Looking at the EZ bar, it’s easy to assume it’s utilized for most bicep exercises, and it is! It also makes a great alternative for a Barbell when the latter is not available or currently occupied by another lifter (a common scenario we can see in a commercial gym).
But what makes the EZ bar different from a straight barbell, is the main question. We’ll help set things straight for you by discussing the benefits of EZ bar curls, the multitude of bicep variations and alternatives, and the key differences between a Barbell Curl and an EZ curl.
We also throw in some recommended programs whether you want to achieve those Popeye guns or strengthen your biceps in general.
This Ultimate Guide Will Cover:
- How To Use An EZ Curl Bar
- Benefits of EZ Curl Bar
- Common EZ Bar Curl Mistakes To Avoid
- EZ Bar Curl Muscles Worked
- EZ Bar Curl vs Straight Bar Curl
- Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, & Programs
- EZ Bar Curl Variations
- EZ Curl Alternative Exercises
- Wrap Up
- FAQs About EZ Bar Curl
How To Use An EZ Curl Bar
What You’ll Need:
- EZ bar: Frankly, there’s no other piece of equipment that can substitute the EZ bar, which makes this the only suitable equipment for this type of bicep variation. Unless, of course, you can mimic the same structure on a piece of steel.
Step 1: Find Your Stance
The EZ curl is traditionally performed standing. Stand straight, keep your shoulders neutral or pulled back, and your arms and elbows close to your sides at shoulder width and a straight angle (unless you’re performing close-grip curls). Keep your chest up and your eyes looking ahead.
Step 2: Grip The EZ Curl Bar
Choose the most comfortable angle for you that accommodates your preferred hand width with your palms facing upward (underhand grip) and with a semi supinated grip and a natural wrist position.
Each width targets different muscles, so this will vary based on the muscle you want to work on. For instance, choose a narrow width to target the outer head of your biceps and more width to activate the inner head. You could also go for a medium width that works a little bit of both.
Step 3: Curl The Bar
As you lift the bar, think of the exercise as more than just getting the weight on top. Once you curl the bar until one to two inches in front of your shoulders, squeeze your biceps hard to activate the right working muscles.
Step 4: Control The Eccentric Phase
Lower the bar with full control to keep the tension on your biceps brachii. Extend your elbows until you feel some tension on your triceps. This is a good way to tell that you’re hitting a full range of motion. Perform the recommended sets and reps according to your program.
3 Benefits of EZ Curl Bar
1. Improves Grip Strength
Let’s face it, working on your curls, no matter how mediocre it feels, can improve your pulling strength and performance by a huge chunk. Since this movement requires the majority of your arms to move, performing EZ curls also activate your hands, wrists, and forearms. This newly established strength can then be passed on to other pulling exercises that require bicep power.
2. Prevents Injury
EZ curls, biceps curls, and curls, in general, can help prevent injuries, particularly in the elbow and arms regions. The main function of the biceps is elbow flexion, so incorporating curl into your arm workout can naturally guide your biceps and elbows in working hard for each other.
Opposite this, weak or underutilized biceps result in grip issues, bicep strain, or muscle tears even under medium load. Whether you realize it or not, your biceps are utilized on a daily basis. This makes adding curls to your arm workout routine much more practical than you think.
3. Increases Upper Body Mass
If you have purely aesthetic goals for achieving massive guns, then the EZ bar biceps curl is suitable for your regimen. We can’t deny that muscle growth on the biceps has a way of filling up sleeves nicely. You can even speed up your progress by throwing in more bicep curl variations, some of which we will discuss in later sections, so keep reading!
Common EZ Bar Curl Mistakes to Avoid
Activating the Wrong Muscles
For the EZ curls, the biceps are the most activated muscles. When your elbows are too forward, it means you’re using too much of your shoulders. When you’re shrugging your shoulders to the ears, you’re concentrating too much on your traps. Curling the wrists inward means targeting your forearms.
Not Performing Full ROM
There’s nothing inherently wrong with partial range of motion since this is designed to target specific working muscles, but this also cuts your progress in half. Performing a full range of motion provides greater biceps growth and as much as 25% increase in bicep strength. To reach a full ROM, make sure to contract your triceps at the bottom of the movement.
