The Ultimate Guide to Wide Grip Barbell Curls for Mass Building

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Table of Contents

I want you to grow your biceps even more! I want you to understand why adding wide-grip barbell curls will make your biceps thicker and bigger!


Thankfully, you have ended up on this website to learn just that!


You see, Training biceps need not be a dark art! Obtaining a set of biceps that look big, strong, lean and muscley requires you to be consistent, follow a complete bicep workout plan and follow a diet to promote muscle growth! Sounds easy, right?


Well, it is!


In this blog post, I’ll show why you need to add wide-grip curls to your arm training. You will learn the benefits of wide-grip curls, how to do them, what not to do, and how to add them to your current arm training protocol.


So, are you ready to get started?


Let’s go!


wide grip barbell curls

What are Wide Grip Barbell Curls?

Wide grip barbell curls are a classic exercise for building bigger biceps, and for a good reason.


This compound movement targets both the long and short head of the biceps, as well as the brachialis muscle, leading to overall arm development.


Wide grip barbell curls are a classic exercise for building bigger biceps, and for a good reason. This compound bicep movement targets both the long and short head of the biceps, as well as the brachialis muscle, leading to overall arm development.


But the critical difference with this bicep exercise is the grip. By taking a wide supinated (underhand) grip on the bar, the movement places most of the stress on the inner (short head) bicep.


This short-head muscle makes the bicep appear more prominent and fuller, whereas the long head is responsible for the peak of the bicep.


It is also noteworthy that using a grip wider than shoulder width AND underhand will force the bicep brachii muscles to contract early in the movement as both the long and short head work in conjunction with the shoulder and elbow.


Recommended Read: >>> Lower Bicep Workout Secrets: Top 7 Exercises for Massive Gains <<<

Bicep Anatomy 101: Know Your Biceps

I couldn’t write this article without referring to the biceps.


Knowing your bicep brachii, short-head bicep muscle, and long head is critical in understanding how best to target and grow them.

bicep anatomy 101

Recommended Read: >>> 10 Best Short Head Biceps Exercises For Massive Upper Arms <<<

Wide Grip Barbell Curl And The Short Head of Bicep

As you will have seen in the image above, the short head of the bicep is on the inside of the arm and plays a big part in how big and full the bicep looks.


Wide grip bicep curls will place more significant stress on the inner head, so do expect significant results in terms of bicep muscle size and fullness in as little as ten weeks.


So if you want that natural enlarged look, always get into the habit of performing bicep exercises with a wider grip.


Recommended Read: >>> Lat Pushdowns: The Secret to a Strong and Defined Back <<<

Top 4 Benefits of Wide Grip Barbell Curls

Growing a set of impressive biceps is the goal of all gym-goers. Very few other results bring in the confidence and pride that a set of big, muscular arms create.


I want to highlight the four more common benefits I have seen when it comes to wide-grip barbell curls:


1. More size and strength: Wide grip curls will work both the bicep heads, but more significant muscular stress will be placed on the inner short head. This will make your biceps appear fuller and more rounded.


2. Bigger Brachialis: The brachialis is a small muscle that runs underneath the biceps and is visible outside the upper arm. Not all arm exercises work this small muscle; hence it is often underdeveloped.


3. More Grip Strength: You will find that the wide grip improves your grip strength and also fatigues the forearm muscles. However, as they grow bigger and stronger, you will find that exercises such as deadlifts and pullups will also get more manageable.


4. Higher Muscle Activation: A wider grip will hit more muscle fibers in the biceps and brachioradialis muscles. This means that your biceps will get worked and fatigued quicker – meaning more recovery and growth.


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Best Way To Do Wide Grip Barbell Curls

I want you to master the wide-grip barbell curl so that you don’t get into bad habits or increase any chance of injury.


I’ve summarised the complete execution below.


1. Prepare a straight barbell  with the appropriate weight that will allow you to hit failure at the 8 to 10-rep range


2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your core tight, shoulders back and down.


3. Grab the barbell with your hands wider than a shoulder-width grip using a supinated grip.


4. Hold the barbell, so it’s resting against your upper legs, and aim to keep your elbows to your sides; this is the starting position.


5. Using only your upper arms, curl the barbell towards your chest, ensuring your elbows are pinned to your sides and your upper arms stationary. This part of the curl should take you 3 seconds


6. At the top of the movement, flex your biceps as hard as you can for 2 or 3 seconds


7. Slowly lower the barbell, taking up to 4 seconds while the barbell rests across your upper legs. Do not let the bar drop-down, and please ensure you control it with super strict form.


8. Repeat the exercise for nine more reps (or as many as you can do) and then note this down on your logbook



Recommended Read: >>> How Much Does The Smith Machine Bar Weigh? (Answered) <<<

5 Important Tips When Doing Wide Grip Barbell Curls

1. Warm-Ups: Always warm up before training any body part. Ten minutes on the treadmill and light barbell or dumbbell curls will suffice.


2. Reps and Sets: Always aim to get ten reps and only increase the weight when you hit ten reps. This is known as the progressive overload principle and has been proven to give the best results for muscle size and strength increases.


3. Change up the order: You can perform wide grip curls at the start of your workout or towards the end, and it’s a good idea to change this up as this will keep the muscles guessing.


4. Straight Bar, EZ Bar: Use the straight bar and EZ bar by using each of them every other workout. This will place stress on different parts of the bicep brachii.


5. 3 seconds up, 4 seconds down: Time under tension (TUT) is an important training principle, so always aim to perform the exercise’s positive (concentric) phase over 3 seconds and the negative (eccentric) over 4 seconds. Flex the muscle at the top of the movement to flush the muscle with blood.


