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This Barbell Curl Blaster Will Blow Up Your Biceps

Barbells aren’t just for multi-joint moves like presses, squats, and snatches—the implements are just as useful for bicep curls, too.

But we’re not talking about setting up camp in the squat rack and grunting through so many cheat reps the rest of the gym resents you. This long barbell curl series from Men’s Health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. takes balance, concentration, and a willingness to be humbled by the bar to get the form just right.

“The long-bar curl is going to force you to be attentive to the positioning of the bar, and to the nuances of your forearm action as you curl,” he says. “Whenever you’re curling anything, you always want to work to get the bar parallel to the ground.”

That position is so important because it means your hand is supinated [palm upward] throughout the entire movement, rather than turning halfway through the curl. That late turn means that the biceps doesn’t actually have to create as much force to lift the weight. Samuel says that shortcoming can be a reason people don’t get as much muscle development as they want out of the curl.

You might get sloppy with your dumbbell curls, but form mistakes are harder to miss on the barbell. “The longer levers of the long bar magnify that, so you can’t help but notice if you’re off on things,” Samuel says. You’ll also add an extra challenge by taking on the exercise in a kneeling position, putting all the pressure on you to finish the reps without compensating for bad form by shifting your body.

To perform the barbell bicep curl stack, you’ll need a bar, and maybe a mat for your knees. Samuel says that you’d ideally use a shorter barbell, like this one from CAP Barbell.

Men’s Health/Eric Rosati

Once you put in the work with this move, you’ll see benefits. “You’ll naturally carry the good curling behaviors of the long-bar curl into the dumbbell curl, especially over your first few reps, and that’s the idea,” says Samuel.

Want to nail down your basic curl form even more? Check out this video to master the move:

Add 4 sets of the barbell bicep curl stack to the front end of a curl session. For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Eb’s New Rules of Muscle program.


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