How To Do The Wide Grip Barbell Curl Properly

The wide grip barbell curl allows you to increase training volume to target the inner (short) head of your biceps more.

The only equipment you need to do it is a barbell.

Here are the steps:

  • Stand upright with your back straight, holding a barbell using an underhand grip.
  • Your grip should be wider than shoulder-distance apart and your elbows close to your upper body.
  • Plant your feet firmly on the ground, roughly shoulder-width apart. This is the starting position.
  • Tighten your core.
  • With your upper arms still, curl the barbell up to shoulder level.
  • At the top, squeeze your biceps and hold that position for two seconds.
  • Lower the bar to the starting position as you inhale.
  • Repeat as many times as you want.

WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE WIDE GRIP BARBELL CURL WORK?

This exercise recruits the short head of your biceps primarily by using a wide grip on the barbell.

Other muscles involved are the brachioradialis and brachialis which act as the synergists, and the wrist flexors and rectus abdominis which act as stabilizing muscles.

BENEFITS OF THE WIDE GRIP BARBELL CURL

TRAINS THE SHORT HEAD OF THE BICEPS

The long head of the biceps makes up a larger proportion of your bicep muscle mass.

For this reason, most people who want to build their bicep peaks tend to focus almost entirely on the long head, ignoring the short one.

While this may work for them, the best way to build a well-balanced bicep muscle is by working both heads equally.

The wide grip barbell curl helps work the short head by allowing for the external rotation of your shoulders.

ALLOWS YOU TO USE MORE WEIGHT

By using a wider grip, the wide grip barbell curl works your muscles through  a shorter range of motion which enables you to lift more weight.

A higher training volume overloads your bicep muscles by offering more resistance which in turn builds muscle mass.

IMPROVES GRIP STRENGTH

By engaging the brachioradialis muscle of the forearm, the wide grip barbell curl can improve your ability to grip objects, which then improves your deadlifting and bench pressing performance.

ALTERNATIVES TO THE WIDE GRIP BARBELL CURL

BARBELL PREACHER CURL

The barbell preacher curl is a great alternative for working the short head of your bicep because it requires that you position your elbows in front of your body.

When your elbows are in that position, the curl places more emphasis on the inner head compared to the long one.

Also, if you struggle with maintaining the correct form during bicep curls then you’ll love the preacher curl.

It keeps your elbows in a fixed position throughout, making it very hard to cheat.

For this exercise, you need a barbell and a preacher bench.

Steps:

  • Sit on the bench, facing the bar. Make sure your upper arms are resting on the angled pad.
  • Grab the bar with a grip wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Curl the barbell up until your forearms are vertical.
  • Pause for a few seconds at the top of the motion as you focus on activating the short head of the bicep.
  • Lower the weight slowly and in a controlled fashion.
  • Extend your elbows fully to stretch the biceps maximally.
  • Repeat the steps as many times as you want.

Make sure your upper arms remain in contact with the angled pad, and that you start every rep with your arms straight.

CONCENTRATION CURL

The concentration curl engages the short head of your bicep more by allowing for a large range of motion which in turn activates your biceps maximally.

Steps:

  • Sit at the edge of a flat bench with your legs on either side.
  • Plant your feet firmly on the floor and hold a dumbbell in your right hand.
  • Rest your right elbow on the inner side of your right leg.
  • Let the weight hang freely between your legs without locking the elbow.
  • Lean your body slightly forward so you can have a direct view of the short head.
  • Slowly curl the weight up, stopping eight to ten inches away from your shoulder.
  • Pause and hold the weight still while twisting it toward your face to activate the short head maximally.
  • Lower the dumbbell back to the starting position to begin your next rep.
  • Begin with 8-12 reps.

INCLINE SUPINATED CURL

The incline bicep curl is ideal for training both the long and short heads of your bicep muscle.

But if you want to focus on the short head, make your grip a supinated one.

To do the inclined supinated curl, you’ll need an incline bench and two dumbbells.

Steps:

  • Adjust the bench to a 45 to 60-degree angle.
  • Lie on the bench facing up and plant your feet on the floor.
  • Hold the weights with your wrists turned out and extend your arms fully to the sides.
  • Curl the dumbbells up slowly as your elbows remain fixed by your torso. Try to keep your wrists rotated  outward during the curl.
  • Pause and squeeze your biceps at the top before lowering them down slowly.
  • To maximize the stretch, allow both arms to come to complete extension.
  • Pause for a few seconds before beginning the next rep.

WIDE GRIP BARBELL CURL MISTAKES TO AVOID

ARCHING YOUR BACK

Don’t swing the barbell up by arching your back; the back, along with every other part of your upper body, must remain fixed so that all movement comes from your bicep muscle.

FLARING YOUR ELBOWS

Keep your elbows tucked into your sides and don’t let them move forward when curling the barbell up.

NOT BRACING YOUR CORE

You should keep your core braced during the wide grip barbell curl to stabilize your spine and your torso.

SUMMING UP

The surest way to build a balanced bicep muscle is by switching your hand positions between a narrow and wide grip so that you get to work both the long and short heads of the muscle.

For maximum benefit, curate a bicep routine that includes exercises that work both heads of your bicep.

 

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