10 Best EZ Curl Bar Exercises to Build Massive Arms (2024)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: March 28, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
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The curl bar is very effective when it comes to training different parts of the body, such as the back, shoulders, triceps, and biceps. Additionally, a curl bar is zig-zag in shape hence enabling both wide and narrow grips. This is why there are numerous curl bar exercise routines you can perform to build massive arms.

Also, discover what makes a good barbell, how to choose the right one, and more by reading our guide on the top 10 barbells for your home gym.

Today, I will guide you on the best curl bar workout routines you should try out. Some of these workouts are simple, whereas others are delicate. You can start low and progressively improve. Remember, the primary goal is to build massive arms using the curl bar.

I will also guide you on the step-by-step guide on how to perform the mentioned below routines. Read through until the end.

Quick Summary

  • Build massive arms using curl bar exercises such as the fourth curl, preacher curl, varied grip curl, drop set, 100s, and overhead triceps extensions.
  • Try as much as possible to interchange the workout routines so that your arms are buffed evenly on both sides.
  • According to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, the curl bar's curve enables higher arm lifts, activating the traps more effectively than a straight bar.
  • Based on my years of training clients, I believe that the versatility of curl bar workouts is unmatched for building arm muscle.

Top 10 Exercises Using a Curl Bar

These curl bar exercises work the entire upper arm, including both heads of the biceps and triceps.

Let’s take a look at 10 of them.

You May Also Like: EZ Curl Bar Workout PDF

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1. Preacher Curl

Preacher Curl

As a seasoned health and performance coach, I've seen the preacher curl's effectiveness firsthand.

It's a straightforward exercise for bigger, more defined biceps. The curl bar's innovative design, originating from the mid-20th century allows for a natural wrist position, reducing strain.

This is especially beneficial for my clients, promoting safer and more effective arm training.

Here’s how you do the preacher curl:

Step 1 - Adjust the height of the preacher bench so that it comes in contact with your armpits. Grasp the barbell with a standard palms-up grip (underhand grip) with hands at shoulder width.

Step 2 - Keep the back of your arms firmly against the equipment and curl upwards until vertical. Lower the bar slowly over the course of about 3 seconds. Repeat it any number of times that you want.

2. ​Reverse Grip Curl

Reverse Grip Curl

In my experience as a health and performance coach, the reverse curl bar exercise is excellent for developing upper arms and forearms, areas often overlooked by standard curls.

It's particularly effective for athletes like tennis players and rock climbers, who benefit greatly from enhanced forearm and grip strength.

Here is how you do it:

Step 1 - ​Start by standing upright—hands and feet shoulder width, elbows close in to the sides, palms facing downward (overhand grip).

Step 2 - ​Moving only the forearms, curl the bar upward while breathing out until it’s as close to vertical as possible. Squeeze the bicep while holding things there for a second, then slowly return to the starting position while breathing in. Repeat.

3. ​Varied Grip Curl

Varied Grip Curl

The bicep has 2 heads—the long and (little understood) short head. The positioning of your hands as you do curl bar exercises influences which head is emphasized.

Varying your grip on the curl bar is crucial for balanced bicep development.

From my coaching experience, I've found that alternating grips can significantly impact muscle engagement.

Here’s the best way to incorporate this into your routine:

Step 1 - Choose a particular type of curl and with each subsequent exercise, increase the width of your hold by 2 inches, beginning with the hands close together and moving outward.

Step 2 - An alternative approach is to increase the width of your curl bar grip by 2 inches with each set of reps within the same exercise.

4. Back and Forth Curl

A person doing Barbell Curls

I've found the back and forth curl bar exercise to be a dynamic and engaging way to train with a partner.

One person sets a challenge, and the other matches it, creating a motivating and competitive atmosphere.

This continues until both participants reach their limit. It's an effective method to push endurance and strength in a supportive setting.

 

This exercise results in serious bicep pumps but is not for the faint-hearted.

Step 1 - Start by gripping your favorite curl bar just as you would do with bicep curl.

Perform a set of curls to failure rather than to any particular number. When you’ve finished, pass the barbell to your gym training partner whose challenge is to do more curls than you did.

Step 2 - When your training partner is done, they should pass the barbell back to you and once again, you perform a set to failure before passing the bar back to them to see if they can surpass what you did.

Related Article:

5. Close Grip Curl

Close Grip Curl

With this type of curl bar exercise, you’re executing a standard curl but with your hands in close and your elbows pinned to your sides.

Step 1 - Stand with feet at shoulder width. With elbows close in, grab the bar with both hands, underhand grip, and no more than 8 to 12 inches apart. Exhale as you raise the bar until your forearms touch your bicep. Flex your biceps for a second at the top.

Step 2 - Slowly return the bar to the standing position, inhaling as you do. Repeat this close grip bench press exercise to your desired number of reps.