Recommended Read: >>> Mastering Tricep Workouts with Dumbbells: A Comprehensive Guide to Strengthen Your Arms <<<

Results You Can Expect With Barbell Curls

Whether you perform wide grip barbell curl or narrow grip, you can expect to gain at least 1 inch to your biceps over 16 weeks. This does depend on your overall training experience, diet, nutrition and whole-body routine.


You can also expect to gain at least a 15% strength increase in the muscle and exercise.


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Recommended Read: >>> Mastering 21s Bicep Curls: Tips, Tricks, and Techniques for Success <<<

2 Wide Grip Curl Workouts For Strength and Mass

I have created two workout plans for you that focus around the wide grip bicep curl


  • Perform these workouts every 5 to 7 days 


  • Aim to hit 10 reps before increasing weight


  • Log all your results so you can track progress


  • Master the form of each exercise and follow a full range of motion


  • Feel free to change the order of exercises as your progress


Wide Grip Bicep Curl Workout 1
Wide Grip Bicep Curl Workout 2

How to ADD Wide Grip Barbell Curls to Your Workout

I want you to start adopting the wide-grip curl by adding 3 or 4 sets to your existing workout. This can be either at the end of the arm workout or at the beginning.


The key here is to learn the form, be comfortable with its execution and feel the bicep, thus creating the mind-muscle link.


Once you are comfortable with the exercise, you can begin using them as the main bicep exercise and start your arm routine with them.


How to ensure your arms keep growing with these curls

I want your arms to continue growing and never stagnate! To do this, I want you to take note of the following:


Progressive Overload: Strive to add weight or reps! Once you get to ten, add weight.


Vary Your Rep Range: Ten is the number to hit before you increase the weight. But, don’t be afraid to finish the exercise with a rep range of 15 (especially in the final set)


Mix-Up Exercises: Change the order of the curls. Sometimes add them at the start, and other times in the end. If you reach an advanced stage, throw four sets after your back workout.


Get Adequate Rest and Nutrition: Your body is a machine that needs to be fed. Sleep for a minimum of 8 hours, eat a balanced, high-protein diet and make sure you don’t overtrain.


Focus on Proper Form: Poor form leads to injury. Don’t be a statistic. So make sure you ALWAYS follow good form and strive to create the mind-muscle link during the exercise.


Modifying wide grip curls to suit your individual needs :

Don’t hesitate to try new things with wide grip curls:


High intensity: Once you get experience, add drop-sets where you perform 1 set of 10, immediately followed by another set of up to 10 and then a final 3rd set of up to 10. The only change you make is dropping the weight by 20% for each set.


Slow Down the Tempo: Increasing the time under tension will cause more significant muscle fiber tears and, therefore, more recovery and muscle growth. Perform the negative portion of the exercise over eight seconds but only do these sparingly (once every six weeks)


Bars and Ropes: You can perform the wide grip curl using the EZ barbell, EZ bar on a cable machine and rope on a cable machine. The cable machine will apply continuous tension to the bicep brachii and stress them even more.


Avoid these common mistakes when doing wide-grip barbell curls:

I want you to be injury-free and grow your biceps quickly! Therefore please take note of the following:


Poor Form: Don’t cheat when doing these curls. You will only get injured! Leave the ego at the door.


Using Too Much Weight: If you can’t do ten reps under strict control, then you are using a weight that’s too heavy. Reduce it and start again.


Neglecting Proper Warm-Up: If you don’t warm up, you WILL get injured. Make warm-ups mandatory as part of your starting gym routine


Rushing the Exercise: Never heave up the barbell curl, and never drop the barbell. The only thing you will invite is injury. Control the movement through its entire range of motion.


Neglecting to Stretch: Post-workout bicep stretching has been proven to aid recovery so perform some PNF stretching at the end of the workout.


By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure that your bicep workouts are safe and effective.


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FAQs on Wide Grip Bicep Training

Are wide-grip curls better?

Wide-grip curls are better if you want to grow your biceps brachii to be fuller and rounder. If you want a higher peak, then narrow-grip barbell curls are good.

Which grip is better for a barbell curl?

The wide-grip barbell curl is best to train the small head of the bicep. The narrow grip will target the bicep’s long head responsible for developing the bicep peak.

What part of the bicep do wide-grip barbell curls work?

The wide-grip barbell curl targets the small head of the bicep that is responsible for the fullness and size of the overall bicep.

How wide should wide grip curls be?

Always aim to use a grip 2 inches wider than a shoulder grip, as this will ensure the target muscles get worked.

Is the ez bar curl better for biceps muscles?

The ez bar will develop bigger and stronger biceps and work the biceps peak.

How do wide grip standing barbell curls and close grip barbell curls differ in terms of technique and mass building benefits, and why is it important to keep your elbows locked during these exercises?

Wide grip standing barbell curls and close grip barbell curls primarily target the same muscles but with a slight difference in emphasis. Wide grip curls place more stress on the outer portion of the biceps, promoting overall mass building, while close grip curls focus on the inner biceps and forearm muscles, contributing to a more defined appearance. Keeping your elbows locked during these exercises ensures proper form, reducing the risk of injury and maximizing muscle engagement for optimal mass building results.

Closing Thoughts on Training Biceps with Wide Grip Curls

Do you feel “armed” and informed? (I couldn’t resist!)


Have all the questions been answered? Good!


Remember to master the form, apply the progressive overload principle, get your diet and nutrition on point and log all your progress and results.


So, don’t wait – try wide-grip curls now and witness your results!


(oh, and do keep in touch and check in with us regularly for more fantastic content. For a complete list of our previous blog posts, please go here)


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