on your left biceps, then start doing these movements to create a better mind-muscle connection and to eliminate such problems.
9. Cable Concentration Curl
This is a different way of doing the concentration curls. Here, you don’t have to lean forward with your back, rather you can do this exercise in a standing position with your back straight.
How to do
1. Attach a handle to a pulley placed at a lower or higher position.
2. Now hold the handle with one hand and take a few steps back. Keep your hands straight and your elbows extended. This will be your starting position.
3. Without moving your elbows, start pulling the handle while breathing out and bring your hand close to your body until the bicep is fully contracted.
4. Control the weights and bring your arms back to the starting position on the way down. Fully stretch your biceps at the end while breathing in and then repeat the same with the other side.
You can do this exercise in either a high pulley attachment or a low pulley attachment. Both are a great way to train your bicep so try both and choose the one which works best for you.
10. Behind the head Cable Curls
This is a great finisher exercise for your biceps! You can do this at the end of the workout to get that amazing pump. After doing this exercise, you will find that your bicep has already gained 1 more inch!
How to do
1. Attach a zig-zag bar at the pulley placed at the upper part of the cable machine.
2. Place a bench in front of the cables and set it at about 60° angle.
3. Sit on the bench while holding the bar and lean back slightly. Your arms should be straight and should face up. This will be your starting position.
4. Start curling the bar up and bring the bar above your head at the end to get that peak contraction.
5. Slowly return to the starting position without dropping your elbow. Your elbow should be extended at the end.
This is an awesome exercise to get that amazing peak to your biceps. Make sure that your hands are parallel to the cables when you curl. You can also use the straight bar for this exercise.
So these were some of the best concentration curl alternatives that you can try. All of these exercises target the long head of the bicep and the brachialis muscles. As these are the muscles that are engaged during concentration curl.
Make sure that whenever you add any or replace any exercise in a workout program, make sure that you don’t add all of these exercises. You just need to select 2 or 3 exercises and replace them with concentration curl. After 5-6 weeks you can replace them with other alternatives.
If you found this blog helpful, then do share it with your friends or share it on social media so that more people can read it. Also, if you know of any other concentration curl alternatives, then do mention that in the comment section below.
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.