15 Best EZ Curl Bar Exercises (Must Try Routines That Work)

Do you want to build bigger and stronger arms?

An EZ curl bar offers many advantages over a straight barbell. The zig-zagged bar allows for a choice between a narrow, wide, or angled grip.

Additionally, some people who experience wrist pain when performing straight bar exercises may find relief with the EZ curl bar.

If you've been looking to include EZ curl bar exercises into your workout routine, we’ve compiled a list of the best upper body exercises for building bigger biceps and triceps.

Continue reading to learn more about EZ curl bar exercises and their benefits!

1. Standard Bicep Curl

Starting off this list, we have a classic bicep curl exercise. Using an EZ bar to perform this exercise will ensure that you have a natural grip position.

To get the most out of the workout, avoid hunching your shoulders or swaying your hips.

Instead, concentrate on doing all the work with your arms. You can opt for either a standing curl or seated.

How To Do A Standard Bicep Curl

  1. 1
    Holding the curl bar with an underhand grip, align your hands with your shoulders.
  2. 2
    Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and knees slightly bent.
  3. 3
    Bring the bar to your chest by contracting your biceps.
  4. 4
    Slowly reverse the movement, lowering the bar back to starting position.
  5. 5
    Aim for 4 sets of 12-15 reps.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: Ensure that you maintain a straight grip throughout the movement.

Suggested Equipment - 10 Best EZ Curl Bars For Home Gyms

ez curl bar exercises

2. Preacher Curl

Next, we have preacher curls, a variation of standard bicep curls.

For this exercise, you'll need a preacher bench or you can use the back of your incline bench. Either way, you'll need the bench to be at a 55-degree angle.

According to studies, the support of the preacher bench pad means that the preacher curl allows for maximum bicep activation, which aids in muscular growth [1].

How To Do A Preacher Curl

  1. 1
    Position the height of the preacher bench to armpit height.
  2. 2
    Using an underhand grip, shoulder width apart, hold the curl bar.
  3. 3
    Curl the bar up toward your chest, squeezing at the top of the rep.
  4. 4
    Slowly lower the bar back to starting position.
  5. 5
    Aim for 4 sets of 10-12 reps.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: Ensure that the back of your arms remains against the bench throughout the movement.
man doing preacher curls with an ez curl bar

3. Overhead Triceps Extension

If you’re looking for triceps exercises with curl bar, this is a great option! As we age, our triceps may begin to sag.

While nutrition plays a large role in this, exercising the triceps can help to maintain muscle tone [2].

This triceps workout can be done seated or standing, but you should focus on getting a good stretch of the triceps.

It's an excellent mass-building exercise that targets the long head of the tricep muscle.

How To Do An Overhead Triceps Extension

  1. 1
    Standing or sitting up straight, hold the curl bar with a close overhand grip.
  2. 2
    Lift the curl bar to your chin, and then press the bar overhead.
  3. 3
    Lower the bar slowly behind your head, ensuring you keep your elbows tucked inward.
  4. 4
    Allow the bar to drop as low as possible, ensuring a deep stretch of the muscle.
  5. 5
    Extend your elbows to return the curl bar back to the starting position.
  6. 6
    Aim for 4 sets of 10-12 reps.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: Engage your core and squeeze your glutes to help stabilize your body through the movement. Avoid leaning into the motion and let your arms do the work.

More Workout Options - Best Lateral Head Tricep Exercises

man in blue tank top doing an overhead tricep extension with a curl bar

4. Reverse Grip Curl

Your secret weapon in the quest for bigger arms may be reverse grip curls.

Reverse curls work muscles that the traditional bicep curl may not always target to give you more developed upper arms.

The biceps brachii and the brachialis, which are the main muscles responsible for flexion of the elbow, are two arm muscle groups that are worked out during reverse curls.

If you’re looking for the best curl bar forearm exercises, this reverse EZ bar curl is a must!

