concentration curls

Concentration curls are one of the popular terms that we hear at the gym nowadays. Professional athletes and gym goers tell us that it can help one build bigger muscles in the arm, but is that really true?

Concentration curls are one of the best ways to increase the size of your arm muscles. The American Council on Exercise even states that doing this type of exercise will result in better growth of the muscle than any other activities.

Thus, in this article, we will understand better what is a concentration curl, what are its benefits, and what are the muscles involved in the said exercise. In addition, we will tackle the steps on how to do the exercise properly plus the equipment needed along the way.

Understanding What is a Concentration Curl

Generally speaking, concentration curls are a set of exercises that work the biceps strength. Unlike the traditional bicep curls, concentration curls involve the lower weights.

Concentration curls can be done by both men and women. Dumbbells are also the main type of equipment for this exercise.

Benefits of Concentration Curls

One of the major benefits you can get on doing concentration curls is it will help you grow your muscles. According to a study done by the American Council on Exercise, doing seated dumbbell concentration curls can result in 97% biceps activity.

If you this type of exercise on a regular basis, you can target the specific muscle fibers and break them down. Thus in return, they rebuild themselves and become larger through protein synthesis.

This what happens to your muscles after including progressive overloading as a part of the dynamic exercise that you have.

In addition, doing the dumbbell concentration curls are good if you wish to isolate the biceps muscle group.

Indeed, there are various exercises for the biceps out there. However, the concentration curls can do more than most of those exercises combined. It can concentrate on the movement of the bicep and it enables biceps workout more completely

Muscles Involved in the Concentration Curls 

These are the muscles involved in doing the concentration curls:

Biceps Brachii

Biceps Brachii or the biceps is located on the upper arm and it is a two-headed muscle. Biceps lies between the elbow and the shoulder on the upper arm.

The heads of the biceps arise on the scapula. It then joins in the end and forms one muscle belly that is connected above the forearm.

The main function of the bicep is to supinate the forearm and flex it, apart from crossing the elbow joints and the shoulder. For example, one uses biceps when opening a drinking bottle using a corkscrew: the biceps unscrew the cork (which is known as the supination) and you pull it out (which is know as the flexion).

Brachialis Muscles

Another muscle group in the upper arm is known as the Brachialis Muscles or the Brachialis Anticus. The Brachialis Anticus is known to flex the elbow joint and it is the prime mover of the elbow.

This muscle group lies underneath the Biceps Brachii. It makes up the cubital fossa, which is the part of the floor of the muscle region.

The Brachialis muscles generate 50% more power even though bodybuilders focus more interest on the biceps brachii which is the large bulge on the arm.

Flexor Digitorum Profundus Muscle

The deep bender of the fingers or the flexor digitorum profundus in Latin is a muscle that can be found in the forearm and it flexes the fingers (or the digits).

The FDS is also known as the extrinsic hand muscle because its bulge is in the forearm but it acts on the hand. Overall, the FDS, pronator quadratus, and the Flexor Pollicis Longus make the ventral forearm muscles.

Tricep Brachii

The triceps brachii or the three-headed muscle of the arm in Latin is a large muscle that can be found on the back upper arm of the body.

Triceps are primarily used for extending the elbow joint or in straightening the arm. It is also the antagonist of the brachialis and biceps.

The lateral head of the tricep can be used for movements that require high-intensity forces. Meanwhile, the medial fascicle can enable low-force and more precise body movements. The long head is involved in adduction and retroversion of the arm and it acts on the shoulder as it originates on the scapula.

Pectoralis Major and Pectoralis Minor

The pectoralis major and minor can be sometimes called as ‘pecs’, ‘chest muscle’, or ‘pectoral muscle’ in the world of bodybuilding. This group of muscles is the most superficial and the largest muscle that can be found in the chest area.

The pectoralis major is a fan-shaped and thick muscle that can be found in the chest of a person. It lies beneath the breast and it composes the bulk of the chest muscles.

Meanwhile, below the pectoralis major and at the upper part of the chest is the pectoralis minor. It is a thin and triangular-shaped muscle which is also developed through concentration curls.

Rectus Abdominis Muscle

The Rectus Abdominis Muscle, Abdominals, or Abs, is a pair of muscles that runs at each side vertically of the anterior wall of the abdomen.

The rectus sheath with the aponeuroses of the lateral abdominal muscles contains the Rectus Abdominis muscle.

Connective tissue known as the tendinous intersections traverse the Rectus Abdominus. This separates the abs into muscle bellies. Meanwhile, the Linea Semilunaris is the outer and most lateral line which defines the abs.

People with low body fat, these abdomens can be viewed externally as ‘four’, ‘six’ ‘eight’ packs, depending on how many are visible. Six pack abdomen is the most common among gym goers and athletes.

Serratus Anterior Muscle

Finally, the serratus anterior is a muscle that surfaces on the first to the eighth ribs which are at the side of the chest. It inserts alongside the anterior length of the middle border of the scapula.

Step by Step Guide on How to Do the Concentration Curls

Equipment Needed for the Concentration Curls 

Generally, the concentration curls require only some dumbbells whenever you decide to do it while standing. If you wish to do it while seating, then you need to have an incline bench or a regular flat bench.

This time, let us discuss the steps on how to do the concentration curls.

