When people think of weight training, the bicep curl is usually in the picture. It's an awesome exercise that gives rapid results and in a safe and reasonably simplistic way. What's not to love. It's one of the most effective ways to build up your biceps to give your arm and upper body strength that extra edge that you're looking for, but are you doing it right?

There are a few different areas you need to keep in mind when you're focusing on your technique with any exercise, and the bicep curl is no different. You can use a whole range of different methods and variables in your bicep workout, but these main points will apply to pretty much all of them.

Set up

Close up shot of a woman bicep curling a dumbbell

Setting yourself up for any exercise is essential. There are various things you need to keep in mind before you start training, especially when it comes to using an added weight like with dumbbell exercises. Here are some of the most important things that you need to keep in mind.

Warmed Up

Warming up is absolutely essential, no matter what you're going to be doing. Although there are a lot of different ways that you can warm up for an exercise, some of the best ways revolve around stretches and lighter exercises to make sure that the exact muscles that you are going using are primed and ready to go. Using a dramatically lower weight ion the exercise that you intend to be doing is often a good place to start, but for the bicep curl, even exercises like rowing can get you good to go. Stretching is always a smart move too to prevent injury and improve flexibility, but just the more the better.

Stood Firm

Once you feel like your muscles are in the right state and you feel ready to go, you can move onto the more specifics. As we said above, there are a lot of different variations for the bicep curl, but for the best form, we’re going to suggest standing up. Standing for any exercise is usually the best practice as you can give yourself the support that you need and make sure everything is as engaged as it should be to stabilise.

Correct Weight

This usually goes without saying, but when it comes to iconic exercises like the bicep curl, it needs to be stressed. You need to be using the right weight for your own arms. Don’t look at what someone else may be doing online or at the gym and just focus on you. You know your own strength, and if you use a weight that’s too high for you to handle, you’ll likely be using poor form. This is an extremely easy way to hinder your own progress. Train smart!

Shoulder Distance Grip

The most common practice for the bicep curl is to use a barbell or a dumbbell for the exercise. These are some of the most popular and useful pieces of equipment in anyone's exercising arsenal, so they make sense. Your hands and arms should be in more or less the same position no matter which of the two that you use. Keep your hands in line with your shoulders so that you are lifting straight upwards, and you’ll be hitting the right areas.



close up shot of a man curling a barbell

So, you’re set up, but what about the movement itself? Again, there’s more to the bicep curl than meets the eye, so keep these in mind throughout your workout.

Pivoted Elbows

For your biceps to be fully engaged and to make the proper progress that you need to, your elbows need to be staying in the same place. They should be pivoted by your sides so that they aren’t moving and engaging other muscles to help you to lift the weight. They’ll be moving into a full 90-degree angle by the end of the m0oevemtn, so keep an eye out to make sure that you aren’t going to be flaring them!

Slow, no momentum

Take the movement as slow as you usually would do for any exercise. It’s so easy to buildup speed and momentum during the bicep curl without even realising it. Take your time and keep your mind on what you are doing. You should be looking at 2-3 seconds each way. The longer time under tension should give you a progress boost too, so it's a win-win situation.

Straight Back

Again, as with most exercises, it’s always a smart move for you to keep your back straight to make sure that you’re doing everything right. It will stop you from building up momentum and even putting yourself in danger by losing your technique. It forces you to keep the focus on your biceps too which is just what you need to get the progress you want.

Wrists Locked

Finally, you need to really focus on keeping your wrists where they should be. It can be easy to bend your wrists as you’re holding a heavy weight, and this can quite easily lead you straight top an injury. Engaging your wrists during the exercise will bring your forearm strength into question too and can result in your hurting your muscle as well as the ligaments and tendons in your wrist. It’s a dangerous game you do not want to be playing. Keep them straight.


If you can keep all of these in mind as you're getting yourself into the healthy habit of proper technique, your body will thank you for it. You'll soon find that you're making more progress than you could do with bad form, and you're keeping yourself safe in other exercises too. Progress is always transferable.



Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.