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How to Build Incredible Arms with Reverse Curls – Technique Tips, Benefits and Mistakes

The best arm exercise you aren't doing.

Welcome to the complete guide to the Reverse Curl.

This article features everything you need to know in order to build muscle mass, develop strength and enhance your training and gains.

What is the Reverse Curl?

The Reverse Curl is a variation of the Bicep Curl with the hands in an overhand (pronated) setup instead of the usual underhand (supinated) grip.

It can be performed with a barbell, EZ bar or dumbbells.

What Muscles does the Reverse Curl Work?

This unique exercise primarily taxes the arms in new ways by working the biceps branchii, brachioradialis and brachialis.

Biceps Branchii

More commonly know as the biceps, this muscle group houses two origin points on the shoulder and a single insertion point on the forearm. It controls and allows for supination of the forearm, elbow flexion and shoulder flexion.

Brachioradialis

This is one of the major muscles of the forearm and arms.

It has the ability to elevate the mass of the biceps by pressing them from below, contributing to the overall size and appearance of the arms.

This muscle group works in tandem with the biceps to move and flex the elbow. It also operates as a forearm flexor.

Arm-Workouts reverse curlSource: Photos courtesy of CrossFit Inc

Brachialis

This muscle can be found running beneath the biceps branchii.

It is an important muscle to enable the curling of weight at the start of the movement. It also contributes to general muscle mass and functionality for the arms.

What are the Benefits of the Reverse Curl?

Read on to find out why you should include this exercise in your training.

Add New Stimulus

Many lifters stick to the same weights, reps and exercises over and over again, especially when it comes to the arms.

Adding in a new exercise is an excellent way to mix things up and keep your body guessing.

New stimulus, from progressive overload or completely new mechanical stress, will lead to gains.

Build Muscle

The movement is an excellent exercise for hypertrophy when programmed correctly into your training.

Thicker Arms

The exercise activates the major bicep and forearm muscles and force them to work hard. This will improve arm thickness in general.

Better Grip

The pronated hold will be a new challenge for your grip strength.

This will have plenty of carry over for other pronated grip exercises such as Pull Ups, Deadlifts, Bench Presses and Bent Over Rows.

How to Do the Reverse Curl

Use the following steps to utilise this exercise with correct form.

This describes the movement with the EZ bar, but the same instructions can be used for the barbell and dumbbell variations.

  • Grip the EZ bar with an overhand (pronated) grip
  • Place your feet shoulder width apart and establish a slight bend in the knees
  • Straighten the spine and maintain a neutral head position with the gaze looking forwards
  • Inhale and brace the core, glutes and grip
  • Outwardly rotate the shoulders, engage the lats and back
  • Keeping your elbows pinned into position, curl the weight upwards until your forearms come into contact with the biceps.
  • The bar will finish close to the chest without being in contact with the body
  • Pause at the top of the movement and squeeze the biceps as hard as you can at the top of the range of motion
  • Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position and exhale
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions

Technique Tips

Make sure your elbows are slightly bent and don’t fully extend the arms. This will help to increase the contraction and maximise time under tension for your muscles.

Keep your wrists straight at all times. Don’t let them flex backwards at the top of the movement.

brooke ence wrist injuriesSource: RX'd Photography
Strong wrists are important for many exercises (such as this thruster)

Make your core and glutes work to stabilise the body and provide a rigid foundation for the movement of the arms.

Don’t use momentum. This will only decrease your gains.

Move slowly, with purpose and precision at all times.

Reverse Curl Mistakes

Avoid these common Reverse Curl mistakes.

Thinking That the Reverse Curl is Simply a Biceps Exercise

The Reverse Curl, like the Hammer Curl, works the entire arms. That is part of its appeal.

It is effective for building muscle mass for the biceps and for strengthening the entirety of the arms.

Over Extending the Wrists at the Top of The Movement

Don’t let the wrists overextend at the top as this will lessen the overall time under tension. It will also place unnecessary stress on the wrists.

If you are struggling to complete each rep and find that this is a good way to “rest” during the sets then lower the weight and go lighter. Proper form is always better than ego lifting and will result in better gains.

All lifters should focus on the alignment of the wrist and elbows at all times.

Reverse Curl Variations

You can alternate between these other variations when you train and program your sessions.

EZ Bar Reverse Curl

You need a specific EZ bar to perform this variation. It is a good way to protect your wrists as it reduces pressure on that part of the body.

Dumbbell Reverse Curl

This allows more flexibility for the wrists and enables you to perform the exercise unilaterally (one arm at a time). Start light so that you give your ligaments and tendons time to adapt as well.

Barbell Reverse Curl

Effective and hard, this type will significantly develop your arm and grip strength.

Reverse Curl Alternatives

If you want to keep your training varied, fun and challenging, think about including the following exercises as well.

  • Hammer Curl
  • Close Body Hammer Curl
  • Standing Pronated Grip Cable Pulldown
  • Pronated Grip Barbell Wrist Curl

FAQs

Got more questions? Scroll through to find the answers.

What does the Reverse Curl Work?

The exercise works the arm muscles including the biceps brachii and brachialis. The movement enhances grip strength, builds muscle, augments strength and provides a unique new stimulus for the upper body.

Are Reverse Curls Worth Doing?

Yes, they are worth doing. They are effective and challenging and will attack and strengthen your arms in unique ways. The pronated grip will be a new way to expand your gains.

Are Reverse Curls Good for Forearms?

Yes, the movement is an excellent way to develop the forearms. They work the biceps brachii, brachialis and the forearm extensors and the brachioradialis of the forearms.

Learn More

Expand your arms further with Zottman Curls and Hammer Curls.

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