top of page

How to Do the Bicep Curl (Step-by-Step)

Updated: Oct 26, 2021

The bicep curl is a common and effective exercise for the upper arm muscles.

This article explains how to do the bicep curl.

How to Do the Bicep Curl

  • To begin, stand with a dumbbell in each hand.

  • Keep your elbows at your sides, and your forearms should extend out in front of your body. Keep your knees slightly bent.

  • Lift the dumbbells to your shoulders in an "arc" motion by bending your elbows.

  • Once you're at the top of the rep and the dumbbells are near your shoulders, hold it for 1-3 seconds and squeeze.

  • Slowly lower the dumbbells back down.

This same process applies for the barbell bicep curl.

What Is a Bicep Curl?

The biceps curl is a highly recognisable exercise that works the upper arm muscles, and to a lesser extent, the lower arm muscles.

The bicep curl is an excellent exercise for strength, size and definition - it is one of the most common exercises done by many athletes.

This exercise has several variations, including dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, and even cable machines.

The bicep curl can also be done at home using various items such as backpacks, water jugs etc.

We recommend starting with the standing dumbbell biceps curl; these you can do anywhere.

Bicep curls are a common exercise used in many upper body strength training routines.


Bicep curls work the bicep muscles at the upper arm and the lower arm muscles - the brachialis and brachioradialis. (1)

These muscles are required anytime you pick something up.

Doing the bicep curl can help build strength and size in the upper arm, depending on how you train.

It can also improve the mind-muscle connection, and training the biceps can help enhance the muscle pump and circulation.

man doing a bicep curl exercise
The bicep curl can improve bicep strength and size.

How to Make It Harder

There are a few ways to make the bicep curl harder.

The obvious ways to make the bicep curl harder are to:

  • Increase repetitions.

  • Increase weight.

Increasing the weight or the reps, or both, can increase the resistance and make the bicep curl harder.

The other ways to make the bicep curl harder is to:

  • Add resistance bands.

  • Increase time-under-tension.

Adding resistance bands to this exercise can enhance the bicep curl's dynamics, making it more effective.

This addition makes it more challenging at the top of the rep; usually, it gets easier as the dumbbell gets past the 45° angle.

Increasing time-under-tension also makes the bicep curl more useful; you can do this by going slower or holding at the 45° mark.

How to Make It Easier

Making the bicep curl easier is merely reversing the ways to make it harder.

You can make it easier by:

  • Using lighter weights.

  • Doing fewer reps.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can you get big biceps from just curls?

A: The answer is yes. However, for the most effective and efficient increase in strength and size, you would want to vary your training and exercises.

Q: How much do your bicep curl?

A: It varies per person and depends on many factors, however on average and ideally, the one-rep maximum should be as follows; men up to 120 pounds should be able to curl 70lbs. Men 121-135 pounds should be able to curl 85lbs. Men 136-155 pounds should curl 105lbs. Men 156-170 pounds should lift 120lbs. Men 171-185 pounds should curl 135lbs. Men 186-205 pounds should curl 155lbs.

Q: How can I make my bicep curls easier?

A: Reducing the number of reps and the amount of weight being lifted can help make the bicep curl easier. You can read more here.


Written by Billy White

billy white

Billy White is a qualified Kinesiologist and Personal Trainer. He is an aspiring bodybuilder, fitness enthusiast, and health and fitness researcher.

He has multiple years of experience within the fitness, bodybuilding and health space. He is committed to providing the highest-quality information.



This section contains links to research, studies, and sources of information for this article, as well as authors, contributors, etc. All sources, along with the article and facts, are subjected to a series of quality, reliability, and relevance checks.

Real Muscle primarily uses high-quality sources, such as peer-reviewed publications, to back up the information in our articles. To understand more about how we fact-check and keep our information accurate, dependable, and trustworthy, read more about us.

This evidence based exercise guide for the bicep curl features 1 reference, listed below.

1. Marcolin G, Panizzolo FA, Petrone N, Moro T, Grigoletto D, Piccolo D, Paoli A. Differences in electromyographic activity of biceps brachii and brachioradialis while performing three variants of curl. PeerJ. (2018)

Citations with a tick indicate the information is from a trusted source.


The information provided in this article is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of a physician or other competent professional before following advice or taking any supplement. See our terms and conditions.

Give Your Feedback

How would you rate this article?TerribleNot greatSatisfactoryGoodPerfectHow would you rate this article?

Get Your Free Workout Guide

Sign up to receive your free guide to workouts, including 5 of our best tips guaranteed to help you achieve your goals! Sign up now.

Great! Check your inbox.

Our Promise

Real Muscle is a fitness, health, and bodybuilding information publishing company working to make honest, accurate, and evidence-based information easy to find. We are working hard to improve the health and fitness of everyone.

Our evidence-based articles are based on the latest, most trustworthy studies and research, every statement is cited. Read the policy here.

Our evidence-based articles are regularly updated, scientifically reviewed, and fact-checked by subject matter experts. Meet the team here.

All of our articles are put through the most rigorous of editorial standards to ensure the highest-quality article possible. See our process here.

bottom of page