Tracking an exercise like the squat is easy (seeing as it's one motion), ie: weight [40kg] - sets [3] - reps [6].

But what about an exercise like the biceps curl. They can be done at the same time or one at a time. How would people prefer to track an exercise like that? Either:

  • arms singularly => weight [14kg] - sets [3] - reps [20]
  • arms together => weight [28kg] - sets [3] - reps [10]

Arms together, gives a total weight of 28kg, but you're still only engaging half of that (14kg) per arm, so I would have thought the first way of tracking (singularly) is the most accurate, thoughts?

I've discovered that a rep in each arm or leg only counts as 1 rep when you have completed both. Simply put, 10 biceps curls with your left arm and 10 with your right, is really just 10, not 20 reps.


2 Answers 2


Assuming that with "arms together" you mean barbell biceps curls and with "arms singularly" the dumbbell variation I'd advocate to treat them as different excercises. You either have

  • Barbell biceps curls, weight, sets, reps, or
  • Dumbbell biceps curls, weight, sets, reps

They are comparable only to a certain extent anyway, and you can't equate 14 kg dumbbell curls to 28 kg barbell curls.

Assuming you mean performing the exercise asymetrically (one arm at a time) vs. symetrically (both arms at the same time), I would not use the total weight, but the weight per arm.

Anyway, this is quite subjective and I don't think that there is the "correct" way of doing this, this is rather a matter of taste. The correct way of doing it is the one that works for you. Anyway, it may be advisable to stick with a scheme, because you are likely to get confused if you don't.

  • Nice. Well, you can do dumbbell curls in unison too (seated), but I guess that's not really the same as having the weight connected (barbell) - I wonder how much that alters the payload. Obviously you have the weight of the bar itself, but also the fact that both arms contribute more directly. Thanks.
    – Luka
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 9:40

You generally take care of this issue by accurately describing the exercise. Forgive my conversions. I'm used to dealing in lbs.

Preacher Curls w/ french bar - 34.8kg (explained below), 2 sets, 8 reps


Preacher Curls w/ dumbbells - 17.4kg, 2 sets, 8 reps

With the first example, you'd have 14kg on each side of the 6.8kg bar totaling 34.8kg (if you use certain safety clamps it could add more weight). Because the French Curl Bar is used with two hands, the workout implies a shared load.

The second example implies that, while done right arm then left arm, that the same weight was lifted the same way by both arms. Think of it like Right Arm = ½ a set and Left Arm = ½ a set.

In cable machines, while the calculated weight due to pulley mechanics is slightly different, if you have to move 2 pins (right arm stack left arm stack) treat it like dumbbell curl example. If there is only one pin to move (even if you can move each arm independently) treat it like the French Curl Bar example.

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