Steps on How to do the Seated Concentration Curls 

In doing the seated concentration curls, you can start with a low weight. You can try the 15-pound dumbbell so you can engage in the full range of motion and learn how to do the exercise. The steps are the following:

  1. Sit on the end of the bench. Brace your body and put your thighs parallel to the floor.
  2. Curl the weight of the dumbbell upward. Make the back of your upper arm stay in contact with your inner thigh. Don’t let your elbow move forward.
  3. Once your biceps are fully contracted, rest for 10 seconds. You can also take your forearm to 45-degree angle. Return slowly to the starting position and be mindful of your control. Do this exercise repeatedly and switch to your other arm.

Steps on How to do the Incline Concentration Curls

You can start using low weights in incline concentration curls until your body adapts to the exercise. With repeated exercise, ultimately, you can do the exercise in the full range of motion. The steps are the following:

  1. Choose an incline bench with a 45-degree angle and sit on it. Grab the dumbbells on both of your hands, hang down your arms from your shoulders, and make sure that your back has a support.
  2. Curl the dumbbell in one of your hands first until you make an upward arc unto your shoulders. Do not swing your arms. Next, turn your inner wrist towards the upper area of your arm as you lift the dumbbell upwards.
  3. As you reach the top, pause for few seconds and squeeze your muscles. Then, return to the starting position slowly. Repeat with the other arm.

Other Variation of Concentration Curls

There are different variations of the concentration curls. The exercises below have the same characteristics, in which it activates the long or the lateral head of the biceps more than the short head. These are the following:

Barbell Preacher Curl

To perform the barbell preacher curl, grab the E-Z curl bar and make sure that you grab it at the inner handle. In this position, you need to use the preacher bench as well.

The palms of your hand must face forward and slightly tilted inwards because of the bar shape.

The barbell preacher curl allows an athlete to lift more weight per repetition.

Barbell Prone Incline Curl

Another concentration curl variation is the barbell prone incline curl.

To do this, first, lie on the bench with a 45 to 60-degree angle to let your body lift the weight. Put your shoulders at the top of the incline. Your knees and legs can rest on the seat or they can straddle to the sides.

Next, keep your elbows by your side and let the palms face forward. Grab the weight and slowly lift the weight upward until it is fully flexed.

Then, gradually lower the dumbbells until your arms are extended fully. Repeat the exercise.

Dumbbell Preacher Curl

The dumbbell preacher curl has the same movement as the concentration curl. However, the preacher curl allows the resting of the upper arm on the pad, unlike on the concentration curl where it rests on the inside of the leg.

Meanwhile, both exercises do not allow the use of other parts of the body to help with the lift.

Dumbbell Prone Incline Curl

Same as the barbell incline curl except you have the advantage of either working biceps together, but independently of each other, or alternating between them.

Lever Preacher Curl

This type of preacher curl exercise uses a machine, in which you can be able to control the weight easily. It will also allow slow movement in your exercise to feel the burn of the muscle fibers.

Tips for Performing Dumbbell Concentration Curl

The following tips will help the muscle develop fully through the incorporation of more muscle fibers per repetitions. Surely, it will increase the strength and the size of the muscle.

Practice Control and Proper Form

In any type of exercise other than the concentration curls, always make sure to start with a lighter weight first. With this, your body will be able to adjust to the weight and perform the full range of movement with contraction and proper extension.

Be sure to Twist your Wrist

If you twist your wrist with your little finger in upward position, then there will be a potential increase of the development of both the lateral/ long head and the medial/ short head of the biceps brachii.

Don’t Lock and Lift your Elbows While Doing the Exercise

Always keep the tension on your biceps. See to it that you don’t lock your elbows while you are doing the exercise.

At the same time, see to it that you don’t lift your elbow. You can keep your elbow on your legs to help you keep your balance. This will also keep you from using the momentum to swing the dumbbell instead of lifting it in an upward position.

Squeeze at the Top

As soon as you lift the dumbbells at the top, squeeze your muscles and feel the burn. Yes, it will be very painful but that’s how your muscle develops.

Gradually Get Back to the Original Position

End your routine by gradually lowering your arm to the original position. Also, make sure to keep the tension in your biceps as you lower your arms.

Some Mistakes in Doing the Concentration Curls 

Even if you take extreme care in the gym, sometimes you tend to do the concentration curls wrong.

For example, due to poor technique or heavy load, there can be a limited range of motion.

Second, people sometimes fail to apply variety of methods to develop their biceps


Lastly, people always forget the connection between the muscle and the mind. They do everything in their body, keep a healthy diet, regular workout, and proper supplements. But, is the brain functioning and working well?

Essentially, the connection between the mind and the muscles is about thinking about squeezing and contracting versus the load of the equipment being lifted.

The best way to think about this is to focus on the squeeze the next time you do the concentration curls.


In a nutshell, concentration curls are one of the best ways to build the muscles in your arms. The exercise is simple and it does not require lots of equipment to execute it.

Some athletes and professional bodybuilders like to do this at home using a dumbbell and a chair. While others, prefer to do it in an inclined position.

Either way, always remember to perform it with extreme caution to avoid accidents in the end. You can also consult an expert so that you’ll be guided to properly enhanced your target muscle groups.


Last modified: 1st August 2021