How to do the EZ bar curl to build bigger biceps
Add the EZ bar curl to your training programme to improve the size, shape and definition of your biceps – and build bigger arms, says New Body Plan creator and Men’s Fitness cover model Jon Lipsey
EZ bar biceps curls are one of the most satisfying of all the bicep exercise variations. Why? Using a bar means you can lift heavier than when doing dumbbell biceps curls or dumbbell hammer curls. And the undulating shape of the bar allows for a more natural grip.
Your hand position on the EZ bar means your wrists are turned slightly inwards, rather than back and down when doing barbell bicep curls. This reduces the potential strain and risk of injury not only on your wrist joints, but also your elbows and shoulders.
So there’s plenty of reasons why you should do the EZ bar curl if you want to build bigger arms. Even if you’re doing them already, use our expert guide to the lift to get more out of every single rep so you can build biceps size, strength and definition you want.
What is an EZ bar curl?
It’s a biceps curl performed with an EZ bar. These bars have an undulating, angled design. That means you hold it with your wrists in a semi-supinated (partially internally rotated) position.
How to do EZ bar biceps curls
• Hold the EZ bar at thigh height with your arms straight and using a narrow, underhand grip.
• Keeping your upper arms in place with your elbows tight to your sides, curl the bar up to shoulder height.
• Squeeze your biceps at the top of the rep then slowly lower the bar back down to the start position.
• Flex your triceps muscles hard once back in the start position. That’s one rep. Repeat the movement for the desired number of sets and reps for your training goal.
What’s the difference between an EZ bar and a straight barbell?
There are a couple of key differences between EZ bars and straight barbells. The first is the weight. An Olympic barbell weighs 20kg. There’s not a standard weight for EZ bars but most weigh between 7.5kg and 12.5kg. If you’re new to lifting weights then you might not be able to do many barbell biceps curls because of the weight of the bar. Using an EZ bar allows you to lift lighter and with a reduced risk of injury.
What’s the difference between an EZ bar curl and a barbell biceps curl?
You get a higher-quality contraction of your biceps muscle when curling with a straight bar. But don’t throw out the EZ bar curl with the trash just yet. Why do you get a better contraction with a barbell curl? Because the straight bar forces you to fully rotate your wrists. The action of rotating your wrists is, in part, responsible for contracting your biceps. When you reduce the range of rotation, as you do with an EZ bar, you potentially inhibit the contraction.
Are barbell curls more effective than EZ bar biceps curls?
Not necessarily. For a start, not everyone has the wrist flexibility to perform barbell curls. Also, you’re less likely to injure your elbow and wrist joints doing EZ bar curls. You’re also likely to feel better using an EZ bar. If that’s the case, you’ll feel more confident about really attacking the set. And it’s when you train with that intensity that you get maximum muscle-building impact.
How wide should my grip on the bar be?
Generally speaking, a narrow grip will activate your biceps muscles in a way that contributes to building the peak of the muscle. So if it’s maximum shape and an aesthetic appearance you’re after, take a narrow grip on the bar rather than a wide one.
When should I do EZ bar curls?
You can incorporate the EZ bar biceps curl into your training in the same way that you’d include any arms exercise. Because it is an isolation (single joint) exercise, it makes sense to do it towards the end of your session.
Should I do them as straight sets or supersets?
You can do them as either simple sets, where you do one set and then rest before doing another set. Or you can do them as supersets, where you do two exercises back to back without rest. If you go for supersets, you can either pair them with another biceps move or a triceps exercise.
Go for two biceps exercises if you’re an advanced lifter and you really want to challenge your muscles. Doing a biceps and triceps exercise is beginner-friendly but you can also do it if you’re more experienced. You may, for example, choose to do two or three biceps and triceps supersets as part of your workout.
Is it safe to go to failure?
You can go to failure on an EZ bar curl relatively safely because of the wrist position. It’s a very natural position for your wrists and forearm to be in so you reduce the risk of inflaming you connective tissue. You do always need to lift with perfect form if that’s how you’re going to train.
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