How To Do A Reverse Grip Curl

  1. 1
    With a narrow overhand grip, hold the curl bar and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. 2
    Using just your forearms, lift the bar up as high as you’re able to. Ensure that the movement is slow and controlled, and avoid swinging the bar.
  3. 3
    Squeeze at the top of the rep before you slowly lower the bar to the starting position.
  4. 4
    Aim for 4 sets of 12-15 reps.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: Keep your elbows tucked throughout the movement.
man in gray nike shirt doing reverse grip ez bar curls

5. Close Grip Bench Press

Looking for chest exercises with curl bar? The close-grip bench press is excellent for targeting the triceps, anterior deltoids, and the upper chest.

As the name suggests, you’ll be using a more narrow grip compared to a standard bench press.

This is what helps to emphasize the triceps but it also helps to reduce strain on the shoulder joints too.

How To Do A Close Grip Bench Press

  1. 1
    Holding the curl bar with a close overhand grip, lie back on a flat bench.
  2. 2
    Ensure that you keep your elbows tucked as you push the bar upward. With your arms fully extended, avoid locking your elbows at the top of the rep.
  3. 3
    Slowly lower the bar back down to complete the rep.
  4. 4
    Aim for 4 sets of 10-12 reps.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: Since a close grip is harder to balance, focus more on stability and keep your movements slow and controlled.
greg plitt doing close grip bench press with ez curl bar

6. Close Grip Curl

The close grip curl variation is great for faster muscle growth since the narrow grip width places more strain on the biceps and ensures constant tension.

This exercise primarily targets the biceps brachii (especially the long head).

The use of EZ curl bars (rather than straight bars) helps to reduce the pressure placed on the wrists.

How To Do A Close Grip Curl

  1. 1
    Stand with your knees slightly bent, holding the curl bar with a close underhand grip. Retract your shoulder blades.
  2. 2
    Contract your biceps and lift the bar up to your chest.
  3. 3
    Pause at the top of the rep before slowly lowering the bar.
  4. 4
    Aim for 4 sets of 12-15 reps.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: Keep your elbows tucked throughout the movement.
man doing a close grip curl with an ez curl bar

7. Upright Row

This upper arm workout primarily targets the traps and side delts.

If you typically struggle with wrist pain when doing this exercise using a straight barbell, then you’ll likely find the EZ bar version to be significantly more comfortable.

With this exercise, you'll want to focus more on using lighter weights, slow controlled movements, and high reps.

However, avoid loading on too much weight or speeding through the workout, as this can lead to a shoulder injury.

How To Do An Upright Row

  1. 1
    Stand holding the bar with a medium overhand grip, shoulder blades retracted.
  2. 2
    Keeping the bar close to your body, lift the bar upward as your elbows bend outward.
  3. 3
    Pause at the top of the rep before you lower the bar back to starting position.
  4. 4
    Aim for 4 sets of 10-12 reps.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: To avoid shoulder injuries, only lift the bar as high as you can without causing pain.

More Workout Routines - 15 Best Lateral Deltoid Exercises

man doing upright row with curl bar at an outdoor park

8. Bent Over Row

The bent-over row is one of the best ways you can strengthen your lats and build muscle.

Using EZ curl bars for this exercise actually works better than a straight bar since the bar is shorter and allows for better balance and control.

How To Do A Bent Over Row

  1. 1
    Stand with a slight bend in your knees, holding the bar with a medium overhand grip.
  2. 2
    Bend over, ensuring that your upper chest is tight and your shoulders are retracted. The bar should be positioned just below your knees with your arms extended.
  3. 3
    Driving your feet into the floor, bring the bar up toward your waist.
  4. 4
    Lower the bar back down, maintaining a slight bend in your knees throughout the movement.
  5. 5
    Aim for 4 sets of 10-12 reps.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: You can switch to an underhand/standard palms-up grip if you're struggling with repetitive-use strain in your forearms from an overhand grip.

Related Article - T-Bar Row Vs Barbell Row

man in black tank top doing bent over ez curl bar rows

9. Deadlift Into Bicep Curl

If you’d like to incorporate EZ curl bar leg exercises into your routine, then this one is a must!

As the name suggests, you’ll be combining a deadlift with a bicep curl for an entire upper body and lower body workout.

The full range of motion means you’ll be able to build muscle and grow your upper chest while also focusing on your legs too.

