Stop Doing This Biceps Curl (I’M BEGGING YOU!)

Of all the biceps curl variations out there, there is one in particular that has seemed to have drawn the ire of some without actually knowing why they feel the way they do. In this video, I’m going to break down the Waiter’s Curl. We’ll take a look at the exercise in regards to its effectiveness as a biceps exercise and specifically, its ability to more efficiently target the long head of the biceps.

Let’s talk about the objections.

First, some believe that the waiter’s curl doesn’t have enough supination in order to build bigger biceps. This one is actually just blatantly incorrect. Not only is this biceps exercise being performed from a position of supination but it also allows for active supination during the movement.

It starts with taking the right grip on the dumbbell. Instead of gripping the sides of the dumbbell you have to be sure that you place your hands and fingers flat against the undersurface of the dumbbell. Push through the pinky side heel of your palm and allow the wrists to bend back as you lift to maximize the supination.

Next, the idea that this is an unnatural or weird exercise is not understood. In fact, biomechanically it is quite similar to the rope curl. It’s also occurring predominantly in a hinge joint that is known for its ability to restrict unnatural motion.

When compared to the narrow grip knurling on an EZ Bar, you’ll see that the width is almost the same. Not only is this not dangerous but it also is allowing for an opportunity to increase the engagement of the long head of the biceps, the head of the biceps most known for adding the biceps peak and height.

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Jeb points out that the range of motion on this biceps curl variation is limited at the bottom of the rep because you can’t comfortably extend the elbows all the way down. This is in fact true. The problem comes from the fact that some will often confuse an exercises range of motion with the range of motion possible at the joint performing the exercise.

The bottom 20 degrees of a stranding curl are not all that effective for producing overload on the biceps. This is the reason that some will perform a seated barbell curl, which limits the more dominant contribution of the brachialis and brachioradialis in this early range and lets the biceps do more of the work in the range that they naturally want to work in.

If the contention is made that the line of pull on the biceps is unfavorable, it almost always signals a red flag that not enough knowledge of anatomy and biomechanics led to this assumption. This is because the biceps is actually a two headed muscle with separate attachments (proximally – and technically even in the forearm as well). When a more narrow grip is assumed, the shoulder becomes internally rotated. This positions the tendon of the long head in an actual better line of pull, allowing the performer of the exercise to get better engagement of this often times weaker biceps head.

Jeb said he heard that the waiter’s curl creates negative feedback of instability at the shoulder and elbow joint which is easily mistaken for increased biceps tension. My answer? Jesse, I thought you said that Jeb graduated elementary school?

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Jeb also felt that the exercise could be stressful on the wrists. Indeed it can, if it is does incorrectly. It starts again with grabbing the dumbbell properly and placing the hands right on the undersurface of the dumbbell. From here, you need to allow natural wrist extension as you raise the dumbbell up on every rep. Not only does this improve the effect of the movement but it also provides more wrist stability. Wrist extension is the strongest position for the wrist, not the opposite.

The assertion that an alternating dumbbell biceps curl is better is like saying that the bench press is better than a crossover. They accomplish different things and hit the muscle differently. I actually ranked the alternating curls as my favorite biceps exercise in the bicep exercises ranked video. Here however, when the goal is to better hit the long head of the biceps – this is a superior choice.

Finally, just because you can load other exercises for biceps more doesn’t mean that you don’t want to perform this one. Remember, tension is the language of muscles. Finding out more ways than just loading weight on the bar is crucial for maximizing overload and growth in the long run.

If you’re looking for programs based on real science along with nutrition plans that work to get you lean and ripped without sacrificing normal eating, be sure to head to and check out the AX program selector via the link below.

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44 thoughts on “Stop Doing This Biceps Curl (I’M BEGGING YOU!)

  1. ATHLEAN-X™ says:

    “FAST ACTION” Q&A* – Leave your most burning question about this video or any other training, PT or nutrition question within the first 2 hours of this video’s release (AS A SEPARATE COMMENT!!) and I will pick 8 to get a detailed reply from me right here in the comments. Answers will be posted within the first 24-48 hours of you leaving the question. Good luck!

  2. King Juli en says:

    Thank You!!! You really helped me out to get back in shape. I’m physically more in shape in my mid 30’s than my 20’s. I’m working out with purpose.

  3. REWC says:

    I am so glad to see this video. I too saw, ahem, Jebby try to take apart and mock the waiter curl on YouTube. I could see that he was both doing it wrong and misrepresenting it. As someone who has to take particular care of my joints when I train, I both love the unique gains and pump I get from the waiter curl, and appreciate how it causes no discomfort and/or pain.

    Always trust Jeff!

    • Massenstein says:

      @Mauricio rodriguez I forget the name but I’ve seen at least one bodybuilder youtuber diss this move and Jeff in particular, though he didn’t seem to back his argument up with anything.

