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Is a 30 kg bicep curl good for a natural lifter?

Learn the kind of strength that’s required to perform a 30 kg bicep curl with a barbell and with dumbbells.
Written By  James Jackson
Last Updated on 20th December 2021
A man doing a 30 kg bicep curl with a barbell

Is 30 kg a good bicep curl max? How about 35 kg?

As you'll soon learn, curling 30 kg or 35 kg with a barbell is a good lift. However, a 30 kg dumbbell curl—even if it's just for one rep—is an extraordinarily impressive feat of strength.

Our main page for the biceps brachii has many exercise tutorials that will help you to lift with a better bicep-building technique.

But you can also check out our other curl weight case studies to learn how your bicep strength stacks up.

How good is a 30 kg bicep curl?

A man doing a 30 kg barbell curl for his biceps

A 30 kg bicep curl is a good lift irrespective of whether it's performed with a barbell or a pair of dumbbells.

Of course, curling 30 kilograms in each hand with dumbbells is much harder than curling 30 kg in total with a barbell.

Still, a 30 kg barbell curl provides enough resistance for the vast majority of lifters to build very well-developed biceps. This is because the biceps are a relatively small muscle group that needs a lot less resistance than people think in order to grow.

A 30 kg dumbbell curl, on the other hand, is an elite-level lift when it's performed with good technique and for multiple reps. While you might see a few ego-lifters swinging the 30s around for a few sloppy reps, you rarely witness anyone curling 30 kg dumbbells with the optimal bicep-building technique.

Is a 35 kg barbell curl impressive?

A man performing a 35 kg barbell curl for his biceps

Yes, a 35 kg barbell curl is an impressive lift if you're performing multiple reps and sets.

If you can bicep curl 35 kg for one or two reps, then that's still good, but it's not as good as being able to curl 35 kg for multiple sets of 8-12 reps.

While it's fun to test your strength now and again by performing a one-rep max, it's crucial to remember that most of your bicep growth will come from training close to failure with a sufficient amount of volume.

In case you're wondering, a 35 kg dumbbell curl is extremely impressive. It's no exaggeration to say that 99% of lifters—even those with strong biceps—will never be able to curl 35 kg cleanly.

30 kg bicep curl case studies

These case studies will show you what kind of muscularity and strength is required to perform 30 kg bicep curls.

Case study 1: James Zaremba

James Zaremba has an excellent physique while also being very strong. He managed to do 30 kg dumbbells curls for 12 reps per arm, which is very impressive indeed.

Although most of his reps were hammer curls, it takes nothing away from his incredible strength, which is undoubtedly required to even budge 30 kg dumbbells with your biceps.

Of course, James was using some slight momentum to curl those 30 kg dumbbells. But you have to remember that the average gym-goer couldn't even bench press that much weight in each hand, certainly not 12 times.

Also, hardly anyone uses textbook form when the weights get really heavy.

Additionally, some lifters do a few heavy sets with 80% of their usual form quality to really overload the target muscles. Then, they lighten the weight and revert back to perfect form in order to ensure that their biceps reach muscular failure by themselves.

Case study 2: Stefan Ianev

Stefan Ianev is a natural bodybuilder who's been training for over 15 years.

He posted a video of himself doing 30 kg dumbbell curls for 12 reps (6 reps per arm) with surprisingly good form.

Stefan's technique was especially good because he really supinated his wrists on every rep (no hammer curls), which he surely did in order to intensify the bicep peak contraction.

Additionally, Stefan only used minimal momentum, whereas you often see people leaning back and jerking the weights up with their legs.

Of course, Stefan is exceptionally well-built, so don't feel bad if you don't have the strength to curl 30 kg. The reality is that most people can build plenty of size by lifting half that weight. Some people just happen to have excellent genetics for strength, so why not take advantage of them?

Case study 3: Cián O'Neill

After seeing multiple people curl 30 kg in each hand, you might think that you're weak for not having the bicep power to replicate their feat of strength.

The reality is, however, that 30 kg is a decent amount of weight to lift with both of your hands.

Cián O'Neill performed a strict, 30 kg one rep max curl with good form.

Although he doesn't look like a bodybuilder, it's interesting to see that he's got considerably bigger and stronger since posting this video.

It just goes to show that you can gain muscle and strength quickly when you put in consistent, progressive work in the gym.

Conclusion: Is a 30 kg dumbbell curl possible for natural lifters?

A rack of 30 kg dumbbells used for curls

A 30 kg dumbbell curl is unrealistic for most natural lifters because that would mean curling what is already a fairly good bench press.

So unless you have a formidable frame that's built for putting on muscle, it's unlikely that you'll be able to perform 30 kg bicep curls (30 kg hammer curls, at least for one or two reps, are more likely).

On the other hand, a 30 kg barbell curl is easily attainable for the vast majority of lifters. And once you work your way up to doing a 30 kg bicep curl for multiple sets of 10-15 reps, it's highly likely that you'll have plenty of bicep size to fill your sleeves.

References

  1. Seo, D.-, Kim, E., Fahs, C. A., Rossow, L., Young, K., Ferguson, S. L., Thiebaud, R., Sherk, V. D., Loenneke, J. P., Kim, D., Lee, M.-, Choi, K.-, Bemben, D. A., Bemben, M. G., & So, W.-Y. (2012). Reliability of the One-Repetition Maximum Test Based on Muscle Group and Gender. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 11(2), 221–225. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3737872/
  2. Meadows, J. (2019, August 18). Are Cheat Reps Worth It? T NATION. https://www.t-nation.com/training/are-cheat-reps-worth-it/
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.
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