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Best Biceps Cable Curls: Variations and Workouts

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Biceps are a group of muscles that play an important role in the movement of the upper body. Cable curls are one of the most effective ways to work your biceps, whether your goal is to improve their strength or increase their size.

Here you will learn in detail about the best bicep cable curls variations, and workouts, how they help grow biceps, and how to perform them effectively.

1. What is Cable Curls?

The bicep cable curl is an effective isolation exercise that puts the muscles under continuous stress throughout the eccentric and concentric phase.

It is great for strength training, particularly for beginners, since the cable machine itself performs the pulling action and assists the user in lifting heavy weights.

It can be used either separately or as a part of an upper-bodymuscle-building program.

2. Muscles Targeted By Cable Curls

The main target of a cable curl is the bicep brachii (two-headed muscle that is responsible for flexing the elbow), along with the brachialis and brachioradialis.

This movement also engages muscles in the shoulder, forearm, and upper back, including the trapezius, anterior deltoid, wrist flexors, and scapula. Moreover, your core is also involved as it is required to stabilize the upper body throughout the entire motion.

3. How do Cable Curls Help Biceps?

According to a study by the American Council on Exercises, cable curls are one of the best exercises to activate bicep muscles.

It helps make your biceps stronger which, in turn, aids in your arm movements by:

  • Bending your elbow and rotating your forearm.
  • Raising your arm sideways
  • Lifting your arm forward
  • Folding your arm across your chest

4. Benefits of Biceps Cable Curls

The overall benefits of bicep cable curls are as follows:

  • Boost biceps brachii strength and size
  • Help lift and carry heavy objects in daily life
  • Regulate skin metabolism
  • Slow down the aging process
  • Allow continuous tension

5. How to Do a Standard Biceps Cable Curl?

Things You Need

  • A cable machine
  • A weight bar or a cable curl bar
  • A rope attached to the pulley at the bottom

How to Perform?

How to Do a Standard Biceps Cable Curl

  1. First, attach the cable and a weight bar at the bottom of the machine with a sliding adjustment.
  2. Stand straight by facing the cable machine. Extend your arms and grab the bar with an underhand grip.
  3. Slightly step back from the pulley. Keep your feet apart at shoulder width on the floor, bend your knees, and straighten your back.
  4. Exhale and slowly curl the bar up towards your chest by bending your elbows and engaging your core. Pause for a moment at the top of the contraction.
  5. Inhale and lower down the bar to the starting position in a controlled motion and repeat.

Pro Tip:

  • Make sure that your elbows are tucked into your body for the entire movement

6. Best Biceps Cable Curl Variations

6.1. Standing Single Arm Bicep Cable Curl

A standing one arm or single arm cable curl is great for curling the biceps independently.

This unilateral training (training one side of the body at a time) allows you to exercise both sides equally rather than solely depending on the dominant side. Moreover, it also aids in correcting muscular imbalances.

How to Perform?

How to Perform Standing Single Arm Bicep Cable Curl

  1. Stand straight, facing away from the cable machine. Keep your feet flat on the floor at hip-width apart.
  2. Hold the handle in your right hand with your palms facing upwards (underhand grip). Make sure to extend your arm while gripping the handle.
  3. Inhale and engage your core. Curl the handle up while exhaling until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle.
  4. Keep your elbows in a fixed position throughout the movement.
  5. Pause at the top for a few seconds, then move the handle down to the starting position by lowering your arms.
  6. Repeat the same process on the other side. Perform 6-10 repetitions on both sides.

Pro Tip:

  • Keep your elbows slightly bent at the end of the movement and avoid dropping the weight into the stack.
  • Make sure to keep your back straight and your head aligned with your spine throughout the movement.

6.2. Seated Bicep Cable Curl

Seated bicep cable curls are more effective at isolating your biceps compared to other cable curls. These curls are a good choice if you having issues with your balance in a standing position.

How to Perform?

How to Perform Seated Bicep Cable Curl

  1. Sit on the bench of the cable machine while facing the machine. Keep your feet and knees together.
  2. Hold the weight bar in your hands with your palm facing up (underhand grip). Keep your hands apart at shoulder-width and straighten your arms.
  3. Slowly lift the weight up as high as possible until your elbows are placed at your sides.
  4. Then slowly lower the bar to the starting position and repeat.
  5. Perform 6-8 reps.

Pro Tip:

  • Make sure to keep your back straight and your feet firmly planted on the floor while seated.
  • Use your arms to lift the weight instead of relying on your lower body to pull.

6.3. Reverse Grip Bicep Cable Curl

Reverse grip bicep cable curls target the frequently overlooked brachioradialis muscle (the muscle that joins your lower and upper arm). It is an excellent variation if you want to make your arms look full and thick even when they’re hanging by your sides.

How to Perform?

How to Perform Reverse Grip Bicep Cable Curl

  1. Stand straight while facing the cable machine. Place your feet at hip-width apart.
  2. Attach a bar to the pulley at the bottom. Hold the bar with an overhand grip (palms facing downwards) and allow it to rest against your thighs.
  3. Curl the cable bar up towards your shoulders until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle.
  4. Hold the contraction for a few seconds, then lower the bar to the starting position in a controlled manner.
  5. Perform 10-15 repetitions

6.4. Lying Bicep Cable Curl

Lying bicep cable curls are much more complicated than other cable curls as they require you to move a bench over the pulley. However, the workout offers an addictively powerful muscle tension that few other exercises can match.

In order to perform this variation, you will need a cable machine with an attached cable bar and a flat bench.

