Alternating Dumbbell Curl exercise is a popular exercise for building the biceps.

There is secondary emphasis on the forearms and the core muscles are engaged to keep the upper body in the correct position and to support the lower back.

Alternating Dumbbell Curls are best performed after a barbell exercise such as a Barbell Curl or EZ Bar Curl where the joints and tendons have been warmed up and primed.

The focus shifts from building size to getting a nice stretch and contraction.

Alternating Dumbbell Curls How To

  • Pick up a pair of dumbbells, position them on the outside of your thighs, palms facing each other and keep a slight bend in your elbows.
  • Assume a shoulder width stance; slightly bend your knees, tighten your core, keep an arch in your lower back and push your chest out.
  • Curl the dumbbells in alternating fashion. Flex at the elbow and curl the dumbbell toward your shoulder. Pronate your hand by rotating the wrist outward until your palm is facing up. Hold the top position for a count of “one”.
  • Resist the weight by bringing the dumbbell back to starting position. Rotate your wrist inward so that at the bottom position, your palm will be facing the side of your thigh.
  • As soon as one arm is back at the starting position, start curling with the other arm.
  • Repeat the exercise until you have completed the targeted number of reps.

Form and Technique

Alternating Dumbbell Curl is a strict form exercise. Make sure your elbows remain in place; do not allow the elbows to flare out or to trail forward and backward during exercise performance.

The upper body must remain straight and stable. Do not bend at the hips and use body sway or momentum to curl the dumbbells.

VariationsDumbbell Curls, Hammer Curls, Cable Bicep Curls, Barbell Curl

Routine for Strength: 3 sets x 12-15 reps

Routine for Muscle Gains: 4-5 sets x 6-8 reps

Alternative Dumbbell Curls FAQs

What muscles to alternating dumbbell curls work?

Alternate dumbbell curls primarily work the bicep muscles, but also engage the forearms and even anterior deltoids (front shoulders).

Should you alternate dumbbell curls?

You can either alternate dumbbell curls or do both at the same time, but alternating dumbbell curls will allow you to lift heavier weight, thereby overloading the biceps more which is better for muscle building.

How do I do an alternate dumbbell curl?

Start with the dumbbells parallel to your hips (supinated position), then as you curl upwards, turn the dumbbell to horizontal (pronated position, palm facing up) by the end of the curl. Then lower the dumbbell slowly and repeat.

Which is better barbell curls or dumbbell curls?

Both are great for building biceps but dumbbell curls provide isolation of each arm so that they’re both working equally to lift the weight. As opposed to a barbell curl where one arm could be supporting more of the weight which is not ideal.

Alternating Dumbbell Curls

How To Do Alternating Dumbbell Curls