How to EZ Bar Curl

About the EZ Bar Curl

The EZ bar curl has become more and more popular in recent years, with many athletes and gym-goers preferring it to the traditional barbell curl due to the comfort it provides to the wrist joint. Like the barbell curl, the EZ bar curl targets the biceps, as well as the other arm flexor muscles; the brachialis and brachioradialis.

Is there any different between the barbell curl and the EZ curl? Well, if you’re taking it purely from the standpoint of which provides greater biceps activity, the straight barbell version wins. As shown with iEMG, the supinated grip provides better stimulus (muscle activity) to the biceps compared to the grip used with the EZ bar.

With that said, the subtle difference between the two, in terms of biceps activity, will not have much of an impact on the gains made by the majority of gym-goers. This brings us back to the reason why many athletes prefer the EZ bar - the slightly more pronated grip provides much greater comfort to the wrists compared to when using the straight bar.

How to perform

Preparation

  1. Load the EZ bar with a suitable load and place on the safety collars
  2. Grasp the bar with an underhand grip, where there is a curve in the bar
  3. Stand erect, back straight, and arms down by your sides

Execution

  1. Keeping your upper arms stationary by your sides, curl the bar upward by flexing at the elbow
  2. Once peak contraction is reached, reverse the movement in a controlled manner to return to the starting position
  3. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions

Common Questions

Both the EZ bar and straight barbell curl are great choices when it comes to targeting the biceps.

The barbell biceps curl does elicit slightly greater biceps stimuli, but the difference is minimal. The EZ bar curl therefore serves as a great choice for those who wish to exercise the biceps but find the barbell curl uncomfortable on the wrists or who are simply looking for an alternative choice to keep their training fresh.

When targeting the arm flexors it is important to exercise the muscles using a variety of grips so that the biceps, brachialis (runs beneath the biceps) and brachioradialis (runs the length of the forearm) are all effectively stimulated. Arm curls which involve a supinated (palms up) grip generally target the biceps to the greatest degree - examples being the barbell or EZ curl - whereas curls which involve neutral (palms facing side) or pronated (palms facing down) grips place the biceps is a weaker position so greater load is placed on the brachioradialis and brachialis.

Due to the pronated (palms down) grip, the arm flexor muscles targeted by the reverse EZ bar curl differ than those worked during the traditional EZ bar curl.

The biceps are placed in a mechanically weakened position when using the reverse grip and the brachioradialis muscle, which runs the length of the forearm and attaches to the Humerus bone in the upper arm, becomes the primary mover. This makes the reverse EZ bar a great choice for building larger upper forearms and ensuring balanced arm development.

You can sufficiently exercise all of the arm flexor muscles with a set of dumbbells, so home trainers or those with limited equipment need not despair.

The traditional dumbbell biceps curl is an excellent choice for developing the biceps, with the option of maintaining a supinated grip throughout to ensure maximum stimulus to the biceps heads.

Targeting the other arm flexor muscles can also be accomplished with dumbbell curls which involve varying grips, such as the hammer curl and the highly effective, yet relatively unknown, Zottman curl.

Switching up which exercise you perform will ensure maximum, balanced development.

So far when discussing the EZ bar curls we are primarily talking about gripping the bends in the bar which offer the curler a much more forgiving and comfortable (pronated and supinated) grip compared to using a straight bar. However, most EZ bars do also contain grips on the straight portion of the bar, allowing you take a narrow or wide grip.

The narrow grip is a popular option and can usually be performed using a pronated or supinated grip, depending on which arm muscles you wish to target. Taking a narrow, supinated grip on the straight portion of the bar will provide a potent choice for working the biceps (particularly the long head) and brachialis, whereas the brachioradialis will be the primary worker during the reverse variation. Both can be incorporated into your training to provide extra options and keep your workouts varied.

The wide grip offers little benefit compared to performing the barbell biceps curl with a shoulder width grip or the traditional EZ bar curl. It may also be uncomfortable for those with wrist or shoulder issues, so there is no clear reason for its inclusion.

Workout Ideas

Within a full body workout

Exercise Targets
Hack squat Lower body and core
Bench press Chest and arm extenders
One arm dumbbell row Middle and upper back and arm flexors
EZ bar curl Arm flexors
Crunches Abdominals

Within a pull workout (e.g. if following push / pull / legs)

Exercise Targets
Bent over row Middle and upper back and arm flexors
Pull up Latissimus Dorsi
Shrug Trapezius
EZ bar curl Arm flexors

Within an upper workout (e.g. if following upper / lower)

Exercise Targets
Chin up Latissimus Dorsi and arm flexors
Chest dip Chest and arm extenders
Shoulder press Shoulders
EZ bar curl Arm flexors
Superset with  
Cable triceps push downs Arm extenders

Other Arm Exercises

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