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Concentration Curl: How-to, FAQ, Instructions + Common mistakes

The concentration curl is an exercise that targets the biceps. All you need is a dumbbell and a bench to sit on. Because there are so few supplies, this exercise can also be performed at home, provided you have a dumbbell of course.

On this page, we give practical explanations about the concentration curl, such as step-by-step explanations about the execution and common mistakes that you should avoid. We also discuss a standing variation on the concentration curl, which was regularly performed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, among others.

Which muscles do you train?

The name of the exercise already betrays what kind of exercise it is, namely a concentration exercise. Concentration exercises target a single muscle group and that is no different with concentration curls. The exercise focuses solely on the biceps. This makes it a pleasant exercise to finish your biceps training, for example.

For example, you can hardly 'cheat' with this exercise, for example by swinging your arms. You could do this much easier with a regular dumbbell curl for example. All the work should come completely out of your biceps. You will also notice that it is an exercise in which your biceps can quickly become acidic and that you only need a little weight to achieve this.

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Performance of the concentration curl

The concentration curl is easy to learn and can be performed quite quickly by the average beginner. Follow the steps below and you will be able to perform the exercise correctly in no time.

  1. Sit on a bench

    Choose a bench at the gym or a chair at home. Place your legs fairly wide apart and put the dumbbell ready in between both legs. To start, choose a light dumbbell. Does it seem too light after the first set? Then you can always choose a heavier one afterward.

  2. Lift the dumbbell and place your elbow against your leg

    As soon as you hold the dumbbell, you should keep your arm straight. Place your elbow against the inside of your leg and keep your arm straight. Your upper body now hangs slightly forward. This is your starting position.

  3. Move the dumbbell up in concentration

    You are now supposed to move the dumbbell up while keeping your elbow neatly in place against your leg. Move your arm until the angle of your elbow is just past 90 degrees. Do this in a controlled manner and squeeze the dumbbell hard throughout the movement.

  4. Move the dumbbell down concentrated

    When you have reached the top part of the movement, the aim is to lower the dumbbell gently again. Again, make sure that the elbow stays neatly in place against your leg and that the entire movement is performed in a controlled manner.

  5. Repeat this as often as necessary

    You are now back in the starting position and have done one rep for one arm. Now repeat this until you achieve, for example, 8, 10, or 12 repetitions. Then make sure to do this for your other arm as well.

It is therefore important during the exercise that your upper arm does not move and that all the power you put in comes completely from your biceps. Your upper body should also move as little as possible. By squeezing the dumbbell hard you will notice that your biceps are working hard and the acidification will not take long.

Most common mistakes

As with any exercise, mistakes are regularly made in the concentration curl. Below are the most common errors and what you can do to avoid them. After all, you want to perform the exercise as correctly as possible for the best possible result.

  1. Moving the upper body
    A mistake that is often made in concentration curls is that when the going gets tough, the upper body is used to create momentum. During the upward movement, the exercise can be made a little easier by leaning back with the upper body. Try to avoid this and let your biceps do all the work. Will it be too heavy? Then choose a lighter dumbbell.
  2. Not completing the move
    The last part of the exercise can become very hard, while the lower part still works. In that case, you often see that people only do half the movement, in order to achieve a few more repetitions. However, these are not full iterations that they then perform, which is of course very unfortunate. Do you notice that you can no longer do the full movement, but do you want to do extra repetitions? Then choose less weight.
  3. Do not squeeze the dumbbell
    By squeezing the dumbbell well, you will really focus on your biceps. Your arm muscles are used optimally to complete the exercise and your forearms are also under tension to support the weight of the dumbbell. Make sure you always squeeze the dumbbell firmly.

Standing variant

As we wrote in the intro, there is a variation on the standard concentration curl that we would like to discuss. In this variant, you do not sit on a bench, but you stay standing. This variation on the regular concentration curl was often used by Arnold Schwarzenegger and can also be seen in the popular docudrama Pumping Iron.

You grab the dumbbell with the arm you want to train first and lean forward, with your legs slightly bent. The arm with which you are not holding the dumbbell can be used to support your thigh a bit. Let your upper arm hang straight down, squeeze the dumbbell hard, and move your forearm up. Try moving the dumbbell up until the angle of your arm is 90 degrees or just past it. It is important that your upper arm hangs straight down during the entire movement.

This variant is slightly more difficult than the normal concentration curl but is definitely worth a try if you want to add variety to your biceps training. Repeat the movement as many times as desired and then do the same for your other arm.

Concentration curl FAQ

We round off this explanation of the concentration curl with some frequently asked questions about the exercise. Do you still have questions after reading that you would like answered? Leave a message at the bottom of this page and we will respond as soon as possible.

Are concentration curls good for mass?
If your goal is to gain more mass on your biceps, it would be a good choice not to just do concentration curls. Choose enough compound exercises in your schedule. You also indirectly train your biceps with this. Then, after, for example, another biceps exercise, you can end with the concentration curl.
Concentration curls vs preacher curls, which one is better?
Both exercises are good in their own way. It's not that one is better than the other. Don't have a specific preference? Then you can safely alternate these exercises every few weeks.
How effective is the concentration curl?
The concentration curl specifically targets the biceps, making it an effective exercise for increasing and strengthening your biceps. Do you want more mass? Then you would do well to also do other exercises and not just the concentration curl.

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