The Underrated Reverse Curl. Grow Your Arms Quickly!

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Do you have massive biceps and triceps but somewhat underdeveloped forearms? Then you’re probably looking for a solution for this… a solution that more than 70% of gym-goers neglect – it’s called the reverse curl.

Many people who go to the gym believe that working forearms is unnecessary and that they’ll just “build themselves” when doing other heavy lifts (we’re at fault at that, too).

This is true partly, but without proper forearm training, you can be sure that your weakened grip will be holding you back in some of the heavier exercises. That’s why the reverse curl is so underrated and why you should try and incorporate it into your routine. Read on to find out more.

What Does the Reverse Curl Work?

The reverse curl is still a curling exercise, which is the primary movement for building your bicep muscles. However, this exercise’s primary focus will not be on the biceps but rather on the brachioradialis muscle, which is the largest forearm muscle we have.

The reverse curl works the following muscles:

  • Brachioradialis (forearms)
  • Brachialis
  • Biceps

This exercise is also responsible for strengthening your grip and bulletproofing your wrists. And this combination is exactly what you need when you have a weak grip.

The brachioradialis muscles, along with your grip, will be responsible for carrying all of the heavy weights you throw around the gym (or at home). They will also be responsible for holding your own weight when you do bodyweight movements.

At the same time, it’s a curling exercise so it will work your bicep muscles as well. However, just a simple change in how you do the exercise (with the reverse grip) will massively change the impact and the muscles worked in the process.

What are the Benefits of Reverse Curls?

So we’ve discussed how reverse curls help you build your forearms and biceps, but what implications does that have on you and your training ability? Here are the main (and surprising) benefits of reverse curls.

1. Stronger Grip

The single biggest benefit of this exercise is not that your forearms will look like Hulk’s forearms…

But it’s the fact that you’ll have a stronger grip which will enable you to do other exercises – even heavier ones – easier. This single exercise will be responsible for helping you lift heavier weights, move your body around easily…and punch people in the face like Hulk (don’t do that!)

Best Hulk Punches Loki GIFs | Gfycat

In all seriousness, a weak grip is something that many people struggle with, especially beginners. If you can’t do pull-ups, then one of the main reasons might be your weak grip. If you can’t do more than a couple of deadlift reps, it could also be your grip. Improving your forearms has a beneficial effect on your entire workout program as well as your everyday life.

2. Bulletproof Wrists

The wrist is a small joint with a lot of moving parts, which is why it’s a common breeding ground for injuries. Often, just one wrong move can result in wrist injuries which can set you back months or even years.

And because the wrist is full of small bones, it’s a complex area to treat. The best way to avoid injuries is by making sure your wrists are prepared for anything you throw at them. This includes actively strengthening your wrists with exercises like reverse curls.

Strong wrists are crucial not just for the gym, but also for many other types of sports and movements. Whether you play tennis, basketball, handball, golf, volleyball – your wrists will be heavily involved. Improving your wrist health might just be one of the best things you do.

3. You Build Biceps AS WELL AS Forearms with Reverse Curls

Building your forearms does include a bit of multi-tasking. It’s a compound movement that will build your biceps as well as your forearm and brachialis muscle. While the focus here on the biceps might not be as notable as with regular bicep curls, you’ll still get the benefit of including them in the exercise.

So if you only do bicep curls, then it might be worth it for you to add reverse curls to your arm workout – you won’t regret it!

4. They Can Be Done with Dumbbells and with the Bar

Another benefit is that this exercise is relatively versatile. You can do it either with the bar or with dumbbells, whichever suits you better. Also, you can start this exercise with relatively low weight, making it friendly for beginners and great for advanced lifters who already have strong forearms.

How To Do Reverse Curls Properly (+ the Most Common Mistakes)

When it comes to reverse curls, the situation is quite clear; the technique is not that complicated here, because it’s relatively similar to the usual bicep curls. What matters here is that you’re able to progressively overload the exercise and increase the number of reps you do.

One important tip for this exercise is to keep your wrists strong and as stable as possible. You’ll avoid injuries this way and achieve beneficial results with this exercise.

It’s also important that you focus on your forearms and establish the mind-to-muscle connection which is key that you’re working the muscles you need to work. If you lean on your wrists too much, then you’re risking wrist injuries. It’s also better to start with lighter weights if you can’t handle too much weight at the start.

Here are the steps for performing this exercise.

  1. Grab the dumbbells or the ez-bar in your hands and grip them/it with a reverse grip
  2. Put the hands into a lowered position in front of you and start lifting the bar towards your chest
  3. As you do the movement, don’t swing and keep your core tightened – controlled movement is key here (if you sway too much that might be a sign that you’re trying to lift too much)
  4. Keep your wrists strong throughout the movement and squeeze at the top of the movement for a second to get the most out of the exercise
  5. Repeat for 8-12 times, and do 3 sets of this movement

Watch this video.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

These are some of the most common mistakes that you’ll want to avoid with reverse curls.

  • The weight is too heavy. If you do the normal bicep curls with heavier weights, this doesn’t mean you’ll be able to do reverse curls with such weights, too. If you’re swinging too much or if it feels too heavy for you, then it’s a sign that you might need to decrease the weight on the bar/dumbbell a bit.
  • You’re swinging or swaying too much. Reverse curls work your forearms and biceps, so you should only use your arms for the movement. The rest of your body should be still. A common mistake is that people tend to swing too much during the movement, which puts the emphasis away from your forearms.
  • Extending wrists during movement. Similarly, your wrists should also stay straight during this exercise. Keep them strong and don’t move them around too much – or at all! Because that can hurt your wrists and even cause injuries or agitation in your wrists.

Reverse Curl Variations

While it’s true that there’s not too much space for improvisation with reverse curls, you can still do some modifications to the movement. You can try one of these simple variations and decide what works best for you. Normally, you would do them with the ez-curl, but you can also try these modifications.

  • Reverse curls with dumbbells. This seems like a small change, but for some people, dumbbells are more viable than the bar. It might also be better for beginners who can’t lift the bar itself at first, and it’s also friendlier for your form a bit because you’ll not be swinging as much as with the bar.
  • Cable reverse curls. Use the cable machine with the bar attachment to perform reverse curls. This modification is an easy one to make, and it makes it easy for you to progress because you won’t have to waste time changing weights.
  • If you want to focus on improving your grip, use the false pronated grip. This grip is done with your thumb over the bar, which puts more focus on the wrist itself and it allows you to improve the strength of your grip even more.

Wrapping Up

Reverse curls are one of the most underrated exercises, and also one of the most overlooked ones for many reasons. When you do them regularly, they will help you improve your wrist health and strengthen your grip, which can benefit you greatly when you do heavier, compound movements.

At the same time, they also build your biceps and your forearms muscles at once, which makes it a good compound movement to do for your arms and one that you definitely shouldn’t leave out in your next arm workout.

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