Normally it might make sense to do bicep curls with both arms, and even though alternating bicep curls one at a time might take a bit more time and energy, they should be of consideration as well.
So, is it better to do bicep curls one at a time? Alternating bicep curls, and doing them one at a time, allow for greater attention and range of motion to more effectively target the biceps of each arm. However, in a well-rounded bicep program, you should incorporate bicep exercises that use both biceps together, as well as one at a time.
In the following article I will:
- Help you decide if training bicep curls one at a time is for you
- Discuss the pros and cons of training bicep curls on at a time.
- Cover whether or not bicep curls one at a time is more difficult; and
- Tell you who should do bicep curls one at a time.
Bicep Curls One At A Time: An Overview
When it comes to training the biceps, it is common for us to have unequal development between our biceps, or hit major plateaus in training. Training bicep curls on at a time can ensure effective targeting of each side, while presenting greater challenges to promote further growth.
Training bicep curls one at a time can be done in an alternating fashion, or can be done all on one side then changing to the other. This allows for greater focus on the individual bicep of each arm, while allowing for more range of motion and loading of the bicep.
Even though there are many benefits to training bicep curls one at a time, this style of training presents challenges of being long in duration and greater difficulty for an exercise variation.
4 Reasons To Do Bicep Curls One At A Time
Attention To Individual Biceps
Imbalances can build when we load both biceps at the same time, this is because of the compensation that can occur from one side as fatigue increases.
Loading the biceps one at a time can ensure that the weight is being carried equally by each side, as long as the reps are matched by the end of the set.
Time Under Tension
Along with giving each bicep focused attention, bicep curls one at a time can increase the duration of the set, therefore increasing the duration of the stimulus and loading that is placed on the biceps.
While alternating or changing attention between arms, one side is going to be stabilizing the load by holding the dumbbell in the inactive hand. This can increase forearm strength and hypertrophy along with providing an additional stimulus to the biceps as well.
For example, doing 10 reps on each side, equates to 20 reps of total duration that are being cycled through between reps which increases the stress and growth that is placed on the biceps.
Greater Contraction With Each Bicep
Loading one arm at a time can allow for greater range of motion, resulting in greater contractions through the muscle lengthening and shortening.
This happens because our inactive arm can be pulled away as we exaggerate the ending position of the bicep curl on the acting arm.
Lift More Weight
Contrary to other lifts, loading both arms at the same time with dumbbells can place us in a disadvantageous position to lift weight, while individually loading a single arm can place us in a better position to lift weight.
The benefits of lifting more weight can be to provide a heavier stimulus on the arm resulting in more growth and development of the biceps.
Check out our bicep training guides:
- How Do Powerlifters Train Arms? 3 Powerlifting Arm Workouts
- Blood Flow Restriction Training For Arms (Complete Guide)
- 7 Best Arm Blasters For Bigger Biceps
- Is It Okay To Do Biceps Every Day? Yes, Here’s How
- Are Rows And Pull-Ups Enough For Biceps?
- How To Even Out Biceps If One Is Bigger Than The Other?
- Is it Better To Do Bicep Curls Standing or Sitting?
Drawbacks of Doing Bicep Curls One At A Time
While there are many benefits to training bicep curls one at a time, it can take up a bigger slot in our training program. If we are looking at being the most efficient with our time alternating or doing bicep curls one at a time might not be the best option.
Bicep curls with both arms can save us time and plenty of energy by being short in duration, and consequently a much easier option.
Alternating bicep curls can present a higher level challenge that might make this variation the best option for novices.
Naturally, you will be lifting more weight by alternating reps, which in turn create greater tension on the biceps for the long duration of a set of potentially 20+ total reps.
Many of the specialty barbell options are gonna force us to work both biceps at the same time, while single arm bicep curls are limited to dumbbells and cable options.
Therefore, you should sprinkle in a combination of single arm and two arm bicep curl variations.
How To Do Bicep Curls One At A Time Properly?
Just like any other muscle group you want to have a combination of two arm and one arm motions integrated into your programming.
However, you might want to start by building strength in both arms for 8 – 12 weeks, and then adding single arm work from there to supplement additional progress from there.
How To Do Bicep Curls One At A Time?
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand with the palms facing towards the body.
- Curl with the non-dominant or weaker side first as you initiate the curling motion.
- Rotate until the palms are facing up and exaggerate the end position by hyper flexing the bicep and leaning into the curling side.
- Control the weight back to the starting position, and repeat previous steps with the other arm.
Single Arm Bicep Curl Examples
Alternating Supinated Bicep Curls
Supinated curls are great because of the rotation that you do with your wrist, which further targets the forearm and complete bicep.
Cable Handle Bicep Curls
This variation places constant tension on the biceps through an entire set. It is a great option for complete focus on bicep curls in a single arm.
Alternating Banded Bicep Curls
Alternating banded bicep curls can be done anywhere, and on the go. This variation is also non fatiguing which can allow for greater repetitions and sets to increase blood flow through the biceps.
Who Should Do Bicep Curls One At A Time or Both?
Do One Arm Bicep Curls If
- If you have an imbalance between your left and right bicep.
- If arms are a big focus for you when you’re at the gym.
- If you want to get extra work in at the gym.
- If you want to lift more weight.
Do Two Arm Bicep Curls If
- If you want to build core arm strength between both biceps.
- You want to use specialty bars such as the EZ bar or the axle bar.
- If you want to save time at the gym.
- If you are a novice when it comes to training your biceps.
Alternating your bicep curls is a great way to add size to your biceps. I believe it is one of the best ways to increase weight and quality of reps when introducing them into your training. However, you should incorporate a variety of single arm and two arm curl variations to your training to promote most effective progress.
Got other questions related to your bicep training? Check out:
- Does Bench Press Work Biceps?
- How To Fix Bicep Pain During Bench Press (5 Tips)
- Is It Better To Do Bicep Curls Fast or Slow?
- What Else Should I Do On Biceps Day? (4 Examples)
- Can You Train Shoulders And Biceps On The Same Day?
- Can You Train Back And Legs On The Same Day?
- 9 Best Preacher Curl Alternatives (With Pictures)
About The Author
Javad Bakhshinejad was born and raised in the Washington Area. Currently, he is a student at Seattle University where he’s been pursuing an MS in Kinesiology, and has been a Strength Coach in the athletic department. He was a competitive bodybuilder for 8 years where he later transitioned to competitive powerlifting for 4 years. Currently, He has his own personal coaching business, where he works with powerlifters and bodybuilders.