How to Do Overhead Cable Curls Properly

Also known as the crucifix curl, the overhead cable curls exercise is an isolation workout that builds bicep muscle and strength.

It is called the “Crucifix” curl because that’s what you’ll look like when executing it. As unbelievable as it sounds, this workout is not as typical as other bicep drills.

It is performed using a pair of D handles between cable stacks. The biceps are made up of two heads-long head and a short head.

Therefore, a utilizing drill that targets both heads is perfect. Overhead cable curls improve muscle mind connection and are ideal if your workout goal is to build more muscle.

Being an isolation exercise, it is best to train with weight you’re comfortable lifting to maximize contracting your biceps and get the most benefits out of the exercise.

Also known as The crucifix curl

Targeted Muscle Group: Biceps Brachii

Equipment Needed: Cable Machine, D handles

Exercise Type: Strength

Exercise Mechanics: Isolation

Difficulty: Beginner


  • To begin, load weight that you’re comfortable pulling on each side of the cable machine. Be sure to load the same amount of weight on each side.
  • Adjust the height of the cable machine such that they are at a height a little higher than your shoulders
  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart in the middle of both sides and grip the cable machine with your palms facing upwards. (Underhand grip). Ensure your arms are fully extended and parallel to the ground, and your body is aligned to the handles evenly.
  • Breathe out and gently contract your biceps on both sides until your forearms touch your biceps.
  • Move your forearms back to resume the starting position. Ensure your whole body is stationary throughout the workout except your forearms.
  • Repeat until you get the desired sets of reps.


  • You can alternatively use a barbell attachment to work both arms simultaneously.
  • Train using the appropriate weight to ensure you work your bicep muscles effectively.
  • Ensure you don’t lock out your elbows as the tension increases to keep the tension on your biceps.


The Biceps Brachii, the best body builder’s aesthetic appeal, grab attention when they are thick and well worked. The two heads in the bicep muscles are the most worked.

The long head gives your biceps height. The short head is responsible for bicep thickness. Overhead cable curls will engage both muscles but target the shorter head more and add thickness to your biceps.

The brachialis aids elbow flexion. As you target the brachialis, they press on your bicep muscles, increasing the bicep height. This drill may not target the long head as directly as the shorter head but will help you build your bicep height immensely.

Triceps are engaged, too, since they are the critical lifters when pushing heavyweight in overhead drills. Cable curls are ideal if you’re looking to target your triceps.


Many factors make the overhead cable curl an effective arm workout. Here are some advantages.


The overhead cable curls are one of the most accessible workouts to perform. You are standing on your feet the whole time, meaning your body is steady and balanced as you execute the workout. As the “crucifix” name suggests, you don’t have to overbend your shoulders or overextend your spine as you lift the weight.


Many muscle groups are incorporated as you execute this drill. There’s a whole bunch of secondary muscles engaged as well.

Deltoids-Your deltoid will be under tension as you extend your arms to pull the cable handles towards you and will maintain the pressure provided you are still holding the weight.

Teres Minor- This small rotator cuff muscle deep inside the deltoid is vital. It is responsible for keeping the ball and socket joint stable. The overhead cable curl is one of the few exercises for strengthening the teres minor.

Overhead cable curls also work the latissimus dorsi, the most significant muscle found in your torso. If you go heavy performing overhead cable curls, you will significantly build muscle mass and strength. Likewise, this exercise will strengthen the supraspinatus to prevent rotator cuff injuries.


Overhead cable curls are excellent for shoulder definition. You can increase or reduce the weight depending on your goal, whether it is muscle hypertrophy or pattern.


Below is an ideal alternative for overhead cable curls that will gain you benefits equally good for your forearms and biceps.


The upright dumbbell row is not a bicep workout, but it is a compound drill that engages tour biceps, triceps, traps, deltoids, and lats.

Equipment needed: Dumbbells.

  • Stand straight with your feet apart and grab a pair of dumbbells in your hands using an overhand grip. Hang the weights, holding them right before your upper thighs. Ensure your palms face your body.
  • Pull the dumbbells up towards your chest and flare your elbows outwards. When the dumbbells are at the same level as your chest, stop and pause for a count, then lower the dumbbells.
  • Repeat until you achieve the desired sets of reps.


Even though overhead cable curls are one of the most straightforward workouts to pull, people often tend to mess up the drill. Watch out for these mistakes when performing the exercise.


Be sure to maintain a neutral spine all through the workout. Avoid hyperextending your back because you’ll only be putting unnecessary stress on your spinal muscles. Likewise, avoid bending forward either.


The concept is to isolate your biceps. When you recruit other muscles, the efficiency of the exercise is minimized. Avoid using your shoulders to generate momentum, and use the correct technique to perform this drill.


Keep your upper arms stationary throughout the workout until the last rep. As the name suggests, keep the stationary crucifix pose. Keep your body rock steady and make sure only your forearms move as you pull the weight.


The overhead cable curl works the biceps at their shortest muscle position. You achieve the most benefits with this drill that are hard to copy in intensity with other curl variations. Ensure your arms are supinated throughout the workout session so that you can maximize your bicep engagement. This will help you develop bicep thickness and perfectly sculpted arms to make your physique pop.

It is ideal for sticking with sets of 14-20 reps to maintain the arm tension rather than recruiting many other muscles.

No one can stop you now!