4 Big Concentration Curl Benefits to Maximize Your Gains

published by: Debbie Luna
Last Updated:
August 31, 2022

The concentration curl is a pull type exercise of the isolation capacity primarily performed with the use of a free weight resistance implement like an EZ curl bar or dumbbell for the purposes of inducing a variety of benefits.

These benefits can be quite pronounced and rather convenient to come by due to the relatively simplistic nature of the concentration curl, the equipment it requires as well as the level of intensity it may present to the exerciser.

The concentration curl can provide a myriad of positive effects not solely reserved to that of the athletic nature to an exerciser, so long as it is performed with the appropriate form and with an adequate level of intensity – though this is made more noticeable with the addition of such healthy habits like a nutritional diet and sufficient sleep.

Why is the Concentration Curl Added to a Workout?

The concentration curl is a moderate to high intensity level isolation exercise added to workout programs or physical rehabilitation routines for the purposes of activating the biceps brachii in a slow and controlled manner, either to induce muscular hypertrophy or a recovery response via resistance training.

concentration curl

This is most notable in bodybuilding split workouts where the concentration curl is performed alongside other bicep activating compounds such as rows and pull-ups wherein the biceps are activated to a moderate extent but not so much that they are trained to their fullest capacity – which is precisely where the concentration curl is brought into play.

As such, the concentration curl is added to workouts for its variety of benefits primarily focused on the biceps muscle group and their subsequent size or strength, though occasionally the concentration curl’s other benefits are also a reason behind their addition.

What Muscles Receive the Most Benefit from Concentration Curls?

Being an isolation exercise, the concentration curls mainly activate both heads of the biceps brachii muscle group located on the front of the upper arm with attachment points at the scapula and the radius of the forearm.

This makes the biceps brachii primarily responsible for the internal rotation of the forearms.

However, despite the fact that the biceps are the primary mover muscles of the concentration curls, other muscle groups like the brachialis located beneath the two heads of the aforementioned muscle as well as the various smaller muscles located within the forearms, of which act like stabilizer muscles during the repetition.

Who can Benefit from Concentration Curls?

Being variable in resistance due to their nature as a free weight resistance exercise, practically every individual of relatively healthy function may perform and benefit from concentration curls, especially individuals with even a modicum of experience in resistance exercises.

Concentration curls are of particular use to individuals wishing to tone their biceps as well as increase their size, such as professional bodybuilders or regular gym goers, as the direct isolating training stimuli from this exercise can be quite effective at inducing muscular hypertrophy and fascial expansion.

However, the concentration curl may be unsuitable for individuals of relatively young age or the elderly, as well as individuals with a susceptibility or history of ulnar nerve impingement, wrist injuries, elbow injuries or bicep tears.

As such, it is best for said individuals to first consult a physician or physical therapist prior to incorporating concentration curls into their exercise routine.

How is the Concentration Curl More Beneficial than Other Types of Curls?

The concentration curl presents several key advantages over other types of bicep focused curl exercises such as the preacher curl or ordinary bicep curl.

The most noticeable among these is the fact that the concentration curl removes the exerciser’s ability to “swing” their arm while performing the exercise, thus eliminating a subconscious action that may limit or affect the sort of training stimulus that is produced from the concentration curl.

This is further exemplified by the fact that, unlike other forms of the bicep curl, concentration curls do not usually involve the anterior deltoid or pectoral muscles in any way, as the arm is positioned beneath the exerciser’s torso and as such only the biceps brachii and the forearms are activated in any significant capacity.

What Provides More Benefits – Dumbbell or Barbell Concentration Curls?

While the concentration curl is traditionally performed with the use of a dumbbell so as to maximize neuromuscular connection as much as possible by isolating a single side of the body at a time, there are certain benefits to performing concentration curls with an EZ curl bar or barbell, of which are offset by several caveats that must be accounted for if so choosing to utilize said bars instead.

barbell concentration curls

These differences are in the fact that the barbell concentration curl is a unilateral exercise and as such is far more efficient, both energy wise and time wise, as well as allows the exerciser to utilize more weight than they would normally be able to safely lift with a single arm.

However, the usage of a barbell for concentration curls or any sort of bicep curls in general has been found to place significant stresses on the wrists, resulting in overuse injuries or impingements that can be quite detrimental to the exerciser’s athletic career.

As such, it is far more advisable to utilize a dumbbell for the concentration curl, even at the cost of time and energy.

1. Athletic Benefits of the Concentration Curl

The primary sort of benefit provided by the concentration curl, exercisers choosing to perform the concentration curl repeatedly over a period of multiple workout sessions may find that their muscular strength and control in relation to their biceps brachii has improved in a noticeable fashion.

This, apart from the obvious muscular hypertrophy and neuromuscular strength gains, is also due to the fact that the exerciser has subsequently improved their mind to body connection by performing the slow and highly focused repetitions of a concentration curl.

2. Muscular Hypertrophy Benefits of the Concentration Curl

What is considered to be the main reason the concentration curl exists at all, the level of muscular hypertrophy induced from training stimulation by the concentration curl can be quite significant, making it one of the foremost best exercises possible for increasing the size and improving the appearance of the biceps brachii.

This not only makes the concentration curl an excellent exercise for bodybuilders but also for individuals wishing to tone up their arms, as few exercises are capable of activating the biceps brachii in as thorough a fashion as the concentration curl itself.

3. Neuromuscular Benefits of the Concentration Curl

Much like how the concentration curl activates the biceps brachii in a significant enough capacity to induce noticeable muscular hypertrophy, it is also capable of inducing significant gains in strength and direct skeletal muscle control in the same muscle group, both through the reinforcement of neural pathways as well as the obvious muscle fiber repair.

This can translate to a variety of functions, such as in the increased power output during athletic endeavors, as well as the improved ability to recover from injuries due to improved circulatory and nervous system function.

4. Highly Targeted Muscular Activation Benefits

More a benefit of the fact that the concentration curl is an isolation exercise rather than the fact that it is a concentration curl itself, the highly targeted muscular activation involved in said exercise is rather difficult to replicate in other exercises that involve the biceps.

This is especially useful around the end of the workout routine wherein the biceps have already been primed and partially fatigued through the performance of other compound or isolation exercises, allowing the concentration curls to “finish off” the biceps so as to maximize the benefits that can be reaped.

References

1. Marcolin G, Panizzolo FA, Petrone N, Moro T, Grigoletto D, Piccolo D, Paoli A. Differences in electromyographic activity of biceps brachii and brachioradialis while performing three variants of curl. PeerJ. 2018 Jul 13;6:e5165. doi: 10.7717/peerj.5165. PMID: 30013836; PMCID: PMC6047503.

2. Oliveira LF, Matta TT, Alves DS, Garcia MA, Vieira TM. Effect of the shoulder position on the biceps brachii emg in different dumbbell curls. J Sports Sci Med. 2009 Mar 1;8(1):24-9. PMID: 24150552; PMCID: PMC3737788.

3. Donche, Dan (2008). FF Trainer Certification Guide. USA: Fatal Fitness Retrieved via Google Books (27 Jan 2022)

Debbie (Deb) started powerlifting and Olympic lifting in High School as part of her track team's programming; She continues to train in order to remain athletic. Inspire US allows Deb to share information related to training, lifting, biomechanics, and more.
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