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How to do a standing EZ bar curl for your biceps with a supinated grip

Master the EZ bar biceps curl with our detailed guide to the proper form and the mistakes to avoid.
Written By  Liam Brown
Last Updated on 10th August 2021
A man doing a standing EZ bar biceps curl

The standing EZ bar curl is a popular and highly effective exercise for developing the biceps muscles. Unlike regular curls, the neutral EZ bar curl has you lift with your hands in a semi-supinated position, which helps to reduce the strain on your wrists and forearms when you're performing a heavy bicep workout.

This tutorial shows you how to lift with the optimal EZ bar curl form. Then we'll discuss the common mistakes that could hold back your progress and that you should definitely avoid. Lastly, we'll answer some frequently asked questions about EZ curls.

Related: Best back and bi workout

EZ bar curl exercise details

  • Also Known As: Easy bar curls, cambered bar curls
  • Main Muscles: Biceps brachii
  • Secondary Muscles: Brachioradialis, brachialis
  • Exercise Type: Strength
  • Exercise Mechanics: Isolation
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Equipment Needed: EZ bar, weight plates

How to do EZ bar curls correctly

  1. Load a suitable amount of weight onto an EZ bar. Alternatively, use a fixed bar for more convenience.
  2. Grab the bar with a shoulder-width grip so that your elbows are pinned to your sides.
  3. With the bar resting against your thighs, curl the weight toward your shoulders while keeping your elbows still.
  4. Keep curling until the undersides of your forearms make forceful contact with your biceps.
  5. Hold the contraction for a moment and then lower the weight under control until your elbows reach full extension.
  6. Perform 3-5 sets of 6-15 reps in total.

Common EZ curl mistakes

EZ bar bicep curls are one of the all-time great arm exercises that you can do for mass and strength. However, if you want to get the best results while avoiding needless injuries, then you definitely want to make sure that you're not making any of these EZ-bar curl mistakes.

Using momentum

A man performing EZ bar bicep curls with improper form

Many lifters use momentum to swing the weight up during the standing E Z bar curl. This often takes the form of leaning back, bending your knees, or thrusting your hips in order to get the bar moving.

Another word for this is ego lifting. [1]

You should avoid the temptation to ego lift so that you can keep the tension on the target muscles while simultaneously keeping your injury risk to a minimum.

While swinging the bar up will indeed enable you to lift more weight on E Z curls, much of that extra resistance will get distributed to the muscles that you're using to cheat, so it's not like your biceps will get much more stimulation.

Instead, keep your core tight during the E-Z bar curl. Move your forearms toward your biceps while keeping your other body parts still, as if you're a machine that has a single function (curling).

That said, as you complete the concentric phase of the rep, you can raise your shoulders forward slightly to intensify the contraction. The reason being is that the biceps are actually a shoulder flexor. So by letting your elbows creep forward a few inches, you're fulfilling another biceps function and making the EZ barbell curl even more effective.

Performing half reps

A man performing a standing EZ bar curl

Half reps are bad for two reasons.

First off, performing partial reps encourages you to lift weights that are too heavy for you (since your biceps naturally have less work to do when you shortcut the range of motion). This is an example of the ego lifting that we just talked about, and it's one of the fastest ways to sabotage your progress by getting yourself injured.

Half repping is also a bad habit because it's less effective for building muscle mass and developing true strength. Sure, you might be lifting a lot of weight when you perform partial reps, but would you be able to curl the same poundages if you were forced to use a full range of motion?

Probably not.

So even though you may be lifting heavier when you half rep, you're not actually making your biceps stronger because they're not getting used to handling the full tension of that weight.

Likewise, shortcutting the lifting motion also leads to less hypertrophy because you won't recruit as many muscle fibers when you stop your reps halfway. [2]

Instead, get the most out of the EZ barbell bicep curl by lifting the bar all the way up—until your forearms press up against your biceps. Then, complete each rep by lowering the bar until your elbows are completely extended. You can even flex your triceps at the bottom of the rep to ensure that your biceps are fully lengthened.

Doing too many sets

A man performing a supinated EZ bar curl

Training volume is a complex topic. Some lifters can naturally handle more sets than others due to a whole range of factors like diet quality, training experience, recovery capability, and so on.

However, even with individual variation taken into account, most gym-goers still do too many sets of standing EZ bar curls and bicep curls in general.

You're much better off performing 3-5 quality sets of 1-2 exercises per workout (per muscle) because past a certain point, you're not stimulating any more muscle growth or strength development by doing extra volume.

In fact, if you perform too many sets, then you may actually get worse results—strength regression, inability to get a pump, etc.—because you won't be able to recover quick enough. So stick to using strict form, dial back the volume a little bit, and watch your biceps grow. [3]

EZ bar curl variations

A man demonstrating some EZ bar curl variations

There are more than 5 types of EZ bar curls that you can perform, each of which works your biceps and surrounding arm muscles from a different angle. You'll find complete tutorials and training tips for each of the different kinds of bicep curls by clicking the links below.

EZ curl FAQ

What is an EZ bar curl?

A supinated EZ bar curl is a bicep exercise that weight lifters perform to build muscle mass and develop greater strength. It's different from regular curls because the easy curl bar places your wrists in a semi-supinated position that helps to ease the strain on your wrists and forearms.

What muscles do EZ bar curls work?

EZ curl bar curls primarily work the biceps brachii. The exercise also trains your brachioradialis, brachialis, and forearm flexors to a significant degree.

What's the optimal grip for standing EZ curls?

To improve the overall size of your biceps, it's recommended to perform the neutral EZ bar curl with a shoulder width grip. You know that your hands are in the correct position when your elbows are very close to or are even touching your sides.

Is the seated EZ bar curl a good alternative to the standing version?

Although the seated EZ bar curl promotes good form by stabilizing your body against the bench, it's ultimately less effective than the standing version because it impairs your range of motion. In other words, you can't get a proper stretch when you're sitting on a bench because you can't achieve full elbow extension.

Read More: Easy bicep exercises

Conclusion: How effective is the supinated EZ bar curl?

The EZ-bar curl is a safe and effective exercise for building your biceps. Since they place your hands in a semi-supinated position, easy bar curls are ideal if you often feel wrist or forearm discomfort during regular curls.

You can use the EZ curl bar or the straight bar for building muscle, but the former will help you to stay safer in the gym over the long term.

There are numerous ways to do EZ curls. However, the standing EZ bar curl is the most straightforward variation and the version that will enable you to lift the heaviest weights. Hence, it's the EZ curl of choice for beginners and advanced weight lifters alike.

References

  1. Stewart, A. (2019, January 23). 10 Mistakes Beginners Make: Leave Your Ego At The Door! Bodybuilding.Com. https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/10_beginner_mistakes.htm
  2. Contreras, B. (2017b, June 7). Partial vs. Full Reps. . . or Both? Bret Contreras. https://bretcontreras.com/partial-vs-full-reps-or-both/
  3. Thibaudeau, C. (2019, August 18). Pump Down the Volume. T NATION. https://www.t-nation.com/training/pump-down-the-volume/
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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