How To Do A Deadlift Into Bicep Curl

  1. 1
    With an underhand grip, drop down into the deadlift position and hold the bar. Keep your arms straight, and your upper torso flexed.
  2. 2
    Pushing your feet into the floor, drive up into a standing position with your arms extended and the bar against your quads.
  3. 3
    Curl the bar up, just like you would when doing straight bar curls. Remember to keep your elbows in.
  4. 4
    Lower the bar back to your quads, ensuring straight arms before returning the bar to the floor.
  5. 5
    Aim for 4 sets of 10-12 reps.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: Avoid loading too much weight onto the curl bars since you need to be able to curl after the deadlift.
woman doing a deadlift with an ez curl bar

10. EZ Bar Skull Crusher

Another workout for the upper arms, this exercise focuses almost entirely on the triceps alone.

Most people prefer using the EZ bar rather than a straight bar since it offers more control.

How To Do Skull Crushers

  1. 1
    Lying on a flat bench, hold the curl bar overhead with a close overhand grip.
  2. 2
    Keeping your upper arms still, bend at the elbows and lower the bar toward the top of your head.
  3. 3
    Using your triceps, straighten your arms and drive the bar back to starting position.
  4. 4
    Aim for 4 sets of 10-12 reps.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: Keep your elbows tucked throughout the movement.
man doing an ez bar skullcrusher on a weight bench

11. 21s

If you want to train the entire bicep, 21s (also called bicep 21s) is a great way to improve their size and strength!

Consisting of 21 reps per set, each set is divided into 3 phases in order to target the whole bicep.

This exercise is often done with curl bars but can also be done using a straight bar or dumbells too.

The benefit of doing EZ bar curls over barbell curls or dumbbell curls is that it is easier on the wrists.

How To Do 21s

  1. 1
    In a standing position, hold the curl bar with an underhand grip.
  2. 2
    Start with your arms fully extended and curl up to the halfway point (until your hands are in line with your elbows).
  3. 3
    Repeat this for 7 reps.
  4. 4
    Next, begin at the halfway point and curl up to the top point (bring your hands up to your shoulders).
  5. 5
    Repeat this for 7 reps.
  6. 6
    Finally, Start at the bottom of the movement and complete a full bicep curl.
  7. 7
    Repeat this for 7 reps.
  8. 8
    You have now completed 1 set of 21s.
  9. 9
    Aim for 3 sets, resting between each set.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: Maintain good posture throughout the movement and avoid swinging your torso with the bar. Keep your elbows tight.
man in blue shorts using a curl bar

12. Romanian Deadlift

One of the most common barbell exercises is the Romanian deadlift (RDL).

This EZ bar variation is another great leg-focused exercise that targets the muscles in the posterior chain.

This includes the erector spinae, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and adductors.

How To Do A Romanian Deadlift

  1. 1
    Stand upright with a slight bend in your knees, holding the bar with an overhand grip.
  2. 2
    While keeping your back straight, hinge forward and allow the bar to pass your knees.
  3. 3
    Pause at the bottom of the rep before driving up to the starting position.
  4. 4
    Aim for 4 sets of 10-12 reps.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: Don’t lower the bar all the way down to the ground. Go until you feel a good stretch in your hamstrings for an ideal range of motion.
man in black tank top doing romanian deadlifts with an ez curl bar

13. Spider Curl

Spider curls are one of the most effective ways to build your arm muscles.

This isolation exercise primarily targets the biceps brachii's long and short head.

In addition, they also work the brachialis, as well as your triceps.

How To Do A Spider Curl

  1. 1
    Lying chest down on an incline bench, hold the curl bar with a standard palms-up grip. Allow your arms to extend fully.
  2. 2
    Engage the biceps and curl upwards until your hands reach your chest.
  3. 3
    Pause at the top of the movement before bringing the bar back down.
  4. 4
    Aim for 4 sets of 10-12 reps.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: Ensure that your elbows remain in place and don’t move backward during the curl.
man doing incline bench spider curls with a curl bar

14. Front Deltoid Raise

Front deltoid raises are perfect for building those boulder shoulders! With this exercise, you’ll be primarily targeting the anterior (or front) deltoids.

However, the traps, biceps, triceps, serratus anterior, and pec muscles all receive some activation too.

