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Turns that I can reverse curl as much as I can bicep curl normally... At least when using a barbell my bicep curl is 1:1 to my reverse curl, when using a dumbell is more like 4/5...

Do why do we bicep curl really? Think about it, every other exercise is done in pronated position not supinated.

Deads, rows, pull ups, cleans, snatches, squats, front squats, bench... All that stuff is done in pronated position.

So why is it suggested to do bicep curls but never reverse curls, actually reverse curls are considered "futility" but why exactly?

People suggest that it's just a stupid exercise to isolate small insignificant muscles, but if I can bicep curl 45kg x 5 times on a barbell with pronated and supinated grips as well, does this mean that my small insignificant muscles are as strong as my biceps or that there's basically no muscular differences in the exercise?

But looking around the internet turns out I'm not a mutant, and actually most people can indeed reverse curl as much as they bicep curl.

So why are reverse curls never in any program?

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Regarding the reverse curl

I wouldn't say the reverse curl is "futile". It does have a certain grip component to it that I, as a climber, cherish.

Constructing a more holistic bicep curl

But if we're truly going for a bicep-centric exercise, we need to make sure that we do the exercise in a way that incorporates all of its functionalities. You may or may not know that the bicep serves three functions:

  • flexion of the elbow (the obvious one)

  • supination of the wrist and forearm

  • to some extent, frontal flexion of the shoulder (in effect, it's actually somewhat involved in front raises)

So if we were to try and construct a good bicep exercise, we should incorporate all three of these elements. A nice way to do so, is to go with a dumbbell curl that

  • obviously is a curl, satisfying the first point

  • loads more weight on the pinky side to incorporate active supination; if you don't force supination, the weight on the pinky-side will slouch down

  • at the top of the lift, raises the elbow forward slightly

Regarding point 2, you can get this uneven load with a symmetric dumbbell by sliding your hand so that your pointer finger hugs its side, and the pinky has some open space, like so:

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Think of trying to keep the weight level while holding it like this, and notice how you will have to actively turn your hand outward; in other words, supinate.

Incorporating variety

As with any muscle, the bicep responds well to variation. And this curl can be done

  • standing, allowing for a little bit of a cheat if you want to focus on the eccentric portion of the lift

  • seated in various degrees of incline, allowing you to shift where in the range of motion you experience the most intensity

Additionally, even though we have constructed a curl that satisfies some points, we have to also keep in mind that this is maybe not the exercise where we can use the most amount of weight, so we need to keep doing exercises that can put the bicep under even more intensity, whether it be through heavier curls like a barbell curl, or through more compound movements like pullups, chinups, bent-over rows etc.

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