    • Adam Jacobs says:

      It was Sean “not gonna work here anymore”? Hahaha. I remember seeing one of his videos when I first found Athlean X. He did nothing but trash Jeff, which was a huge red flag and never watched another video of his since. Glad to know I’m still not missing anything.

  4. The_Juice_King says:

    When I do this exercise, my sternum hurts to the point where I have to stop only after a couple of reps. Any idea why Jeff?

  5. Wonderful Aircraft says:

    Love the waiter curl. Even after just doing them (properly) for a couple months, I can already see increased bicep growth.

    • Alexander Esposito says:

      My biceps look so much bigger and fuller since I’ve added them. I do other things as well so who knows how much is the waiter curls but I haven’t seen anything to make me want to stop doing them lol

    • Jose's Jolly Hut says:

      What’s a good weight to use for this workout since I’m using both hands? I curl 30s, so should I go heavier on weight or will 30 suffice?

    • Wonderful Aircraft says:

      @Jose’s Jolly Hut You’ll have to determine it for yourself ultimately. I usually do 90 on the Barbell Curl for 8 reps. But I do about one 60lbs dumbbell for the same amount of reps on a waiter curl.

  6. Larry Ragland says:

    Respect that Jeff is responding to other fitness YouTube creators who have made videos talking about him and doing waiter curls.

    • And M says:

      @KHILADI fax. I hate that this has become a thing because it makes it easier to create content. Just try to nitpick other people’s videos

    • Megan Neura says:

      @Davon Richardson because mentioning “Jeff” or “AthleanX” will bring some traffic to their channel. they know they can’t just beat Jeff in his expertise, few of them are professional Physical Therapists, and fewer actually works with athletes.

    • Leonard Ceres says:

      @SQB Sean is something special. He is just one of the guys trying to chip down a little of Jeff’s popularity. Instead he should just make his own videos about his views on good technique. Not criticizing others.

    • Chew on this movie review!!! says:

      The amazing thing about Jeff is that he’s a successful man and never had the need to attack other content creators cuz he’s too busy minding his own business and running a successful business meanwhile other have to attack him just to get some attention, it’s actually pathetic and Jeff proved you don’t have to do that to gain success

  7. Elra says:

    Since I saw a few comments unsure or being confused/not sure of results: With normal curls you rely more on the weight, with people usually just doing them. With the waiters curl, you have to use a decent weight (It can’t be so light that it doesnt tax your muscles, or so heavy you can only do 2 or 3) and instead focus on squeezing the bicep as you lift up. Do normal curls or bicep exercises first, and then finish with the waiters curl, focusing on squeezing as hard as you can. You have to push through the burn and really focus on that mind muscle connection. Do it right and the feeling afterwards will be insane. Cheers

  8. Alexander Esposito says:

    I’ve added waiter curls to my rotation just from watching Jeff. They’re an absolute killer and my arms have gotten huge since I incorporated them. Don’t know if it’s because of them or what but I find it’s a good exercise. Then again I’m an idiot who knows nothing so…

  9. MisterrSZ says:

    well done jeff, i’ve been doing this exercise for a long time, seeing it getting negative feedback was strange to me as it really worked my biceps

  10. pedroSilesia says:

    I cannot stress enough how good this channel is and how much knowledge and good advice Jeff gives. Just by following what he says I quite easily transformed my body. It doesn’t happen overnight but I feel I train much more effectively. This exercise is one that I introduced thanks to Jeff to my training

  11. Patricia G says:

    Absolutely LOVE this exercise. I do the chest supported on a high incline bench version just to get the legs out of the way. After implementing this into my routine my biceps really responded. Especially if you end the workout with like a cluster / superset or (if you’re feeling extra brutal that day) a ‘run the rack’ of them with descending weight once you can’t get any more acceptable form reps with the current dumbbell. Thanks, Jeff. I don’t pay much attention to those people that make videos about practically everything you do/say. I’ve been following your workouts and training advice for over a decade and have kept perfectly healthy, safe & in great shape. Thank you again for always sharing your knowledge, tips, tricks and comedy with Jesse with us.

  12. Marie Party says:

    The waiter curl is such a top tier movement. I started gaining so much volume since I added it in my routine :O

  13. Bobbi Hansel says:

    The waiter curl absolutely lights up my arms, it is such a dynamic move, I work it into my pull days and even my push days to counter my tri excersise. Best curl ever.

  14. HughBungus says:

    I started my journey at the start of this year (29, 6’1, 160lbs when I started), watching this channel has helped me IMMENSELY. I used to do all of my workouts improperly when I was younger, so far I’ve put on 25lbs and my biceps went from 15 to 16 inches, in just 6 months. Thanks Jeff. You’re a rockstar

  15. Josh Kiwikiwi says:

    I started doing this movement almost 2 years ago after watching Jeff on an older video and can definitely attest that this movement is really effective my biceps grew in no time and is one I always incorporate!

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