Dumbbell Curl Techniques

There are many varieties of dumbbell curls.

There are many varieties of dumbbell curls.

The dumbbell is a very poorly named piece of equipment. Many dumbbell exercises offer several variations, so using dumbbells is actually smart, because you can target different parts of your body by using the same tools in different ways. Curls are among the most versatile dumbbell exercises. While most curls focus on your biceps, you can tone other parts of your arms, chest, shoulders or back, depending on the type of dumbbell curl you select.

Standard Dumbbell Curls

Stand erect with your arms extended and your palms facing your body while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Alternatively, sit on a bench or chair to target your biceps more directly.

Place your thumbs against the inside of each dumbbell’s plate.

Exhale as you lift one dumbbell about shoulder high. Rotate your arm as you move so your palm faces your shoulder. Lift the dumbbell with your forearm. Move your upper arm as little as possible and keep the rest of your body still.

Inhale as you lower the dumbbell slowly into the starting position.

Repeat the exercise with your opposite arm. To make the exercise more challenging, lift both dumbbells together.

Hammer Curls

Stand erect with your arms extended and the dumbbells at your sides.

Use the same grip as you did for the standard dumbbell curls, but place your hands in the middle of the dumbbell’s bar.

Exhale as you curl the dumbbell upward using your forearm, but don’t rotate your arm; at the top of the lift your thumb should face your shoulder. To focus more on your forearms, raise the dumbbell toward the middle of your chest, rather than your shoulder.

Inhale as you lower the dumbbell slowly back to the starting position.

Wrist Curls

Sit on a chair or the edge of a bench with your upper body erect and your feet flat on the floor.

Hold a dumbbell in one hand with an underhand grip, then rest your arm on your thigh so the wrist just hangs over your knee.

Drop your wrist slowly and let the dumbbell slide out of your palm and into your fingers. This is your starting position.

Roll your fingers upward and raise your wrist while keeping the remainder of your body still. Lift the dumbbell as high as you comfortably can.

Lower your wrist and let the dumbbell slide back into your fingers to complete one repetition. Perform the desired number of reps, then repeat the exercise with your other hand.

Perform reverse wrist curls by holding the dumbbell in an overhand grip and keeping the dumbbell in your palm at all times.


  • Basic dumbbell curls primarily strengthen your biceps but also work your forearms and shoulders. Hammer curls target the brachioradialis muscle, which runs from your upper to your lower arm, as well as your biceps and forearms. Wrist curls target your forearm flexors, while reverse wrist curls focus on your forearm extensors.

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