December 05, 2021 8 min read
If you’re a guy who’s hitting the gym regularly, the last thing you want is to look like a T-Rex. Big bicep and triceps are great, but too often the forearm gets neglected.
It turns out there’s a secret weapon–the reverse curl. Proper execution of the reverse curl with an EZ bar is a secret weapon for any guy looking to get jacked forearms from his routine.
The reverse curl with an EZ bar is a great exercise to target your brachioradialis—the muscle on the anterior (top) part of your forearm, just below your elbow. Secondarily, the reverse grip curl targets muscle groups are the biceps brachii and the brachialis as synergists. For this reason, it is smart to incorporate this immediately before or after your bicep routine. Before we get started, anatomical few definitions and how they relate to this exercise:
The most obvious reason you incorporate this exercise into your upper body workout routine is because it helps you look jacked in a T-shirt. Large forearms command respect. It’s a masculine feature that all men want to accentuate, but benefits don’t end with looking like Popeye. For a bigger pump during and after the workout, and a difference you can both see and feel, try the N.O. 7 Nitric Oxide Formula!
Another reason to incorporate the reverse curl into your routine is to reduce risk of injury and muscular imbalances.
When you strengthen the muscles, you reduce the strain on your joints and tendons. Developing an established mind-muscle connection with both your forearms and upper arms is a great proactive measure to reduce your risk of injury, whether it be on the job or in the gym. This brachioradialis is the primary muscle responsible for elbow flexion.
An underdeveloped brachioradialis can increase the risk of tennis elbow, a type of tendonitis that occurs in the tendons around the elbow. Tendonitis can sometimes mimic the effects of skeletal pain. Despite what the name suggests, tennis elbow can happen in anyone, especially those who work with their hands. Butchers, construction workers, landscapers, contractors, manufacturing jobs—if this is you, then you need to pay particularly close attention to this article.
If you want to know what this feels like, imagine playing air hockey at an arcade for 2 hours straight and giving every shot you take all of your power and effort, and then waking up the next day. Tennis elbow can be temporary, or it can be a persistent condition. Men and women who want to strengthen forearms and reduce their everyday risk of injury should incorporate the EZ Bar Reverse Curl into their daily routine.
It’s all about isolation. A pronated, or overhand, grip on the barbell prevents the biceps brachii and brachialis from kicking in and going from being synergists to prime movers. The reverse curl can sometimes feel unnatural when you first execute it, because the body is not used to moving its elbows with the brachioradialis. By eliminating your body’s ability to incorporate the biceps into this routine, it isolates the forearms, leading to greater results and more hypertrophy.
You can execute the reverse grip curl with a straight barbell, dumbbells, or a cable machine. In this article, we will focus on reverse curls with the EZ bar curl. The EZ bar curl isn’t just for gym goers who have difficulty executing a barbell curl with a fully pronated grip. While the EZ bar does have some limitations and benefits for bicep curls, it is the preferred modality in bodybuilding for executing the reverse curl.
The EZ bar might feel confining to new users, but it helps you maintain good form, as it trains you not to flare out your arms. The EZ bar is also ideal for those who have wrist tightness, because the handles are at an angle, thereby helping those who have difficulty moving with a complete underhand or overhand grip. The EZ bar is the great equalizer, reducing mobility constraints for those who need it.
The EZ bar can be used for a variety of exercises, not just the reverse curl!
You won’t be able to lift nearly as much in a reverse curl (pronated grip) as you will with a traditional bicep curl (supinated grip). A good rule of thumb is to start off with about half of whatever weight you currently curl for your biceps.
Start with a shoulder width apart, pronated grip (palms facing down, knuckles towards face). The bar should be resting on your thighs. On the EZ bar, you will grab onto the downward slopes towards the outside of the bar. If you are using a straight bar, then you’ll simply aim for a shoulder width apart pronated grip.
Pull the bar up slowly towards your chin, hinging at your elbows. It’s important to keep your elbows, back, and core as still as possible. If you can’t do this without rocking your arms and torso back and forth, then you probably have too much weight on the bar. Only the lower half of your arms should be moving.
Squeeze, or flex, at the top, and hold it for a second or two. Exhale as you lift the bar towards you. Inhale on the way down. Make sure your movement is slow and controlled upon descent.
If you don’t like free weights, cable based forearm exercises are a great alternative to the EZ bar..
This exercise is a great addition to any forearm superset!
If you don’t have an EZ bar available to you, don’t fret. You can still get great results with a straight bar. You’ll just have to pay a little more attention to your elbows.
If your elbows flare out, synergistic dominance can take over. Synergistic dominance occurs when the secondary “synergist” muscle groups take over the brunt of the movement, thereby preventing the isolation of the muscle you’re trying to engage. When synergistic dominance occurs, training becomes simple exercise. The difference between exercise and training is intentionality and targeted growth. Watching your form and lifting appropriate amounts of weight will help prevent synergistic dominance.
Always spot yourself at the wrists if needed. This is generally well tolerated as a high rep exercise. You can also accomplish an equal or better result by doing finger curls with cables!
Some athletes can benefit extensively from reverse curls. The brachioradialis is responsible for your strength and power for grabbing and pulling. For this reason, it is of particular importance for MMA, Taekwondo, and Jiu-Jitsu fighters. Having strong and developed forearms also has benefits for rock climbers, as it facilitates grip strength, and your ability to pull yourself up. Increased forearm and grip strength will also help your deadlift.
The last thing you need to worry about when you’re attempting a deadlift PR is to worry about whether you can hold onto the barbell.Football quarterbacks can improve their pass. Basketball players can have better ball control while dribbling. Baseball players can get more power with their swings and pitches, and tennis players can benefit from reduced risk of tennis elbow. It can even benefit your golf swing!
The reverse grip EZ bar curl can help you increase the size and vascularity of your forearms. Simply put, you will look better with your sleeves rolled up! Despite the obvious vanity based motivations associated with forearm training (after all, who doesn’t want to have jacked, forearms?) there are also musculoskeletal benefits to having a strong brachioradialis, brachialis and biceps brachii.
In other words, having big forearms isn’t just fashionable, it’s functional! With the reverse curl as a regular part of your workout routine, you should experience stronger, more resilient tendons around your elbow and increased power in your swinging, throwing, gripping, and pulling. For men, having strong, vascular forearms is a statement.
It implies strength, power, and confidence. Luckily, we have the EZ bar as a valuable tool in our arsenal. Learning how to isolate this important muscle group is a necessary milestone for any gym goer to cross.