Reverse Barbell Curl: How to Perform, Benefits, & Tips 

a vector image of a man doing a reverse barbell curl

The reverse barbell curl is an underrated exercise that can transform your arms when done correctly. 

In this article, we will be giving you a comprehensive guide to the barbell reverse curl, going over form, benefits, tips, as well as much more. 

Let’s get right into it and take a look at the reverse barbell curl. 

Muscles Worked 

Brachioradialis 

One of the main muscles that is worked when doing the reverse barbell curl is the brachioradialis

This is a muscle that runs alongside your forearm, and it plays a vital role in most upper body movements. 

Most exercises do not do a good job at activating the brachioradialis – it is one of the most neglected muscle groups out there. 

Reverse barbell curls, on the other hand, do an excellent job at activating the brachioradialis, much more so than other exercises like the bicep curl. 

Brachialis 

Another muscle group that the reverse barbell curl works is the brachialis. 

The brachialis is a muscle that lies underneath your bicep, increasing the overall size and mass of your arm. 

Most people do not even know that this muscle exists, let alone that it has a substantial effect on the overall size of your arms. 

The reverse barbell curl hits the brachialis very effectively, some would argue more effectively than regular bicep curls. 

It might not be one of the most popular muscle groups, but if you want to make your arms as big as possible, then hitting the brachialis is essential. 

Biceps 

Last but not least, we have the biceps. 

There’s not too much to say about this one – you know what the biceps are and how integral they are to building an aesthetic physique. 

Reverse barbell curls are just as good at working the biceps as regular bicep curl, and you can use the two interchangeably. 

How To Do The Barbell Reverse Curl 

The reverse barbell curl is one of the easiest exercises in the book. 

To start, get a barbell with a weight that you think you can reverse curl for 8-12 reps. 

From here, grab the bar with your palms facing into the bar and your knuckles facing upwards. 

After this, it’s just the same as a regular barbell curl. 

Keeping your elbows close to your side, lift your arms and the barbell up until you hit the top position (where you cannot comfortably go up anymore). 

Do a brief pause, and then lower the weight until your arm is almost fully pointing downwards. 

This is all there is to it. 

The only things you need to look out for if you want to have proper reverse barbell curl form are keeping your wrists straight, keeping your elbows by your side, and moving the weight in a controlled manner. 

If you do all of these steps correctly, you can’t go wrong. 

How To Incorporate the Barbell Reverse Curl into Your Workout Routine 

Many people find incorporating the barbell reverse curl into their workouts difficult; do you do them alongside barbell curls, or do they replace barbell curls completely? 

Well, the answer is either. 

Some people believe reverse barbell curls are better bicep builders than regular bicep curls (which may have some element of truth), and if you think this too, then feel free to completely replace regular barbell curls. 

However, if the thought of getting rid of the trusty barbell curl makes you sick to your stomach, then you could simply reduce the number of sets you do for barbell curls and add a few sets of reverse barbell curls instead. 

Just remember that both of these exercises work the same muscle groups, so you do not want to overdo it by doing five sets of barbell curls and then five sets of reverse barbell curls. 

A better option would be to do 3 sets of barbell curls and then 2 sets of reverse barbell curls or vice versa. 

Reverse Barbell Curl Tips 

The reverse barbell curl is a pretty simple exercise, but there are a few tips we can give you to make it even more effective. 

For one, you need to control the entire movement. 

Staying in control throughout the entirety of a reverse barbell curl increases time under tension dramatically, and it will make your muscles grow much more effectively as a result. 

Another tip is to do a very brief pause at the top of the movement. 

Once again, this will put much more stress on your muscles, stimulating more hypertrophy and overall growth. 

Lastly, try not to lift more weight than you can handle. 

Progressing on the reverse barbell curl can be slow, and it can feel extremely tempting to up the weight even though you are not ready to do so. 

However, if you ever have to sacrifice form to up the weight, then you should drop back to what you were lifting previously immediately.

Benefits of The Reverse Barbell Curl

The main reverse barbell curl benefits are increased muscle strength and size on the biceps and forearms. 

