Popularly known as dumbbell concentration curls, concentration curls are a variation of the traditional bicep curls. This exercise is performed on a flat bench while you rest the back of your upper arm against your inner thigh and lift a dumbbell. The movements involved in concentration curls require greater muscle mass and upper body strength.
Concentration curls are a must in your upper body workout because it targets your biceps and helps develop muscle strength and power. Performing this exercise regularly also sculpts the front portion of your upper arm and improves its aesthetics and function.
This Ultimate Guide Will Cover:
- How To Do Concentration Curls
- 5 Concentration Curls Benefits
- Common Concentration Curls Mistakes To Avoid
- Concentration Curls Muscles Worked
- Concentration Curls vs Bicep Curls
- Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, & Programs
- Concentration Curls Variations
- Concentration Curls Alternative Exercises
- FAQs About Concentration Curls
How To Do Concentration Curls
What You’ll Need:
- Flat bench: You need a flat bench to keep your arm in an anchored position, so your biceps receive more tension throughout the exercise.
- Dumbbells: Dumbbells are necessary to activate the long and short heads of your biceps brachii.
- Chair: If you don’t have a flat bench, any chair will do.
- At-home replacements: Instead of dumbbells, you can also use canned goods, filled water bottles, or one-gallon jugs of any liquid.
Step 1: Master the starting position
Grab a dumbbell with one hand and take a seat on the flat bench. Hold the dumbbell with your upper right arm on the inside of your right thigh. Keep your feet flat on the ground and make sure that your legs are spread wider than your hips. Hinge forward from your hips, and bring your upper body towards your legs. Maintain a 45-degree angle with your upper body.
Step 2: Setup your curling arm
To maintain stability, control, and form, place your left arm (the non-curling arm) on your left thigh. Keep your upper arms perpendicular to the floor while keeping a slight bend on your elbow. Grip the dumbbell close to your lower leg with your palm facing away from your leg. Engage your core and rotate your shoulder outward. All reps of the concentration curl should begin in this position.
Step 3: Bend your elbow
As you keep your upper arm in contact with the inside of your leg, slowly squeeze your bicep and begin to bend your elbow. The move should end with the dumbbell close to your shoulder without contracting your shoulder.
Step 4: Complete the curl
When you reach the top of the movement, squeeze your bicep for a couple of seconds. Slowly straighten your elbow to begin lowering the dumbbell back to the starting position.
Step 5: Begin the next rep
At the bottom of the movement, pause for a second before beginning the next repetition. Repeat steps one to four until you reach your desired number of repetitions.
5 Concentration Curls Benefits
1. Builds the muscle groups in your arms
Going through the full range of motion as you perform concentration curls targets different muscles groups. One repetition of this exercise activates the triceps located at the back of your arm, the brachialis muscle that supports your elbow joint, and the brachioradialis muscle that flexes the forearm at your elbow.
2. Improves mind-muscle connection
The concentration curl is a game-changer if you’re having problems establishing a mind-muscle connection with your arms. As long as you follow a slow and controlled rep tempo when doing concentration curls, you can effectively contract your python at the top of every movement.
3. Fixes muscle imbalances
If you’re like most people, one of your pythons is probably bigger than the other. The concentration curl is a unilateral exercise, which means it works one side of your body at a time. This exercise can effectively fix muscle and strength imbalances.
4. Tones your biceps
Because it effectively activates the long head and short head of your biceps brachii, the concentration curl can effectively tone your biceps fast. Having toned biceps enables you to enjoy a plethora of other benefits, namely, improved posture, reduced risk of injuries, and stronger bones.
5. Helps practice your lifting form
The form of the concentration curl eliminates body momentum and distractions by requiring you to focus directly on the lift. Over time, this can help improve your lifting form, so you can easily perform other exercises, such as Deadlifts and barbell curls.
Common Concentration Curls Mistakes to Avoid
Excessive load use
Using dumbbells that are too heavy can compromise proper form. This will make the exercise less effective as it targets lesser muscle groups. Avoid committing this mistake by reducing the loads and focusing on the technical execution before adding more weights. Opt to use dumbbells with weights you can comfortably lift for at least two reps without losing proper form.
Arching your back
If you’re always arching your back when performing the concentration curls, lifting too heavy might be the culprit. Aside from compensating proper form, arching your back also puts necessary stress on your spine, resulting in pain and injuries. Swap your barbells for something lighter, so you can perform concentration curls properly and with ease.
