How The Zottman Curl Can Build Bigger Arms & Enhance Gains

Zottman curl

This exercise is a killer arm builder to really give you strength and size.

We all seek to have the arms the size of cannons. Working both our biceps and triceps are crucial for that overall development of our arms. While that horseshoe shape we all desire comes from working mainly our triceps, it is important to remember that working our biceps should never go unnoticed. While traditional curls and a host of other biceps exercise variations exist, there is one that you may be neglecting, or may not have heard about.

The Zottman Curl is a beastly exercise that can build not only your biceps, but also your forearms, making this a serious gains maker without adding unwanted strain and stress on your biceps or forearms. Named after legendary strongman George Zottman, this exercise can help you see record breaking lifts like it did for him some century or so ago. Standing the test of time, the Zottman curls are really a solid exercise to build those beastly arms.

Putting this exercise into your workout routine can not only increase strength and size, but also give you a new variation to mix in so the monotony of working out doesn’t deter you from seeing those gains come to life. By hitting your biceps on the way up and really hammering your forearms on the way down, this curl is something that will really enhance your overall strength and aesthetic.

Zottman curl

Benefits Of The Zottman Curl

Since this works both you’re forearms and biceps, many of the benefits do provide for crossover, but there are some unique to only your forearms or biceps that are worth noting.

Time Efficient & Convenience: By working both your biceps and forearms, this allows for more efficient workouts and less time in the gym. Less time in the gym is not a bad thing, for it could be spent recovering, where muscle is built, or spending time away doing more things you love.

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Change Of Pace: Doing the same old exercises can be boring and can also lead to you hitting a plateau. Don’t let your gains stop and throw in this exercise to really shake things up with your muscles. Adding in a fresh workout can enhance growth and keep your training sessions interesting.

Enhanced Grip: Grip strength is something we all take for granted and while we may not need a monster grip to deadlift an ungodly amount of weight, having functional grip strength for everyday tasks is important to have. Through the reverse part of this exercise, you strengthen your grip and hit all the muscles associated with it (1).

Forearm Activation: Finding good exercises to target your forearms can be challenging and many of them can actually hurt (2). This is a perfect exercise to work the forearms without pain while also getting the added benefit of working your biceps too.

Bigger Aesthetic: The Zottman curl is a great exercise to see growth in your biceps to really add more shape and development to enhance your aesthetic and increase your confidence in knowing you are working towards bigger arms.

Zottman curl

How To Perform The Zottman Curl

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them with your palms facing upwards.
  2. Perform a normal curl, flexing your bicep and really feeling a good squeeze at the top.
  3. Once at the top, rotate your wrist so your palms now face away from you.
  4. Lower towards the ground in the reverse of a curl and feel the stretch in your forearms as you gently guide the weight to the floor.
  5. Once at the bottom, rotate your wrists back so your palms are facing upwards and repeat for desired number of reps.

Zottman Curl Tips

Using lighter weights to start with this exercise will prove more beneficial than jumping right into heavier ones. While you may be able to curl a solid amount of weight, you have to remember that your forearms may not be as strong as your biceps. Forcing more weight on your forearms than they can take will only lead to unwanted pain and stress that can lead to injury.

Performing these nice and slow will also really work on the time under tension you put your muscle through while also enhancing mind-muscle connection to really work on seeing great gains.

Zottman curl

How It Differs From The Bicep Curl

While the traditional bicep curl is a great exercise, and one that works well when performed doing drops sets, the Zottman differs in that it provides that extra element by rotating at the top to really hit the forearms on the way down (3). You get all the benefits of a bicep curl with the bonus of targeting more muscles, and even smaller muscles that are often overlooked, while still performing a safe and effective lift. You can do these seated or standing, as well as alternating arms, so all of what you can do with a traditional bicep curl can be done with the Zottman curl and then some.

Wrap Up

Trying to diversify our workouts can be a challenge and one that we often times overlook since we tend to stick to one program and not change anything up. Adding the Zottman curl to your workouts will be a time saver and strength builder by working your biceps and your forearms resulting in huge arm gains. With many variations and helpful tips out there on how to properly and effectively perform the Zottman curl, your chances of seeing huge gains is within your grasp. Unlock all the benefits of this exercise and keep elevating your workouts to new heights with a safe and effective lift in the Zottman curl. You won’t be disappointed with the results of this century’s old exercise.

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*Images courtesy of Envato


  1. Incel, Nurgul A.; Ceceli, Esma; Durukan, Pinar B.; Erdem, H. R.; Yorgancioglu, Z. R. (2002). “Grip strength: effect of hand dominance”. (source)
  2. Axelsson, Peter; Sollerman, Christer; Karrholm, Johan (2020). “Validity and Responsiveness of Forearm Strength Measurements in the Evaluation of Distal Radioulnar Joint Implant Arthroplasty”. (source)
  3. Melrose, Don (2014). “Exercise Technique: The Zottman Curl”. (source)
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.