Reverse Curls – Techniques, Variations, and Benefits

A fit man performing reverse curl exercise with a barbell

Reverse curl is a strength and grip-building exercise that gives you the toned and sculpted arms. This article will tell you all you need to know about them.

The reverse curl, is an exercise all bodybuilders swear by, as the impact of this simple exercise is phenomenal. It is a great exercise for developing strong and sculpted arms. 

The movement pattern of the reverse curls targets the biceps and forearm muscles and can be done with a variety of different weights and grip variations. Reverse curls are a great addition to any upper body workout routine.

What is a reverse curl?

 Also known as overhand curls, pronated curls, and reverse arm curls, a reverse curl is a weight training exercise that specifically targets the muscles of the forearm. The reverse curls are a variant of the bicep curls. However, in this exercise, you hold the equipment in an overhand or pronated(palms facing downwards) position rather than an underhand or supinated (palms facing away outwards) one.

Reverse curls work on the primary muscle brachialis, which is not visible. The movement of the reverse curls exercise activates the biceps brachii [1]National Library of Medicine: Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Biceps Muscle and brachialis muscles in your arms. These key muscle groups help elbow flexion. They also strengthen your grip, which is important, since a grip [2]American Journal of Occupational Therapy: How Forearm Position Affects Grip Strength with your palms facing downwards is the weakest.

Reverse curls increase your performance during other upper-body workouts and help your biceps grow bigger. This exercise can be performed with either a barbell, dumbbell, or an EZ curl bar. These variations will help you break the monotony of your biceps exercise.

5 reverse curls exercises 

Let’s get to know the various types of reverse curls that you can do with different types of equipment. The below-given exercises are suitable for beginners to intermediate levels.

1. Basic reverse dumbbell/Barbell curls

Target muscles: Brachioradialis, brachialis, biceps brachii, and forearm extensors.

Equipment required: A pair of dumbbells or Barbell

How to do

  • Pick a pair of dumbbells/a barbell with your palms facing down (underhand grip) and rest them on the front of your thighs.
  • Stand with your feet firmly planted on the floor and shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your arms long and slightly bend your elbows.
  • Now squeeze your biceps and exhale as you bend your elbows upwards.
  • Bend your elbows upwards till your lower arms come in contact with your upper arms, and you feel a complete biceps contraction.
  • Hold the position for a moment.
  • Keeping your upper arms still, inhale as you straighten your elbows to the starting position.
  • Perform 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps in total.

Summary: Basic reverse dumbbell curls are a great exercise to target your biceps and forearm muscles. They can be done with a variety of different weights and grip variations. They are a great addition to any upper body workout routine.

2. Reverse spider curl

Target muscles: Biceps brachii, brachioradialis, brachialis, and forearm extensors.

Equipment required: Barbell/ Ez bar, weights, adjustable bench.

How to do

  • First set the degree of incline of the adjustable bench to 60 degrees.
  • Now choose an appropriate barbell or EZ bar and place it below the backend of the bench.
  • Sit on the bench with your torso pressed against the backrest and your feet towards the front of the bench.
  • Reach out and grab the weight with your palms facing down.
  • Keep your elbows slightly bent, clench your biceps and exhale as you curl the weight towards your shoulders.
  • Hold the curl for a moment.
  • Inhale as you lower the weights with control until your elbows are fully extended.
  • Perform 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps in total.

Summary: Reverse spider curls on an adjustable bench work wonders on your biceps. Resting your torso on the bench gives support to your body, allowing you to have more energy to perform the exercise.

3. Reverse TRX curl

Target muscles: Brachialis, brachioradialis, biceps brachii, forearm extensors, and abs.

Equipment required: Suspension trainer

How to do

  • Suspend your TRX at a height above the level of your head.
  • With your palms facing down, grab the handles.
  • Firmly plant your feet a step away from the anchor.
  • Breathe out as you pull your entire body towards the handles and your forearms come in contact with the biceps.
  • Ensure your shoulders, upper arms, and elbows are tight as you pull.
  • Hold the contraction for 1 or 2 seconds.
  • Inhale as you slowly lower your body till your elbows lock out.
  • Perform 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps in total.

Summary: Reverse TRX curl is a versatile exercise that almost works your entire body. Ensure to anchor your suspension trainer properly to avoid any injuries.

4. Cable reverse biceps curl

Target muscles: Brachioradialis, brachialis, and biceps brachii.

Equipment required: Cable machine, straight bar

How to do

  • Attach a straight bar to the bottom pulley of the cable machine.
  • Hold the bar using the usual overhand grip without using your thumbs and place it against the thighs.
  • Breathe out as you curl the bar towards your shoulders, and your forearms come in contact with your biceps.
  • Ensure the inner side of your upper arms and elbows are pinned to your body.
  • Breathe in as you slowly lower the weight to the starting position.
  • Perform 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps in total.

Summary: Cable reverse bicep curl is an exercise that works both your biceps and the core. Remember to follow the breathwork for optimal results.

5. Resistance band reverse curls

Target muscles: Brachioradialis, brachialis, biceps brachii

Equipment required: Resistance band

How to do

  • Place the resistance band on the ground and stand in the middle of the band with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • With your palms facing down, grasp the other half of the band with both your hands and place it against your thigh.
  • Exhale as you pull the resistance band towards your shoulders till your forearms come in contact with your biceps.
  • Breathe in as you slowly lower the resistance back to its original position.
  • Repeat 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps in total.

Summary: Resistance band reverse curls are a great exercise as they can be performed anywhere. Be sure to check the quality and elasticity of the resistance band before use.

Benefits of reverse curls 

Some of the benefits that come with this exercise are listed below:

  • Builds grip strength.
  • It is a beginner-friendly exercise.
  • Builds muscle strength and gives thicker-looking arms.
  • Great for targeting the brachioradialis, biceps, and forearm muscles.
  • Can be done from the comfort of your home if you have dumbbells or a resistance band.
  • Great exercise for those who have elbow pain as these exercises put less stress on the elbow joint.

Common mistakes to avoid when doing reverse curls

It is best to know and be aware of the things to avoid or bring to attention before you get to this exercise. Common mistakes while doing reverse curls include:

  • Using heavier weights
  • Using momentum to move the weights
  • Not completing the range of motion
  • Moving too quickly
  • Swinging and shifting your torso during the exercise
  • Wrong wrist and elbow movement.

Tips to do reverse curls safely

Proper technique is essential while doing any exercise. To ensure the safety and effectiveness of this exercise program, read through the safety tips given below:

  • Warm up by doing some stretching exercises to avoid any injury.
  • Start with lighter weights and work your way up. 
  • Wear a wristband for more support.
  • Stop immediately if you feel any pain and visit a doctor.
  • Get an adequate amount of rest [3]Michigan State University: The importance of rest and recovery for athletes before and after the workout.
  • Eating healthy, staying hydrated, and planning your meals will help improve your performance and results.
  • Take guidance from your exercise professionals. Do not attempt any modifications without any consultation or knowledge.

Conclusion

So get going! Add this dynamic exercise to your routine. Work your way with safety and precaution to get the arms you have always wished for. Remember to focus on the quality of the reps rather than quantity. Try out the different techniques and variations while adhering to the safety tips mentioned above to keep your workout interesting.

References

References
1 National Library of Medicine: Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Biceps Muscle
2 American Journal of Occupational Therapy: How Forearm Position Affects Grip Strength
3 Michigan State University: The importance of rest and recovery for athletes

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