26 January 2024


character doing bicep curls from seated position, top view, muscles marked.

Bicep Curls: Standing or Sitting

Bicep curls are a popular exercise for targeting and strengthening the bicep muscles. Whether performed standing or sitting, bicep curls provide numerous benefits for individuals looking to improve their upper body strength and aesthetics. However, deciding between standing and sitting bicep curls can be challenging. This article aims to provide an overview of the proper form, technique, and advantages of both options. By understanding the differences in muscle activation, range of motion, safety considerations, and personal preferences, readers can make an informed decision on which option suits their individual fitness goals and preferences.


Standing and Sitting Bicep Curls


Standing and sitting bicep curls are popular exercises for building upper-body strength and sculpting the arms. To perform standing bicep curls, stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing forward. Bring the dumbbells up towards your shoulders by bending at the elbows. This exercise targets the bicep muscles and helps improve muscular endurance. Standing bicep curls also engage other muscles in the upper body, such as the forearms and shoulders, making it a comprehensive upper-body exercise. 


Proper Form and Technique


To perform both standing and sitting bicep curls with proper form and technique, follow these steps:

    • Stand or sit with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing forward.
    • Keep your back straight, shoulders relaxed, and core engaged.
    • Start with your arms fully extended, and slowly curl the dumbbells up towards your shoulders.
    • Keep your elbows close to your body and avoid swinging the weights.
    • Pause for a moment at the top of the movement, squeezing your biceps.
    • Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.

Remember to maintain control throughout the exercise and avoid using momentum to lift the weights.


Muscles Targeted and Benefits


During both standing and sitting bicep curls, the primary muscle targeted is the bicep brachii, which is responsible for flexing the elbow joint. Additionally, the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles are also engaged. These exercises help to strengthen and tone the biceps, improving arm strength and aesthetics. The recruitment of different muscles also enhances overall upper-body stability and coordination. Incorporating both standing and sitting bicep curls into a workout routine can contribute to increased muscle definition and improved functional strength.


Sitting Bicep Curls


Sitting bicep curls are another common exercise used to target and strengthen the bicep muscles. To perform sitting bicep curls, sit on a bench or chair with your feet flat on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing upward. Keeping your elbows close to your sides, slowly lift the dumbbells up towards your shoulders, then lower them back down to the starting position. Sitting bicep curls provide stability and support, making them a suitable option for individuals with balance or lower body stability issues.


Proper Form and Technique


To perform sitting bicep curls with proper form and technique, sit with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing forward and arms fully extended. Keep your upper arms close to your body and slowly curl the dumbbells up towards your shoulders while keeping your elbows stationary. Pause at the top for a second, then slowly lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position. Keep your core engaged and maintain proper posture throughout the exercise.


Pros & Cons


Sitting & standing versions of bicep curls offer several advantages and limitations. For example, seated bicep curls help isolate the biceps more effectively, as there is less involvement of other muscles for stability. Seated bicep curls are also good for concentrating on the muscles. With your body anchored to a bench, you establish a stable base that helps you put all your energy into working out your biceps. Sitting also provides better back support, reducing strain on the lower back. This position is suitable for those with mobility issues or balance concerns. However, sitting bicep curls limit the range of motion compared to standing and engage fewer muscles. 


Performing bicep curls while standing creates a more dynamic routine. This variation requires improved stabilization from both the core and lower body, thereby working out a wider range of muscles. With this increased involvement of different muscle groups, you'll see a boost not only in strength building but also in the calories you burn during the exercise. Standing curls also facilitate a more natural movement, allowing complete extension and contraction of the biceps. Nevertheless, this freedom comes with the added challenge of maintaining proper balance and coordination. This type of curl might not be suitable for people with particular balance issues. 

Seated bicep curls are done while sitting, providing stability and isolating the bicep muscles. Standing bicep curls engage more muscles for balance and also work the core. So, depending on your goals, choose the position that suits you best! Keep flexing those guns!

character doing bicep curls from standing position, top view, muscles marked.

Comparing seated and standing bicep curls reveals several important factors to consider:


  • Safety: Seated curls provide more stability, reducing the risk of injury during the exercise.
  • Muscle Isolation: Seated curls specifically target the bicep muscles, allowing for greater isolation and focus on the targeted area.
  • Balance and Core Strength: Standing curls engage additional muscles for balance, which can contribute to improved core strength.
  • Fitness Goals: Choosing between seated and standing curls should be based on your specific fitness goals. Seated curls may be preferred for those aiming for maximum bicep hypertrophy, while standing curls may be beneficial for individuals looking to incorporate more functional movements into their workout routine.
  • Personal Preferences: Individual preferences play a significant role in deciding between seated and standing curls. Some individuals may find one position more comfortable or enjoyable than the other.
  • Load and Intensity: The load and intensity of the exercise can differ between seated and standing curls. Factors such as stability and balance may affect the weight that can be safely lifted or the overall intensity of the exercise.


Ultimately, the decision between standing or seated bicep curls comes down to personal preference and individual goals. If you are looking for a more challenging and dynamic exercise that engages multiple muscle groups, standing curls may be the way to go. However, if you prefer a more safe, focused, and isolated approach to your bicep workout, seated curls might be your best option.


For beginners, it's essential to start your arm workout with seated bicep curls before advancing to standing variations. That is because a seated position provides additional support, reducing the risk of using momentum or compromising your posture during the initial stages of your workout. Seated bicep curls also offer unparalleled benefits in terms of muscle isolation and stability. By planting yourself firmly on a seat, you create a solid foundation that allows you to focus your efforts solely on your biceps. This targeted approach ensures that every single rep you perform effectively engages and stimulates those mighty bicep muscles.


Moreover, seated curls significantly contribute to maintaining proper form throughout your entire workout session. As you lift the weights while seated, your body is stabilized and your back is fully supported by the backrest. This not only minimizes the risk of injury but also allows you to perform the exercise with utmost precision and control.


As you consistently incorporate seated bicep curls into your workout routine, you'll notice an increase in your performance. Your biceps will become bigger, stronger and  your technique will improve. This will help you move to the next stage of your workout: standing bicep curls. 


To curl or not to curl is not the question – but rather, to sit or to stand while doing it! Both seated and standing bicep curls have their own place in a well-rounded fitness regimen. Seated curls are your go-to for intense, focused bicep work and form training, while standing curls offer a more functional and dynamic approach, engaging the whole body. Ultimately, mixing up your workouts with both seated and standing curls can lead to better overall muscle development and functional strength. Plus, it keeps things interesting! Why settle for one when you can have the arm-blasting benefits of both?