15 Best Alternatives to Ez Bar Curl ( That Works Same Muscle)

Published by Roshan S Pillai on

EZ bar curl alternatives

There are various kinds of bars you can use to train your biceps. And one of the most popular bars is an EZ bar or zig-zag bar. EZ bar puts your wrist in a much safer position than a regular straight bar and is much easier and safe.

However, if you don’t have an EZ bar or if the gym is busy and you can’t use it, then you don’t have to worry. You can do many alternative exercises that will train the same muscles and will give you similar results.

In this article, I have shared some of the best EZ bar curl alternatives. Some of these exercises can be easily done at home with some basic home equipment. So if you don’t have an EZ bar or any other equipment, don’t worry. You can replace it with any of these exercises discussed below.

But before talking about the alternatives, you must know which muscles are used during an EZ bar curl so that you have an idea of different alternatives you can select based on muscle engagement and movement patterns.

Muscles Worked During EZ Bar Curl

When you do an EZ bar curl, you hold a bar in a diagonal position. This activates the long head and the brachialis more. So the primary muscles engaged during an EZ bar curl are the bicep brachii and the brachialis.

Along with that, there are secondary muscles like forearms, brachioradialis, and front delts engaged which assist during the exercise.

So when we are choosing an alternative exercise, then we should consider these points. So now let me share with you those alternative exercises here!

EZ Bar Curl Alternatives

Best EZ bar curl alternatives are dumbbell curls, barbell curls, preacher curl, and spider curls. You will find these and many other exercises here.

1. Single Dumbbell Curls

This is a 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 want to do a bicep curl without an EZ bar, then this exercise is a good option for you.

So if you are at home, stuck at lockdown, then grab a dumbbell and start this exercise right away!

Equipment Required- dumbbell

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 – 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.

2. Dumbbell Alternate Curls

Alternate dumbbell curls are one of the popular and effective exercises to train biceps. This exercise can be done at home or anywhere else and you only need a chair and a dumbbell. This is one of the basic and most effective exercises to target the bicep.

Equipment Required- dumbbells

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. 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.

EZ bar curl targets the long head and concentration curl will be a great alternative if you don’t have an EZ bar, as both exercises will target the same muscles.

Equipment Required- dumbbells

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

4. Cross Body Curl

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

Equipment Required- dumbbells

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 wil 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.

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.

Keeping your bicep in a stretched position puts extra tension on the bicep and will be a different stimulus for the muscles. So you should do this kind of exercise where your biceps are stretched.

Equipment Required- dumbbells 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.

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. Dumbbell Spider Curl

Another great exercise you can do instead of EZ bar 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.

Equipment Required- dumbbells and bench

Targeted muscles- biceps brachii (long head)

How to do

1. Set up a bench at about 45° angle. Grab the dumbbells and lay down with your chest hanging above the bench.

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

3. Stop when your biceps are fully contracted and then control the weights and bring your arms 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.

7. 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 an exercise for you. Pull-ups are difficult to perform as you are pulling your own body up. You should do dumbbell and barbell exercises with moderate weight. Once you gain enough strength and build a good foundation, then try to do 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.

8. 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.

9. Band Resisted Barbell Curl

Band resisted curl is the combination of the barbell and resistance. 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 during the second half of the movement.

Equipment Required- barbell, plates, 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 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 be 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.

Recommended Reps – 12-15

Make sure that you keep your arms back and stretch your biceps at the end. From the stretched position, you should curl to put extra tension on the bicep.

11. Seated Barbell Curl Superset

If you don’t have enough time and want to hit your biceps within a short period, then this exercise is for you. You can do 3 exercises together with one barbell. This will be a great finisher exercise to end the bicep workout with an amazing pump.

Equipment Required- barbell and plates

Targeted Muscles- biceps brachii

How to do

1. Grab a barbell with a wide underhand grip and sit down on a bench.

2. Place the barbell on your quads and sit straight with your back tight and shoulders retracted. This will be your starting position.

3. Now start curling the bar up, bring it towards the shoulder height, and contract your bi es at the top.

4. Bring the barbell down slowly and stop at a point where the bar is just above your thighs. Don’t let the bar touch your thighs.

5. Perform the same exercise with a shoulder-width grip for a prescribed number of reps ( 8-10) and then switch it to a narrow grip.

Recommended Reps – 10-12

This is a superset that is better done with moderate to light weights so that you can perform 3 exercises at one go. You can use it as a finisher or on those days where you don’t have enough time to perform single exercises one by one.

12. Landmine Concentration Curls

You might be familiar with the concentration curls done with dumbbells. This exercise is similar to concentration curls where you will use a barbell instead of dumbbells. Here, you can work on the biceps peak.

Equipment Required- barbell

Targeted Muscles- biceps brachii

How to do

1 Place one end of the barbell at the side corner of the wall to create a landmine setup.

2. Now sit with one leg on the floor facing the barbell and the other on the ground.

3. Hold the barbell and keep your elbows on your thighs for support. This will be your starting position.

4. Start curling the bar up and squeeze your biceps at the top. Remember to breathe out on the way up.

5. Slowly bring the barbell back to the starting position where your arms are fully stretched. Do the same with the other arm.

Recommended Reps – 10-12

This is a great barbell variation of concentration curls. You can increase the weights by adding plates but don’t compromise your form. Your back should be straight especially your lower back as it gets injured very quickly.

13. Cable Preacher Curl

This is another best way to isolate your biceps and to get that amazing pump! Preacher curls help you in adding that extra peak to your biceps which makes it look bigger and stronger. Preacher curl also targets the long head more according to the study

Equipment Required – cables, preacher machine bench

How to do

1. Attach a bar placed at the lower part of the cable machine and then bring the preacher curl station in front of the cable machine.

2. Sit on the preacher curl station and hold the bar with both hands at shoulder-width apart.

3. From an extended arm position, start pulling the bar and bring it toward shoulder level. Make sure to completely contract your biceps at the top.

4. Slowly bring the bar back to the starting position and then repeat the exercise with the prescribed number of reps.

Recommended Reps – 10-12

You can do 15-20 reps of 3 sets of these without taking too much rest in between each set (30-45 seconds).

14. Overhead Cable Curl

If you have seen a bodybuilding show, then you might be familiar with the front double bicep pose. This exercise mimics the same position and is an effective way to hit your bicep brachii.

Equipment Required- cables

How to do

1. Attach both the handles to a pulley which should be slightly above your head level.

2. Hold both the handles and stand at the center with both arms straight and elbows at an extended position. This wil be your starting position.

3. Start flexing your elbows by moving your forearms and contracting your biceps fully at the end.

4. Slowly return move your arms back to the starting position without dropping your elbows and repeat the movement.

Recommended Reps – 10-12

You can also perform this exercise with one arm at a time which requires more balance and more core activation. Don’t go heavy on this as it is an isolation exercise and not a compound movement. So you should focus on proper form and technique without swinging too much.

15. 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. You can replace the EZ bar curl with behind the head curl as both are great exercises to build the bicep peak.

Equipment Required- cable machine

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.

Recommended Reps – 10-12

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.

Final Words

So these were some of the best alternatives to EZ bar curl. You should do all these exercises with proper form and technique. All of these exercises you can use whenever you cannot do an EZ bar curl.

Make sure that you don’t do all of these exercises in a single day. You should be smart in designing your workout program. If you want to replace the EZ bar curls, then you can choose any 1 or two of these exercises discussed above. Also, you don’t need to do so many bicep exercises as the bicep is a small muscle that you can train with 4-5 exercises.

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 alternative exercises, then do mention that 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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