EZ Curl Bar Vs Dumbbells: It Depends

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EZ curl bars and dumbbells are two different types of fitness equipment. Depending on the situation, one or the other can be a better choice.

From a training perspective, EZ curl bars are better than dumbbells for isolating bicep and tricep muscles. This piece of equipment requires less work from balancing muscles.

Additionally, in theory, EZ curl bars could be more useful for heavy lifts for stronger individuals due to their higher weight limits. In practice, the curves of the EZ curl bar are not that comfortable for these and a barbell is preferred.

On the other hand, dumbbells are generally better and more comfortable for working out muscles all over your body. This makes them the better choice for most people and most training goals.

When it comes to price, an EZ curl bar with weight plates is often cheaper, even compared to adjustable dumbbells. However, this can vary a lot from brand to brand and depends a lot on the number of weight plates you need to invest in.

Quick overview EZ curl bar vs dumbbells

EZ curl bars and dumbbells can both be great but for some situations, one or the other is generally better. Here are some of the most important differences between the two options:

  • An EZ curl bar is better for isolating bicep and tricep muscles.
  • Dumbbbells work more stabilizing muscles.
  • Dumbbells allow you to do more different exercises.
  • EZ curl bars with weight plates have bigger weight ranges than dumbbells.
  • The price differences between the two will vary a lot. An EZ curl bar with weight plates is generally cheaper than a dumbbell set. The difference compared to adjustable dumbbells can go either way depending on the brand and number of weight plates.

Which one is the best choice for you ultimately depends on things like your personal situation, personal preferences, training goals, budget, storage room, workout program, etc.

Wrist and elbow comfort

One of the main reasons for using an EZ curl bar is for the wrist and elbow comfort it can provide in bicep and tricep isolation exercises. This is because of the half-supinated angle your wrists are in when holding this bar.

When comparing the EZ curl bar vs dumbbells it is important to note that you can get a similar angle with dumbbells. You simply turn your wrists like you would when using an EZ curl bar.

Dumbbells are even more versatile in this area. If the half-supinated grip of EZ curl bars is not enough, you can twist your wrists even further into a neutral grip.

Muscles worked

An interesting fact is that the angle of your wrists and choice of equipment can influence what muscles are worked in what ratio, even when doing the same exercise.

For example, using an EZ curl bar instead of a straight bar in exercises like a bicep curl results in slightly more brachialis and brachioradialis engagement and slightly less biceps brachii engagement.

If you do the same exercise with dumbbells and twist your wrists even more into a neutral grip, you will have the above difference to a larger extent.

Additionally, using dumbbells instead of an EZ curl bar requires more work from a variety of stabilizing muscles. Some of these include your pronator teres, pronator quadratus, supinator, infraspinatus, teres minor, anterior deltoid, etc.

This is because these muscles are responsible for keeping your wrists at the right angle and moving your hands straight up, not outward or inward.

In compound movements that are done with the goal of engaging multiple muscles at the same time, this can be a benefit. However, for bicep and tricep isolation exercises this aspect of dumbbells is often considered a downside.

One study measured the EMG activity of the biceps brachii (most visible upper arm muscle) and brachioradialis (deeper upper arm muscle) when doing an EZ curl bar bicep curl vs a dumbbell bicep curl.

They measured significantly more EMG activity in the biceps brachii and brachioradialis in the EZ curl bar variation compared to the dumbbell variation (1). This suggests curl bars are more helpful for isolating bicep muscles.

Lastly, due to having more exercise options, dumbbells can generally work more different muscles than an EZ curl bar.

EZ curl bar vs dumbbell exercises

This next aspect can be important for both the gym and if you are considering investing in either an EZ curl bar set or dumbbells.

EZ curl bars are mainly for bicep and tricep isolation exercises like bicep curl variations, standing tricep extensions, and skull crushers. To really isolate these muscles, an EZ curl bar is generally a more effective choice than dumbbells.

In theory, you could also use this bar for exercises like bench presses, deadlifts, shoulder presses, etc. In practice, the EZ curl bar will be uncomfortable for these exercises and possibly not hold enough weight in the case of more experienced individuals.

On the other hand, dumbbells can be used for basically any exercise.

For more experienced individuals the upper weight limits of dumbbells may not be enough for heavy lifts but this is the same for the EZ curl bar. If you are in this situation a barbell with weight plates can be the solution.

In short, dumbbells are a lot more versatile than the EZ curl bar. For training muscles all over your body, dumbbells will be the better choice.

Weight ranges

To grow and strengthen your muscles you have to challenge them with enough weight. On the other end of the spectrum, to be able to do an exercise, the starting weight of your equipment has to be low enough.

Both the EZ curl bar and dumbbells do not really have a standard weight range. EZ curl bars often weigh around 15 pounds to 22 pounds (6.8 to 10 kg).

Dumbbells can start even lower than that with some options starting as low as 2 pounds (0.9 kg).

This small difference in lower weight limits will mostly be relevant for absolute resistance training beginners. In a situation like that, dumbbells can be a better starting point.

When it comes to upper weight limits there are a lot of differences between individual brands.

Some of the weaker EZ curl bars have an upper weight limit of 164 pounds (74 kg). Some of the stronger options have an upper weight limit of 419 pounds (190 kg).

For most people, these EZ curl bar upper weight limits are not relevant for bicep and tricep isolation exercises. These muscles are not that strong.

In the case of dumbbells, the upper weight limits of the models that are easily found are around 110 pounds (50 kg). If you do this x 2 (one for each arm), you get 220 pounds (100 kg) total weight limit.

So if you can get over the uncomfortable angle of EZ curl bars for heavy lifts, this piece of equipment can offer more resistance than dumbbells.


The next difference between EZ curl bars and dumbbells is mostly relevant if you are looking to invest in your own equipment for your home gym. Investments in your health are often worth it but sometimes you can achieve the same with less.

Prices will vary from brand to brand but there are some general trends.

Differences in prices between an EZ curl bar with weight plates and adjustable dumbbells will be close and vary on things like the specific models and how many weight plates you want. In general, the EZ curl bar set will be slightly cheaper.

The difference between an EZ curl bar with weights and a complete dumbbell set is a lot clearer. In this case, the EZ curl bar with weight plates is generally cheaper.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.