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Overhand Bicep Curl: Reverse Curls for Results

Jun 02, 2018

I have a question: Do you know what an overhand bicep curl is?

No? What about a “reverse curl”?

Does it at least sound familiar?

Overhand Bicep Curl - Wrist WrapsWell, in this article, I will be discussing the overhand bicep curl and tell you why it is such a great exercise to do.

But, as this is an exercise that requires a strong grip, I’d suggest looking into getting some genuine suede wrist wraps.

Here at Dark Iron Fitness, we strive to provide the most reliable accessories to help with your workouts, including the overhand bicep curl.

Now, let’s delve into the bulk of this article and discuss the beauty of the overhand bicep curl!


What is the Overhand Bicep Curl?

Overhand Bicep Curl AKA Reverse Curls

Overhand Bicep Curl - Reverse Barbell Bicep CurlsThe overhand bicep curl is a form of curling that targets both the biceps and forearms.

Your standard bicep curl uses an underhand grip, with your palms facing up.

This movement feels natural both in concept and execution.

However, with the overhand bicep curl, you are gripping the barbell with your palms facing down.

This, in turn, feels a lot odder and, for some, uncomfortable.

But, what this achieves, is a change in muscle stimulation and targeting of the curl.

Sure, you are still getting residual bicep stimulation, but for the most part, your forearms take the brunt of the exercise.

So, in an essence, all you are doing to perform overhand bicep curls or “reverse curls” is reversing your grip from underhand to overhand!

Related: Reverse Barbell Curls (How To)


Why Would You Do an Overhand Bicep Curl?

Overhand Bicep Curl - Reverse Bicep Curl Muscles WorkedI think the biggest reason to do an overhand bicep curl is to target your forearms in a unique way that isn’t only meant for them.

For me, it’s similar to doing seated leg press and then going directly into calf raises.

You can easily go from standard bicep curl, switch your grip, and are now doing an overhand bicep curl.

The great thing here is that you are diversifying how you work your biceps and your forearms.

Overall, the overhand bicep curl is just a great arm workout in general.

Related: Build Bigger Biceps with Just One Simple Exercise


How is the Overhand Bicep Curl Different from Standard Bicep Curls?

As stated above, they are essentially the same movement, with just a switch in grip.

This switch changes how the muscles in your arms are targeted, but you are still working your arms effectively.

I would suggest that overhand bicep curl will take more skill to properly perform with good form and control.

Whereas, the standard bicep curl is fairly easy to learn and perform — the only real limit is your strength level.

For the overhand bicep curl, your strength level, grip, and stabilization all play a much bigger role.

Related: Benefits of Bicep Curls | Popeye Arms 101


The Best Overhand Bicep Curl Variations

Wide-Grip Overhand Bicep Curl

Overhand Bicep Curl - Reverse Overhand Bicep CurlOne of the biggest variable factors for the overhand bicep curl with a barbell is your grip positioning.

The more natural, comfortable version of the overhand bicep curl is using a wide-grip.

With the wide-grip, you get more purchase on the bar, as well as balance.

It is my opinion that this is the best way to start and introduce yourself to the overhand bicep curl.

If you aren’t used to forearm exercises or overhand grip for that matter, use light weight and stick with the wide-grip.


Close-Grip Overhand Bicep Curl

Overhand Bicep Curl - Close Grip Reverse CurlsClose-grip with this exercise will make the movement far more challenging and make you less able to cheat.

Even if you tried to do cheat curls, the positioning of your grip will not allow for the necessary momentum to get the bar up.

So, in a sense, the close-grip overhand bicep curl is the strict version of the two grip positions.

I would recommend those who have experience building their forearms to try these.

If you are a beginner, you can still do them, but choose light weights in order to not strain your forearms or wrists.

Also, if you implement the use of genuine suede wrist wraps, you’ll probably be able to maintain your form much better.

Related: Low Reps vs High Reps for Arms – What’s the Best?


Overhand Bicep Curl 21s

Overhand Bicep Curl - 21s Bicep CurlsMost of you out there know what 21s (or 7/7/7s) are.

You are essentially doing your curls in progressions or stages.

Partial range of motion, the normal range of motion, and then a complete range of motion from bottom to top.

You will do each level for 7 reps, hence 7/7/7 or “21s”.

Many people swear by these when doing standard bicep curls, so why not apply them to your overhand bicep curl?

Well, for one, this will be extremely challenging.

Given your level of physicality and strength, this variation of overhand bicep curl could be one of the best yet!


Dumbbell Overhand Bicep Curl

Overhand Bicep Curl - Dumbbell Overhand Bicep CurlIf you’ve read any of our articles here, then you know we almost always encourage unilateral movements.