How to Perform?

How to Perform Lying Bicep Cable Curl

  1. Start by moving the pulley to its highest point. Attach a straight bar to the pulley and place the bench in front of the cable column.
  2. Sit down on the bench and hold the bar with an underhand grip.
  3. Then lie down on the bench on your back with your feet placed firmly on the ground. Make sure that the pulley is over your head.
  4. Curl the bar up towards your head until your elbows reach a 90-degree angle.
  5. Hold the contraction for a few seconds and then move the bar back to the starting position in a controlled manner.
  6. Perform 10-12 repetitions.

6.5. Cable Rope Bicep Hammer Curl

The cable rope bicep hammer curl primarily targets the biceps brachii and deltoids, along with the brachialis and brachioradialis.

These curls help you lift more weight than other workouts thanks to the assistance of the big powerful brachioradialis during exertion. Cable rope bicep hammer curls can also aid in strengthening the brachialis which can help to push out your biceps and make them look more muscular.

How to Perform?

How to Perform Cable Rope Bicep Hammer Curl

  1. Stand straight while facing the machine with your feet spread apart at hip-width.
  2. Hold the cable rope with a neutral grip and rest it against your thighs. Make sure your arms are fully extended with a slight bend at the elbow.
  3. Curl the cable rope up towards your shoulders until your forearms and biceps make contact.
  4. Flex your biceps at the top. Then lower down the rope to the starting position in a controlled manner until your elbows are almost fully extended.
  5. Perform 8-12 repetitions.

6.6. High Cable Bicep Curl (Overhead Cable Curl)

High cable bicep curls train your biceps in their fully shortened anatomical posture, unlike most other workouts. These curls target the inner head of the bicep brachii, along with the brachialis and brachioradialis.

Since your bicep muscle fibers are incredibly stressed in this type of overhead placement, this variation produces an intense peak contraction and a powerful pump.

To perform this exercise, you need two handle attachments affixed to two high pulley machines, both set to the same weight.

How to Perform?

How to Perform High Cable Bicep Curl (Overhead Cable Curl)

  1. Stand straight with your feet spread apart at hip-width. Keep your shoulders back, chest up, back straight, and head aligned with your spine.
  2. Hold the handle attachments with an underhand grip by slightly bending your arms at the elbows.
  3. Curl the handles towards your head until your forearms and biceps make contact. Make sure your elbows stay in a fixed position throughout the movement.
  4. Hold this position for a few seconds and then move the handle attachments back to the starting point.
  5. Perform 10-15 repetitions.

6.7. Cable Preacher Bicep Curl

The cable preacher bicep curl primarily targets the bicep brachii and is terrific for isolating your biceps. This variation is great for providing upper arm support while dealing with constant tension.

The preacher pad ensures that you maintain tension on the target muscles while the cable ensures that you pump your muscles naturally.

How to Perform?

How to Perform Cable Preacher Bicep Curl

  1. Place a preacher bench in front of the cable machine. Attach a straight cable bar to the pulley at the bottom.
  2. Sit on the bench and hold the bar with an underhand grip. Support your arm against the preacher pad and make sure your arms are fully extended.
  3. Curl the bar up towards your shoulder. Squeeze your biceps at the top and hold that contraction for two seconds.
  4. Lower down the bar to the initial position until your arms are fully extended again.
  5. Perform 12-15 repetitions.

6.8. EZ Bar Bicep Cable Curls

The EZ bar bicep cable curl is a joint-friendly cable curl variation that targets the biceps brachii and forearm flexors.

The main advantage of this exercise is that it prevents your wrist from becoming overstrained by using a semi-pronated position. (Halfway between pronation and supination).

How to Perform?

How to Perform EZ Bar Bicep Cable Curls

  1. Attach the EZ bar to the pulley of the cable machine at the bottom.
  2. Hold the EZ bar with a semi-pronated grip and rest it against your thighs.
  3. Step back from the machine and curl the bar towards your shoulders.
  4. Flex your biceps and continue curling until your biceps touch your forearms. Hold that pause for a moment.
  5. Lower the bar to the starting position in a controlled manner until the bar touches your thighs again.
  6. Perform 8-12 repetitions.

Also Read: 10 Best Barbell Workouts for Biceps Size and Strength

7. Beginner Biceps Cable Workouts

Beginner Biceps Cable Workouts

7.1. Bicep Cable Workout for Strength

Exercise Reps Sets
Standing Single Arm Bicep Curl 8-10 4-5
Reverse Grip Bicep Cable Curl 10-12 3-4
Seated Bicep Cable Curl 12-15 2-3

7.2 Bicep Cable Workout for Size and Mass

Exercise Reps Sets
Standard Bicep Cable Curl 8-10 4
Reverse Grip Bicep Cable Curl 10-12 4
Overhead Bicep Cable Curl 12-15 3
Cable Preacher Bicep Curl 15-20 3

8. 20-Minute Bicep Cable Workout Plan

Perform this workout once or twice a week to stimulate bicep growth effectively.

Exercise Reps Sets Rest
Cable Rope Hammer Curl 6-8 3 90 seconds
Single Arm Cable Curl 8-10 3 60 seconds
EZ Bar Bicep Cable Curl 10-12 2 60 seconds
Overhead Bicep Cable Curl 10-12 2 40 seconds

9. Takeaways

Make sure to properly warm up before a workout and avoid common bicep curl mistakes to gain maximum results. Start with a combination of three to four variations and then gradually increase the number of sets and repetitions in the workouts.

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