An EZ-bar curl is, well, easy. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold an EZ-bar in an underhand grip with your arms extended and then curl the bar up towards your chest, keeping your elbows in to your sides. But it’s also easy to get the finer points wrong – nail your form with these tips.
1. Strong wrists
EZ-bars have an undulating middle section which allows a semi-supinated grip. This allows the biceps to be effectively isolated while using a joint-friendly grip. You want to keep your wrists in the strongest position possible, and turning them in towards your body “locks” the joint and keeps it stable. If you are an experienced lifter you can cock your wrists away from your body to lessen the role of the forearms and place greater emphasis on the biceps. Always warm up first and don’t lift too heavy because it places significant strain on the wrists.
2. Bring in the biceps
To get bigger biceps you need to make sure that they are doing as much of the lifting as possible, so you must eliminate any momentum to make your muscles do more work. Start with your arms fully straight, with triceps tensed, then initiate each rep by squeezing your biceps. Don’t start by swinging your elbows forwards. Keep the tension on your biceps and continue to squeeze the bar as it rises. Once at the top of the move, squeeze your biceps hard, then lower the bar slowly, straightening your arms fully at the bottom before you start the next rep.
3. Tight elbows
For a standing curl your elbows should remain tight to your sides for the duration of each rep. If your elbows move up or forwards, this takes tension away from your biceps, and you want these muscles to do as much of the work as possible for maximum growth. If you’re seated at a preacher bench, then your elbows and the backs of your upper arms need to be flush against the padding throughout. If you can’t lift the bar without your elbows moving, whether standing or seated, the weight is too heavy. Reduce it.
4. Retracted shoulders
When standing, retract your shoulder blades and raise your chest to keep your torso as upright as possible. Doing so prevents your upper back and shoulders hunching forwards, which creates poor posture, increasing the pressure on your joints and decreasing the range of motion through which you can move the bar. When seated, you also want to keep your shoulders back to prevent leaning forwards over the bench to maintain the safest lifting posture possible.
5. Level head
Always ensure your head is held high throughout the set, and keep your head and neck aligned by focusing on raising your chin. It can be very tempting – especially when a set gets hard – to let your chin drop towards your chest, but it places pressure on your neck and upper spine, which intensifies when lifting the bar and can lead to the shoulders rolling forwards too. Stand in front of a mirror so you can watch your form and focus on keeping your chin up and your head and neck aligned.
EZ-Bar Curl Assistance Moves
Add these exercises to your workouts to target the key muscles involved in a EZ-bar biceps curl so you can lift more weight.
EZ-bar reverse curl
Stand tall with your shoulders back and feet close together, holding an EZ-bar with an overhand grip with your hands just outside your hips. Keeping your elbows tucked in to your sides, curl the bar up towards your chest, stopping just before your forearms reach vertical. Avoid rocking to generate momentum.
This move targets all the muscles on the front of your upper arm in every rep, using both heads of the biceps – brachii and brachialis – on the way up, and the brachioradialis when you go palms-down for the descent. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and curl them up to chest height, then twist your palms to face downwards before you lower, shifting the focus to your forearms.
Incline biceps curl
Sit on a bench set to an incline between 30˚ and 45˚, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your back flat against the bench and your elbows close to your sides, curl both dumbbells up to shoulder height. Squeeze your biceps at the top of the move, then slowly return to the start.