How To Do A Front Deltoid Raise

  1. 1
    Stand holding the bar with a wide overhand grip.
  2. 2
    Bring the bar up until your hands are in line with your shoulders.
  3. 3
    Pause at the top of the movement before returning to the starting position.
  4. 4
    Aim for 4 sets of 10-12 reps.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: Avoid loading heavy weight onto the bar. Instead, focus on higher reps and correct form.

Related Article - Best Cable Deltoid Exercises

man in black tank top doing front delt raises with curl bar

15. EZ Bar Landmine Twist

This exercise is great for working the obliques, abs, and lower back muscles. In addition, you'll also be working the deep muscles of the transverse abdominis.

So if you're looking to tighten up your abdominal area, this EZ bar exercise is the perfect solution!

How To Do An EZ Bar Landmine Twist

  1. 1
    Place one end of the EZ bar so that it is anchored in a corner.
  2. 2
    In a kneeling position, hold onto the end of the EZ bar with both hands.
  3. 3
    Raise the bar off the floor and bring your hands up to around eye level. Your arms should be fully extended.
  4. 4
    While keeping your hips squared, rotate your chest and shoulders to bring the bar down to your right side.
  5. 5
    Return the bar to the center position before repeating the movement on your left side. This completes one rep.
  6. 6
    Aim for 4 sets of 10-12 reps.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: Maintain slow and controlled movements, focusing on your form. Once your core becomes stronger, you can speed up the workout.
ez curl bar and weights sitting on a gym floor

EZ Curl Bar Basics You Need To Know

Why Is It Called The EZ Curl Bar?

Simply put, EZ is an abbreviation for the word "easy ."

Since it's designed to eliminate the limitations of a straight barbell, thereby making the movement easier, the name EZ curl bar is well-suited.

Fun fact: the bar was originally named the Dymeck Curl Bar. It was later changed to the Jackson Curl Bar before receiving its current name.

How Do You Hold An EZ Curl Bar?

Just like with a straight barbell, there are different ways to hold an EZ curl bar. In terms of hand placement, you can choose between regular, wide, or close hand placement.

From there, you can choose between either an overhand (palms facing down) or underhand (palms facing up) grip.

Deciding which hand placement and grip style to use will largely be determined by your specific exercise. Changing your hand position and grip can change the muscles you’re targeting.

In addition, it’s important to ensure that your wrists are always kept straight to prevent injury.

If you struggle to maintain straight wrists, you should reduce the weight you’re lifting and work on training your forearms more. This will help to improve your grip strength.

How Much Weight Can An EZ Bar Hold?

This depends on the size of the EZ bar.

An Olympic EZ bar typically has a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds, while a standard EZ bar has a maximum weight capacity of between 100-200 pounds.


Sample Workouts Using A Curl Bar Only

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, here are two sample workouts we’ve put together using only an EZ curl bar.

One will strengthen your biceps and triceps, and the other will focus more on your back and shoulder muscles.

They are both beginner-friendly but can be customized for more advanced users by increasing the load.

EZ Curl Bar Workout For Biceps & Triceps

This workout is focused on the biceps and triceps. It consists of two exercises for each muscle group.

The first movement is aimed at building mass and involves straight sets with heavier weights. The reps are controlled, and the focus is on the eccentric phase.

The second movement is aimed at improving muscle endurance. It involves a lighter weight with high intensity and short rest intervals.

Preacher Curls
  • 4 sets of 10-15 reps.
  • Emphasize the eccentric phase and hold the contraction at the bottom.
Overhead Triceps Extensions
  • 4 sets of 10-15 reps.
  • Emphasize the eccentric phase and hold the contraction at the bottom.
21s
  • 3 sets of 7/7/7 reps.
  • Perform 7 reps of each phase to complete 1 set (for a total of 21 reps per set).
  • 1st phase: start at the bottom and curl up to the halfway point (when your hands are in line with your elbows).
  • 2nd phase: start at the halfway point and curl up to the top point (when your hands are at shoulder level).
  • 3rd phase: start at the bottom of the movement and curl up to the top point (a full bicep curl).
Close Grip Bench Press
  • 4 sets of 15-20 reps.
  • Aim for high reps and training to failure.

