Correct biceps barbell lifting technique, grip options and common mistakes

May 30, 2021 by Adam Addison
correct biceps barbell lifting technique grip options and common mistakes 609bd141b5ffd

Standing biceps curls are the main exercise for developing strength and volume in the flexors of the arms. In terms of its effectiveness in terms of working out the arms, it can be compared with the bench press for the pectoral muscles.

About the volume of the biceps

Agree, pumped up biceps looks much better,than his absence. The shape and size of the biceps muscle is determined by many factors: genetics, physical activity, additional strength loads.

With the help of training, we can remove fat from the surface of the hand, exposing thereby the muscle itself. We can also increase its volume through correctly performed exercises and create more relief.

As its name suggests, the flexors of the arms provide movements aimed at bending the arm at the elbow. Another function of the biceps muscles is to antagonize the triceps. The triceps and biceps are in a kind of balance with each other, so that the arms do not twitch due to minor pushes back and forth.

Biceps does not play a primary role in the formation of arm volume. For the most part, this is the merit of the triceps (70% of the volume of the arm is created by it). Therefore, you should pay enough attention to both muscles. Swing your biceps 1-2 times a week, and in no case forget about triceps (do bench press, bench press, sitting, angle and other exercises for them). Forgetting to pump the flexors and do one bench press is also not an option.

Now let’s find out how to pump up the biceps with a barbell.

Technique and exercise options

Bicep curls are usually performed while standing. And here it’s not even about efficiency. The fact is that lifting the barbell for biceps while sitting with a narrow or any other grip is not a very convenient solution. And it is preferable only for work on Scott’s bench. This is not a press, which is done from any position.

Direct grip

Exercise for biceps with a barbell can be performed in several versions of the grip: direct and reverse, wide and narrow.

The direct grip is aimed at developing not only the biceps, but also the muscles of the forearm (a narrow grip is not used in this case). If you have ever tried this grip, remember that the weights on the bar were less than when using the reverse grip.

Standing barbell curl is correctly done as follows:

  1. You can install the bar on the barbell racks, lowering them as far as possible, you can put it on a horizontal bench. It will be inconvenient to pick it up from the floor and lower it in between sets.
  2. In theory, you can perform the EZ barbell lift for biceps, but in this case it is better to take a straight bar. It is generally believed that the curved bar is less traumatic for the flexors of the arms, but this is more true for the reverse narrow grip. So, take the bar and get ready for the warm-up approach.
  3. It is very important to take the correct posture: feet shoulder-width apart, elbows are pressed to the body, shoulders are straightened, and the pelvis is laid back. For better support and elimination of unnecessary movements, we recommend standing with your back against the wall, or even better – against the Smith machine frame.
  4. If you stand up correctly, the support will touch: the back of the head, shoulder blades and pelvis. Do not forget about the chest – it is bent forward.
  5. We take the bar with a straight grip at the natural shoulder width (that is, the arms are parallel to each other).
  6. Trying not to bend the wrists, we lift the barbell with the force of the biceps to the maximum possible height (towards the chest).
  7. Do 10-15 warm-up reps. If you have a 20kg Olympic bar, it may be too heavy for you. If you are a beginner, do not look at others, do not envy the number of pancakes on their bar. Time and patience will lead you to a similar result.

If you decide to do the exercise without support, firmly fix your core, press your elbows against it. During the ascent, you should not make any swinging movements. Only the arms work, everything else, including “throwing” the bar up to the chest with the help of pelvic oscillation – cheating and an unjustified risk of injury to the lower back.

At the same time, the elbows should not be pulled back. They are positioned so that the shoulder is oriented straight down to the floor.

Reverse grip

Bending the arms with the bar while standing is most often done with the reverse grip. This is because the muscles on the inside of the forearm are stronger than on the outside. This means that you can lift more weight with such a grip, plus it can be raised even higher than with a straight grip.

You can take a barbell with a narrow grip, or with a medium grip, placing your hands shoulder-width apart so that they are parallel to each other. Lifting the bar for biceps with a reverse grip to the chest will, accordingly, develop the biceps better.

Curl of the arms with a barbell standing with a reverse grip is performed as follows:

  1. Find support. In this case, it is advisable to stand leaning against a power rack, Smith, wall or wide post.
  2. Take a straight or curved bar with a reverse grip. As you press your weight against your feet, your palms will be facing your feet with the backs.
  3. Medium grip for a straight bar, or narrow for an EZ bar.
  4. With the strength of the biceps, without moving the elbows back and forth, we lift the weight to the chest. Then you can use the muscles of the shoulders to raise the bar even higher up to the neck. Many coaches say that lifting the barbell is enough not only to the chest, but to an acute angle at the elbow. That is, the forearms are not brought to a vertical position.
  5. We hold the barbell in the upper position for 1 second.
  6. We lower the weight to the starting position, repeat the warm-up 10-15 times, if this is the first exercise for biceps for today (by the way, it’s correct if it comes first).
  7. We set the working weight and do 3 sets of 8 times to failure, or 10-12 times to maintain muscle tone with a small weight.

Basic errors


Regularly, you can see beginners doing a reverse grip barbell lift (or any standing biceps lift) at a fast pace. This is ineffective and dangerous. In this style, you distort the technique, speed interferes with doing the exercise correctly.

You can damage the biceps tendon. You can also rip your back, as with a fast performance, the load will imperceptibly for you transfer to the lower back (for example, to extinguish inertia when lowering the weight).

Do a reverse grip curl or any lift on the biceps smoothly and correctly. To be more specific, let’s give the optimal frequency of execution: 2 repetitions in 3-4 seconds.


When a person takes too much weight, it does not matter whether it is narrow or wide grip, he throws it up with the help of movements of the legs, pelvis, body. Then, at the top point, he intercepts it with the muscles of the arms and lowers it back. Typically, the weight simply falls back to the starting position, as the practitioner does not have enough strength to move smoothly.

The moment you catch the bar with your biceps, you can damage them. Whenever you lift the weight with body movements each time, you run the risk of tearing your lower back. Instead of spending energy on a specific exercise, the body is sprayed on everything except the biceps training itself.

Therefore, cheating will not lead to results in terms of muscle growth. Perhaps a one-time lift will be performed with impressive weight. But you have a different purpose of visiting the gym? Your actions should be consistent with your goals. Let’s do the exercise in strict accordance with his technique.

Grip problems

When the biceps have enough strength to handle the weight of your choice, but the wrist does not – problems begin. The wrists cannot keep a straight line between the elbow and the fist. The arm begins to bend, and the bar hangs.

Raising the bar for biceps with a reverse grip solves this problem, but with a direct grip it is more and more difficult. If this happens – give up the direct grip, try curling the arms with a barbell standing in a reverse grip.

In addition, practice exercises that develop exactly the strength of the grip.


Both bench press and weight lifting are almost always done with the same breathing – effort (lift) on exhalation, on inhalation – weight return to the starting point.