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February 08, 2022 8 min read

The arms and forearms are often the focus of most workout exercises. The size of your biceps and shoulders is somewhat of a prerequisite when it comes to judging a man’s fitness level. It also helps that boulder-like arms help to contribute to providing you with a jacked look.

The arms require a great deal of dedication, discipline, and muscle contraction to get the ideal amount of hypertrophy needed for growth. The Zottman curl is a great way to build your arm muscles. Don't know how to get started? Below, we have outlined everything you need to know.

Powerful bodybuilder doing zottman curls with dumbbells

What is The Zottman Curl?

Are you tired of pushing through regular deadlifts? The Zottman curl is a splendid exercise for targeting the muscles of the biceps and forearms. It mimics the conventional bicep curl but is distinguished by the rotation of the arm.

Bicep curls are famous for the astounding effects they have on the arm, elbow flexion, stabilization of shoulders, and the general health of the upper body. They are simple, straightforward, and an excellent addition to arm day routines regardless of your fitness level. The Zottman curl is a truly impressive variation of the bicep curls.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with performing regular bicep curls, these variations do not include the forearm muscles during the workout.

Zottman curls extend from the isolation of the biceps and triceps and include the engagement of forearm muscles.

The forearms are often left behind in the bid and pursuit of impressive biceps. This leads to primarily under-trained forearm muscles and feeble grip strength.

There are exercises designed to focus more on the forearms than on the biceps, but Zottman curls give you a run for your money by equally training the biceps and forearms. You do not only get to give your upper arms a workout but also include your focus on your upper arms. This helps you build your arms in no time, drastically reducing the length of time.

So what exactly are Zottman curls?

The Zottman curl is named after a 19th-century strongman/strength athlete from Philadelphia whose name was George Zottman. In his time, George Zottman was referred to as the strongest man in the world with massive shoulders and broad biceps. Having set and broken several legendary fitness records, it is no surprise that the fitness world decides to honor him by naming an exercise after him.

The Zottman curl is still a bicep curl at heart that targets the biceps during the concentric phase. During the eccentric phase, you twist your wrists to help your palms face downwards. This places most of the stress on loading your firearms, leading to strengthening and mass building of the forearms.

The Zottman curl is essentially a dumbbell exercise that combines the twisting of a basic dumbbell curl with a reverse dumbbell curl.

Muscles Worked During Zottman Curls

It is always helpful to understand the different muscles activated when comparing the conventional deadlift to the Zottman curl. The Zottman curl targets three major muscle groups, which are the biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis. It, however, focuses primarily on the biceps brachii.

Contrary to popular opinion, the bicep is not one slab of muscle wrapped around your upper arm. It is made of a pair of heads termed the long and short head. These heads work in conjunction like a single muscle to supinate and pronate the arm.

Biceps Brachii

The biceps brachii, also famously known as the bicep, is the muscle in front of your upper arm. It is the most prominent piece of muscle on the front of your arm that flexes whenever you curl your arm. The biceps brachii helps with elbow flexion, forearm supination, and shoulder flexion.


The Zottman curl also secondarily works the brachialis, which lies deep underneath the biceps brachii. The brachialis is in charge of flexion of the arm, and together with the short and long head, are functional muscles that are used in our daily activities.


The Zottman curl also activates the brachioradialis of the upper arm. This brachioradialis is a superficial forearm muscle placed laterally on the forearm. It is the most significant forearm muscle that is activated alongside your biceps. The brachioradialis is activated in the pronated or palms down placement. This placement is used during the Zottman curl.


Seeing that the position and strength of your grip are essential for forearm hypertrophy, it is no surprise that the Zottman curl stimulates growth in the forearm muscles. The effect of the Zottman curl is also noted on the other forearm muscles—which help to flex the forearms at the elbows.

Although the Zottman curls are primarily to work the arms, they also impact the abdominal and back muscles, ensuring the strengthening of the upper body.

Benefits of Zottman Curls

Zottman curls are a splendid choice for your workout session. They are a significant variation of video curls that complement other arm exercises for a shredded look.

Arm Strength 

Arm strength is essential to functional activities and sports programs. It is evident in maneuvering various practical exercises like lifting furniture and taking the groceries. Arms are also a big part of most exercises, regardless of what part of the body you are training.

In addition, most athletic professions like bodybuilding and powerlifting not only require bigger arms but also require immense arm strength. Regardless of your fitness level and what path of life you come from, arm strength is essential. Zottman curls help to strengthen the bicep muscles. 

Forearm Activation

The forearm is easily bypassed during upper body strength training exercises. Other curling variations use the forearm as a curling lever, involving it in little to no part of the muscle contractions. This leads to bigger biceps on a weak forearm, resulting in muscle imbalances. In addition to working the biceps, Zottman curls help to activate the forearm muscles. This enables you to work all parts of your arms at once. 

Better Grip Strength

Grip strength may indicate well-being as you age.

Without due training, grip strength can experience a regression over the years, leading to difficulty performing functional activities like vacuuming and driving. Grip strength is also considered an important biomarker of shoulder and arm strength.

