8 Best Zottman Curl Alternatives (With Videos)

Published by Roshan S Pillai on

Zottman curl alternatives

Photo Credits- Man photo created by serhii_bobyk – www.freepik.com

You might have seen some people doing zottman curls in the gym. It is not as popular as other bicep exercises, however, nowadays people are doing these unique exercises. Zottman curl is a mixture of straight arm curl and a reverse curl.

But many of you might be interested in knowing what other exercises can be done instead of zottman curls. Some find zottman curls difficult because you need to rotate your wrist at the top position to perform a slow eccentric movement. This requires good wrist mobility which many people lack.

So in this article, I will be sharing some of the best alternatives to zottman curl. Most of these are some of the best bicep exercises and are as effective as zottman curls. But before beginning, let’s know some more about zottman curls.

Muscles Worked Durning Zottman Curls

Zottman curl hits all the heads of the biceps. During a concentric phase, it targets the short and long head and during an eccentric phase, you are hitting the brachialis and the brachioradialis muscles. So overall, you are targeting the whole bicep muscles.

So as I discussed with you about the muscles engaged during zottman curls, now let’s see some of the best alternatives that work the same muscles.

Zottman Curl Alternatives

Best zottman curl alternatives are straight bar curl, reverse curl, and hammer curl. Let’s discuss each of them and some other alternatives here.

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.

when you do zottman curl, the concentric part of the lift is almost similar to the straight bar bicep curl. So it can be used as an alternative to zottman curls.

Equipment 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

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 Spider Curls

Another great exercise you can do instead of zottman 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- EZ bar, plates and bench

Targeted muscles- biceps brachii (long head)

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. Neutral Grip Pull-Ups

This is one of the best strengthening exercises for your biceps and forearms. Pull-ups are compound movements and performing it at a neutral grip puts more tension on the brachialis muscles.

Neutral grip pullups will help you in improving the grip strength and will strengthen your forearms. As the is done to target the brachialis and the forearm muscle, this is the perfect alternative option for you.

Equipment Required- Pull up bar

Targeted muscles- biceps brachii, lats, brachialis, and brachioradialis

How to do

1. Grab a pull-up bar with a neutral grip and hang straight with your abs engaged. This will be your starting position.

2. Start by pulling your body up with the help of your arms by keeping your chest up and shoulders retracted.

3. Move up and bring your head up above the bar and stop there for a second.

4. Squeeze your biceps and lats at the top and slowly bring your body down to the starting position.

Recommended Reps- 6-10 ( depending upon your strength)

You can add the intensity of the exercise by putting in extra weights. Just roll a belt over the waist and attach it with a plate and then perform the movement. But make sure that you can do at least 6-8 reps of those to get proper results.

4. Dumbbell Hammer Curl

Dumbbell hammer curl 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.

This is another great exercise you can do at home with just dumbbells. You should always do this with the proper form to get the most out of this exercise.

Equipment Required- Dumbbells

Targeted muscles- brachialis

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.

Recommended Reps- 10-12

You can do this either with both arms together or with one hand at a time. Make sure that you engage your biceps right from the beginning of the exercise so that that the tension is on the right muscle throughout the movement.

5. Barbell Reverse Grip Curls

If you want a fully developed arm, then you must train the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles. These muscles will make your arms look bigger and stronger. For that, reverse grip curls are a great way to hit these muscles.

During an eccentric phase of zottman curls, you are targeting the brachialis and brachioradialis with a reverse grip position. Here, you are doing the same movement. So doing both reverse grip and straight bar curls will be a great alternative to zottman curls.

Equipment Required- barbell and plates

Targeted Muscles- brachialis and brachioradialis

How to do

1. Hold a barbell with an overhand grip at shoulder-width apart.

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

3. Stop until the bar reaches the neck level and then slowly bring the bar down, back towards the starting position.

4. Repeat the movement at a prescribed number of reps.

Recommended Reps- 10-12

Here, your back should be stable and tight. Make sure that you are not overarching your lower back as it can create some lower back problems. Your core should be engaged throughout the movement to keep your body stable and upright

6. 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.

Equipment Required- resistance band

Targeted muscles- biceps brachii

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- 12-15

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.

7. 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.

Equipment Required- dumbbells

Targeted muscles- biceps brachii

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.

8. Rack Landmine Reverse Curls

This is a unique way to perform a reverse curl. This is a unilateral movement where you can focus on each part of your biceps separately which can be another good alternative to zottman curls.

If reverse curls are difficult for you or you don’t have good wrist mobility to perform reverse curl properly, then you should try this alternative. Here, you can also rotate your hands at the top which makes it easy to do.

Equipment Required- barbell

Targeted muscles- brachialis and brachioradialis

How to do

1. Place a barbell on a squat rack and hold the barbell with an overhand grip.

2. Stand at the side of the rack with your hands facing down and this will be your starting position.

3. With one end of the barbell resting on the rack, lift the other side of the barbell and bring it towards shoulder height.

4. Contract your biceps and forearms fully at the top and then slowly bring the barbell back to the starting position.

Recommended Reps- 10-12 reps

To get continuous gains and to avoid a plateau, you must have some variations in your workout program. This is a different way to hit the brachialis and is a good way to shock the muscle from the new stimulus you provide with this kind of exercise.

Final Words

So these were some of the best alternatives to zottman curl. All of these exercises discussed above should be added and sequenced in the right order according to your goals and fitness level. So make sure that you design the workout program accordingly.

If you just want to replace zottman curls with other alternatives, then try to add one or two alternatives instead of doing all of these exercises at once. You don’t need to do a lot of exercises to train your biceps as it is already engaged during other compound exercises like bent-over row, lat pulldown, pullups, etc. So don’t overdo during your bicep 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.


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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