Supinated Bicep Curls — Exercise Guide, Benefits, & Alternatives

supinated bicep curls

Supinated biceps curls are the foundation for building bigger biceps. 

Supinated bicep curls are often considered one of the most straightforward exercises to learn, and many individuals grasp them quickly after joining their local gym. But is this really the case? Unfortunately, due to its widespread popularity, numerous individuals who believe they’re performing the exercise correctly are not executing it with proper form. In this exercise guide, we look at how to use the supinated bicep curl to build bigger guns. We also share other benefits of this effective routine and how to do it properly, along with different dumbbell curl variations. 

When done correctly, they work on your arm size, appearance, and strength by targeting your biceps. Research shows that using a supinated grip for your bicep curls emphasizes the biceps brachii (1). The supinated bicep curl is a functional exercise that improves mobility and efficiency. Read on for more on this exercise and some alternatives you can use to sculpt your arms on arm day.

Techniques & Muscles Worked

Supinated bicep curls, palms facing up when curling, target both heads of the biceps in your arms, which leads to bigger peaks and bigger-looking guns. The exercise also trains your brachialis, which builds thickness in your arms, and the brachioradialis (forearm muscle). Plus, supinated bicep curls activate your abs, obliques, and back as stabilizers.

You can use dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, or resistance bands to do them. This exercise guide looks at the proper form for supinated bicep curls with a dumbbell. Below is a step-by-step guide that you can easily follow. 

  1. Choose a set of dumbbells and grab them in each arm using a supinated (underhand) grip.
  2. Stand upright with your feet at shoulder-width distance apart and your arms extending straight down at your sides. This is your starting position.
  3. Bracing your core and keeping your back neutral, curl the dumbbells until they’re at shoulder height. Keep your elbows pinned to your sides.
  4. Pause at the top of the movement and squeeze your biceps. 
  5. Slowly bring the dumbbells down to return to the starting position and complete the rep. 
  6. Repeat for as many reps as you desire.

Benefits

Supinated bicep curls are great for your strength and will give you bigger-looking arms when done correctly. Below are some more benefits of this functional routine. 

Bigger & Stronger Arms

It’s an effective routine for building your arms. It isolates and targets the long head and short head of the biceps, leading to muscle hypertrophy and growth. This isolation leads to bigger and stronger arms over time.

Better Arm Physique

The supinated bicep curl also tones and defines your biceps. You can use this exercise to get that 3D look, as it also builds the brachialis underneath the biceps. This is especially true when you capitalize on the mind-muscle connection (2).

Improved Athletic Performance

You use your biceps for sports or exercises that include throwing, rowing, or swinging. Supinated bicep curls build and strengthen your biceps. Stronger biceps will mean better performance in those sports or exercises.

Supinated Bicep Curls Alternatives

Supinated bicep curls are great for your arms but aren’t the only exercise you can do. Below are some alternatives to this exercise that also build your biceps.

Barbell Curl

You can get the same arm-building benefits by switching out dumbbells for a barbell to do a supinated barbell curl. This exercise also targets your biceps and brachialis (3). As an added benefit, you can lift more with the barbell curl than with the dumbbell curl, leading to more hypertrophy and growth.

Standing Concentration Curl

The standing concentration curl also uses dumbbells to isolate and train your biceps. It’s primarily beneficial as a finisher after nearly exhausting your biceps with other compound or isolation exercises. The isolating stimuli help to tone and condition your biceps in a way that not many other movements can.

Drag Curl

The drag curl is another biceps-isolating routine that’s great for your arms. It also works on your brachialis and forearms. To do the drag curl, you need a barbell and use the biceps to move the barbell upwards by contracting.

Zottman Curl

Zottman curls also work on your biceps, brachialis, and brachioradialis muscles. However, this exercise can take some time to get used to, so only advanced lifters tend to do it. To do Zottman curls, you use dumbbells and start with a neutral grip, turning it to a supinated grip at the top of the movement. 

FAQs

What is the difference between pronated and supinated bicep curls?

The major difference between pronated and supinated biceps curls is your grip. The pronated bicep curl uses an overhand grip, while the supinated bicep curl uses an underhand grip. In simpler terms, for the supinated bicep curl, you curl with your arms facing upwards.

What are the benefits of supinated curls?

Supinated curls are great for your arms and induce muscle growth in your biceps. They’re a great way to strengthen and increase the size of your arms. For more benefits, please check the exercise guide above.

What is the difference between hammer curls and supinated bicep curls?

When doing hammer curls, you use a neutral grip, but with supinated bicep curls, your palms are facing up. Hammer curls also focus more on the long head of the biceps and forearms.

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References

  1. Coratella, G., Tornatore, G., Longo, S., Toninelli, N., Padovan, R., Esposito, F., & Cè, E. (2023). Biceps Brachii and Brachioradialis Excitation in Biceps Curl Exercise: Different Handgrips, Different Synergy. Sports (Basel, Switzerland), 11(3), 64. https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11030064 
  2. Schoenfeld, B. J., Vigotsky, A., Contreras, B., Golden, S., Alto, A., Larson, R., Winkelman, N., & Paoli, A. (2018). Differential effects of attentional focus strategies during long-term resistance training. European journal of sport science, 18(5), 705–712. https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2018.1447020 
  3. Marcolin, G., Panizzolo, F. A., Petrone, N., Moro, T., Grigoletto, D., Piccolo, D., & Paoli, A. (2018). Differences in electromyographic activity of biceps brachii and brachioradialis while performing three variants of curl. PeerJ, 6, e5165. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.5165
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 American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.