This extensive guide will teach you everything you need to know about Concentration Curls.
When it comes to building biceps, the exercise is one of the best.
- What Are Concentration Curls?
- Benefits of Concentration Curls
- What Muscles does the Concentration Curl Work?
- How to Do Concentration Curls
- Concentration Curls Training Tips
- Concentration Curl Variations
- Concentration Curl Alternatives
- Concentration Curl Common Mistakes
- Learn more
What Are Concentration Curls?
Concentration Curls are an isolation dumbbell exercise that targets the biceps.
They are performed (usually) in a seated position and the back of the upper arms is placed against the inside of the thigh.
This wedges the moving arm in place and allows for a fixed, isolated movement that maximises the amount of work that the biceps must do.
Benefits of Concentration Curls
There are many benefits to this effective exercise:
Build Bigger Biceps
The movement activates both the long and short head of the biceps branchii.
This leads to solid hypertrophy and strength gains. Perfect if you want bigger arms.
Identify Weaknesses and Muscular Imbalances
As a unilateral exercise (each arm is performed in turn), Concentration Curls will show you exactly where you are weak and where you are strong.
We all usually have weaker and stronger sides or limbs. However, once the reality is uncovered, we can work to correct the imbalances.
Practice your Lifting Form
The mechanics of the exercise make it next to impossible to cheat the movement and use momentum.
This will make your arms stronger and your discipline better for other exercises that utilise similar movement of the arms, such as Chin Ups or Bicep Curls.
What Muscles does the Concentration Curl Work?
The primary muscle group that the exercise works is the biceps branchii.
As a group, they are composed of two heads, the long head and the short head.
These muscles work together to move the arm for lifting and pulling movements.
The secondary muscle groups that are targeted are the:
- Branchialis (muscle beneath the biceps)
How to Do Concentration Curls
Use these step-by-step instructions to perform the exercise correctly.
- Take a seat on the edge of a flat bench. Grip the dumbbell with a supinated (underhand) grip
- Open your legs so that they are wider apart than your hips
- Keeping your back straight, hinge forwards at the hips and rest your upper arm/elbow on the inside of your thigh. Your spine will be at a roughly 45-degree angle
- Allow your arm to fully extend and hang down (still gripping the dumbbell) towards the floor
- Rotate your shoulder outwards slightly. Bend the elbow slightly
- Place the non-dumbbell hand on the other knee
- Inhale and brace the core, grip, glutes and biceps
- Slowly curl the dumbbell upwards by bending your elbow
- Pause at the top and squeeze your bicep as hard as you can
- Slowly lower the arm back to the starting position
- Repeat for the desired number of reps
Concentration Curls Training Tips
Remember to keep your back straight at all times.
Think about your biceps as you lift as this will help to strengthen the mind muscle connection.
Concentration Curl Variations
Add these variations into your training and keep things exciting.
Hammer Concentration Curl
Simply rotate your wrist into the Hammer neutral grip and perform the exercise in the same way. This will work your triceps hard as well as the biceps.
Standing Concentration Curl
This is great if you don’t have a bench available. Hinge your hips forwards and lower your arm between your legs. Remember to keep your back straight.
Cable Concentration Curl
This is an effective way to maximise the resistance at all stages of the movement. The cable will provide constant tension for the biceps.
Concentration Curl Alternatives
These alternatives work well as substitutes that cause similar stimuli.
- Dumbbell Drag Curl
- Supinated Dumbbell Curl
- Dumbbell Zottman Curl
Concentration Curl Common Mistakes
Make sure you aren’t sabotaging your gains and slowing progress by making any of these mistakes.
Not Using the Full Range of Motion
Partial reps should not be used.
Make sure that you move the weight through the full range of motion as that will optimise the difficulty and benefits.
It is ALWAYS better to lift a lighter weight properly, with great form, than to lift a heavier weight badly.
Using Momentum to Shift the Weight
When an athlete has to swing the weight, it is normally a sign that it is too heavy for them.
The solution is the same as above, drop to a lighter weight if you can’t lift it without using momentum.
Rushing the Lift
The exercise should be performed slowly, with full control at all times.
Rushing the lift will minimise the time under tension and lessen your gains.
Both parts of the lift (the eccentric and concentric) are important. Don’t speed through the sets by letting the weight fall back down quickly. Go slow and steady and you will build more muscle and strength.
Counting out the tempo can also be helpful.