What are dumbbell curls?

Before we talk about how to do dumbbell curls, it is important to know the basics of this exercise and the muscles that it works. 

Also known as the bicep curls or arm curls, dumbbell curls are an isolation exercise that is aimed at strengthening your upper arms. 

How to do dumbbell curls?

Now that you know what are dumbbell curls, it’s time to know the technique of this exercise.

Though it may look like a simple up and down movement of your arms, the dumbbell curls workout is a complex exercise that needs you to be mindful of your form. 

Here is a detailed explanation of how to perfect the dumbbell curls workout. These are the standard double arm dumbbell curls, also known as bilateral dumbbell curls:

  1. To begin the bilateral dumbbell curls, grab a pair of dumbbells and stand with your feet shoulder or hip-width apart and with a slight bend in your knees. 
  2. Your shoulders must be above your hips. Your head and neck must be neutral. 
  3. Your chin must remain tucked in throughout the movement. 
  4. Distribute your weight evenly between your feet. 
  5. Your arms must be positioned alongside your body and your elbows must be slightly bent.
  6. Pre-tension your shoulders and engage your core.
  7. Now while keeping your upper arms still, squeeze your biceps, and begin bending your elbows.
  8. Bend your elbows till your lower arms touch your upper arm. 
  9. The movement must finish when the dumbbells are close to your shoulders but should not contact the shoulders. 
  10. At the top of the movement, squeeze your biceps and hold the position for 2-3 seconds. 
  11. To return to the starting position, gently straighten your elbows and stop the movement. 

Sets and reps of double arm dumbbell curls: You can start by doing 3-4 sets of 8-10 repetitions. 

Learn How To Do Bicep Dumbbell Curls by Cult Fit - Watch This Video

Bicep curls workout with dumbbells from Cult Fit is the perfect workout for you to build your biceps muscles. In this video the Cult.fit Staff member has demonstrates the Bicep Dumbbell Curls Workout.

What are the various dumbbell curls alternatives?

Once you know the technique of the standard exercise, here are some types of dumbbell curls alternatives for you to try. These help in creating more stimulus and hence better progress. 

  1. Alternating dumbbell curls: As the name suggests, in alternating dumbbell curls or single arm dumbbell curls you exercise one arm at a time. Performing this exercise with alternate arms ensures that muscular balance is built on both sides of the body and you can tackle the weaker arm separately. This can be done while sitting or as standing alternate dumbbell curls.
  2. Sitting dumbbell curls: As the name suggests sitting dumbbell curls are done by positioning yourself on a flat bench. This is the perfect exercise for those who just want to concentrate on and isolate their biceps and grow them. While being seated, you can do both single arm dumbbell curls or one with both arms.
  3. Wide dumbbell curls: Dumbbell wide curls is an excellent variation to give you well-defined and shapely shoulders and arms. In this, you are not changing your grip on the dumbbells but rotating your shoulders externally. To do the wide dumbbell curls, stand with your feet a little wider than hip-width distance apart. Rotate your shoulders so that your elbows touch your sides. Curl the weights towards your shoulders till your biceps and forearms make contact. Pause at the top for 2-3 seconds and lower the weight to return to the starting position of the dumbbell wide curls.
  4. Overhead dumbbell curls: This variation is a combination of the bicep curl and overhead press and gives you strong and shapely arms. To do the overhead dumbbell curls, stand with your feet hip-width apart and pull in your core. Bend your elbows and bring the dumbbells to your shoulders. Straighten your arms while you turn your hands to make your palms face out. Lower the weights by bending your elbows to return to the starting position.
  5. Hanging dumbbell curls: This is an isolation exercise for your forearms and biceps that removes the dependence on your back and shoulder. The hanging dumbbell curls are done by allowing your arms to hang at a 90-degrees angle to the bench. The remaining movements are the same as the traditional exercise.
  6. Side dumbbell curls: This is an excellent upper body workout to build bigger and sturdier biceps. To do the side dumbbell curls, hold a dumbbell in close to your knee as you stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Turn it inwards while bending your elbows. Raise the dumbbell to the opposite side of your chest and pause for a second at the top of the movement. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

What are the benefits of dumbbell curls?

There are good reasons why dumbbell curls are popular and preferred by gym-goers of all age groups. Here are some excellent dumbbell curls benefits:

  1. One of the best dumbbell curls benefits is that it helps you build stronger and well-defined biceps. This gives you a toned appearance and enhances upper body stability.
  2. By activating your bicep muscles, dumbbell curls also improve your elbow flexion. This makes your elbow joints stronger and more functional.
  3. One of the best dumbbell curls advantages is that it improves your grip strength
  4. Whether you are doing the sitting or standing alternate dumbbell curls, your core gets activated. This betters your balance and prevents injuries.
  5. It is an easy exercise to include in your workouts at home. All you need is a pair of dumbbells and you can do this workout anywhere.

How to do dumbbell curls safely?

Here are some tips to do this dumbbell workout safely:

  1. Lifting heavier weight doesn’t mean bigger biceps. Instead, it may cause injuries. Start with lesser weights and progress gradually.
  2. Don’t move your elbows. Fix them close to your sides.
  3. Don’t rush between the reps. Perform all the movements in a controlled tempo.


When done correctly, dumbbell curls have immense potential for transforming your upper body. However, the key to gaining its benefits is to do different types of dumbbell curls to keep yourself motivated and engaged. 

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