Also Known As: Arm Curls, Dumbbell Curls

Targets: Mainly Biceps

You will learn here, how to do bicep curls with dumbbells, bicep curls dumbbell form, its benefits, most common mistakes plus a demo video.

The bicep curls dumbbell workout is a weight-training exercise that works on the muscles of your upper arm, and to a lesser extent, on the lower arm. They make up an important part of almost every upper body workout regime. It’s such a common exercise, and so often everyone assumes that he or she is doing bicep curls correctly.

You can do this exercise using dumbbell, barbell, kettlebell, cable machine or resistance band.

However, I see a lot of people (males as well as females) commit mistakes that make bicep curls less effective, and at times lead to back pain and other injuries.

Bicep curls, when done properly and regularly, help increase the size & strength of the muscles in the front of your upper arms. This exercise does an amazing job of isolating your biceps, making sure that you really work on these muscles.

Benefits – What Do Bicep Curls Do For Your Body?

You need strong biceps for doing everyday routine activities like picking things up and putting them down. Bicep curls help:

(i) Increase bicep muscles size;

(ii) Tone & shape up your upper arms; and

(iii) Build strong upper arms.

Common Mistakes That People Usually Make While Doing Bicep Curls

To get the maximum benefits from doing bicep curls, focus on using the correct form and the right technique and avoid the following errors.

Moving Too Much and Doing Too Fast

Some people tend to move too much such as swinging hips or moving whole arm too fast. You need to use slow, steady & smooth movements – taking as much time to lower the dumbbells as you do to lift them.

Incorrect Elbow Position

Do not change the position of your elbows while doing the curls. If you allow your elbows to move, it will take the tension off your biceps. Keep you elbows close to the sides of your body all through the exercise. If you observe your elbows moving in front or behind the body or floating away from your torso, you are probably lifting too heavy dumbbells. So reduce the weight.

Moving Your Whole Arms

The objective of this exercise is to isolate your biceps. To achieve this avoid moving your whole arms. Make sure that you move only your forearms when performing curls.

Using Momentum

Don’t engage your shoulders or torso to swing the dumbbells up while performing curls. For instance, when you use heavy dumbbells you tend to engage your shoulders. This will cause your shoulders to round forward and put strain on your back – leading to injuries.

The major reason for all the above mistakes is using too heavy dumbbells – causing your body to engage other muscles to complete the movement. This not only reduces the effectiveness of bicep curls, but also exposes your body to injuries.

Useful Tip: So to correct the above mistakes, use a weight with which you can perform all the reps of your set (usually 10 to 15) without compromising the form.

How To Do Dumbbell Bicep Curls Correctly?

Choose dumbbells of a weight with which you can perform 10 to 15 reps maintaining good form. The first timers can start with weights from 5 to 10 pounds per dumbbell. If you are an absolute beginner, you might start with 2 pounds.

Start Position

Hold one dumbbell in each hand. Relax your arms and hang them down at the sides of your body with palms facing forward. Stand tall with your feet about hip-width apart. Tighten your abdominal muscles and slightly bend your knees. This is your Start Position.


(i) Keep your shoulders back & relaxed.

(ii) Bend at your elbows, and lift the dumbbells up towards your shoulders. Make sure you move your forearms only, keeping the elbows hugging the sides of your body.

(iii) Lower the dumbbells down back to the starting position in order to ensure that you move through the full range of motion, stretch the muscle properly in order to work on all the muscle fibers.

(iv) Exhale while lifting the dumbbells, and inhale while lowering them down.

(v) Do the desired number of reps & set.

I recommend 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps. Rest as per your needs between the sets.

Note: You can also opt to curl the dumbbells, using one arm at a time and alternating your arms.

How To Do A Modified Bicep Curl – Easy Variation!

There are a number of ways to make bicep curls exercise easier, thereby increasing your upper body strength gradually and progressing to challenging bicep curls. This way you can make sure that you don’t strain any muscle.

  • You can try lifting the dumbbell half way and stopping when your elbow is bent at 90 degrees. Or you may use just 1 to 2 pound dumbbells.
  • If you feel unbalanced while doing standing version, you can sit in a chair without arms or on a stool and do this exercise slowly.
  • For the most basic, easiest modification, practice curling movements without using weights in order to get your body used to the movements.
  • Incline Dumbbell Bicep Curls

You can do this exercise lying back on an incline bench, setting the bench at 30 to 45°.

Precautions & Safety!

If you are a beginner don’t try to lift too heavy dumbbells. Stop if you feel any pain. Don’t start using heavier weights before you’re ready. Injury to your shoulder, back, elbow or wrist can occur, which can disrupt your entire workout regime.

Do not force extra reps when you are unable to continue the curls with good form. Take a rest before doing the next set.

Watch this demo video to learn the correct way to do bicep curls with dumbbells:

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