There are surprisingly many ways to train your upper arms. Find out how to do rotating bicep curls, what muscles they work, and more.
Rotating bicep curls are a bicep curl variation where you start and end with a neutral grip and twist the dumbbell back and forth throughout the movement.
This change in grip makes it so different parts of the exercise engage your upper and forearm muscle in different ratios. You also engage additional muscles that rotate your forearms
Rotating bicep curls are more of an all-around exercise to grow and strengthen your biceps, brachialis (deeper upper arm), and brachioradialis (forearm) muscles.
For other fitness goals, there are many better exercise options.
You can focus more on certain specific muscles by sticking to either a regular bicep curl or a hammer curl.
How to do a rotating bicep curl
Rotating bicep curls are almost always a dumbbell bicep exercise. Even if other equipment options are doable, these are typically not that great.
With that in mind, take the following steps to do a rotating bicep curl with a pair of dumbbells:
- Stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand. Let your arms hang down for now with your wrists in a neutral grip. This means your hand palms are pointing to the center.
- Slowly start folding your arms at the elbows while keeping your upper arms in the same position. As you raise the dumbbell more, twist your wrists 90 degrees outward so that your hand palms point up/back at the top of the movement.
- Lower the dumbbells back into starting position in a controlled motion. Reverse the rotation from the previous step so that your wrists are back in a neutral position too.
The main things to keep in mind while doing rotating bicep curls are keeping your upper arms still and keeping the wrist rotation controlled.
If you notice that you are moving your body and upper arms a lot throughout the movement you can sit down or use a bicep curl accessory like an arm blaster.
Muscles worked with rotating bicep curls
Rotating bicep curls are mainly an upper arm isolation exercise.
More specifically, the main muscles worked with rotating bicep curls include the biceps brachii (commonly just called biceps) with two muscle heads and the brachialis muscles which lie deeper in your upper arm.
You also work your brachioradialis, a forearm muscle, with rotating bicep curls. Muscles like your pronator teres, pronator quadratus, and supinator help you turn your forearms back and forth.
The neutral grip (hand palms inward) part of the rotating bicep curl focuses more on the brachialis and brachioradialis.
The supinated grip (hand palms forward/upward) part focuses more on the biceps brachii.
Keep in mind that you still want to do this exercise the right way for your specific training goals.
For something like growing the muscles above, you want to do around 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 bicep curls with a weight where these numbers are hard.
This means you will need to increase the weights of the dumbbells you use as you get stronger.
Rotating bicep curl benefits
Rotating bicep curls are not quite as important as a fundamental lift like deadlifts but for the right people, the positive effects could be worth it.
Some of the benefits of rotating bicep curls are:
- Stronger muscles and grip strength: Rotating bicep curls can help you strengthen a variety of arm muscles. Especially the extra grip strength can be helpful for daily tasks and other resistance training exercises.
- Can help with losing weight: Since they require extra energy to do and build a bit of muscle mass, rotating bicep curls can benefit weight loss to a tiny extent. Keep in mind that you will likely have to implement other changes too for this goal.
- Could reduce your injury risk: Strengthening the muscles and tendons around your wrists with rotating bicep curls can help you prevent injuries in this area.
Whether these benefits make rotating bicep curls worth doing depends on a few different details. In any case, these positive effects are often helpful.
Rotating bicep curl alternatives
While they can be useful, rotating bicep curls are not completely unique in the benefits they offer. Some of the rotating bicep curl alternatives below could suit your training needs too.
- Hammer curls
- Bicep curls
- Wrist rotations
- Zottman curls
- Reverse curls
These different curl variations and other exercises each have their upsides and downsides. Certain people will prefer certain options.
Rotating bicep curls can be helpful for strengthening the muscles and tendons in your upper arms and forearms. Make sure you do the right amounts and use enough resistance to achieve this.
For different fitness goals like losing weight and building a lot of muscle mass, you likely don’t want to choose rotating bicep curls.
Additionally, if you are interested in training certain specific muscles, you could also consider doing regular bicep curls or a variation like hammer curls.
Lastly, keep in mind that the extra challenge for your wrist and elbows rotating bicep curls offer can also be a downside if you overdo it.
Are twisting bicep curls better?
Twisting bicep curls are not necessarily better or worse for everyone. What exercises you prefer depends on details like your training goals.