9 Workouts and Exercises You Can Do With a Curl Bar
updated January 1, 2019
The curl bar is a popular piece of training equipment in any gym. That’s often because guys think it looks cool to be using it and, of course, everyone wants bigger biceps. Unfortunately, most guys don’t have a clue about how to use it effectively. Using it the wrong way can be worse than doing nothing at all. In this article we discover 9 ways to get maximum bicep blasting use from the curl bar.
Technique #1: Preacher Curl with EZ Bar
You’ve probably seen a strange looking bench that looks a little bit like the pews that people in church pray on. It’s known as the preacher curl, but was originally named the Scott Curl, after first Mr. Olympia Larry Scott. It allows you to isolate your biceps without bringing your back into the movement. When you combine preacher curl with the curl bar, you have a doubly effective bicep blaster.
Place the curl bar on the bar support with a lighter weight than you’d normally use for regular standing curls. Now sit at the preacher bench and drape your arms over the angled pads to reach down to grab the angled grooves. Sit down snugly do that your armpits are resting on top of the pads. Roll your shoulder back so that you arms are in position to take the brunt of the weight.
Slowly curl the bar up to the top of the pads, holding the bar on the first pair of angled grooves. Squeeze at the top and slowly return to the start position. Using proper preacher curl technique is critical to the success of this exercise.
Technique #2: Drop Sets
Drop sets are a fantastic way to extend the failure point of a set in order to get maximum time under tension. Load the curl bar with the maximum weight you can lift to do about 6 reps with perfect form. Use small plates that are about 5 pounds each. Perform a set of bent bar curls to failure – the point where you cannot get another rep without cheating.
Now, put the weight down and immediately remove a plate from each side of it. Pick the weight up again without any rest and pump out another 5-6 reps again going to a point of failure. Again put down the unit and strip off another plate, pumping out another 5-6 reps. Continue until you are using just the bicep curl bar weight and pump a final, super slowest of 20 reps of curl bar curls.
Reverse curls is an exercise that is often neglected, with everyone wanting to focus on hitting the biceps. However, forearm development is needed for truly impressive arms, and reverse curls are what you need to built them. Doing your reverse grip easy bar curls on a curl bar makes them more effective, allowing you to target the brachiordialis muscle which gives bulk to the forearm.
To perform reverse curls, grab hold of the curls bar on the first angled grooves with a reverse grip, that is with your palms facing down. The exercise involved curling your knuckles up toward your biceps. The key to effectively hitting the forearms is to keeping your elbows in at your sides, rather than letting them travel outwards.
If you experience forearm pain when curling during this exercise, it is probably because you’re letting your elbows come out to the side. Lower the weight and make sure that your reverse bicep curls form is strict.
21’s is a great exercise that allows you work your biceps through three key planes of movement. This is one of the fastest ways to get your biceps stronger – and a stronger muscle is a bigger muscle!
To perform this exercise, you should load the ez bar bicep curl bar with about 75% of the weight you would normally use for 8 reps. Perform your first seven reps by only coming from the bottom of the curl up to the half what point. That means that on each rep, the bar should stop as your forearms are in a position that is parallel to the floor.
Once you’ve completed 7 reps, perform your 8th by going all the way to the top of the movement. However, only come down to the midway point (again parallel to the floor). Do another 7 reps from this midpoint to the top of the movement for a total of 14 reps. The 15 rep should be a complete repetition from bottom to top. Do this for the last 7 to give you a total of 21 reps.
The curl bar is not only a great way to do ez curl bar exercises to work your biceps; it’s unique angles also allow you to perform some other stick standard moves more effectively. A case in point is the upright row. The angled nature of the curl bar means that you are able to bring the weight up higher to get more trapezius involvement on this exercise.
To perform curl bar upright rows, grab a hold of the weight with a narrow overhand grip (palms facing down and holding the first angled part of the bar). Stand with a neutral spine and your shoulders pulled back. Now pull the weight up as high as you can, bringing your elbows up to around the level of your ears. Hold this top position to squeeze the traps and then slowly return to the start position.
The unique design of the curl bar allows you to work the biceps from a variety of angles stimulating the muscles slightly differently each time. To get maximum use from this feature, you should vary your hand width on each set that you perform.
If, for example, you are doing 3 sets of curls, start with your hands on the first angled portion of the weight on your first set. Keep your elbows in at your side as you curl up, being sure to squeeze tightly in the contracted position.
On your second set, place your hands on the widest angled portion to work your outer biceps more. Again, you should keep the elbows in as you curl and squeeze hard in the top position. For the third set, take a medium position to work the middle part of the biceps.
Back and forth curls was a favorite technique used by Arnold Schwarzenegger and his training partner Franco Columbu in the 1970’s. It involves performing a set of curls to failure on the curl bar with strict form and then tossing the weight across to your training partner. His goal is to do as many or more reps as you do.
Your partner throws the weight back to you when he’s done and you perform your next set to failure. This back and forth mega set continues until one of you pikes out. In the end you should just be doing single reps.
This is a great way to inject some serious competition into your workout – and to get a fantastic bicep pump!
100’s is exactly what it sounds like – you are going to perform 100 strict repetitions of z bar curls. This is not something you should do every week. Once a month, however, it is a great idea to inject this sort of high volume training into your routine to break the monotony and keep your muscles challenged.
Load the weight with about 40% of what you’d normally use for 8 reps. Now start grinding out perfect, slow, controlled reps. On your first set you are going to do 50 reps. Count them off in your head as 10 sets of 5 to make it less mentally challenging. Make sure, though to maintain a steady rep cadence. You’ll feel initial fatigue in your forearms but keep going.
Once you’ve pumped out 50 reps, rest for exactly 2 minutes – or as long as it takes your training partner to get in 50 reps. On your second set you are going for 30 reps. Rest another two minutes and then rep out the last twenty, for a total of 100 reps.
Be warned – the first time you do this, you won’t be able to straighten your arms for a couple of days.
Overhead triceps extensions are another exercise that benefits from the unique angling of the curl bar. It allows you to extend your hands well behaving your head while keeping the elbows tightly in around the head.
Stand with the curls bar in your hands in a palms down position, holding the first angled grooves of the bar. Now perform a reverse curl to bring the bar up to your chin level. Press the weight overhead, bringing your elbows into the sides of your head. Now bring the bar behind your head by moving your forearms back. Your upper arms, and your forearms should not move.
What’s the difference between the ez curl bar vs straight bar? Want to compare the barbell curl vs ez bar curl? Then head over to this clip to get even more from the ez curl bar and its full exercise routine:
Using an EZ curl bar with the 9 techniques described in this article will fast track your biceps development. To get the most benefit from your z curl bar, however, you need to know how to do a proper bicep curl. If you don’t know how to use curl bar, your curl bar workouts are not going to get the results you want.
That is why it is critical that you get your form right first. You can worry about piling on the weight once you’ve perfected your technique. You will also then be able to explore other ez curl moves such as french bar curls, bench press/deadlift/shoulder press/reverse ez bar presses and the close grip etc.
My name is Jim Roose. I'm a former competitive power lifter and gym owner. I've bought millions of dollars of fitness equipment over the last 20 years. This site is my way of giving back to the fitness community that's done so much for me. Every article on here is carefully researched and written by me. Leave a comment if you have any questions.