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Close grip EZ bar curl tutorial, benefits, and comparison

A comprehensive guide to narrow grip EZ bar curls.
Written By  Liam Brown
Last Updated on 10th August 2021
A man performing a close grip EZ bar curl for his biceps

Close grip EZ bar curls are an excellent exercise for working the biceps muscles, especially the long head. This is because by using a narrow grip, you naturally shift the tension onto the outer muscle fibers of your biceps, which can make them look more peaked over time.

This guide explains how to perform the close grip EZ bar curl and then discusses the difference between close grip and wide grip EZ bar curls.

To learn about the regular version of this exercise, check out our guide to the supinated EZ bar curl.

Related: How to work the outer bicep

Close grip EZ bar curl exercise details

  • Also Known As: Close grip easy bar curl
  • Main Muscles: Biceps brachii
  • Secondary Muscles: Brachialis, brachioradialis, forearm flexors
  • Exercise Type: Strength
  • Exercise Mechanics: Isolation
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Equipment Needed: EZ bar, weights

How to do close grip EZ bar curls

  1. Load an appropriate amount of weight onto an EZ bar.
  2. Grab the bar with a narrow grip so that your elbows are slightly in front of your torso.
  3. Curl the weight toward your front delts.
  4. Keep lifting until your forearms touch your biceps.
  5. Pause at the top of the rep for a second, and then lower the weight under control until your elbows are locked out.
  6. Repeat for 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps.

Close grip EZ bar curl benefits

Close EZ bar curls offer some distinct benefits that you can't get from other grip widths or barbells. So before we get to our close grip vs wide grip EZ bar curls debate, let's see what the narrow version has to offer the dedicated weight lifter.

Better bicep peak

The bicep peak of a bodybuilder

Close-grip EZ-bar curls shift a greater percentage of the tension onto the outer muscle fibers of your biceps. This is because using a narrow grip places the long head of the biceps in a stronger position to contract. As such, it does more of the lifting than the short head in this exercise.

What this means for you is a better bicep peak.

Specifically, your biceps will look taller when viewed from behind in a flexed position, which mimics the classic back-double biceps bodybuilding pose. [1] You can see our guide on how to build a bicep peak for more information on improving your muscle shape.

It's also worth incorporating the EZ-bar reverse curl into your training because it works your brachialis muscle by putting your biceps at a mechanical disadvantage where they can't produce much force. [2]

The brachialis can actually make your arms appear even more peaked by pushing the biceps out. So if you want arms that are not just big but aesthetic too, then definitely make sure to include narrow and reverse grip exercises in your workout routine.

Reduced wrist strain

A man doing a narrow grip EZ bar curl

The close grip EZ bar bicep curl helps to reduce stress on your wrists and forearms by having you curl with a semi-supinated (rather than with a fully-supinated) grip.

The EZ bar is especially helpful for close grip exercises, such as the narrow grip preacher curl, because having your hands close together can often put a lot of strain on your joints and connective tissue.

However, by keeping your hands only partially supinated, your wrists will be in a much more natural position. After all, we don't walk around in daily life with our palms facing forward!

Ultimately, narrow EZ bar curls are better than their barbell counterpart and definitely the safer way to bias the exercise toward the long head of your biceps.

Stronger bicep contraction

A man performing close grip EZ bar curls

When you perform close-grip EZ bar curls, your arms are naturally going to be in front of your body. This positioning effectively lets you use your torso as a mini preacher bench and thus creates a concentration curl-like effect that results in a really powerful bicep contraction.

The intensity of these muscle contractions makes up for the fact that you're not curling with a fully supinated grip (the biceps are most active when your palms are facing all the way up).

Just make sure to curl the bar all the way up—until the undersides of your forearms press up against your biceps—so that you can generate the strongest possible contraction and get the most from the narrow grip EZ bar curl.

Of course, you also want to lower the bar all the way down so that your biceps can get a good stretch, too.

Wide grip vs close grip EZ curl

An image showing the difference between wide grip and close grip EZ bar curls

Here's the list of differences between the wide grip EZ bar curl and the close grip EZ bar curl. While you can certainly do both variations, if you only have time for a quick bicep workout, then you'll just have to pick the movement which is best for you.

  • Close grip EZ bar curls emphasize the long (outer) head of your biceps.
  • Wide EZ curls focus on the short (inner) head of your biceps.
  • Standing close grip EZ curls provide more potent muscle contractions.
  • You can lift heavier on wide-grip EZ curls.

You can also see our close grip curls vs wide grip curl guide to learn more about how the different grip widths affect muscle recruitment and strength development.

Conclusion: Is the narrow grip EZ bar curl worth doing?

Close EZ bar curls help you to build more proportional arms by emphasizing the outer muscle fibers of the biceps, which is the area that's lagging on most lifter's physiques.

The close grip EZ bar curl also makes it easy to use the proper form because you can essentially brace your elbows against your torso while you lift the weight. Therefore, you can't swing the bar up with your shoulders, which means that your biceps have to do the lion's share of the lifting.

Of course, if you suffer from forearm or wrist strain when using barbells, then doing narrow grip EZ bar curls can help to alleviate some of that stress and keep more on the tension on the target muscles.

References

  1. Fitschen, P. F., & Wilson, C. (2021). Back (or rear) double biceps pose. Human Kinetics. https://us.humankinetics.com/blogs/excerpt/back-or-rear-double-biceps-pose
  2. Cooper, B. (2019, March 2). Mechanical Disadvantages of a Lever System. Sciencing. https://sciencing.com/mechanical-disadvantages-lever-system-8765302.html
Liam Brown
Liam Brown has been coaching clients as a personal trainer for more than 12 years. Raised by his athlete mother and physiotherapist father, he understands the critical importance of learning the proper technique for both avoiding injury and building muscle.
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