The Critical Body Logo

How realistic is curling 150 lb dumbbells and barbells?

Learn whether or not it’s humanly possible to perform a 150 pound dumbbell curl.
Written By  James Jackson
Last Updated on 16th December 2021
A bodybuilder performing a 150 lb bicep curl with a barbell

How much can the average man curl? That's a question that we've answered before. And let me tell you, it's a lot less than 150 lbs.

So, if you can curl 150 lbs—whether that be with a barbell or dumbbells—then your biceps are extremely strong.

With that in mind, this guide draws on some real-life case studies to answer two key questions: Is a 150 pound dumbbell curl an attainable feat of strength? And is curling 150 lbs with a barbell a good sign of bicep strength?

Our main page for the biceps muscles has plenty of exercise tutorials. But you can also see the links below for more curling strength guides just like this.

See How Your Curl Strength Compares:

Is curling 150 lb dumbbells possible?

Yes, curling 150 lbs dumbbells is possible, but only for elite-level strength athletes. And even then, you'd have to use some momentum to get the weights moving. Nonetheless, there are multiple pieces of video evidence showing that a 150 pound dumbbell curl is an attainable lift.

What you'll notice, however, is that these people are doing hammer curls with 150 lbs, and they're doing them across their bodies.

This lifting technique makes the movement easier because a) curling with a neutral/hammer grip puts the brachioradialis and brachialis in stronger force-producing positions, and b) you can more effectively generate momentum when you curl across your body.

So while 150 lb hammer curls are possible for seriously strong strength athletes, supinated 150 lbs curls are pretty much an impossibility.

Is a 150 lb barbell curl a good lift?

All of this talk about 150 lb dumbbell curls might make you feel weak. But the truth is that if you perform a 150 lb curl with a barbell, then you have stronger biceps than 99% of lifters.

Of course, the better your form and the more reps that you do, the more impressive a 150 lb barbell curl is.

Still, most gym-goers can't even budge a 150 lb barbell with their biceps. So if you can perform even a few sloppy reps, then you're in a very special club: the 150 lb bicep curl club.

Whether you use an Olympic bar or an EZ bar for your 150 lb bicep curls comes down to personal choice. I prefer the EZ bar because it allows me to keep my wrists in a joint-friendly semi-supinated position.

Free weight curls are much harder than machine curls. So while curling 150 lbs on a machine is good, it's not exactly what you'd call an awe-inspiring feat of strength unless the stack on your particular machine is really heavy.

150 lb bicep curl case studies

Learn the kind of muscularity and strength that it takes to perform 150 lb curls with dumbbells and barbells.

Case study 1: Aaron Stoup

It's not just Kali Muscle who can perform 150 lb dumbbell curls; Aaron Stoup can too (and arguably with better form).

Unfortunately, this video is filmed from behind, so the angle isn't the best (I think that the reason for this is that the cameraman couldn't get in front of him because Aaron had to lift the dumbbells straight off the rack).

Anyway, from what I can see, Aaron's technique is actually pretty good. Certainly, it's no worse than the form of the average weight lifter.

Yes, he does use some momentum to help his arms out, but you know what?

His biceps, brachialis, and brachioradialis are still doing the vast majority of the heavy lifting. If the target muscles are doing most of the work, then you can't really criticize someone's form as not being good.

Case study 2: Strength and Bulk Fitness

Curling 150 pounds with a barbell is a feat of strength that most natural lifters will never achieve because 150 lbs is a massive amount of weight for one muscle group to lift.

Yet, that's not to say that you can't curl 150 pounds if you bulk up to a high enough body weight.

The man who operates the channel Strength and Bulk Fitness is a seriously heavy lifter and posted a video of himself curling 150 lbs for 5 sets of 5 reps.

So many gym-goers do high rep curls with light weights and wonder why they can't gain strength.

Well, that's because they're not lifting for strength!

While you shouldn't max out on curls all the time, the biceps are just like any other muscle in that they respond well to heavy, low rep lifting, and that most certainly includes challenging sets of 5.

Case study 3: Sifu Freddie Lee

So far, we've only seen seriously big guys performing 150 pound curls. But Sifu Freddie Lee shows that inner strength and determination translate into real physical gym strength.

Freddie, a martial artist, is by no means small. But he's no mass monster either.

He curled 150 lbs for a hard-earned one-rep max, which is heavier than his 145 lb body weight.

To put this incredible feat of strength into perspective, the big guys that you saw curling 150 pound dumbbells likely weighed around 300 lbs. And so they were actually lifting their body weight just like Freddie.

All of this for a guy who's not a bodybuilder or powerlifter. Amazing stuff.

Conclusion: How realistic is a 150 pound dumbbell curl for the average gym-goer?

A 150 pound curl is only possible for lifters with above average genetics for strength gain and muscle development, and even then, I'm talking about a 150 lb barbell curl.

Of course, if you bulk up to a higher body fat level and use some momentum, then you'll have an easier time barbell curling 150 pounds. But if you're just an average guy trying to stay in shape, then it's unlikely that you'll ever be able to do 150 lb curls without severely compromising your technique.

As for curling 150 lb dumbbells, that's even more unlikely. Only lifters who weigh close to 300 lbs would be able to perform a 150 lb dumbbell curl for reps with semi-decent form. And even then, your 300 lb physique would need to consist largely of lean mass because bicep strength mainly comes down to bicep muscularity (bicep fat doesn't help you to lift heavy weights).

References

  1. Fitts, R. H., McDonald, K. S., & Schluter, J. M. (1991). The determinants of skeletal muscle force and power: Their adaptability with changes in activity pattern. Journal of Biomechanics, 24, 111–122. https://doi.org/10.1016/0021-9290(91)90382-w
  2. Robertson, M. C. (2021, March 30). High Reps, Low Reps? Which Rep Scheme Is Best? Bodybuilding.Com. https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/high-reps-low-reps-which-rep-scheme-is-best.html
James Jackson
James Jackson is a personal trainer who uses his expertise in strength and conditioning to create helpful workout tutorials that show fitness enthusiasts how to build muscle while staying safe in the gym. He draws on the latest sports science data as well as tried and tested training techniques to get the best results for his clients without them having to live in the gym.
chevron-upmenu-circlecross-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram