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February 12, 2022 10 min read

The arms are undoubtedly one of the most trained muscle groups. From deadlifts to bench presses and bicep curls, the premise of bigger arms leaves men to dabble in all types of weighted exercises.

However, of all weighted exercises, the bicep curls remain a favorite amongst many gym veterans.

Of all the well-known variations today, the waiter curls remain a common choice amongst gym veterans.

Thanks to its ability to efficiently target the bicep head for bigger arms, the waiter curls continue to top charts on to-do arm exercises. Below, we have provided the tips and tricks to perfect your waiter curl routine.


What Is The Waiter Curl?

The waiter curl is not an exercise you encounter in the gym every day. Many newbies might be familiar with other bicep curl variations like the  barbell curl, dumbbell curl, hammer curls, and cable curl, but the waiter curl is very different from any other bicep curl variation. 

When you hear the words ‘waiter curl’, you no doubt envision a club or restaurant waiter moving deftly with a tray balanced on his hands.

While this description might seem a little bit far-fetched, it summarizes the techniques adopted by the waiter curl. The waiter curl has not always been a mainstream exercise. It was a bicep exercise that was popularised by a strength and conditioning fitness coach named Jeff Cavaliere. The waiter curl is initially used for the same purpose as any other bicep curl variation; to isolate, activate, and train the biceps for a bigger arm.

Unlike any of these other variations, the waiter curl uses grip manipulation to activate your biceps on a whole different level. 

With the conventional bicep curls, your hand grips the bar of the weighted equipment. Many of these variations make use of a supinated grip, while a few others choose to use the pronated grip as a means of focusing the tension on the bicep heads of your arms. The waiter curls, use none of these, and goes down an entirely different lane. 

With the waiter curl, you are required to rest the flat side of the dumbbell on the palm of your hands, as if you are gripping a plate.

This is the origin of its name. The waiter curl makes use of a grip manipulation that twists your wrists and takes most of the tension away from your forearms, and places it directly to your bicep.

This is different from many of the traditional bicep curl movements but works based on the rotation of your wrists.  

Just as the biceps are in charge of the flexing of the elbows during the performance of the traditional bicep curl, they are also in order of rotating the forearm muscles so that your palms are turned upward. 

Other than the change in grip, the waiter curl makes use of a similar range of motion. With the dumbbell plate cupped in your palm, you lift and lower the dumbbell and feel the contractions in your arm. While it might not look like much, this exercise is guaranteed to serve you bigger guns on a platter of gold- no pun intended.

Muscle Worked In Waiter Curls

Bigger arms are a crazed fad in the gym that never goes away. Massive guns are no doubt one thing every man wants in his armory. Not only is it a gauge to measure a man’s strength and lifting power in the gym, but it also provides some bragging rights amongst your bros.

Who wouldn't want guns that even Arnold Schwarzenegger would envy? 

This leads many gym-goers to get involved in high-intensity weighted exercises. From deadlifts to bench presses and bicep curls, many gym enthusiasts have probably dabbled in all recipes in the book.

Of all variations you could try; however, the waiter curls still remain in discovery. However, If you haven't tried this ingenious exercise, you are missing out on many benefits your arms are bound to receive. Bicep curls are isolation exercises designed to target the biceps or biceps brachii primarily. Unlike many other compound exercises, the curls focus most of the tension on your biceps.

However, contrary to popular opinion, the bicep is not one vast mass of muscle that wraps around the bone of your upper arm.

This bicep is a distinctive muscle made up of two parts: the short and the long head.

Long Head of the Biceps

The long bicep head is a significant part of the novel that pushes through your t-shirt and is evident when you flex your arms.

The long head of the bicep makes up the bulk size of the arm and contributes to a larger size of the upper arm muscle. The long head of the bicep is precisely what the waiter curl trains. The bicep long head is not just a chunk of muscle.

The  bicep long head also helps to stabilize the shoulder, move the arm at the shoulder joint, flex the arm forward, and abduct the arms away from the trunk. Essentially, the bicep long head is essential in most movements of the arm and other connecting muscles such as the forearm and its flexors for the supination of the hand.

The waiter curl uses the functions of the long head of the biceps to target, contracting it enough to induce hypertrophy and increase its size.

Thanks to the concentration of the contraction of the onus of the biceps, the waiter curl is undoubtedly one of the most efficient exercises for growing this muscle. 

Short Head of the Biceps 

The waiter curl also activates the short head of the bicep. Although a less significant section, the short head of the biceps brachii is a flexor and supinator of the elbow joint.

The short head of the bicep is equally vital in stabilizing the scapula and lifting heavy items while the arms are in a forward-downward position.  

Brachialis, brachioradialis, and forearm flexors

Waiter curls also help activate the Brachialis, brachioradialis, and forearm flexors.

The brachialis muscle is an essential muscle that works as an elbow flexor. It is one of the largest elbow flexors, and its job is to flex the elbows at the forearm. It does not pronate or supinate the forearms but is known as the power of the forearm at the elbow joint as it produces a large percentage of the force that is needed to flex the elbow.

The brachialis also helps keep the elbow flexed in this position, holding the contraction of the movement. The brachioradialis also helps to flex the forearm at the elbow. Although the brachioradialis functions regardless of position, it is most powerful when the forearm is in a neutral position. The brachioradialis helps stabilize your elbow and turn your palm up or down. 

The waiter curl also activates the forearm flexor, an intrinsic team of five muscles that help to move the forearms through pronating and supinating your grip.

How To Do The Waiter Curls

Like any other exercise, the waiter curl requires an excellent form to activate the primary muscles adequately. The slightest nuance in your form can lead to an engagement of the wrong muscles and an increased risk of injury.

The waiter curl is different from the generic curl, and so a lot more thought goes into your positioning and lifting. Regardless of this, the waiter curl is a beginner-friendly exercise that can be done irrespective of your fitness level.

To do the waiter curl:

  • Pick a conveniently sized dumbbell.
  • Grab the dumbbell on one side so that both your palms are under the plate.
  • Ensure that both your palms are flat and support the weight of the dumbbell.
  • Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Hold the dumbbell in front of you at thigh level.
  • Keep your back straight and shoulder blades slightly pressed back.
  • Keeping the rest of your body still, gently curl the weight towards your chest.
  • Ensure that the top of the dumbbell faces straight up throughout the motion.
  • Contract your arms at the peak of your movement.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbell to the starting position.
  • This is one repetition. Complete as many reps as you can fit in the back.


The waiter curl is commonly performed in a standing position. This has, however, caused some minor accidents for many unassuming gym-goers. Simply put, many gym enthusiasts who perform the waiter curl almost always take the dumbbells too close to their groin and, in many unfortunate incidents, end up with a painful collision.

To avoid this comical mistake, many athletes do the waiter curls on their knees. This minor tweak in stance makes this beginner-friendly exercise even more, friendlier for guys.

To do the kneeling waiter curl:

  • Get on your knees. You can either kneel deeply so that you are sitting back on your heels or kneel tall with your thighs straight.
  • Grab a dumbbell.
  • Hold the dumbbell in both palms of your hands.
  • Squeeze your glutes and engage your core to create full-body tension.
  • Curl the dumbbell towards your chest.
  • Hold this position.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbell.
  • Complete as many repetitions as you can.

Regardless of the method used, the waiter curl generates splendid muscle response as long as it is done correctly. Waiter curls require a burst of energy and pin-pointed focus on contractions.

Benefits of Waiter Curls

The waiter curl has become a popular choice for building bigger arm muscles amongst pro athletes and bodybuilders. This exercise no doubt deserves a spot on your arm day routine. Why? You might ask. Below, we have provided some benefits of waiter curls:

  1. Activates the bicep peak: If you aim for aesthetically pleasing arms and a mean physique, waiter curls are your best choice. Waiter curls put tension on the muscle fibers of the outer parts of the biceps, which is famously known as the long head. You can feel your biceps burn, unlike with any other arm exercise. This is due to the unique grip manipulation that the waiter curl adopts. The stimulation of the long head results in a more significant bicep peak that translates to bigger arms. When done consistently and diligently, waiter curls help achieve an evident increase in size in 7-12 weeks. 
  2. Reduce the risk of injury: The arms are a big part of most exercises in the gym. It doesn't matter if you are trying to build your arms or focus on your lower extremities with deadlifts or jumping jacks with overhead dumbbell press; the arms are necessary. Because your arm muscles, especially the biceps, are often used in these vigorous exercises, they are prone to injuries. The  bicep long head injuries remain a common concern amongst athletes. To prevent or reduce the possibility of an injury, it is crucial to strengthen the biceps and other connecting and vital arm muscles. The waiter curl is an isolation exercise that focuses the tension on engaging your biceps. This tension leads to the tearing down of muscle fibers. The healing of the muscle fibers causes the bicep to turn stronger, more durable, and more prominent than before. This translates to a better chance of avoiding injuries during daily activities or in the gym.
  3. Great finisher exercise: The waiter curl makes a great finisher exercise due to its ability to flood the arms and increase muscle pump. This unique exercise also produces strong muscle contractions that help you to milk every bit of your workout session to activate your muscles one last time. If you need one final ‘high’ of potent pump, not many exercises will give you this to your satisfaction. Use the waiter curl to recruit every bit of muscle fibers that have escaped activation during your other exercises.
  4. Beginner-friendly: The waiter curl can be performed by beginners, unlike other high-intensity exercises like the bench press or Romanian Deadlift that requires prior knowledge of lifting and impressive arm strength. This is because the waiter curl generally requires lighter weight and a less strict form. This allows newbies to get used to the exercise faster than learning how to lift a heavy barbell.
  5. Scalable: A newbie can start with a light dumbbell, and in little to no time, they will get used to this weight. Although the waiter curl does not allow extremely heavy dumbbells, athletes can exchange a dumbbell they are comfortable with for something heavier. This will ensure that the muscles continue to be challenged.
  6. It is convenient: Unlike other arm exercises that require heavy equipment, the waiter curl is done with just one dumbbell. It is suitable for people who wish to train at home.

Tips To Help You Perfect The Waiter Curl

Learning the waiter curl might be a walk in the park. However, maintaining proper form throughout your session might be more difficult than you imagine, especially if you take the dumbbell against your “you know what” a few unfortunate times.

Below, here are some tips to help you maintain proper form:

  • Use a spotter: Spotters or personal trainers are not only there to help with your benching or lifting. They are also extremely helpful in correcting small nuances in your form when you perform waiter curls. Ask a personal trainer to help you with your form in both the standing and kneeling waiter curl. The earlier you know how to curl a dumbbell with this exercise, the faster you can incorporate it into other high-intensity weighted exercises.
  • Use light dumbbells: Don’t be deceived. The grip manipulation while performing the waiter curl doesn't make it any more manageable than the basic dumbbell bicep curl. The narrower grip might improve muscle response, but it reduces your hold on the dumbbell. When going the waiter curl, start off with light dumbbells and work your way up to bigger dumbbells. This will not only help you to feel comfortable and avoid performing cheat reps during your session but also help you to reduce the chances of a bicep injury.
  • Workout until fatigue: Although you can perform the waiter curl with as many reps as you like, it is essential to workout until fatigue or borderline failure. Working out until failure will help you generate better stimulation of the muscles. This would allow you to tear down more muscle fibers, ensuring that you get bigger and stronger biceps in the long run.
  • Pin your shoulder blades together: When doing the waiter curls, your shoulder blades should be pinched together the entire time. This would keep your shoulders from rolling forward or rounding and putting tension on your neck and shoulder joints. Rounding your shoulders can lead to sore shoulder joints or injuries that can hinder the mobility of your arms. Remember to push your shoulders together and keep them there throughout your routine.
  • Recovery: As with any other exercise, rest and recovery are essential to generate better muscle results. Ensure that you rest between sets, between exercises, and after your workout. This would give your torn-down muscle fibers a chance to heal, recover, and grow. Sleep is as important as your exercises.  RESTED-AF  was formulated to help you get deeper sleep to help your body repair the damge you do in the gym. 

The Waiter Curl Is Worth Your Time

The waiter curl is a unique exercise that will give you a bang for your buck. It is a simple yet tasking exercise that is bound to get you the killer biceps that you need. As long as it is performed with proper form and with the correct number of reps, the waiter curls will take you from slender arms to massive guns in no time.

When combined with other  highly effective bicep curl variations you'll have a killer arm routine that will make your shirt sleeves beg for mercy.