So, why not do your overhand bicep curl with dumbbells?

Again, this is very challenging.

Even with lighter weight, it can be just as challenging as using a barbell.

The reason for this is because you can no longer rely on both arms (nor your dominant arm).

If you have muscle imbalances and a more dominant arm, you will have a better chance of completing barbell overhand bicep curls.

But, with dumbbells, your overhand bicep curl will be completely reliant on the strength of your individual arms.

This is a great way to build your strength.


Cable Overhand Bicep Curl

Overhand Bicep Curl - Reverse Cable Overhand Bicep CurlThe cable overhand bicep curl can be done both bilaterally and unilaterally, depending on your grip attachment.

One of the nicest things about doing the cable overhand bicep curl is your ability to change the weight so quickly with the weight stack.

Also, the cable will give you the freedom of movement and the opportunity to angle your attachment.

So, you can do the curl, and angle it to the left or to the right in order to target each forearm and bicep better.

If you have access to a gym with a cable machine, I highly suggest playing around with it and trying these types of curls out.

For those who don’t have a gym membership, you can also pick up some resistance bands for cheap and emulate the movement.


Training Your Forearms

Is the Overhand Bicep Curl the Best Forearm Workout?

Overhand Bicep Curl - Forearm ProgressOverall, I actually do believe that the overhand bicep curl is at least one of the best forearm workouts.

When you think about it, there aren’t a lot of forearm exercises and there are.

I know that’s confusing, but I say that in regards to how many dedicated forearm exercises exist.

The reality is, there aren’t many specified forearm workouts that target only your forearms.

Even with the overhand bicep curl or reverse curl, it is still regarded as a “bicep” curl.

Most of the other exercises out there for forearms require some sort of pulling or hanging movement.


Other Forearm Training Exercises

The other two main forearm exercises that I think are definitely worth utilizing are wrist flexion and wrist extensions.

For wrist flexion, you’ll have the backs of your hands on your knees with either dumbbells or a barbell grasped in your hands.

Then, you’ll flex your wrists up as if you are trying to touch the weights to your wrists.

When you squeeze the weight up to your wrists, you can hold that position and feel the burn in your wrists and forearms.

To perform wrist extension reps, you will be doing the same thing but with your palms facing down.

Now, you’ll be curling your wrists upwards, which will make you feel the tops of your forearms getting targeted.

And though there are more forearm exercises out there, the last alternative I want to recommend is static pull-up bar hangs.

You can do these both close-grip and wide-grip.

A hanging exercise like this will target your forearms immensely, especially if you are hanging in an intentional, strict-form way, instead of just loosely dangling there.

Give it a shot and see if you can feel the burn in your forearms.


Strength Crossover from Forearm Training and the Use of the Overhand Bicep Curl

Low Reps vs High Reps for Arms - Arm DiagramLastly, one reason I think training your forearms with overhand bicep curl is beneficial is that it leads to crossover strength.

The stronger you can make your forearms, the more intense and powerful your other upper body lifts will become.

Your arm strength will be amplified and help with everything from standard curls to bench press to rows.

I believe it is always important to work on your muscles that are both lagging and can be done in a way to help optimize your other exercises in the future.

This is one of those exercises, for me, as my forearms are definitely lacking overall.

So, doing an overhand bicep curl can help me grow my forearmsgain forearm strength, and improve my other lifts.

I truly think it can help you to0!

Related: Preacher Curl vs Bicep Curl: How to Get the Arms of a Greek God


Final Thoughts: Why the Overhand Bicep Curl is Results-Driven

The Biggest Reason to do the Overhand Bicep Curl

Overhand Bicep Curl - Forearm VascularityThe truth is, the overhand bicep curl is very results-driven.

You can almost guarantee progress and results if you perform them.

Also, as I said, these will both hit your biceps and forearms in legitimate ways.

Why not do them?

However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that only weights can help you grow your biceps.

You can also use a calisthenics bicep workout to achieve muscle growth.

Related:  Reverse Barbell Curls: The “Other Curl” Most People Aren’t Doing, But Should


How to do the Overhand Bicep Curl Safely

Most Common Weightlifting - Wrist WrapsBefore you go out there and try to bang some overhand bicep curls out, make sure you know how to do them safely.

For these, I highly recommend only and always going slow and controlled.

Start light, move up to medium and stay there for a while to keep seeing results.

Then, maybe when you gain some significant forearms gains, you can attempt heavier weights.

Any of you who insist on going heavy, make sure to protect your wrists with our suede wrist wraps.

Also, do a ton of stretching and warming up before trying to attempt any overhand bicep curls.

Though it is a simple movement, it is definitely no cake walk!