Barbell Curl Grip Variations
I’ll admit it, when I first made the decision I was going to transform my physique for the better I went to my local sports store and bought a 25lb dumbbell set.
What followed was a month of biceps curls, every variation I could find as well as some that’d probably never been seen before.
Once a week I snapped a photo of my arms and measured my biceps peak… no change.
I became discouraged and never touched those dumbbells again.
Several months later when I started following a proper workout regime and discovered the training principles that actually work I realized that I’d make literally every single mistake possible on the quest for big biceps.
Back then my arms, at 16% body fat measured 12″, today in the single digit body fat range they are just shy of 17″.
Here’s what you need to know in order to build alter your grip to target all areas of the biceps.
Anatomy Of The Biceps (You MUST Understand This)
The biceps are comprised of two heads.
The short head is the inner side of your biceps.
The long head is the outer side of your biceps.
Slight variations in grip on the ever popular barbell curl will allow you to target these two heads of the biceps individually.
Shoulder-Width Grip Barbell Curls
The regular barbell bicep curl utilizes a shoulder-width grip.
This grip placement allows an even emphasis on both the short and long head of the biceps.
The shoulder-width grip is without a doubt the most comfortable grip to use as there’s no additional pressure or stress on the wrists which many guys find to be a sticking point as they progress with the barbell curl.
The shoulder-width barbell curl is best performed with an olympic barbell.
Narrow Grip Barbell Curls
A narrower than shoulder-width grip on the barbell will place a greater emphasis on the long (outer) head of the biceps.
If you’re struggling to build up a sizeable bicep peak you’re going to benefit from adding in narrow grip curls to your routine.
The narrow grip barbell curl is best performed utilizing the narrow pre-set grip on a EZ-Curl bar as your wrists will not be as stressed as if you assumed the same grip on a straight olympic barbell.
Wide Grip Barbell Curls
A wider than shoulder-width grip on ther barbell will place a greater emphasis on the short (inner) head of the biceps.
If you’ve got a decent bicep peak but your arms are lacking that overall thickness then you’ll benefit from mixing some wide grip curls into your routine.
The wide grip barbell curl is best performed utilizing the widest pre-set grip on a EZ-Curl bar as your wrists will not be as stressed as if you assumed the same grip on a straight olympic barbell, if you encounter any elbow pain with the wider grip I recommend lowering the weight and slowly building your way back up.
Reverse Grip Barbell Curls
When curling with your palms facing away from you (as opposed to your palms facing you in a regular curl) you will be targeting your forearms and grip strength instead of the short or long head of your biceps.
I personally don’t recommend performing reverse grip curls unless you’re struggling to develop the necessary grip strength to progress on grip & forearm intensive exercises such as the barbell deadlift & weighted pull-up. If you opt to add the reverse grip barbell curl into your routine start with 50% of your regular barbell curl weight and slowly work your way up (these are substantially harder!).
Barbell Curl Grip Variations Summary
The biceps are comprised of the inner (short) and outer (long) heads.
A shoulder-width grip targets both the inner & outer heads of the bicep.
Want to smash the inner head of your biceps? Utilize a wider than shoulder-width grip.
Want to smash the outer head of your biceps? Utilize a narrower than shoulder-width grip.
Want to build grip & forearm strength? Perform your curls with an overhead (palms facing away) grip.