Chances are, if your grip is weak, other components of your arms might be poorly trained. To continue to crush, pinch, support, and extend your thumbs, you must prepare the arm muscles that help with grip strength. Zottman curls train the forearm muscles that determine how firm your grip is.

Great Physique

Bigger guns are great for your physique. Admit it, Jason Momoa’s massive arms are a show-stopper. While not everyone wants to go teeth to nail like Jason’s or George Zottman’s arm (that measures jaw-dropping 19-inch biceps and 15-inch forearms), everyone wants to have toned arms. Zottman curls help trim the arms, resulting in a more defined arm and forearms. To hasten your results, pair your exercises with  AMPED-AF  for increased focus, energy, and maximum muscle endurance.


Why work your forearms and biceps separately when you can cut some time working both simultaneously? The Zottman curl is a time-efficient way to train all parts of your arms. It is a practical option when you do not have much workout time and try to touch all your arm muscles. With the Zottman curls, you do not need to worry about missing a session when you can work your upper arm and forearms at the same time.


Variety is the spice of life, even in the gym. Engaging in the same exercises can quickly get boring, causing you to lose interest and the positive mindset needed for dedication. Doing the same exercise can also cause you to get stuck on a plateau and in a rhythm that you will find out to get out of. The Zottman curl is a substantial variation to the bicep curl that would keep you interested and on your toes at all times. It is a breath of fresh air into a routine that has lost its color over time.

How To Do Zottman Curls


Like any other exercise, to get the most out of the Zottman curl, you need to execute it in proper form. Not paying attention to your form would not activate the necessary muscles and open you up to risks of injury. Zottman curls give you a bang for your buck when you perform with focus, coordination, and a consistent effort.

How to do the Zottman Curl:

  • Select dumbbells with a weight that you can lift comfortably through each set and grip one in each hand.
  • Stand erect with your feet shoulder-width apart and plant your feet firmly on the ground. Keep your back straight, shoulders back, and chest proud.
  • Rotate your wrist until your grip is in a supinated position, with your palms facing upwards.
  • Your arms should remain at your sides, fully extended without locking your elbows.
  • Brace your core, contract your glutes, and engage your biceps as hard as you can to encourage full contraction.
  • Inhale and curl the dumbbell towards your chest by bending and flexing your elbow. 
  • Pause at the peak of the movement to hold the contraction.
  • Twist your wrist until your palms end up in a private position with your palm facing the floor.
  • Begin the eccentric phase by slowly lowering the dumbbells at your sides.
  • Pause when your arms are fully extended.
  • Exhale and twist your wrist back to the starting position with your palms facing upwards.
  • Repeat and complete as many repetitions as you can fit in a set.

Training Tips For The Zottman Curl

The Zottman curl might mimic the basic bicep curl, but more mechanics are involved. While performing the Zottman curl, you need to pay attention to your body and all the muscle groups you are working with. This will help you make the most of your exercise while ensuring that your risks of shoulder injury remain extremely low.

Here are some tips to help you.

Watch Your Shoulder Placement

Shoulder placement is vital in stimulating the biceps. When doing the Zottman curls, keep your shoulders pulled back and your chest forward. This would ensure the execution of the full range of motion.

Proper shoulder placement will result in a better contraction of the arm muscles and a reduced risk of shoulder injuries due to improper loading of the shoulder joint.

Make the Most of Your Eccentric Phase

When doing the Zottman curl, your eccentric phase is often easier than your concentric phase. In simpler terms, you will find it easier to lower the dumbbell than to raise it.

Make the most of this by lowering the dumbbell faster and making use of this tiny bit of momentum during your concentric phase or when lifting the dumbbell.

Keep Your Arms Still

Resist the urge to move your arms or, in fact, any part of your body which is not involved in lowering the dumbbell. Don't spread your arms or lift them out of the necessary range of motion.

Keep your arms at your sides at all times.

As a cue, focus on pinning your arms to the sides of your torso throughout your routine. This would help you to load your biceps and forearms properly while ensuring that you are not exposed to the risk of an injury.

Use Light Weights

You might be tempted to use a weight you find difficult to control to increase the tension on your arms. Doing this would do more harm than the good that you anticipate.

In the Zottman curl, form is more important than weight.

Stick to a weight you can lift comfortably and only switch to something heavier when you feel you are ready.

Lean on a Wall

To avoid performing cheap repetitions, lean your back on a wall. This would help you catch any slouch in your back or break in your form. It is, however, easy to get carried away when doing this. Ensure that you do not use the wall as leverage for your arms. The wall is to ensure there is no sway in your form.

Recovery is Essential

When doing the Zottman curl, your muscle fibers are broken down due to muscle response to the contractions. For muscle hypertrophy to set in, your muscles need time to recover, rebuild, and heal. Sleep and nutrients help to hasten and shorten the recovery process, helping you to reach your goal of shredded arms even faster. You can pair your workouts with HYPERADE to recover faster.

Getting Started With Zottman Curls

The Zottman curl is a welcome change from the other basic bicep curl variations. It helps you make the most out of your workout routine, leading to a very productive session. It is the best bet if you want to spice up your arm day routine.

When doing the Zottman curl, ensure that you execute it in perfect form. This would hasten the trigger of the muscle fibers necessary for bigger, stronger-looking monster biceps.