Rushing the motion
Instead of focusing too much on rapid execution, concentrate on proper form. Take your time to lift and lower the weights in a smooth motion. Taking as much time as you can provides constant tension to your biceps, making the exercise more beneficial.
Improper elbow position
When doing the concentration curl, the position of your elbows shouldn’t change throughout the movements. They should remain close to the side of your body, and only the lower arm should move. If you notice your elbows floating in front or behind your body or moving away from your torso, you might be lifting too much weight.
As you swing the weights up doing the concentration curl, avoid recruiting your shoulders and torso. This will make the exercise feel like a swinging or twisting movement rather than a curl. Focus on maintaining an upright spine and a tight core to prevent this problem. Make sure that your shoulders are relaxed and don’t move too forward as you initiate movements.
Concentration Curls Muscles Worked
Performing concentration curls regularly can also target other muscles, such as:
The concentration curl is an effective biceps exercise because it works your entire bicep with the short bicep head as the primary target muscle group. The exercise also keeps the long head of your bicep from being fully stretched, resulting in better isolation of the short head.
The movements of the concentration curl also put tension on your forearms and shoulders. Working out these muscle groups can improve your grip strength, boost your overall upper body power, and support proper posture. Having stronger and more toned forearms and shoulders will make everyday tasks easier!
Concentration Curls vs Bicep Curls
Concentration curls and bicep curls are different in many ways. For one, concentration curls offer better bicep isolation because the exercise requires you to sit down with your arm braced against your leg, taking your other muscles out of the equation.
Unlike bicep curls, concentration curls produce a stronger peak concentration and allow you to slightly lift more weights. Concentration curls emphasize more on the short head of your biceps, while bicep curls equally target the short and long head of your biceps.
Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and Programs
To Improve Muscular Strength
If you want to improve your muscular strength, do 16 reps (8 reps per arm) of concentration curls in 4 sets. Rest for one minute in between sets. Use heavy weights to complete this program.
To Achieve Muscular Hypertrophy
Muscular hypertrophy refers to increased muscle mass, which manifests as an increase in muscle strength and size. To achieve this goal, perform 8-10 reps of concentration curls for 4 sets. Use moderate to heavy weights for this program.
To Improve Muscular Endurance
Muscular endurance plays a vital role in the performance of any athlete. To improve yours, incorporate 12-20 reps of concentration curls done in 4 sets in your workout regimen. Use light weights to see results fast.
Concentration Curl Variations
Once you’ve mastered traditional concentration curls, it’s time to take it up a notch and perform some variations of the exercise. These variations target the same muscle groups but are more challenging than traditional concentration curls.
Cable Concentration Curl
Using a cable pulley machine while performing concentration curls places constant tension on your biceps. This variation will take some time to get used to, but the results — well-toned and stronger biceps — will be worth it.
Standing Concentration Curl
Also known as the bent-over concentration curl, the standing concentration curl is an advanced variation of the traditional concentration curl. Because the standing concentration curls place little strain on your biceps and more on your upper forearm, this variation is ideal if you want to further engage your forearm.
Hammer Concentration Curl
Hammer concentration curls use a neutral grip with your palms facing your body. This variation is better for your upper body because it puts your biceps at a mechanical disadvantage, forcing your biceps to do more work. You should add this variation to your program if you want to target the long head of your biceps.
Plate Concentration Curl
As the name suggests, this variation will require you to use a single plate. If you don’t have experience performing the plate concentration curl, it’s best if you start lifting a lighter plate, so you can adjust your grip and avoid injuries. This is an excellent variation if you’re looking for an exercise to improve your grip strength.
Concentration Curl Alternative Exercises
Supinated Dumbbell Curl
The supinated dumbbell curl is a premier biceps exercise that increases bicep hypertrophy and strengthens the biceps muscles. This exercise also boosts your athletic performance, especially when you play sports that involve a lot of throwing, rowing, and swinging. We highly recommend this alternative if you’re looking for an easy exercise to improve your arm strength and size.
Dumbbell Drag Curl
Although less popular than standard Barbell Bicep Curls, the dumbbell drag curl is a highly effective bicep exercise. Performing this exercise ensures both arms receive equal work because you have to move each limb individually. Adding this alternative is a must if you want to achieve a more symmetrical upper body and better-looking physique.
Dumbbell Zottman Curl
The dumbbell zottman curl is an excellent arm-building exercise suitable for every fitness level. This exercise helps build stronger biceps and grip muscles to aid injury prevention and overall grip performance. If you’re looking for an exercise to “practice” concentration curls, the dumbbel zottman curl is for you.