How to Do Alternating Biceps Curls for Improved Arms

The alternating dumbbell curl ought to be one of many first issues that pops into your thoughts when setting up the proper exercise. Arnold Schwarzenegger, effortlessly curling old skool metallic dumbbells in a stringer tank throughout his Olympia reign, has impressed a complete technology of lifters. You’d be hard-pressed to complete your higher physique session with out being drawn to the dumbbell rack and paying tribute to the Austrian oak.

Aesthetics apart, the alternating dumbbell curl brings lots to the desk. Free weights are a constantly huge bang-for-your-buck sort of apparatus, whether or not you’re employed with the barbell on leg day or isolate your arms with dumbbells.

A bodybuilder doing alternate dumbbell curls in the gym.
Credit score: El Nariz / Shutterstock

The alternating dumbbell curl could be an asset for creating your weapons, however beneath the hood provide up a ton of typically missed advantages. Right here’s every part you’ll want to know concerning the alternating dumbbell curl.

How one can Do the Alternating Biceps Curl

The alternating dumbbell curl is so simple as it sounds; carry out an ordinary standing dumbbell curl with one arm at a time, slightly than curling concurrently. It will have large advantages in your progress and talent to stabilize, but additionally affords a number of key challenges to beat throughout execution. Right here’s a step-by-step information.

Step 1 — Get Your Grip

A hand gripping a dumbbell.
Credit score: Bokeh Blur Background / Shutterstock

Place the dumbbell deep in your hand, proper the place the fingers meet the palm. Wedge the dumbbell in such a manner that you simply keep away from pinching any pores and skin between the bar and the rest of your hand if you shut your grip. Be sure to middle your grip within the dumbbell and squeeze as tight as you may for your complete set.

Coach’s Tip: To ante up on the problem of the alternating biceps curl, you may deliberately grip the shaft of the dumbbell such that extra of the deal with is seen nearer to your midline. 

Step 2 — Stand Tall

Standing tall holding a dumbbell in each hand.
Credit score: A Inventory Studio / Shutterstock

Stand tall along with your toes roughly hip-width aside. That is to make sure that as you full every repetition, you aren’t vulnerable to the dumbbell working into your individual physique. The broader that stance, the higher the prospect your dumbbell collides along with your hip. Keep compact.

Coach’s Tip: Turning your toes outward barely could scale back the tendency to rock backwards and forwards whilst you curl. 

Step 3 — Curl, Individually

A muscular person doing the alternate dumbbell curl.
Credit score: Jacob Lund / Shutterstock

The ultimate step is to do the work. Begin along with your non-dominant arm and curl the burden up by contracting your biceps. Decrease it down slowly, after which repeat on the alternative facet.

Coach’s Tip: You’ll be able to enhance your line of pull by barely “leaning into” the facet of your physique you’re at present working. 

Alternating Biceps Curl Units and Reps

For the reason that alternating biceps curl is a free weight train, you may select set and repetition schemes to focus on a number of totally different targets. Listed below are a few choices:

  • For Endurance: Carry out 2-4 units of 12-15 repetitions. Relaxation for roughly 45 seconds between every set.
  • For Muscle Acquire: Carry out 2-3 units of 8-12 repetitions, leaving lower than 2 repetitions within the tank. Relaxation for roughly 3 minutes between every set for the most effective outcomes.
  • For Power: Carry out 2-3 units of 8 repetitions. Scale the load so that you simply don’t add any momentum. Relaxation for roughly 3 minutes between every set.

Frequent Alternating Biceps Curl Errors

The alternating biceps curl is a traditional train, however it’s not with out some frequent errors in execution. Attempt to keep away from extreme shoulder or elbow motion, utilizing momentum, or partial ranges of movement. Right here’s what you need to regulate:

Shoulder or Elbow Motion

Free weight workouts are extraordinarily helpful, however in addition they current some particular challenges, one among which is sustaining good posture. In contrast to machines and cables, you might be totally chargeable for holding your self locked in the appropriate spot to most successfully prepare your arms.

A person doing the alternate dumbbell curl with the elbow away from the torso.
Credit score: Twinsterphoto / Shutterstock

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In the course of the alternating biceps curl, an excessive amount of motion on the shoulder or higher arm will change the dynamic of the train and take among the pressure away out of your biceps. For finest outcomes with the train, hold your arm pinned towards your torso as your biceps contract.

Utilizing Momentum

One other frequent perpetrator throughout many free weight workouts (notably arm exercises) is by accident including in a bit an excessive amount of physique English because the reps get tougher. When you begin to fatigue, momentum throughout every repetition will as soon as once more take among the pressure off of your biceps. To maintain your alternating biceps curls as efficient as potential, keep strict in your actions with no momentum — solely muscular contractions.

