How to Do Reverse Curls Properly

Reverse curls, also known as the overhand curl, is a standard variation of the bicep curls, but unlike the standard curl, you will be gripping the weight with your palm facing down.

They are an excellent alternative for any arm drill since they build your biceps as well. Reverse curls are great for arm hypertrophy.

They are an often-overlooked workout, but have an amazing array of benefits and also develop your muscles naturally.

Note that reverse curls require you to hold the barbell using an overhand grip, (palms facing downwards). Overhand grip can feel uncomfortable to start with.

You can perform reverse curls as an impartial drill or you can consider adding it to your free workout.

Also known as: Overhand Curl

Targeted Muscles: Biceps and forearms

Difficulty level: Intermediate

Required Equipment: Barbell, Dumbbells, EZ curl bar

Exercise type: Hypertrophy

Exercise mechanics; Compound


  • Load a barbell with 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 (ideally 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 your elbows are extended fully.
  • Repeat the motion for the desired set of reps. As a beginner, aim for 3-5 sets of 6-12 repetitions.

Pro Tips:

  • Use a false grip. Many lifters often prefer to pull this workout with their thumbs wrapped around the bar. That is okay, because you will probably lift more weight. However, using a thumbless grip may have far more benefits, though you’ll have to use lighter weights. When your thumb isn’t in play, you’ll have to grip harder to hold the bar.
  • Lean on your back against a wall, this will eliminate your probability to cheat.
  • Use powder to chalk your hands before every set to avoid having unplanned halts in the middle of your reps due to sweaty palms.
  • Tuck your elbows on your sides to level up the difficulty of this workout and eliminate momentum. This will ensure your arms are fully pronated.

Up for a challenge?

The most common way to level up any lift is to increase the weight. You can decrease your tempo as well.

You can also level up the difficulty of the reps by improving the rep quality through executing the drill with the proper form.

This movement focuses mainly on hypertrophy.  You probably want to stick to between 8-12 reps. This will increase your arm volume.



These muscles are located at the front of the upper arm between the elbows and the shoulders. Biceps brachii are made up of two heads, a long and a short head. They are responsible for arm flexion.


The forearm muscles found between the elbows and the wrist (brachialis) and your back are also worked. Brachialis are the strongest forearm muscles. When worked properly, they push out your biceps to improve your arm curvature. They work together with the lats to activate and maintain body stability as you curl.



Grip strength is a limiting factor that has affected many people in many different exercises and sporting activities. Many weightlifting workouts highly depend on 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 to control the weight.

Strong grips generally improve performance in compound weightlifting drills.


Reverse curls can help alleviate elbow pain. Elbow pains sometimes result from muscle imbalance between the forearm flexors and forearm extensors. This imbalance is what usually causes elbow pains.

Reverse curls target the brachialis and brachioradialis, which can help repair the imbalance. With the proper technique, reverse curls can strengthen and condition the wrist joint as well.


If you’re looking to replace reverse curls with alternative workouts that target the same muscles, here are great alternatives for you.


Before doing the chin ups, you want to make sure you have enough strength to pull this drill, otherwise, you may risk sustaining injuries.


  • Set up a pull up bar at a height just above your head.
  • Grasp the pull up bar with your palms facing you. Make sure your shoulders are shoulder-width apart.
  • Brace your upper back and core. Pinch your shoulder blades back down and try to maintain you’re his beneath you to keep your scapula retraction.
  • As you hold the bar, lift your chest up toward it and pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar.
  • Lower yourself back down gently until you resume the starting position. Repeat until you attain the recommended sets of reps.


The common mistakes to look out for when performing this workout include:


Rushing the reps with rapidity and a great pace does not guarantee progress. Ensure you feel the workout knowing its potency is as key as the motion itself.

Slow and steady reps keep the tension in your muscles longer and will do away with unwanted momentum. The result? A harder, result-oriented workout.


Losing command as you workout is pretty ordinary. Remember, losing control of your wrists can result in wrist injuries. Refrain from moving your wrists as you curl the weight up or as you lower it.

Ensure your wrists and forearms are aligned to maintain stability and proper contraction of all the recruited muscles.


Many lifters often wing their arms when lifting the weight up while doing overhand curls. This usually happens when you try to lift too much weight. Curling much weight using underhand motions is possible, but when it comes to overhand motions, it can be a little challenging.

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


Forearms gain muscle slowly. Reverse curl results are guaranteed with consistency. This workout will give you an insane pump and will sure get you the arm benefits you seek.

Performing reverse curls with regular curls is ideal for you. When you cannot lift the weights anymore, shift your grip and adopt an underhand grip to complete the regular curls.

Try it out!