Reverse curls are an often overlooked exercise but one that should be included in your daily workouts. They offer a surprisingly array of benefits while building muscle in a natural way.
However, it is worth noting that reverse curls require you to hold your dumbbell or barbell with your palms facing downwards. This can feel peculiar and even uncomfortable to start with. You should also be aware that the reverse curl is also known as the overhand curl.
The Benefits of Reverse Curls
The standard bicep curl works your biceps. However, reverse curls won’t just help to develop your biceps, they can also improve the strength of your forearm and your grip!
This is important as grip strength is often the weakest link in any exercise. Working on your grip strength will improve your ability to lift almost any weight, especially compound lifts such as chin ups, pull-ups and deadlifts.
Of course as part of a regular workout routine it will help with cardiovascular strength, boost your energy levels, increase bone strength and even help you to sleep better.
How to Complete Reverse Curls
Reverse curls can be performed with a barbell or a set of dumbbells. However, before you start it is important to be aware that you won’t be able to lift the same weight with reverse curls that you can with the standard bicep curl. Reverse curls are harder than you think.
It’s a good idea to select a weight approximately half of your normal weight. This isn't just because reverse curls are different. It's also to ensure you get the right form before you increase the weight.
Step 1 – Starting Posture
Start by standing with your feet shoulder width apart and a dumbbell in each hand. The palm of your hands should be facing inwards to you. This ensures that the brachioradialis muscle is activated as you complete your reverse curls. This muscle runs across your elbow and is a key player in the strength of your forearm.
Rest the dumbbells on your thighs and tip the dumbbells very slightly away from your body at a slight extension. This will ensure all your muscles are activated.
Step 2- The Exercise
Keep your elbows in, shoulders back, and chest high as you bring the dumbbells up to nearly touch your shoulders. Your wrist must stay inside the extension.
At the top squeeze the bar with your hands and hold the position for a second before slowly lowering the arms back down. Again your elbow must stay into your sides.
It's not important to keep the weights parallel all the way up and down. This is simply a reflection of the natural bend of your elbow.
However, it is essential that you keep your elbows in, as soon as they start moving out you’re moving into the dumbbell row.
Step 3 – Increase The Tension
You can actually improve the effectiveness of reverse curls and strengthen your grip even more by purchasing a pair of fat grips. These strap round the dumbbell making the bar thicker. These will make the exercise harder and increase the growth of your biceps and forearms.
Implementing Reverse Curls to Your Workout
It’s important to know when to include these in your workout. They are a secondary exercise that follows the main bicep exercise such as the bicep curl.
It can also be a great way to end any workout as your muscles will be reaching exhaustion and this new stimulation will encourage rapid growth. It’s best to aim for 3 sets of between 10 and 15 reps. This should help you to build lean muscle and burn fat.
Variants Worth Considering
There are several variants of reverse curls which you can do to either keep the exercise interesting or to help you master it properly.
- The Wide Grip
This applies to the barbell version of reverse curls. A wider grip will improve your grip and your balance in preparation for doing the reverse curls described above.
- Closed Grip
A great approach is to keep your grip inside your body line while using a barbell will ensure that you can’t cheat when completing your reverse curls.
This approach is better for those who have experience with forearm exercises. But, if you want to try it and don’t have the experience then you must use lighter weights; as mentioned before.
- Cable Reverse Curls
If you’re in the gym then it’s possible to use the machine to help you complete this exercise. Again it is all about the positioning of your hands and keeping your elbows tucked in to ensure maximum muscle effort and reward.
The nice thing about the cable reverse curls is that it is very quick and easy to change the weight you’re lifting. You can even angle it to the left or the right to target each arm better.
Other Options for Forearm Strength
Reverse curls are extremely effective but if you want to mix up your routine a little more then try adding in wrist extensions and wrist flexions:
- Wrist Extension
Hold your dumbbells or your barbell in your hands with both hands resting on your knees; palms facing downwards. Slowly try to bring your hands upwards; moving only from the wrists. You’ll feel the burn in your wrists and upper forearms.
- Wrist Flexion
This is surprisingly similar to wrist extensions but works on the lower part of your forearm. You’ll need to hold the dumbbells or barbell with your hands resting on your knees. But, this time the back of your hands will be against your knees; your palms will be facing outwards.
Again, you’ll need to try to bring your hands towards your wrists; moving only your wrists. The harder you squeeze the bar the more you’ll feel the effect.
Don’t forget if you need to bend to have your hands on your knees then keep your back straight and bend your knees; this will help to prevent injury.
Take the Next Step Today
Perhaps the greatest thing about reverse curls is that they can be completed at home in a small amount of space with just two dumbbells. This means it’s a great compliment to any exercise routine and you’ll notice how the improved grip helps you in other exercises.
Of course to really get the most of any workout this is just one exercise of several. You should add in the free 24-minute workout and join the FF30X to get the support and extra advice you need; this will ensure you perform the reverse curls correctly and a host of other exercises.
What’s really great is that the FF30X is a community of men just like you; looking to burn fat, build muscle and stay healthy for life.
Your new friend & health coach,
Head Training Staff, The Fit Father Project
Brotherhood Nickname: “The Fit Brit”
Bragging Rights: 16 Years in the fitness industry, Author of ‘The Easy Fitness Guide', Father of 4 boys and Husband to a Venezuelan beauty.