Partial Vary of Movement

Usually talking, you’ll wish to carry out all actions within the fitness center with a full vary of movement. Whereas sure partial ranges of movement throughout coaching could have advantages for muscle progress, performing a full vary of movement for every repetition helps you keep a constant barometer for progress. (1)

For the absolute best progress and talent to constantly apply progressive overload, go for a full vary of movement as your commonplace and hold it there.

Alternating Biceps Curl Variations

When you’re searching for some cool variations for the alternating dumbbell curl, look no additional than the isometric dumbbell curl, one-and-a-half-rep alternating dumbbell curls, tempo alternating biceps curls, or utilizing an arm blaster modification.

Isometric Dumbbell Curl

Isometric dumbbell curls give your “non-working” arm one thing to do. The working facet will carry out all repetitions as regular; nonetheless, the alternative arm will carry out an isometric maintain on the identical time. When you’re finished curling, swap roles. 

This is a superb train to mix muscle gain with muscle endurance and make it simpler to get a stable stimulus for progress, notably for those who don’t have entry to appropriately heavy dumbbells. 

One-and-a-Half-Rep Alternating Dumbbell Curl

The 1.5 (one and a half) alternating dumbbell curls will leverage partial ranges of movement deliberately built-in into your regular method. Carry out every repetition as regular, however earlier than you decrease every repetition fully, contract your biceps once more to a full squeeze earlier than lastly decreasing all the way in which.

It will hold your working arm flexing via the center of the vary of movement for an extended time period for every repetition. In doing so, you’ll accumulate extra fatigue while not having as a lot load and catch a critical pump on the identical time.

Arm Blaster Dumbbell Curls

The arm blaster is a harness that you simply drape round your neck and lay throughout your stomach, successfully turning you right into a strolling preacher curl bench. You probably have entry to an arm blaster, it’s an effective way to stop any errant method.

The sling prevents you from transferring your higher arm at any level throughout the alternating dumbbell curl. This ensures that you simply focus totally on contracting your biceps on each repetition, slightly than shifting the load onto your shoulders or higher again.

Alternating Biceps Curl Options

Probably the greatest components of alternating arm workouts is that the method is transferable to only about any biceps motion you carry out (outdoors of working with the barbell, that’s). You are able to do alternating curls with cables, kettlebells, or by holding a dumbbell within the hammer place.

Alternating Dumbbell Hammer Curl

The alternating dumbbell hammer curl is a superb different to the traditional biceps curl model. This slight modification lets you extra successfully hit your brachioradialis on the forearm for some significantly focused positive factors. 

Merely use a impartial grip in your alternating biceps curls and also you’re good to go. One factor to remember is that, with the hammer curl, your elbow tends to float backward as you curl. Keep in mind to maintain your arm pinned. 

Alternating Cable Curl

One other straightforward different to dumbbells is the insertion of cables into your exercise. Cables provide an incredible quantity of utility, from accommodating your particular person physique dimensions to altering angles of assault. 

The very best a part of working with cables slightly than free weights is that they apply constant mechanical pressure to your muscle groups. As an alternative of peaks or valleys within the problem chances are you’ll expertise with dumbbells, cable curls are equally difficult from begin to end.

Alternating Kettlebell Curl

The alternating kettlebell curl is an unexpectedly-challenging adaptation in your grip, forearms, and biceps. Holding the kettlebell in a hammer place will drive you to withstand the burden’s tendency to sway backward and forward. 

Whilst you curl, you may be pressured to squeeze as tight as potential in an effort to management the kettlebell whereas chasing your arm positive factors, blasting your forearms and grip within the course of.

Muscular tissues Labored by the Alternating Biceps Curl

The alternating dumbbell curl successfully trains the 2 main muscle groups of your higher arm; the biceps brachii and the brachialis. Right here’s how issues look beneath the hood.

Biceps Brachii

Your biceps brachii are the foremost muscle group that you simply consider when coaching the biceps. They’re truly two distinct muscle bellies that originate from the coracoid means of the scapula (shoulder blade) and the supraglenoid tubercle of the scapula. They each insert across the identical place on the forearm just under the elbow. With that in thoughts, the most effective work your biceps will carry out is huge elbow flexion workouts (like curls).

Your biceps brachii are the meaty muscle groups on the entrance of your higher arm and are the principal participant of all method of curls. Your biceps originate out of your shoulder blade and insert down previous your elbow onto your forearm.

