How to: Biceps Curls

Biceps curls strengthen and tone the muscles on the front side of the upper arm.

Bicep Curls with an Exercise Machine

This exercise assumes you are using a biceps curl machine. Your machine may differ from the one demonstrated here, so be sure to read and follow the instruction placard for details on adjusting and using your machine. Or ask for help from the weight-room supervisor.

Adjust the seat height so your arms rest comfortably on the arm pads. Move the pin in the weight stack to a very light weight until you become familiar with the exercise. Grip the bar or handles with your palms turned up. Slowly move your hands up toward your shoulders, pause briefly after your arms form a 90-degree angle, then return slowly to the start position. Don't slam the weights. Count one two on the upward motion, one-two on the pause, and one two three four on the return. One-two. One-two. One-two-three-four.

Keep your wrists, neck, and back straight and your shoulders level throughout the exercise. Don't hunch your shoulders or flex your wrists.

When you are comfortable with the exercise, gradually increase the weight load until you can do 8 to 10 repetitions using proper form. Once you can achieve 12 or more repetitions, increase the weight to bring you back to the 8-to-10-repetition target zone.

Bicep Curls with Dumbbells

For this exercise, you need two dumbbells of equal weight. Use a light weight until you are comfortable with the exercise.

Hold a dumbbell in each hand, and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the weights with your arms at your sides and your elbows straight. Your palms should face forward.

Slowly raise both dumbbells toward your shoulders, bending your arms only at the elbows. Stop when your forearms are perpendicular to the floor, then slowly lower the weights until your elbows are fully extended to the start position. Count one-two on the upward motion, one-two-three-four on the return motion. One-two. One-two-three-four.

Keep your wrists, back, and neck relaxed and straight throughout the exercise, and your elbows at your sides. All movements should be slow and controlled.

For variety, you can perform the same exercise with your palms facing the sides of your body. This hand position works a slightly different portion of your biceps muscle.

When you are comfortable with the exercise, gradually increase the weight of the dumbbells until you can do 8 to 10 repetitions using proper form. Once you can achieve 12 or more repetitions, increase the weight to bring you back to the 8-to-10-repetition target zone.

Bicep Curls with a Resistance Band

For this exercise, you need a band of rubber exercise tubing. Choose a low-resistance tubing until you become familiar with the exercise.

Grasp one handle in each hand, then step on the middle of the tubing with both feet. Stand straight up with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Wrap the tubing around your hands so there is even tension on both ends.

Turn your palms to face forward, then slowly and evenly bring your hands up toward your shoulders, bending your arms at the elbows. Keep your elbows close to your sides and wrists straight and locked. Raise the handles only until your forearms are perpendicular to the floor, then slowly and evenly lower the handles to the starting position. Count one-two as you raise your hands, and one-two-three-four as you lower them. One-two. One-two-three-four.

When you are comfortable with the exercise, gradually increase the resistance of the tubing until you can do 18 to 20 repetitions using proper form. To increase resistance, shorten the tubing by wrapping it around each hand, or choose a higher resistance tubing. Once you can achieve 25 or more repetitions, increase the resistance to bring you back to the 18-to-20-repetition target zone.

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