EZ Curl Bar Workout For Back & Shoulders

This workout is focused on the back and shoulder muscles. There are three movements involved, one for your back and two for your shoulders.

Although there is just one back-focused exercise, it does involve drop sets. According to research, drop set training offers greater muscle gains [3].

The two shoulder exercises focus on the front and rear deltoids. These are designed to promote muscle growth with lighter weight, short rest periods, and high intensity/ high rep sets.

Bent Over Rows
  • 4 sets of 3 drop sets
  • Drop set 1: 6-8 reps
  • Drop set 2: decrease weight by 10-30% and do 10-12 reps.
  • Drop set 3: decrease weight again by 10-13% and do 12-15 reps.
  • Complete all three drop sets to complete one set.
Front Deltoid Raise
  • 4 sets of 15-20 reps.
  • 10-15 second rest period.
Upright Rows
  • 4 sets of 15-20 reps.
  • 10-15 second rest period.

EZ Bar Vs Straight Barbell – Which Is More Effective For You!

Deciding between using the EZ bar vs a straight barbell is an either-or choice since the movements are the same for both.

However, when looking at which option is more effective, each has its own benefits and drawbacks. Let’s take a closer look!

EZ Bar Places Less Strain On Your Forearms And Wrists

When doing curls with a straight barbell, your forearms are fully supinated. However, when using an EZ curl bar, you’re able to perform the exercises with a semi-supinated grip.

This places less strain on your forearms and wrists which is ideal for people with injuries or those with limited mobility.

EZ Bar Offers Greater Muscle Activation Of Biceps Brachii & Brachioradialis

A study was conducted in 2018 to determine the differences in electromyographic activity of biceps brachii and brachioradialis while performing three variants of a curl.

It found that EZ curl bars offered more muscle activation of the biceps brachii and brachioradialis muscles [4].

EZ Bar Offers Better Grip

The multi-angle design of EZ bars allows you to achieve a better grip compared with straight bars.

Oftentimes wrist injuries or limited mobility problems will affect your grip strength, so using an EZ bar is particularly useful in these instances.

EZ Bar Offers Better Balance

Since the length of standard EZ bars is much shorter, it’s easier to maintain balance when weight is loaded on the bar.

This means you have more control during your lift and can focus on muscle isolation rather than trying to maintain the balance.

Straight Barbell Lets You Lift Heavier

Where EZ bars fall short is in their ability to lift heavier weights.

However, when doing curl exercises, you don’t need to be able to lift the same amount of weight you would when doing squats or deadlifts.

To learn more about the differences between these two types of barbells, check out our complete guide on straight bars vs curl bars!


Frequently Asked EZ Curl Bar Exercises Questions

How many sets of EZ bar curls should I do?

It depends on whether you’re training to build strength or to increase size. For strength training, your rep range will be lower with more sets. Ideally, you should aim for between 4-6 sets of 3-5 reps. For mass building, higher reps with lower sets are best. You can aim for between 9-12 reps of 3-5 sets.

Can you squat with a curling bar?

Yes, an EZ curl bar can be used for squats. However, using an Olympic straight bar will allow you to lift heavier and will be more comfortable on your back. Additionally, you’ll also have to first do an overhead press in order to get the barbell resting on your upper back.

Can you do military press with an EZ bar?

Yes! In fact, using an EZ bar for military presses can help to reduce strain and pressure on the shoulder joint, which may be beneficial if you're struggling with existing shoulder pain.


Conclusion

That wraps up our guide to the best EZ curl bar exercises. Using an EZ curl bar for upper body workouts allows you to target a variety of muscle groups through an expanded range of motion.

The angled bar allows for increased grip variation and a more comfortable, joint-friendly grip. Additionally, the angle allows you to lift with greater pronation, which improves bicep activation.

Now that you know the basics of an EZ curl bar, what the benefits are, and what the best EZ curl bar exercises are - you’ll be able to achieve your weightlifting goals in no time!

References:

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3737788/

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583891/

3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28474868/

4. https://peerj.com/articles/5165/

Last Updated on September 12, 2022

Paul J