A bodybuilder doing alternating dumbbell biceps curl.
Credit score: Bojan656 / Shutterstock

[Read More: The 10 Best Protein Powders for Muscle Gain (2023 Update)]

Any train involving bending your elbow, or elbow flexion, will work your biceps — together with and particularly the alternating dumbbell curl. That is very true for those who rotate your palms upward as you curl, because the biceps are a supinator of the wrist as nicely.


The brachialis originates from the decrease a part of your higher arm bone, buried beneath the biceps brachii themselves. It attaches just under the crease of your elbow – closely contributing to your means to flex the arm. Since it’s in such an analogous spot because the biceps brachii, most workouts that prepare one among these muscle groups can even prepare the opposite!

Advantages of the Alternating Biceps Curl

The alternating biceps curl is a improbable solution to combine grip exercises into your coaching, develop larger arms, enhance coordination, and hold your coaching enjoyable.

Higher Grip Power

The alternating dumbbell curl is an effective way to maintain your grip sturdy. Some dumbbell handles are thicker than others, and the prolonged time beneath pressure is an element as nicely. Performing a set of curls one arm at a time doubles the period of time you spend holding your hand firmly clasped.

For an added problem, you may fasten Fats Gripz to the handles or wrap a small towel across the dumbbells as nicely.

Larger Arms

The standout good thing about including alternating biceps curls to your coaching shall be rising the scale of your arms. Alternating your repetitions will guarantee every arm is working exhausting by itself and receiving distinct stimulus; whereas performing dumbbell curls concurrently, it may be tempting to lose focus of 1 arm. When you’re trying to beef up your biceps, the alternating biceps curl ought to be a staple in your routine.

Improved Coordination

Utilizing dumbbells and alternating arms between every repetition can truly be very helpful in your general coordination. The power to brace, maintain your place throughout every contraction, and keep away from undue physique sway is a large asset that may carry over to many different workouts. Whether or not your subsequent free weight train, and even if you hop onto a machine – an improved means to manage your place is a large asset.


When you’re slogging via an extended back-and-biceps workout, dumbbell curls could be the sunshine on the finish of the tunnel that you simply stay up for. Or, you may construct a complete exercise round working your weapons. 

In any case, the enjoyment of arm workout deserves its personal point out. Arm workouts are handy, accessible, and enjoyable to take pleasure in frequently, even for those who don’t aspire to the bodybuilding stage.

Who Ought to Do the Alternating Biceps Curl

Alternating your dumbbell curls could seem redundant, particularly for those who already carry out commonplace curls and are progressing with them simply fantastic. Nevertheless, there are some conditions the place it is perhaps to your benefit. 


When you’re a newbie, utilizing an alternating dumbbell curl generally is a low-consequence solution to start exposing your self to the ability of stabilizing free weights. 

The introductory bracing, grip, and general muscle acquire will test plenty of bins for you, with out having to fret about working each of your arms in tandem. Beginning early in your lifting expertise with some alternating dumbbell curls could be the proper device for future improvement.


The power to construct an enormous set of arms with out leaving the forearms behind makes bodybuilders one of many greatest beneficiaries of the alternating biceps curl. As a bodybuilder, holding your physique (and power, frankly) proportional is a giant precedence. 

A bodybuilder doing alternating dumbbell curls.
Credit score: mrbigphoto / Shutterstock

[Read More: Nutrition for Athletes — How to Eat for Muscle and Performance]

Alternating your dumbbell curls make sure you put each ounce of obtainable effort into every repetition, leaving nothing within the tank and guaranteeing balanced development in each power and hypertrophy.

Power Athletes

Though most strength-sport actions contain a lot of your muscle groups from head to toe, there aren’t many higher methods to immediately assault the biceps than the alternating dumbbell curl. The grip, bracing, and coordination necessities will definitely carry over to extra outstanding compound lifts just like the row or deadlift. You’ll be able to’t go improper with sturdy arms.

An Different to Typical

It’s all too straightforward in your exercises to develop monotonous over time — even for those who actually get pleasure from your classes. Curling actions are arm-building staples for a purpose, however even they’ll develop into tedious after sufficient time has handed.

To maintain issues transferring ahead, strive alternating your dumbbell curls slightly than working each of your arms collectively. You’ll be capable to focus tougher on every repetition, fear much less about stability, and squeeze out every last morsel of muscle gain.


Have questions concerning the alternating biceps curl? We’ve got solutions.


  1. Pedrosa, G. F., Lima, F. V., Schoenfeld, B. J., Lacerda, L. T., Simões, M. G., Pereira, M. R., Diniz, R. C. R., & Chagas, M. H. (2022). Partial vary of movement coaching elicits favorable enhancements in muscular variations when carried out at lengthy muscle lengths. European journal of sport science, 22(8), 1250–1260.

Featured Picture: El Nariz / Shutterstock

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