The Biggest Problems With Barbell Curls

Barbell curls are one of the most popular biceps exercises on the planet. Every bodybuilder from Arnold to Phil Heath has done them. Below are the most common problems bodybuilders encounter when doing barbell biceps curls.

1.Back pain

Number one reason why bodybuilders get pain during biceps curls is improper form and ego lifting. In the quest to lift more and more people are bending their backs and practically perform the so-called cheat curl. To fix that problem lower the weight and tense your abs and glutes during the curl. This will protect the spine and prevent overextension of the back.


Arnold doing some cheat curls.

Arnold doing some cheat curls.

2.Wrist pain

Unless you have really flexible and mobiles wrists you will most likely experience some discomfort when doing barbell biceps curls.

The first thing you can try is to widen your grip. If that doesn’t work, just switch to the ez-curl bar or dumbbells.

3.Uneven extension

When performing barbell exercises the stronger side usually lifts more weight than the weaker one. That’s when uneven extension happens.

In order to fix that problem you may have to lower the weight and forcefully make sure that the barbell is being lifted at even rates – as much as it’s possible.

If the balance between the left and the right side is significant, you may add dumbbell work in order to improve your unilateral strength.

4.People say barbell curls are not functional

Barbell curls are a highly functional exercise. Every time you lift odd objects like boxes, TVs, monitors…you are holding them in a curl position.

There are many powerlifters such as Ed Coan who have done barbell curls through out their career. Another example would be the strongman Jouko Ahola who performed hammer curls as part of his routine.

5.Barbell curls progress slowly

Barbell curls are an arm exercise. This means that they are dependent on a small muscle group which cannot tolerate fast weight increases.

That’s why people progress slowly when doing barbell curls and sometimes even a 2.5 lbs increase in weight is a significant achievement.

There’s no way around this problem except for being patient and improve your barbell curl programming.

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