Dumbbell Curls vs Barbell curls: An Insightful Review

When it comes to increasing strength and muscle mass, you always want to pick those exercises which are effective than others. And to train biceps, sometimes you need to make choices between dumbbell curls vs barbell curls.

In this article, I’m going to share some insightful information about barbell vs dumbbell curl. For example, the pros and cons of barbell curls and dumbbell bicep curls will help you train more wisely and safely.

Remember, choosing the right exercise or combination of exercises helps you maximize your strength and size. And there is no clear winner between dumbbell curls vs barbell curls. But they have their own benefits and disadvantages that help you decide which one is better.

Barbell Curls: How-to, Pros, and Cons

Dumbbell Curl (Pic: Freepik)

How to do Standing Barbell Curl?

  • Put a desired weight into the barbell, and hold firmly with your hands with an underhand grip, keep your hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Stand upright in the hip-width stance holding a bar with your arms straight in front of your leg. That’s your starting position.
  • Keeping your core tight, back straight and elbows tucked at your sides, Lift the bar up toward your shoulders until your biceps contracted.
  • Pause for a second, and then slowly lower the bar back to the start. That’s one repetition.
  • Inhale before lift the bar and exhale when you reach the top.


  1. The barbells allow you to lift a maximum load (weight) compared to the dumbbells. And it is important for increasing muscle mass.
  2. Barbell curls activate and engage more bicep muscles and help you build strength and size.
  3. Standing barbell curls also increase core strength.


  1. While during the barbell curls, the barbell keeps your wrist locked in a fixed position and prevents any dynamic supination of the forearms that may sometimes cause muscle imbalances.
  2. One of the disadvantages of training bicep with a Barbell is, your stronger arm takes control over your weaker arm. For example, if your right arm is stronger than the left, your right will automatically use more strength while curling the barbell. And this causes one biceps to grow and the other bicep underdeveloped.

Dumbbell Curls: How-to, Pros and Cons

Dumbbell Curls Vs Barbell Curls
Dumbbell Curl vs Barbell Curl (Pic: Freepik)

How to do Dumbbell Alternate Seated Bicep Curls

  • Sit on the edge of the bench, grasp one dumbbell in each hand with an underhand grip and keep your arms straight beside you.
  • Keeping your back straight, curl your right arm all the way towards your shoulder until you feel a contraction in your biceps. And then lower down to the start and repeat with your opposite arm to complete one rep.
  • Keep your elbows tucked by your sides during the movement.


  1. Dumbbells give you a complete range of motion (ROM) and allow you to train your biceps in the directions you want.
  2. Dumbbells allow you train your biceps alternatively. It is one of the important factors when it comes to developing biceps. Doing alternative bicep curls also allows you to lift heavier dumbbells than both-arm dumbbell curls.
  3. With the help of dumbbells, you can equally train your both arms whereas, in barbell curl, your stronger arm dictates the weaker one.
  4. In Dumbbell curls, you can twist your wrist wherever is comfortable and reduce stress on your forearms that protect you from pain and injuries.


  1. Dumbbells are least effective than barbells when it comes to muscle activation. Because a study suggested that activation in the biceps muscles during the dumbbell curl is less compared to the barbell and EZ bar curls.

Dumbbell Curls vs Barbell Curls: Which one is best for you?

An EMG study published in 2018 demonstrated that barbell curls are better than dumbbell curls in terms of muscle activation, strength, and muscle growth.

However, it is not as simple as it seems because everyone’s body respond differently. And each exercise has its own benefits and drawbacks as you have read above.

One of the Facebook survey participants also revealed, he has seen noticeable size gain in bicep muscles after opting and training with dumbbells. So it’s mainly depends on how your body responds to specific exercises.

Science always changes according to time. So it’s wise to try it yourself for a couple of months which works great for you. But in my opinion, including both barbell and dumbbell curls in your overall biceps workout regime may work well for you.

How to design Biceps Workout Routine

A poor workout program sometimes may waste your efforts and slow your progress. That is why it is important to design a routine that works efficiently and accelerates muscle strength and size.

Making an effective workout routine is as important as doing them. This is why I’m going to share a sample of a workout routine that may help you achieve your desired result (if follow properly along with taking care of your daily nutrition).

ExercisesSetsRepetitions each setRest Between Each set
Standing Barbell Curl21590 seconds
EZ Bar Curl215120 Seconds
Seated Dumbbell Alternate Curl21290 seconds
Incline Dumbbell Curl21090 seconds
Incline Prone Curls with EZ bar21290 seconds
Dumbbell Concentration Curl21090 seconds
Dumbbell Hammer Curl21290 seconds
Dumbbell and Barbell Workout Routine

Final Words

Whether it’s machine, cable, dumbbell, or barbell curl, each bicep workout is good. But which one works the best for you depends on how your body responds. You should try all of them and then chose which works the best for you. The combination of both bicep curls and dumbbell may also work efficiently for you.

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