How to Do Close Grip Barbell Curl Properly

This is a curl variation whereby you hold the barbell with your hands closer than shoulder-width. It is believed that the close grip barbell curl helps build your outer biceps head and peak.

The close grip barbell curl is classified as a pulling strength training exercise.

To do this exercise:

  • Grab a barbell with both hands. Your palms should face up and be a few inches apart.
  • Stand with your head up and torso straight. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart and your elbows close to your torso. This is the starting position.
  • Exhale and curl the bar up using a semi-circular motion. Ensure your forearms come in contact with your biceps. Contract your biceps when the bar reaches up.
  • Inhale then move the bar slowly back to starting position.
  • Repeat eight to 12 times for a set.


The close grip barbell curl will primarily target your outer biceps. It will also target the inner heads of your biceps and your forearms.

1.      BICEPS

The biceps are the muscles found on the upper part of the back arm.

The main muscles of the biceps are:

Biceps brachii is found on the front of the upper arm and comprises the long head and short head.

The main function of the biceps brachii is flexion at the elbow and rotating your palms to face you which is known as supination and making your palms face away- pronation.

The long and short heads start at the scapula and then meet at the elbow. The close grip barbell curl targets the long and short heads.

The brachialis is found on the upper arm. It is the main muscle that performs elbow flexion.

The brachioradialis sits on the radial side of the forearm. If you raise your arm with your palm facing down, the brachioradialis is on the upper inner side of the forearm just below the elbow.

The main function of the brachioradialis is flexion of the forearm at the elbow.

2.      FOREARMS

This is the part of the arm between the elbow and wrist.

It is comprised of twenty different muscles whose main function is to manipulate the hand, wrist and lower arm.

They help expend power to manipulate the hand.

Forearm muscles control grip strength, flexion of your elbow, flexion and extension of the wrist, rotation of the wrist and tactile functions such as writing.



The biceps are a double-headed muscle that connects to the scapula and shoulder joint. They help the rotator cuff maintain the stability of the shoulder.

The rotator cuff attaches the humerus to the shoulder joint. The biceps secure the shoulder joint to the humerus.

This double compression keeps your shoulders stable.

Adding the close grip barbell curl to your workout helps strengthen the biceps which helps maintain the stability of the shoulder.


The biceps play a minor role in shoulder flexion.

When doing the close grip barbell curls, your upper back muscles contract to help prevent your shoulders from rolling forward.


Other exercises like chin-ups, pull-ups and rows require strength in your biceps.

Since the close grip barbell curl helps build your biceps, it leads to the increased strength of the arm.

You can also lift heavier items in your day-to-day life with stronger biceps.


When you are doing other strength training exercises such as deadlifts, you need to have strong biceps.

This ensures your elbows remain stable.

If you are doing strength training with a mixed grip, you will need strong biceps because a mixed grip increases the risk of tendon tears.

Additionally, tendon rupture frequently occurs for athletes such as powerlifters.

Strengthening your biceps using a close grip barbell curl helps reduce the risk of such injury.

The close grip barbell curl also reduces strain on the wrists.


There are multiple exercises you can perform to get the same benefits as the close grip barbell curl.

1.      BICEP 21S

These are bicep curls broken into three ranges of motion.

You do seven partial reps at the bottom half, seven reps at the top half and seven reps of the full biceps curl.

You can use dumbbells, cable, barbells and a resistance band.

To do this exercise:

  • Grab a barbell or a weight you prefer with both hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart, with your core engaged and your spine neutral.
  • Start with your arms straight and tucked to your sides, then depress your shoulders down and back.
  • Lift the bar while keeping your elbows stuck to the side until your elbows are at 90 degrees with your arms parallel to the floor.
  • Slowly lower the bar to the starting position then repeat seven times.
  • After completing half bicep curls move on to the second phase without taking a break.
  • Start from the position with your elbows at 90 degrees then curl the bar up until your arms are fully contracted and your hands are at chest level.
  • Slowly lower the bar back to halfway position with your elbows at 90 degrees. Complete seven curls.
  • Finally, start with the bar at the bottom of the movement with your arms completely straight.
  • Perform the last seven reps by doing full bicep curls where you lift the bar up and down while keeping your elbows at your sides.


This is a dynamic, explosive exercise with a great range of motion. It is a great alternative it too boosts bicep growth effectively.

To do this exercise:

  • Position the kettlebell between your legs with your arm extended and your palm facing in.
  • As you curl up rotate your hand so that your palm is facing up.
  • Squeeze your palm when you reach the top of the curl. Squeeze and perform a little forward flexion of the shoulder by lifting your elbow up slightly.


When doing close grip barbell curl make sure you lift the bar slowly with a controlled motion. If you rock your body, you’ll use momentum to lift the weight rather than engaging your biceps.

Ensure you use the correct weight. When doing the close grip barbell curl for bicep hypertrophy do it for 8-12 reps. The weight shouldn’t be too heavy to increase the risk of bicep tendon tear.

It is recommended that you add the close grip barbell curl at the end of your lifting workouts. This is the most effective way to isolate your biceps.

Avoid leaning back when lifting the barbell. This will cause the bar to swing reducing the stress on the biceps.

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