This is not too different from the regular barbell curl, but the advantage of performing reverse curls is that they target the brachialis, the muscle that sits underneath your bicep more than regular bicep curls. 

This makes reverse barbell curls a better overall-bicep builder than bicep curls, and while the difference may be negligible, it’s definitely something worth considering. 

Other Variations of The Reverse Barbell Curl

Wall-Assisted Reverse Curl 

The wall-assisted reverse curl is a variation where you stand with your back against a wall while performing reverse curls with a barbell.

The wall acts as support, helping to stabilize your elbows and isolate the target muscles effectively.

By maintaining proper form and keeping your elbows stationary, this exercise places greater emphasis on the brachioradialis muscle, contributing to overall arm strength and development.

Reverse Curl with EZ Bar 

The EZ bar, featuring a slightly curved design, offers a more comfortable grip and reduced strain on the wrists compared to a straight barbell.

Performing reverse curls with an EZ bar targets the brachioradialis, brachialis, and biceps muscles effectively.

The ergonomic design of the EZ bar allows for a natural hand position, enhancing muscle activation and minimizing wrist discomfort during the exercise.

Cable Reverse Biceps Curl 

Utilizing a cable machine with a straight bar attachment, the cable reverse biceps curl targets the brachioradialis and biceps muscles.

By standing with your back to the cable machine and maintaining a reverse grip on the bar, you engage the forearm flexors and upper arm muscles throughout the movement.

The constant tension provided by the cable machine ensures effective muscle activation and promotes muscle growth and strength.

Prone Incline Reverse Curl 

The prone incline reverse curl involves lying face down on an incline bench while performing reverse curls with a barbell.

This variation challenges the brachioradialis, brachialis, and biceps muscles from a different angle, enhancing muscle activation and promoting balanced arm development.

The inclined position targets the muscles from a unique perspective, providing a challenging and effective workout for the entire arm.

Preacher Reverse Curl 

Using a preacher bench and a straight barbell, the preacher reverse curl targets the brachioradialis and biceps muscles.

Performing reverse curls with an underhand grip on the preacher bench isolates the target muscles and minimizes momentum, ensuring strict form and effective muscle engagement.

This exercise variation helps build strength and definition in the arms while reducing the risk of cheating or using improper form.

Alternative Exercises for Reverse-grip Barbell Curl  

Reverse Cable Curl  

The reverse cable curl simply uses cables instead of a barbell. 

This can be perfect for people with home gyms who happen to have a cable machine, or for those that for one reason or another experience discomfort when performing reverse barbell curls. 

Reverse Plate Curls 

Reverse plate curls are incredibly similar to reverse barbell curls, with the main difference being that reverse plate curls just use barbell plates instead of a barbell. 

These can be a great reverse barbell curl alternative if you just have a few spare plates laying around but for some reason do not have a fitting barbell. 

They also work the same muscles as the reverse barbell curl.  

Common Mistakes For The Reverse Barbell Curl

Too Much Weight 

Everyone wants to be that gym at the gym that is curling other people’s bench press. 

This can almost be achieved if you use bad form with the reverse barbell curl, which is exactly why many people choose to use much more weight than they should actually be lifting. 

You should pick a weight that you can do 8-12 reps with, with good form and in a controlled manner. 

If you have to throw form out the window in order to lift a weight, it’s time to drop the weight. 

Not only will lifting too much weight reduce the effectiveness of the exercise, but it will also make everyone at the gym aware of what you are trying to do (we have all seen that one guy who is clearly just lifting to try and impress others). 

Using Momentum 

It can be far too tempting to use momentum when doing reverse barbell curls. 

With just a little momentum, you will be able to increase the weight by 20-30%. 

However, you should avoid using momentum at all costs. 

Using momentum can increase the risk of injury, and it also makes the exercise much less effective since there is less strain on your muscles. 

Extending Wrists 

Another common issue that we see with the reverse barbell curl is people extending their wrists. 

You need to keep your wrists straight and firm – do not put them in a vulnerable position by extending them (having your wrists point upwards or downwards. 

Just keep your wrists in a neutral position. 

