Cable curls are an overlooked but incredibly beneficial movement for strengthening and growing your biceps. So, if you’re looking for an exercise to add size to your arms, keep reading.
In today’s post, we’ll go over the cable curl, what mistakes to avoid, and more.
Let’s dive in.
How to Perform Cable Curls (Step-By-Step)
- Position the cable pulley in the lowest position, attach a straight bar or rope, and set the load.
- Bend over and grab the attachment with supinated wrists (palms facing you).
- Stand tall, keep your elbows to your sides, and extend your arms.
- Take a breath and curl the weight while keeping your elbows to your sides.
- Move the weight up until your wrists are slightly higher than your elbows, and hold the top position for a moment.
- Lower the weight slowly, exhale on the way down and extend your elbows completely.
- Take another breath and repeat.
Performing Cable Curls
Traditional Cable Curls (palms up)
Hammer Cable Curls (palms facing)
Mistakes to Avoid When Doing Cable Curls
One of the most common errors with any type of curl is using too much weight. Doing so might make you feel stronger, but it makes the exercise less effective because you have to use jerking motions and shorten the range of motion. Both actions take the tension away from your biceps.
Another mistake with the cable curl is shortening the range of motion. Trainees often obsess over the weight they are lifting and how many reps they are doing, which comes at the expense of good form. As a result, they shorten their range of motion, which allows them to do more work and feel like they are making good progress.
What Muscles Do You Train With Cable Curls?
Cable curls are considered an isolation exercise designed to train and isolate the biceps. But, apart from that muscle group, cable curls also work your shoulders and forearms. (1)
The shoulders provide stability, and the forearms assist with elbow flexion. Having your wrists neutral (facing one another) or pronated (facing away from you) increases forearm involvement. (2)
Your midsection muscles (abs, obliques, etc.) also contribute during cable curls by flexing isometrically and keeping you steady.
Safety Considerations for Cable Curls
An important safety consideration is to switch to an EZ bar if you feel wrist discomfort with a straight bar. Having your palms face directly up can be unnatural, leading to tension.
An EZ bar puts your wrists at a more neutral angle (your palms are facing up and slightly in, instead of facing up), taking the pressure away. The tweak might seem trivial, but the wrists are relatively small and can suffer from aches, making it painful and challenging to perform any lift.
It’s also essential to warm up properly and include wrist and elbow rotations, as both joints are under some pressure with cable curls. A good warm-up doesn’t have to be long, but it should get your blood flowing to keep you safe and optimize your performance.
You can start with a few minutes of light cardio to warm up and move to dynamic stretching to mobilize your joints and further warm up the muscles. From there, do a set or two with lighter weights to fully prepare your biceps and proceed to your workout.
- Rogers, P. (2021, April 29). Learn isolation exercises for targeted Muscle Building. Verywell Fit. https://www.verywellfit.com/isolation-exercises-description-3498374
- Team, the H. E. (2019, August 16). All about elbow flexion: Function, injury, diagnosis, treatment & more. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/bone-health/elbow-flexion