Seated or Standing Dumbbell Curls for Bicep Workout

There are many dumbbell curls exercises that do a great job for your biceps, I will discuss seated bicep curls and standing bicep curls in this page.

I chose to group them in a unique page because they are very similar in the principle and execution.

We're talking about two isolation exercises. Anything is "curls" is an isolation workout.

Please note that the following exercises can also be replaced by Cable Curls in your routine, even though I prefer to use free weights.

seated dumble curl

Seated Dumbbell Curls

Seated dumbbell curls can be considered a valid alternative to the Standing Barbell Curls or also a complementary exercise. Like the other one, it works the full biceps and part of the shoulder and forearm.



SECONDARY MUSCLES: Forearms, Shoulders

EQUIPMENT: Dumbbells

TYPE: Isolation

Seated dumbbell curls


INITIAL POSITION: Seated on a bench with your back flat on the vertical support, hold the two dumbbells with a hammer grip and fully extend your arms.

MOVEMENT: The execution can be done lifting both arms or alternating them.

  • Raise the dumbbell towards your shoulder
  • When your forearm and elbow form a 90 degrees angle, rotate your wrist to the outside (till your palms face up) and continue the movement
  • Try to squeeze your bicep when you reach the top position and slowly return to the initial position, rotating your wrist again (hammer grip)
  • Repeat with the other arm unless your decided to lift both dumbbells together

BREATHING: Exhale during the active phase of the exercise (when you raise the weight) and inhale during the negative phase.

TIPS and ERRORS: I specifically said to use a bench with back support to avoid helping the movement by bending your back. Many do this exercise by seating on a flat bench but they increase the risk of arching their back or bending.

Others swing their body to be able to perform the exercise with heavier weights. The correct form is more important than the weights you lift!


A powerful variation of this exercise is the incline dumbbell curls which is performed on an incline bench (45 degrees).

This exercise prevents from helping lifting the weights with momentum that you may use doing the seated curls. The reason is because it limits the movement of your back.

When you do this exercise you will probably have to use lower weights, and don't be surprised it this happens because the tension on the biceps muscle is much higher.

Don't worry if the weights are lower, worry about the proper form instead.

incline dumbbell curls

Standing Dumbbell Curls

The principle of this exercise is the same of the seated bicep curls. As you can imagine the difference is in the standing position rather than seated.



SECONDARY MUSCLES: Forearms, Shoulders

EQUIPMENT: Dumbbells

TYPE: Isolation


This one though requires more attention because you don't have the support for your back and you might be tempted to swing your body during the movement.

I know some dudes that do that all the time and when I ask them to show me if they can still do exercise in a seated position they just can't.

Why do you have to cheat? Just to show that you hold big dumbbells?

Anyway, there is something to keep in mind about the movement for this exercise: keep you core very tight.

Standing Dumbbell Curls

The initial position is a standing position with your feet less than shoulder width. As I said, keep your core tight and strong to gain stability and balance.


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