Reverse Barbell Curl Safety and Precautions 

In general, the reverse barbell curl is a pretty safe exercise. 

On top of just using less weight than most other exercises and being in an upright position (meaning there is no chance of the bar falling on your head or chest), there is just very little that can go wrong with this exercise. 

However, that’s not to say there is no risk. 

There are two main issues you need to look out for when it comes to the barbell reverse curl; dropping the barbell on your feet and pulling a tendon or muscle. 

The first issue is pretty easy to remedy – just try not to drop the barbell and do not throw it on the ground carelessly. 

The second issue is also pretty easy to avoid if you practise good form. 

Just make sure you do not use more weight than you can handle and that you ensure the weight is controlled throughout the entire movement.  

Reverse Barbell Curl – FAQs  


What does Reverse Barbell Curl work? 

The reverse barbell curl primarily targets the brachioradialis, brachialis, and biceps muscles. When performed with a pronated grip (palms facing down), the brachioradialis, which runs along the forearm, is particularly activated.

Additionally, the brachialis, situated beneath the biceps, is engaged significantly.

Despite being associated with “forearm” in search terms, reverse barbell curls effectively work the entire bicep muscle group along with the forearms.

This is why the search term “reverse barbell curl forearms” comes up – the reverse barbell curl does a great job of working the entire bicep as well as the forearms. 

Are Reverse Curls Worth Doing? 

Yes, the reverse barbell curl is indeed a valuable exercise. Beyond just the biceps, it effectively recruits the brachioradialis and brachialis muscles, making it an excellent choice for building arm strength and size. Its ability to target multiple muscles simultaneously enhances its value as an arm builder.

Is Reverse Barbell Curl Good? 

Yes, the reverse barbell curl is a good exercise. 

Not only does the reverse barbell curl target the biceps, but it also targets the brachioradialis and brachialis (a muscle that is hidden beneath the bicep and the main forearm muscle), making it a great overall arm builder. 

What is the Difference Between a Barbell Curl and a Reverse Barbell Curl? 

The primary difference lies in hand position and muscle activation. During a standard barbell curl, the palms face upward (supinated grip), engaging the biceps brachii predominantly.

In contrast, during a reverse barbell curl, the palms face downward (pronated grip), emphasizing the brachioradialis and brachialis muscles along with the biceps.

While both exercises involve elbow flexion, their hand positions and muscle recruitment patterns vary, offering distinct benefits for arm development.

Is there a Reverse Barbell Curl Reddit? 

Yes, there is a reverse barbell curl Reddit. 

It is called “reverse curls”. 

What Are the Reverse Barbell Curl Muscles Worked? 

The reverse barbell curl muscles worked are the brachioradialis, brachialis, and biceps. These are muscles located in the bicep as well as the forearm. Training these muscles will give the appearance of a bigger, stronger arm, with the peak of the bicep being trained the most.

How Much Should I Reverse Barbell Curl?

The appropriate weight for reverse barbell curls depends on individual strength levels and training goals. It’s essential to start with a weight that allows you to perform the exercise with proper form and a full range of motion.

Generally, choosing a weight that allows you to complete 8-12 repetitions with good form is ideal for muscle growth and strength development.

Gradually increase the weight as you become stronger and more comfortable with the exercise, ensuring that you maintain control throughout each repetition.

Does Reverse Barbell Curl Work Brachialis?

Yes, the reverse barbell curl effectively targets the brachialis muscle, which lies beneath the biceps. By using a reverse grip (palms facing down), the brachialis is engaged to a significant extent, contributing to overall arm development.

It is also engaged when doing standard bicep curls to a lesser extent, but performing reverse barbell curls is a great way to get more growth.

Including reverse barbell curls in your workout routine is an excellent way to strengthen and sculpt the brachialis along with other arm muscles.

We hope we have been able to help you! 

The reverse curl is an incredible exercise, and if you are struggling to build your arms, then including them into your routine is a must. 

If you would like more information on the reverse barbell curl or are just interested in getting access to more fitness content in general, feel free to take a look at our other articles on offer here at MovingForwards

See you next time!