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Cable Curls – Learn Proper Form, Benefits, Variations, And Common Mistakes

Biceps curls are king when it comes to building bigger, stronger arms. So it’s inconvenient when you go to do dumbbell curls and discover that the weights you need are being used by someone else.

But don’t worry: cable curls can still help you tone your biceps. It’s wonderful to have a little bit of everything! Cables also provide certain advantages that dumbbells do not.

So guys, listen up – if it’s time to pay extra attention to your biceps muscles: Whether your goals are related to size or strength, cable curls are one of the greatest ways to train them.

The biceps cable curl is a biceps muscle isolation exercise for the upper arm. A cable machine is used to execute the pulling movement, which is excellent for novices. This exercise can be utilized as a part of a muscle-building program for the upper body.

In addition, the cable biceps curl is really effective. Researchers analyzed the cable curl, barbell curl, concentration curl, chinup, and EZ-bar curl in a 2014 American Council of Exercise study, and discovered that cable curls engaged 80% of the biceps brachii’s maximum voluntary contraction — only the concentration curl exceeded the cable curl. As a result, the cable curl is more than just a backup routine when your preferred dumbbells aren’t available. It’s a move that’s well worth your time.

How to Do a Cable Curl

Cable Curls - Learn Proper Form, Benefits, Variations, And Common Mistakes

A cable curl can very well be considered similar to a standing dumbbell curl that is performed with a cable machine rather than dumbbells.

With the sliding adjustment, set the machine so that the cable is attached at the bottom. With your arms outstretched and palms facing up, the cable metal grip should be long enough for you to easily hold it in your hands.

With your knees slightly bent and your feet firmly planted on the floor, stand. While looking forward, brace your core muscles, straighten your back, and maintain your head steady.

  • Connect the pulley to a straight bar attachment and place it on the bottom rung, closest to the floor.
  • With an underhand grip on the bar, extend your arms and step back slightly from the pulley. Maintain a shoulder-width distance between your feet and the bar over your thighs.
  • Engage your core and pull the bar up toward your shoulders. Only the forearms will move when you bend your arms at the elbows.
  • Hold for a brief moment at top and return the forearms to their initial position. Stop before the weights return to the stack, maintaining stress on the cable.

Biceps Cable Curls Benefits

The biceps brachii muscle is the primary target of the cable curl. This muscle connects the scapula to the radius of the forearm and flexes the elbow.

Biceps are vital for a variety of reasons. The biceps muscles’ main function is to assist you bend your elbows and rotate your forearms. Lifting your arms forward, opening them to the side, and folding them across your torso all require biceps.

This exercise can also aid in the development of your biceps muscles. As a result, the cable curl might be your go-to move.

Cable Curls - Learn Proper Form, Benefits, Variations, And Common Mistakes

The brachialis and brachioradialis, which are also employed when flexing the elbow, are synergistic muscles used during the cable curl. The anterior deltoid, trapezius, and levator scapulae are stabilizing muscles in the shoulder and upper back. Wrist flexors are also employed.

Biceps cable curls are an excellent way to increase the size and strength of your biceps brachii. It’s a little easier to get through the day when you have powerful biceps. They assist you in picking up and carrying goods like boxes, supermarket bags, and laundry baskets, as well as cradling a child or pet. You won’t be able to lift big objects, pull them down from overhead, or push them away without powerful biceps.

Aside from the functional benefits, toned biceps also provide the upper arm with a more pleasing appearance. Regular exercise can help improve the appearance of drooping skin in this area caused by weight loss or aging by controlling skin metabolism and reducing the aging process. On the other hand, if you’re seeking to bulk up your shirt sleeves, this workout might be one of your best bets along with providing variation via some super-set workouts.

Cable curls Muscles Worked

The biceps brachii, a two-headed muscle on the front of your arm that combines into one muscular belly around the elbow, is the primary target of the cable curl.

The brachialis, which resides beneath the biceps muscle, as well as the forearms and deltoids in the shoulders, are all worked out during this exercise. Because you’ll need to stabilize your upper body during the activity, your core will be engaged.

Biceps Cable Curl Variations

This exercise may be performed in a variety of ways, making it more accessible to beginners while still providing development as you gain strength.

Single-Arm Cable Curl (Standing)

Curling the biceps independently is part of this version. Unilateral training, or training one side of the body at a time, allows you to exercise both sides equally (rather than depending on the dominant side more strongly) while also correcting muscular imbalances

Seated Biceps Cable Curl

If you have balance or stability issues, you can complete the cable biceps curl from a seated posture. Keep your back straight and your feet firmly planted on the floor while seated. Also, make sure you’re lifting with your arms rather of relying on your lower body to pull.

After using the single-handed attachment, stand away from the cable machine. Extend your arm while gripping the handle. Curl the handle up, simply moving your lower arm. Return to the beginning posture once your biceps are fully contracted.

Adjustments to the distance where you hold the attachment

You can also modify the cable’s angle by adjusting the height setting on the cable rack or stepping closer or farther away from it. This will put a different burden on your muscles.

Changes in Grip

You can better target the brachialis and brachioradialis forearm muscles by switching to a hammer grip (as in a hammer curl) or an overhand grip. While these muscles are activated in the palms-up position, they will be put to the test even more in the other postures.

Biceps Curls Common Mistakes

Mentioned below are a few common mistakes to avoid when performing a cable curl:

  • The elbows are flared: If your elbows leave your sides, the stress on your biceps will be dispersed to other upper-body muscles, undermining the goal of the exercise. Reduce the weight until you can complete the movement correctly.
  • Taking use of momentum: If your weight is excessively heavy, you may feel compelled to use your entire upper body to curl the dumbbell up. Ensure that your upper body remains motionless throughout the action; the only thing that should move is your elbow joint.
  • Only a portion of the range of motion is being used: Curl the weight all the way up to your shoulders and extend your elbow all the way at the bottom to get the most out of a biceps curl. Until you can attain this, choose a lesser weight.
  • Excessive Speed: Each step of the curl, both up and down, should take at least two seconds. Additionally, when your biceps are at maximal contraction, hold for at least a second.

Take Away

Cable curls are virtually as good as any other biceps workout in terms of strength. Consider using cable curls in your regimen if you want to increase the size or strength of your biceps muscles.


Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant. He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves. Rahul has a master's degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.

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