Wide Grip vs. Close Grip Barbell Curls

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If you are new to the field of lifting or bodybuilding, you might have heard some not-so-great things about bicep curls. They have a terrible reputation owing to the exercise being isolated.

However, credible experts believe that bicep curls work on the muscles located in your upper as well as your lower arm. Doing so can help you strengthen your arms along with your core.

But do all types of bicep curls target the same muscles? Not necessarily.

Mainly, there are two variations of bicep curls: close grip and wide grip. As both types of grips serve different purposes, you will derive different results.

If you are unable to choose between the two, read ahead. By the end of this article, you will have known the difference between the close grip curl and the wide grip curl.


What is Close Grip Curl?

Close Grip Curl

As evident from the name, in a close grip bicep curl, your keep your hands closer than the shoulder width.

This targets the outer head of the biceps. If you want to build your bicep head and peak, you must focus on this type of bicep curl.


What is Wide Grip Curl?

What is Wide Grip Curl

In a wide grip curl, you keep your hands wider than your shoulder width. Generally, people keep it six inches wider than the width of their shoulders.

As the close grip curl targets the outer (longer) lead, the wide grip curl targets the short head. It is located inside the biceps.

This type of bicep curl will help you gain more thickness and lateral girth to your biceps.


Benefits of Close Grip Curl

In order to understand the differences between close grip and wide grip curl, we must know their individual benefits.

Let us start with the advantages of the close grip curl:

Bicep Peak

If a bigger bicep appearance is what you are after, this variation is highly recommended. As mentioned earlier, the close grip bicep curl targets the long head of the bicep. This head is responsible for the bicep peak.

While performing this exercise, you are in the position of targeting that particular muscle, giving you bigger and stable biceps.

In other words, this type of bicep curl can give more size and strength to your biceps.


Helps with Daily Activities

Not just the fullness, but the close grip bicep curl also helps in daily activities. It helps in picking heavy objects. Whether it is groceries or heavy luggage, once you build and strengthen the long head of the bicep, you can carry those functionalities with ease.


Helps in Stabilising the Shoulder

According to a study, the long head of the bicep helps in stabilizing the shoulder. Moreover, their thesis concluded that it provides stability to the glenohumeral joint.

Furthermore, it helps in preventing bone discolation and leads to a significant reduction in pain.


Benefits of Wide Grip Curl

Contrarily, the following are some of the benefits of the wide grip bicep curl:

Helps in Building Stronger Biceps

As mentioned earlier, the wide grip bicep curl targets the short head of the biceps. When this muscle is stressed and activated, you get thicker and stronger biceps.

Hence, this muscle does more than just adding appearances to your biceps. It makes them stronger and more stable.


Can Lift More Weight

Are you having trouble lifting your desired weights in close grip bicep curl? Maybe it is time to try the wide-grip curls.

With this variation, you will stand a chance at lifting more than your potential.


Stress on the Inner Portion of your Biceps

When you opt for the wide grip bicep curl, you train the inner part of your biceps. This helps in getting 100% muscle isolation, making it easier for you to build your biceps.


How to Perform Close Grip Curl?

Even though there are minute differences between the two types of bicep curls, we shall explain the step-by-step instructions for both.

  • Keep your body straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Hold the barbell. You can use a spotter or try to hold it from the rack.
  • Keep your hands a little under your shoulder width with your fingers facing upward.
  • Ensure that your knees are a little loose before you start the process.
  • Breathe out and curl your biceps while bringing the barbell towards your chin.
  • Hold it for a second.
  • Breathe in and return to the starting position.


How to Perform Wide Grip Curl?

The following are the step-by-step instructions that will help you perform the wide grip bicep curl:

  • Keep your body straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Hold the barbell in such a way that your hands are further than the width of your shoulder.
  • While keeping your knees loose, begin the process.
  • Breathe out and curl your biceps while bringing the barbell towards your chin.
  • Hold it for a second.
  • Breathe in and return to the starting position.

As you can see, the process is the same except for the grip.


Does the Grip Matter?

If you look at the aforementioned instruction, you will notice that the only difference is in the grip. People have their apprehensions as they do not believe that the varying grips could bring in varying benefits.

However, you must know that the grip you have on the barbell curve decides the muscles targeted.

When you maintain a wide grip, you target a different muscle group as compared to a close grip (as mentioned earlier in the article).

When you hold the bar with a close grip, your arms turn in, giving it an internal rotation. This helps in building the bicep peak.

On the other hand, once you hold the bar with a wide grip, your arms go over the external rotation. Due to this, you are able to lift more weight than usual.

But you must not stick to one type of grip.

You can alternate between the various types of grip to get overall strength and advantages for your biceps.


So, Which One Should You Go For?

As we said earlier, both types of grips serve varying purposes. You will have to toggle between the different grips if you want overall bicep growth and strength. Sticking to only one type of grip will certainly not do the trick.

Other Types of Grip

Besides the common standard, close, and wide grip, there are other types of grips as well, like the following:

Overhand Grip

In the overhand grip, your palms face away from you while gripping the bar. It is often used in chin-ups, barbell rows, and reverse curls.

Underhand Grip

In the underhand grip, your palms facing towards you while holding the bar. It is used in barbell bicep curls, reserved grip chin-ups, and reverse grip barbell row.

Alternate Grip

The alternate grip is when one hand is placed over, and the other one is placed under the bar.

This is highly useful for deadlifts and chin-ups.

Due to such a grip, you might be able to lift more than usual.

False Grip

While doing bench press, lifters prefer the false grip. In this type of grip, your thumb rests along the bar.

Hook Grip

In the hook grip, you wrap your thumb around the bar while using your index, ring, and big finger to pin the thumb to the bar.


Quick Comparison Chart Between Close Grip Curl and Wide Grip Curl

The following table is a quick summary of the difference between the close grip curl and the wide grip curl.

Points of Difference Close Grip Curl Wide Grip Curl
Width Less than Shoulder Width Wider than Shoulder Width
Muscles Targeted Outer Head of Biceps Inner Head of Biceps
Main Benefit Build Muscle Peak Can Lift More Weight


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