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What Are Twist Curls? Benefits, Tips And Instructions

Twist curls

If you are looking for a rite of passage exercise for your arms, then twist curls are your best bet. For most beginners who are just starting out their weightlifting journey and only know a handful of exercises such as curl bar workouts and other upper body workouts, twist curls exercise is one of the first ones that make the list. Mainly because doing this exercise is simple and can be done easily at the gym or at home with a pair of dumbbells.

What are twist curls?

Twist curls are a variation of your standard bicep curls. The only difference is the starting position. You hold the dumbbells like you are about to do hammer curls and as you bring your arms up you twist them and curl them just like a regular bicep curl.

What Muscles Do Twist Curls Work?

Primary Muscles

Twist curls primarily target your bicep brachii. This muscle consists of two heads, a long and a short one. Both work together during the pulling and lifting motions.

Secondary Muscles

This workout targets your secondary muscle group called brachialis. This particular muscle is situated beneath your biceps. It is a prominent muscle in your arm and activates your brachioradialis.

The twist curls also activate your back and abs by stabilizing your body during the motion of curling your arms. Smaller forearm muscles are also targeted during this exercise making it one of the most dynamic arms exercises out there.

Are twist curls better than normal curls?

The standard bicep curl without the twist targets the flexing function of your upper arm. Whereas, rotating or twisting your arm while doing twist curls activates the supination function of your bicep, creating more muscle mass providing stronger contraction, and leading to bigger biceps.

Benefits Of Training Your Biceps With Twist Curls

Twist curls

There are many benefits of doing bicep twist curls that make this exercise a necessary addition to your workout routine.

Shoulder Stability

Your biceps consist of two-head muscle attached to the shoulder joint and scapula which helps with shoulder stability with the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is responsible for securing the humerus and the biceps attaches the humerus to shoulder joint muscles. The compression by doing curls leads to the stability of your shoulder.

Shoulder Rehab

Any type of bicep curl exercise is good for shoulder rehab. Biceps play a crucial role in flexion and when your shoulders go into flexion during this workout your anterior deltoids are engaged. Also, when you perform the twists your upper back muscles such as traps and rhomboids are engaged improving your posture and preventing your shoulders from hunching forward.

This is why in the later stages of physiotherapy or rehab programs twist curls or other bicep curl exercises are incorporated as a way to strengthen the upper back and rotator cuff.

Prevents Tendon Tears

If you have strong biceps they keep your elbow stable during workouts like deadlifts. With a strong grip during weightlifting, the possibility of tendon tears in your biceps is reduced. Tendon rupture is one of the most common injuries sustained by weightlifters and athletes. Therefore, strong bicep muscles are a must for people who work out.

Twist curls

How To Do Twist Curls?

Here is how to perform twist curls :

  • Stand in a neutral position with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms on your side
  • Grab the dumbbell in each hand and keep your shoulders locked on your side
  • Keep your back straight and your core engaged and avoid looking down when performing twist curls
  • Slowly bring one of your arms up to your shoulder. Halfway through the curling motion twist your wrist toward your face
  • Hold the position for a few seconds and then return to the starting position
  • Repeat the same with your other arm
  • Do 10 to 12 reps on each side


  • Don’t immediately start using heavy weights. You might be tempted to use bigger weights to grow your arms bigger but if you are not in control, you might put a strain on your arms, shoulders, and back leading to injury.
  •  Don’t swing your arms while doing any type of biceps workout. Once you pick up the dumbbells lock your elbows on the side, engage your core and then curl your arms toward your shoulders.
  • When bringing your arms down to the starting position avoid dropping your weights. If the weights are heavy dropping them or yanking them down might injure your shoulders.

Key Takeaway

Twist curls workouts are great for your upper body because they make your biceps work extra hard. With this exercise more muscle fibers are activated compared to other types of curls such as hammer curls. However, in order to grow your arms, try to incorporate different types of bicep exercises to add some spice to your workout routine as well as challenge your biceps muscles.

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