Close Grip Barbell Curls - Biceps Exercise Guide
Muscles Targeted: Close grip barbell curls is one of the
best mass building exercises for your arms. It's very effective
for increasing strength and building rapid growth in both the inner
and outer heads of the biceps muscles (bicep brachii). With the
close grip, also referred to as a "narrow grip", the long
head of the bicep muscle is emphasized more with the positioning
of the hands with this movement.
Exercise Instructions: Hold a barbell
securely with both hands using an underhand grip (palms up)
and position your hands about 4-6 inches apart on the bar.
Stand straight up and keep your back flat with your shoulders
back in a firm and stable position. Slowly curl the bar up
to the top position while flexing your biceps at the peak
to get a full contraction. Keep your elbows in a fixed position
and tucked in closely to your sides during the movement (do
not move your elbows up and down). Slowly return the weight
back down to the starting position and repeat.
Why This Exercise is Important: Close grip barbell curls
is one of best movements for adding size and strength to your biceps.
With the normal grip, the major emphasis is on both heads of the
biceps. However, the further you move your hands inward you add
emphasis on the outer and longer head of biceps. There are many
variations of the close grip barbell curl exercise that you can
incorporate into your arm workouts by using either the traditional
straight barbell or you can opt for the EZ-bar which places your
wrists in a much more natural position while curling the weight
up and down. Increasing strength in the biceps is extremely important
not only for aesthetics (beach muscles) but also for functional
daily activities like picking up heavy objects during the day (luggage,
Things To Avoid: Overall form and technique is crucial when
performing this exercise. It is a very common mistake to "cheat"
and swing the weight up while performing this movement. If you are
swinging back and forth as you lift the weight up and down, you
are simply cheating yourself and this reduces the emphasis of the
exercise and it could possibly lead to an injury. Be closely aware
of your body positioning and overall stability.
When you bring your hands close together on the bar, there is a
natural tendency to put extra stress on your lower back and lean
over while hunching your shoulders and upper back. Place your feet
securely on the ground with a shoulder width stance and a slight
bend in your knees to take some pressure off your back. Keep your
shoulders back, your chest out and your back straight during the
execution of this exercise. Posture is extremely important with
this movement in order to place proper tension on the biceps and
avoid injury to the back.
Make sure to also avoid any type of fast and jerky movements and
always perform this exercise with a smooth and controlled tempo
at all times. Always be aware of your technique and train in front
of a mirror if you want to really examine your positioning to adhere
to correct form. Warm-up your biceps with very light weight when
first starting out with around 15-20 reps to get blood into the
muscle and your arms fully warmed up before moving into heavier
Reps and Sets: If you are still a beginner, shoot for 2-3
sets of 12-15 reps on this exercise. As you advance, you can increase
the weight and overall sets to 4-5 and decrease the reps to 6-8
per set in order to properly overload the biceps.
Other Exercises To Use: This exercise can be coupled with
the following biceps and triceps exercises to complete a great mass
building arm workout in the gym:
- Alternating Hammer Curls
- Machine Preacher Curls
- Concentration Curls
- Lying Triceps Extensions
- V-Bar Pushdowns
- Triceps Kickbacks
View our extensive database
of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that
target the biceps.