No Mind-Muscle Connection
Mind-muscle connection is the deliberate contraction of the muscles by focusing on the tension. With any exercise, mind-muscle connection is vital and the cherry on top of every program. Instead of aiming to just lift the weight and get the bar to your chest, aim to squeeze the biceps at the top. This assists in the more efficient and progressive growth of the biceps.
EZ Bar Curl Muscles Worked
- Biceps brachii
The biceps are the primary working muscles that perform the brunt of the work with EZ bars curls. The brachialis, also known as the Teichmann muscle, is the muscle found in the upper arm that flexes the elbow. This muscle is incorporated in most curl variations, but most especially in a neutral position. The brachioradialis is located in the lateral area of the posterior forearm and also acts as an elbow flexor.
EZ Bar Curl vs Straight Bar Curl
To make things simple, the EZ curl uses a curved bar that enables a semi-supinated hand position while the traditional bar curl uses a barbell, regardless of the length and weight. Curved bars put less pressure on the wrists and the forearms. It also activates the biceps less than a barbell but targets the brachialis and brachioradialis more.
So how does this impact execution, you may wonder. For one, straight bar curls allow the lifter to go for more weight which makes this exercise superior in terms of muscle growth. The starting weight is also heavier since a standard barbell weighs 45 pounds while an EZ curved bar weighs 20 to 40 pounds.
Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and Programs
For Muscle Building
The biceps are significantly smaller than other muscle groups in the body, so lighter weights are ideal. Choose a weight that you can curl for two more reps than usual. To build muscle, do 8 to 15 reps for 5 to 8 sets.
For Strength Training
A key technique in strengthening the muscles is to perform more sets with fewer reps while focusing on lifting heavier than normal. For strength training, choose a load that you can curl at a maximum of 5 reps with perfect form. Make sure to warm up first with lighter weights. Then, do 4 to 8 reps for 4 to 6 sets.
EZ Bar Curl Variations
Besides overloading and doing tempo training, there are other effective ways to train your biceps and make them bigger efficiently. Try adding some of these variations into your upper arm workout program for an extra burn on your guns.
Cable EZ Bar Curl
Done with the same form and execution, the cable variation of the EZ curl is a little bit tougher and more challenging as it keeps tension on the arms at all times. This utilizes training methods like drop sets, which aim for lighter sets consecutively but with the same level of tension throughout. You could go for a narrow or wide grip, depending on your target muscles.
Lifting lighter weights is advisable with this variation. The elbows are more backward which makes the bar closer to the chest. This places significant tension on the upper arm so it’s ideal as a finisher in upper body training programs.
EZ Bar Close Grip Curl
By moving the arms closer together, this variation effectively targets the long head of the biceps for more muscle activation. This is also considered to be less strenuous on the wrists, elbows, and shoulders compared with a straight bar curl.
EZ Bar Reverse Curl
This variation effectively activates the brachioradialis and pump-up the muscle on the knuckle side of the forearms. The exercise does not require much weight and can be performed with an overhand grip and the arms are almost fully extended. With the elbows firm on the sides, the weight is curled vertically until it reaches your shoulder height. Hold for two seconds at the top while squeezing the biceps before lowering the ez bar down.
EZ Bar Curl Alternatives
You can still target your biceps and upper arms even with no EZ curled bar. Give these alternatives a try and see which ones give you a satisfying workout.
Performed in a neutral position, hammer curls target the biceps from a different angle and help fill out shirt sleeves well. This exercise is done with the elbows tucked on the side and each arm holding a sufficient dumbbell weight.
This is one of the most common upper arm exercises you can witness being done in the gym, and for a good reason. This is done on a preacher bench with a pad underneath the arms for support. This completely isolated the biceps for that extra burn.
Band Contraction Curls
No curl bar? No problem. You can trust the good ole resistance band for handy bicep muscle activation. This allows more bicep contraction minus the hefty equipment. You may not get to add more weight, but trust this alternative to be equally satisfying for that desired post-workout pump.
This may not be as close to the other bicep curls variations, but you can believe Chin-Ups to be 100% effective for your biceps’ strength and growth. This also puts significant work on your back for an efficient compound exercise.