Barbell Curl vs Dumbbell Curl : How both hit differently and how maximum gains can be achieved through their rotation ?

  • Barbell curl is one of the ideal exercises to gain bigger biceps. 
  • Barbell curls target the muscle group responsible for arm flexion, the  biceps brachii and the brachialis.
  • Dumbbell curls target the brachioradialis muscle in your forearms that provide strength and grip.
  • Dumbbell curls are effective to improve the grip and allow you to perform isolation exercises like deadlift, pull-ups and bench presses efficiently.
  • Barbell curls are more efficient than the dumbbell curls, as also shown through research studies.
  • Barbell curls target/provide the bilateral movements, unlike the dumbbell curls that provide unilateral movements.
  • Unilateral movements take more energy and strength and target just one muscle group.
  • Bilateral movements take half of the energy and strength, meanwhile target two muscle groups at the same time.

If you are a gym enthusiast, you will always try to make the most out of your workouts.

Most people will do specific exercises that they believe to be the best.

If you have a complete workout plan, you will try to do a combination of various exercises.

Doing different exercises will help you develop multiple muscle groups for a more defined physique. 

One area where most people will focus is their biceps.

Having more prominent and more muscular biceps helps you develop the perfect physique, which is why many focus on these muscles.

If you want to build strength in your biceps, you could do either the dumbbell curl or the barbell curl.

Both exercises are pretty popular, and you may even be doing both.

However, many people often ask which training is best: the barbell curl vs. the dumbbell curl?

Before looking at which one is better, let’s look at the dynamics and benefits of each exercise.

Barbell curl

The barbell curl is done with a barbell and both hands.

Unlike the dumbbell curl, you only need a single barbell to work both arms.

The barbell curl allows you to lift more weight as you progress during your workouts.

It is also a single motion which means that you will target both arms evenly.

The barbell curl might be difficult for some to master, although it’s a pretty simple exercise.

The barbell curl is quite effective in building strength in the biceps and shoulders.

If you are looking to start powerlifting, then you should try to do more barbell curls.

You’ll often notice that powerlifters do more barbell curls as compared to bodybuilders.

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Dumbbell curl

The dumbbell curl is a unilateral movement which means that each hand will be lifting the weight separately.

The dumbbell curl is the most popular exercise for developing biceps.

It involves gripping the dumbbell in one hand and curling it upwards without moving the shoulders.

Dumbbell curls are also great for developing strength in the biceps and help you get more toned-down muscles.

Dumbbell curls are usually used in bodybuilding, and the focus is on developing the perfect muscle shape.

Pros and cons of barbell curls 


  • It is excellent for developing strength.

The barbell curl is more effective in developing strength than the dumbell curl.

This is because you can add weight as you progress.

It also utilizes a more ‘lifting’ style as compared to the dumbbell curl.

The best thing about a barbell curl is that you get to develop strength in both arms simultaneously.

It is also easier to progress with barbells as compared to dumbbells.

Barbells are therefore more suited for powerlifters and athletes. 

  • It can help you lift more efficiently.

While you can also develop strength with dumbbell curls, the movement is not that efficient.

One of the benefits of dumbbell curls is that it is a bilateral movement.

Some fitness experts believe that bilateral exercises are more efficient than unilateral movements.

If you want to make the most out of limited time at the gym, you should do dumbbell curls.

  • Less risk for injury 

The double-arm movement of the barbell curl is safer than other exercises.

While there are differences amongst experts on many different exercises, Barbell curls are generally safe.

However, you’ll still have to take care of your form to prevent injuries. 


  • Uncomfortable

Holding a barbell with both hands can only be done with the palm facing inward.

It causes an unnatural wrist position, which may be uncomfortable.

If you are prone to wrist injuries, then it might not be easy.

However, having your wrists in this position can also strengthen it.

  • Targets specific muscles only 

Doing barbell curls is excellent, but only for developing specific muscles.

The bar causes a limited range of motion, which makes it a one-dimensional exercise. 

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Pros and cons of dumbbell curls 


  • Great for developing specific muscles 

Dumbbell curls are specifically designed to build the bicep muscles.

If you are looking to get a bodybuilding physique, then you should do this exercise.

Dumbbell curls will also give your muscles a toned appearance which makes them popular for bodybuilding. 

  • Can strengthen your wrists

Wrist strength is essential for many other gym exercises.

One of the benefits of dumbbell curls is that it helps develop specific muscles in the forearms.

It will help improve your grip strength and strengthen your wrists.

Regularly performing this exercise will enhance squats and other lifting exercises that require good grip strength. 

  • Prevents muscle imbalance 

One of the benefits of dumbbell curls is that you can use the same weights in carefully calculated reps.

You won’t have to worry about muscle imbalance with this exercise.

You can also change the number of reps to develop more strength and build more muscle.


  • It is not that great for developing strength

While dumbbell curls will certainly make you stronger, they are still behind barbell curls in this regard.

Dumbbell curls have a limited range of motion, which means they are great for targeting specific muscles.

However, they are not as effective in developing overall strength.

  • Higher risk of injury 

You won’t be able to lift heavier weights with a dumbbell.

It is if you try to lift heavier dumbbells, you risk injury to your wrist or forearm.

The key is to focus on reps, not weight.

Which exercise is better? 

While most people will wonder whether to use the dumbbell curl or the barbell curl, it is your personal choice.

Dumbbell curls are great for developing well-toned muscles for bodybuilding.

If you are in the gym to gain more muscle mass, you’ll benefit from this exercise.

Barbell curls are designed to strengthen your muscles for lifting.

If you are a weightlifter or athlete, you may prefer this.

However, it is up to you to decide which exercise suits you.

Most experts will recommend that you combine both for the best results.

Having a blanched workout routine is excellent for all types of workout goals.

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Which bicep curl is most efficient? 

Both the barbell and dumbbell curls are effective bicep curls. These exercises are done to give you bigger and stronger biceps. They are also the most common exercises for targeting the biceps. 

Is it better to do bicep curls with dumbbells? 

If you want to target only your biceps, then you should do curls with dumbbells. By doing it regularly, the bicep curl will help you develop more muscle, given the right nutrition. 

Are barbells better than curls? 

Barbells are better for developing strength as compared to dumbbell curls. However, it also has some downsides and may put more strain on your wrists. It’s essential to define your workout goals before deciding which exercise you should do.

Which is better, barbell or dumbbell? 

There is no specific exercise that can be pointed to as ‘the complete exercise.’ Both the barbell and dumbbell are valuable tools for training. It’s up to each gym-goer to decide what they want to use. Both are great at developing muscles and strength, and you can use either or even both in your workouts. 

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