Incline Dumbbell Curl: A Complete Guide

dumbbell drag curl

Everything you need to know about the incline dumbbell curl to target your biceps to a greater degree

Besides ripped abs, the next most flexed muscle is your biceps. Every guy wants bulging biceps. They say the “curls get the girls.” What’s more physically attractive than having arms on the verge of busting through your sleeves? There are many curl variations to get burly arms. But we’re going to dive into the incline dumbbell curl. And explain what separates it from regular dumbbell curls. Keep reading to learn how to perform the incline dumbbell curl properly and why you should add it to your arm day.  

Incline Dumbbell Curl Technique and Muscles Worked

As the name implies, the incline dumbbell curl is a dumbbell curl performed on a bench set at an incline. Both standard dumbbell curls and incline dumbbell curls are effective curling exercises for targeting your biceps brachii (1). But curling a dumbbell at an angle will allow your biceps to go through a greater range of motion and target more of the long head of your biceps brachii. Below you’ll learn the proper steps to perform them.


You’ll want to set up a bench to a 45-60 degree incline. This angle will ensure that you’re not too far down or too upright and let you do a dumbbell curl with an increased range of motion. 

Starting Position 

Next, sit on the bench with your arms extending, holding two dumbbells, and lie your back flat with your feet firmly on the ground. You can allow your head to come off the bench to protect your head and neck during the movement.

Curl and Squeeze 

Hold the dumbbells in a supinated grip (palms facing up) and alternate curling one dumbbell at a time without moving your elbows or swaying. Keeping your elbows fixed and refraining from using momentum will keep the tension on your biceps. For a better mind-muscle connection and to contract your biceps more, squeeze your biceps at the top of each curl. 

Benefits of the Incline Dumbbell Curl

Compared to other curl variations, such as the standard dumbbell curl, the incline dumbbell curl come with its benefits. 

Greater Range of Motion

Since this movement is done at an incline, it allows you to curl the dumbbell through a greater range of motion. A greater range of motion will allow you to target more of your biceps. 

Targets More of the Long Head of Your Biceps

Your biceps are made of two heads, a long head and a short head (2). When curling a dumbbell at an incline, you target more of the long head of your biceps. And your long head makes up the peak of your biceps (the muscle you see when you flex your arms). So dumbbell incline curls will make your biceps grow bigger. 


This exercise is versatile. You can use various grips on this exercise, including a neutral grip (palms facing each other) to take some tension off your wrists and activate your forearms, turning this movement into an incline hammer curl. And you can also choose to curl both dumbbells simultaneously to put your body under more stress to gain strength instead of alternating each rep. 

Incline Dumbbell Curl Alternatives

We’ll give you alternatives if you don’t have a bench that inclines to perform dumbbell incline curls. 

Dumbbell Hammer Curl

The dumbbell hammer curl isn’t done on an incline bench. This exercise can be performed while standing or sitting on a bench–standing will activate more of your core, and sitting will isolate your biceps better. But what makes dumbbell hammer curls similar to incline hammer curls is that they both target the long head of your biceps more than the short head.

Dumbbell Concentration Curl

The dumbbell concentration curl isolates each side of your biceps while keeping your elbows stable in an anchored position. It’s performed on a bench and is another excellent exercise for engaging the long head of your biceps. 

Close Grip Barbell Curls

As the name suggests, you’ll perform this exercise with a barbell using a close grip. Placing your hands narrower than shoulder-width apart will activate more of the long head of your biceps. 


Remember these frequently asked questions (FAQs) when performing the incline dumbbell curl. 

  • How does the incline dumbbell curl work? 

The incline dumbbell curl targets your biceps brachii, primarily working your long head due to performing curls at an angle. 

  • What angle should I perform the incline dumbbell curl? 

Setting up a bench at an incline that’s not too steep or too upright is vital. You can hurt yourself if it’s too steep and does not fully engage your bicep muscles. And if it’s not steep enough, it will mimic more of a regular dumbbell curl and target more of your short head. Therefore, we recommend setting up your bench to a 45-60 degree angle. 

  • How many sets and reps should you do? 

Beginners should keep the volume lower and perform fewer sets than intermediate and advanced lifters. And if you’re adding this exercise on a separate arm day, you may not need to do as many sets and reps if you incorporate this exercise with other arm movements. However, if it’s tagged on to your back day, you may want to include more sets if you plan to hit more of your biceps instead of only working your biceps as a secondary muscle group on back day. In general, for explosive arm growth, though, we recommend four sets of 10 to 12 reps. 

Final Word

The incline dumbbell curl is an excellent biceps brachii movement. It allows you to go through a greater range of motion during curls. And it targets more of your long head, which makes up the peak of your biceps. 

If you’d like to learn more about how to perform different exercises to build an amazing physique, click the link to apply for a FREE coaching call. Spots are extremely limited. It’s on a first-come, first-served basis! 


  1. Oliveira, L. F., Matta, T. T., Alves, D. S., Garcia, M. A., & Vieira, T. M. (2009). Effect of the shoulder position on the biceps brachii emg in different dumbbell curls. Journal of sports science & medicine, 8(1), 24–29.
  2. Tiwana MS, Charlick M, Varacallo M. Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Biceps Muscle. [Updated 2022 Aug 30]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:
Terry Ramos
As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ISSA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.