What are Reverse Curls?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 25 January 2020
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Reverse curls are exercises used to strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscles in the forearms and to some extent the biceps. These exercises can be done in a standing or sitting position and are often performed using dumbbells, but can be properly executed with a barbell as well.

To perform reverse curls, an exerciser typically stands up straight while holding a dumbbell in each hand. The exerciser’s grip on the dumbbells should be overhand, and each arm should hang straight down. His palms should be facing back past the rear of his body when he’s in the starting position.

The first movement of the reverse curl requires the exerciser to curl his dumbbells upward and toward his chest. The movement stops when the exerciser’s elbows have bent as much as they can, remaining in that position for a second or two. To perform this part of the exercise correctly, the exerciser inhales as he curls the dumbbells upward. He also works to keep his abdominal muscles tightly contracted and his back straight. The exerciser should not allow his body to swing when performing reverse curls.

The second movement of reverse curls requires the exerciser to lower the dumbbells back to the starting position. He should exhale while doing so. It’s important to avoid swinging the body in this part of the reverse curl as well. The movement for this exercise should be gradual and controlled.


While reverse curls can be performed with both arms moving at the same time, some people prefer to alternate their arms. When performing reverse curls in this manner, it’s important to take the time to complete the entire exercise with one arm before moving on to the next. Doing so helps to ensure the exercise is performed correctly, minimizes strain, and prevents injuries.

To gain the maximum benefit from reverse curls, exercisers usually have to complete several sets per workout. An exerciser may perform eight to 16 repetitions of reverse curls per set, completing one to three sets. If the exerciser chooses to alternate arms, he counts one repetition after he has completed one movement on each arm. If both arms are exercised at the same time, one repetition is completed once the dumbbells have been lifted and lowered a single time.

Generally, reverse curls are performed using medium-to-heavy weights. A beginner may start out with a lighter weight and work up to heavier dumbbells in time. This may help him avoid arm fatigue and injury.


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