Also Read: Best Curl Bar Tricep Exercises

6. Drop Set

Man doing barbell military press

Drop sets are a powerful tool to push past muscle fatigue and maximize growth, as supported by studies in the National Library of Medicine [1].

Additionally, drop sets can be particularly effective in rehabilitation programs, providing a safe way to increase muscle endurance without overloading the joints.

In my coaching career, I've used drop sets to help clients break through plateaus.

Here’s how it’s done:

Step 1 - Using 5-pound plates, load the bar with the maximum amount of weight you think you can do 6 reps with. Then perform a set of curls to failure.

Step 2 - Now remove 1 plate from each side of the bar and curl to failure again. Then remove another plate and curl to failure again. Repeat until you’ve reached the final set of plates.

7. Upright Rows

Upright Rows

The unique shape of the barbell of your gym allows you to use it for more than just standard curls. The upright row is a perfect example.

Because of the curve in the bar, you’re able to raise your arms higher than you could with a straight bar and thereby activate your traps, as shown by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research [2].

Here’s how you do it:

Step 1 - Start with the bar parallel to the floor and hold it with an overhand grip with the hands close together, arms extended, and knees slightly bent. Keep your shoulders back and raise the bar as high as you possibly can. Hold for a few seconds.

Step 2 - Slowly return the bar to the starting position and repeat. Make sure to maintain the overhand grip to keep it secure.

8. Overhead Triceps Extensions

Overhead Triceps Extensions

According to research by Dermato Endocrinology, as they age, the tissue under their bicep starts to sag [3].

Most people simply accept these saggy triceps. But you don’t have to.

Overhead triceps extensions are excellent for toning the area under the biceps.

In my practice, I've seen clients transform saggy triceps into well-defined muscles with this exercise.

 Here’s how they’re done:

Step 1 - Stand straight with feet shoulder distance apart. Grab the bar with a close overhand grip. Lift the bar to your chin then press it overhead.

Carefully lower the bar behind your head. Then raise it, arms extended straight upward.

Step 2 - Slowly return the bar to its starting position behind your head and repeat. Ideally, you’ll have a spotter working with you since dropping the bar in this position could be dangerous.

9. 21s

21s

If you’re interested in creating savage-looking biceps then you’ll want to explore 21s. “21” in this case refers to the number of reps per complete set, with each set comprised of 3 segments each requiring 7 reps.

Here’s how you do them:

Step 1 - Stand upright, hands at shoulder width, bar grasped with a standard underhand grip. Elbows should be tucked in closely to your sides.

Step 2 - Go from rest position to a 90-degree angle and back to rest 7 times. Then from a 90-degree angle to fully vertical and then back to 90 degrees 7 times. Then from at rest to fully vertical 7 times.

10. 100s

100s

100s get their name from the fact that you’re going to do 100 reps total over 3 segments of each set. This exercise will help build muscle endurance as well as strength.

Load up 40 percent of the weight you would normally use to do 6-8 reps. Then do the following:

Step 1 - Start by doing 50 reps with a standard underhand grip. Don’t rush it or break form. 50 reps at a nice, steady pace. Then rest for no more than 2 minutes max.

Step 2 - Now do 30 reps. Again, no rushing or bad form. When finished, cop another 2 minutes of rest and do 20 reps. Repeat to failure.

FAQs

What’s the Difference Between a Curl Bar and Straight Bar?

The main difference between curl bar and straight bars rests mainly on the weight and shape of the bar and the positioning of the hands on the bar.

EZ curl bars undulate in a W-type of shape that allows for more natural positioning of the hands. This is particularly useful when doing various curls requiring close and overhand grip.

In fact, as the name implies, an EZ curl bar is used almost exclusively to perform various types of curls that target and build specific muscles, as opposed to, say, the squat, which targets a whole range of muscles.

What Muscles Do Curls Work?

Curls work the bicep and tricep muscles. They also lead to minor improvements on grip strength.

For some people, that’s enough. However, others want to develop the entire arm muscle from wrist to shoulder, and that’s certainly understandable as well.

But as two-time Mr. Universe Lou Ferrigno says, “You have to work hard for any kind of meaningful forearm development.”

So if you are looking for well-balanced arms, consider many of the training variations listed above that also target the forearms.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28532248/
  2. https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/fulltext/2013/01000/effect_of_grip_width_on_electromyographic_activity.25.aspx
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583891/
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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
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2 thoughts on “10 Best EZ Curl Bar Exercises to Build Massive Arms (2024)

  1. I’m new to fitness and I’ve been having a mental block on what workouts to do with a curl bar. Thanks for these suggestions!

  2. Hello, everything is going perfectly here and ofcourse every one is
    sharing data, that’s truly excellent, keep up writing.

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