Seated Dumbbell Curls – Biceps Exercise Guide


Seated dumbbell curls are one of the most effective exercises for building great looking biceps. They are a staple movement of mass building arm workouts used by top bodybuilders to first time novices and they can be the key to making your biceps look like you have big softballs inserted into your arms! Many people who lift weights believe that they are the best exercise for adding strength and size to the biceps and with good reason. When executed properly and regularly, they can play a huge role in achieving the arm size that you’ve always wanted. Although you might not be able to use as much weight as barbell curls, when you perform seated dumbbell curls with proper form you definitely won’t be able to tell that it’s lighter. Included below is everything you need to know in order to complete this exercise safely and effectively.


Exercise Instructions: Sit at the end of a flat bench, or a seated utility bench with back support, and place your feet flat on the floor for stability with your back upright, shoulders back and your chest out. Grab a dumbbell with each hand using an overhand grip and let your arms hang down naturally at your sides with both palms facing inward toward the bench. Simultaneously curl the dumbbells up while twisting (supinating) your wrists upwards on the way up. Be sure to squeeze your biceps at the top for a one-count and then slowly return the dumbbells back down to the starting position and repeat.

Muscles Targeted: This exercise targets the brachialis which lies beneath the biceps muscle, the brachioradialis (forearms), and the biceps brachii (2 heads of the biceps). These three individual muscles all make up the upper arm. Using this exercise results in a total biceps workout. The forearms are mainly targeted as a secondary muscle group along with the anterior deltoids but their involvement will be minimal when this exercise is performed properly.

Why This Exercise is Important: As the name implies, seated dumbbell curls are just traditional dumbbell curls performed while sitting down, preferably somewhere with back support. This is important because it prevents you from rocking back and forth or using your momentum to get the weight up. It also helps prevent you from arching your back which is an improper technique that makes the exercise easier and takes away from the effectiveness of this movement.

Things To Avoid: You must keep your arms tucked into your sides with your elbows in a stable position while performing this exercise. Do not allow your elbows to move away from your body because when you do, you’re taking the tension off your biceps and putting it on your deltoids. If you’re forced to move your elbows in order to get the dumbbells up, then you’re simply using dumbbells that are too heavy for you and it’s recommended that you switch to a lighter weight.

Reps and Sets: Shoot for just 1-2 sets of 12-15 reps if you’re a beginner. For advanced trainees, do 2-3 sets of 6-8 reps and heavier weights. Rest for 90-120 seconds between sets and only train your biceps once per week for the best results.

Other Exercises To Use: Once you complete all of your sets with seated dumbbell curls, move onto inclined dumbbell curls. You will remain seated, but your back support will be adjusted so that it will now be at an incline (about 45 degrees). This puts an even greater stretch and strain on the biceps, which is always a good thing because it results in more of your muscle fibers tearing down. Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps with this exercise and then move onto dumbbell concentration curls. This is a killer isolation and burnout exercise which helps to add muscle to the space between your lower bicep and forearm while also helping to build the peak in the biceps. Do 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps with these. Seated dumbbell curls are a must for anybody looking for a great biceps exercise to add strength and size. If you execute them with proper form and technique you will be on the road to sculpting your arms into massively impressive guns! View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that target the biceps.

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