Barbell Curl vs Dumbbell Curl – Which is Best for You?

Jeff Baldelli
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What is the difference between barbell curl vs dumbbell curl?

Dumbbells and a barbell are the two main choices when it comes to weight lifting. You can replace either one throughout any workout.

Both are great for building muscle, and both work well when paired with a good strength training routine.

As a novice weight lifter, it’s up to you to decide which is best.

A barbell is definitely easier to use and is a good weight lifting tool for beginners.

It’s much more versatile than a dumbbell, though, so it makes it easier to determine where to insert it into your routine.

For one thing, you can use a barbell for a variety of exercises such as the deadlift, squat, and bench press,.

A barbell can also be used with training equipment.

It’s much easier to use than a dumbbell.

You don’t have to buy individual training weights since you can hook on some weights at each end of the bar.

It’s also less likely to cause joint injury than a dumbbell, due to its flat and more stable position.

That said, it’s also more dangerous than a dumbbell because of its instability.

Dumbbell Curl

Vs Barbell Curl – Which is Best for You?

A lot of people ask me what the difference is between the dumbbell curl and the barbell curl, and they wonder which one is best for them. Obviously, they have the same function – they build the biceps. But despite that similarity, there are notable differences between the two exercises.

I’m not trying to knock one or the other. Both can be very effective, but they are different enough that you want to make sure you understand the benefits and drawbacks of each before selecting which one is right for you.

The exercises do not differ in terms of how much they work the biceps. The difference lies in the mechanics of the movement. As you can guess, the barbell curl is performed using a barbell while the dumbbell curl is performed using dumbbells. Both exercises also differ in terms of how much assistance the body and/or the muscles surrounding the biceps provide.

Barbell Curl

Vs. Dumbbell Curl – Which is Best For You?

Before you start your workout, you choose a list of exercises that will get you to the goals that you want. One of the common exercises is the bicep curl. You may decide to do this by lying on an incline bench holding a barbell, or using free weights, holding both dumbbells.

These are two great options. However, if you’re wondering the difference between these two exercises and what you should be doing, this may help you out a bit.

The Dumbbell Curl

The dumbbell curl can be done on an incline bench or standing up. For people with issues with their wrists, lower back or feeling unstable, using dumbbells can be a great option.

Using the incline bench to do this exercise will place most of your weight on your forearms. This can be helpful for people who have issues with their wrists, or for people who want to focus more on hitting the forearm muscles. This takes a lot of weight off of the tendons that are attached to your biceps. Your wrist will feel more stable than if you were using a barbell.

The downside to doing curls on an incline bench is that it can cause problems with your wrists. It can lead to problems with your wrist tendons, or problems with your forearm extensors.

Proper vs Improper form

There is quite a bit of debate about the best way to curl a weight. Ask 20 people their opinions, and you’ll get 20 answers.

For the sake of this article, we’re going to discuss the basic barbell curl and the regular dumbbell variety.

Barbell Curl

If you have the option, you should always choose a barbell to curl because it’s better for isolating each muscle fiber. You’ll also want to use a thick bar weight in order to properly hit the muscle.


Muscles grow when you exercise to muscle failure. This means you need to complete the exercise until the muscle no longer has the strength to lift the weight.

This is done by using a weight that you can lift between 6 and 12 times successfully. Use a weight that is heavy enough to reach muscle failure.

Preacher Curl

If the bar curl doesn’t hit the muscle adequately, try the preacher curl. This lifts the weight away from your body and can provide a more intense workout.

Doing this with the bar won’t provide this level of intensity, but lifting the arms above your head can stimulate the muscle adequately.

So barbell curl vs dumbbell curl, which is best?

Barbells are going to provide a stricter environment than dumbbells. This means that whichever your prefer, try to stick with it for the best results.

Some people like the convenience and versatility of using dumbbells.

Others like the ease of control and balance that comes with using a barbell. If you like them both, then we recommend trying each one and seeing what works best for you.

Barbell curls can be less strict than straight bar curls. This is because straight bar curls require you to stand perfectly straight up and down while you raise the barbell.

In contrast, you can flex your back while using a barbell, because you aren’t standing perfectly straight. Both straight bar curls and barbell curls work great and build lean muscle, so try them both to see what you like best.

Dumbbell curls also allow a bit of freedom.

Just be sure to keep proper form by using a controlled movement. Always keep the dumbbells next to your body, never flopping them outward or in front of you as you lift them.

Both barbells and dumbbells work well at strengthening your biceps, so if you don’t like one over the other, try working with both and see what you think.