Muscles Targeted: Dumbbell concentration curls is an excellent isolation exercise that mainly targets the biceps, brachialis, and brachioradialis. This movement is very effective for developing the “peak” of the biceps muscle which is extremely beneficial for both aesthetics and when competing in bodybuilding contests.
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Exercise Instructions: Sit on the end of a flat bench with your legs apart and lean slightly forward. Grab a dumbbell in one hand with your palm facing upward (underhand grip) and rest your elbow on the inside of your thigh letting the dumbbell hang. Slowly curl the weight up while keeping your elbow locked in place against your thigh. As you are curling the dumbbell up, twist your wrist to the outside (supinate). Squeeze the muscle at the top of the movement for a one-count and then slowly return to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Why This Exercise is Important: The iconic pictures of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronnie Coleman and Jay Cutler with their massive guns and crazy peaked biceps has inspired countless bodybuilders to include key arm exercises like concentration curls into their overall workout routine. Dumbbell concentration curls are particularly good if you want to isolate this muscle group. Although there are many biceps exercises that you can do, this particular exercise does more than most of them because as its name implies, it is able to concentrate the movement on the bicep while excluding all other muscles.
Things To Avoid: Although the dumbbell concentration curl is a fairly basic exercise, you need to always adhere to strict form and proper technique. Those who have elbow injuries or are prone to lower back discomfort should not attempt this exercise.
As noted, form is important when doing dumbbell concentration curls. There is a great chance that you might injure yourself if you fail to follow proper technique, so make sure to follow the exercise instructions carefully. Choose a stable bench to perform this exercise. Sit on the edge with your feet planted a few inches wider than your hips. Lean forward without hunching your back and firmly place your elbow on the inside of your thigh. Let the weight hang near the inner part of your ankle with your other palm on top of your knee. Choose the weight carefully, making sure that it’s not too heavy to avoid injury, nor too light so as not to render the exercise useless. For the more experienced trainee, you can follow Arnold’s technique, that is, standing up with one arm on the dumbbell rack for support. However, do not attempt this unless you have sufficient power and strength in your arms to avoid the risk of injury.
When doing dumbbell concentration curls, keep your back straight and draw power from your arms. Lean forward and bend from your hips to isolate the movement and for balance. Do not try to lean too far forward as you go through the reps. If you have to do this, you probably need to reduce the weight. Do not jerk your hand with the dumbbell or move through the reps too quickly. Feel the movement in your biceps at the top and then slowly lower the weight back down to the starting position. Contract your biceps as you curl up for a peak contraction and keep constant tension as you lower the weight back down. If you want to increase the burn, squeeze your biceps harder towards the end of the set just as the muscles are getting fatigued.
Reps and Sets: Your biceps and triceps are also stimulated when you work your large torso muscles (back, chest) so you really don’t need to overdo your biceps with tons of different exercises and lots of sets. For most people, doing 6-8 sets of 8-10 reps is enough to get a great workout. Look at the totality of your program and make sure that you don’t perform more than this amount of sets for your triceps and biceps or you might fall victim to overtraining which will stop your progress in its tracks. Adjust your program accordingly.
Other Exercises To Use: Along with dumbbell concentration curls, you can include standing cable curls and cable preacher curls for great isolation exercises to develop your biceps. Do not forget to work your triceps also since they are the largest muscle group of the arms. View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that target the biceps.