How to Do Overhand Curls Properly

The overhand curl, also known as reverse grip curls, is the most effective bicep workout for the brachialis and brachioradialis, the main muscles involved in major weightlifting workouts.

Overhand curls increase the muscularity and strength of the bicep muscles. Performing this exercise involves a pronated grip, usually with a barbell.

The drill is still compatible with some gym equipment like cables and dumbbells. If your workout goal is to target your biceps and forearms to build your general arm strength and muscularity, overhand curls are ideal.

Also known as Reverse Grip Curls, Pronated Curls

Main Muscles Worked: Brachialis, brachioradialis, biceps brachii

Secondary Muscles: Forearms

Exercise Type: Strength

Exercise Method: Isolation

Level: Beginner

Equipment needed: Barbells


  • Load a barbell with a weight that you feel comfortable lifting. You can alternatively use a fixed bar for more ease.
  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and grasp the bar with a shoulder-width pronated (preferably thumbless) grip.
  • Lower the barbell to rest on your sides to extend your elbows.
  • Move your forearms towards your biceps. Keep your elbows still and curl the weight of the barbell towards your shoulders.
  • Continue lifting your forearm until you make contact with your biceps.
  • Maintain the contraction for a few seconds, then bring down the barbell until you fully extend your elbows.
  • Repeat the motion for the desired set of reps. Aim for a beginner’s 3-5 sets of 6-12 repetitions.


  • Load the barbell with weight to begin and complete 3-5 sets of 6-12 reps as a beginner.
  • If you are an experienced lifter, you can add more weight to level up the workout, but stick to the recommended sets and reps.


Overhand curls primarily work the biceps and brachialis.

The bicep muscle comprises two heads, a long and a short head. These heads work together during the pull and lift motion. The brachialis is responsible for elbow flexion. Working the brachialis can add mass to your upper arms.

Overhand bicep curls also work the brachioradialis-The strongest forearm muscles. The arms and back muscles are also worked but to a lesser degree. They stabilize and activate your body as you curl.


You can gain many benefits when you perform overhand curls correctly. They are:


Overhand curls specifically activate the main bicep muscles, the biceps, and brachialis. We cannot escape the fact that big biceps look attractive.

So, consistent workouts that include overhand curls will certainly increase the size and strength of your arms. Improved arm strength will improve your performance when pulling other gym workouts such as the kettlebell row or lat pulldown.

Likewise, this workout is ideal for sculpting proportional arms. To target both muscles utmost, start with heavy reverse barbell curls since you can lift that weight at the beginning of the workout. When your muscles start feeling tense, slow down the lifting motion


Overhand curls greatly improve your grip strength. The pronated grip of the overhand curl reduces your push force over the weight, and in turn, your hand and forearm muscles will have to compensate for controlling the weight. This will improve your grip strength.

Strong grips can generally improve your performance in many other exercises like pull-ups, deadlifts, etc.


Everyone wants those perfectly sculpted good, looking arms. Depending on your workout goal, you can perform the overhand bicep curl to build bigger, defined, good-looking arms.

Let’s face it- you’re only as strong as your weakest link. When your brachioradialis can’t keep up with your lats and traps, you will never build your back to its utmost potential.


Overhand curls are versatile. It is essential to incorporate overhand curls into your regular workout routine. If you are a beginner, use lighter weights until you master the technique well.

Overhand curls are very result-driven. You can certainly guarantee results if you perform them consistently. This exercise will hit your biceps and forearms properly. Why not try it out?

You can also try a calisthenics bicep workout routine to achieve muscle growth.


If you’re looking to replace overhand bicep curls with alternative workouts that target the same muscles, you have great alternatives.


Zottman curls are a great strengthening workout that targets the brachialis and brachioradialis as well by adding an eccentric overload on the forearm muscles

Requirements: Dumbbells.


  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grab a pair of dumbbells on each hand and keep your arms straight to your sides.
  • Begin the workout by curling the dumbbells upwards and ensure you keep your shoulders retracted. Maintain a straight body posture.
  • When your biceps are fully contracted, stop. Rotate your wrists so that your palms face forward.
  • Gently lower the dumbbells and resume the starting position.
  • Aim for 10-12 reps.

Tip: if you are a beginner, start with moderate weight and adjust the weight as you progress according to your convenience.


Gain the most benefits out of overhand curls by avoiding these mistakes.


This is a common mistake many people tend to make. Avoid curling your hand upward, attempting to compensate for the pronated grip.

The flexing position will only add unnecessary stress on your wrists and won’t build you any muscle. Ensure you keep your wrists in a neutral place.


People tend to swing their arms when lifting the weight up while doing overhand curls far too often. This usually happens when you try to lift too much weight.

Curling much weight using underhand motions is possible, but it can be a little challenging when it comes to overhand motions.

Fixing it is quite simple! Load lighter weights and focus on perfecting your technique. Lifting lighter weights increases gains and minimizes the chances of getting injuries.


Standard overhand curls allow heavyweights, but this is not convenient for every bicep curl. You aim to build the hidden muscle in your biceps, not blast them! Using very heavyweight increases the risk of wrist and muscle injuries. Reduce the weight to an appropriate level.

The quality of the curl always beats the amount of weight lifted. Consider overhand curls a bonus workout to enhance heavier lifts.


Overhand curls are effective because they target the brachialis and brachioradialis- the main arm muscles. Using thumbless overhead grips is strongly recommended for this workout.

This grip will prevent you from resting the bar on your thumb and work your brachioradialis harder. Add this workout to your regular workout routine to develop your arms optimally.

On top of your regular curls, you will achieve a symmetrical and attractive look and build your overall muscle strength.

If you are a beginner, consult a qualified trainer to gauge whether the exercise is right for you or not and decide on the recommended reps and sets.


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