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How Many Barbell Curls Should You Do? (Reps & Sets)

If you’re wondering how many barbell curls you should do, then you’ve come to the right place!

In this article, we look at the optimum numbers of reps and sets for barbell curls, depending on whether you’re wanting to gain strength or size.

Woman doing barbell curls in a gym

How Many Reps And Sets Of Barbell Curls Should You Do? (Short Answer)

As a general rule, performing 3 – 6 sets of 6 – 12 reps will help build mass (size) in your biceps.

This isn’t suitable for everyone though and, ultimately, your health and fitness goals will be the deciding factor as to how many reps and sets of barbell curls are right for you.

[Click to see how many hammer curls you should do.]

How Many Barbell Curls Should You Do? (Long Answer)

Your fitness goals will dictate the rep range of each set of barbell curls you perform.

For example, if you’re trying to gain as much strength as possible in your biceps, then your rep range for barbell curls will be lower.

However, if you’re aiming to add mass to your arms, a higher rep range will likely be more beneficial to you. 

Ultimately, the number of reps and sets you actually complete will vary depending on whether your training goal is size, strength, or something else.

How Many Barbell Curls Should You Do For Muscle Gain?

Building size with barbell curls is a common goal of many gym-goers.

When it comes to the rep range for mass building, it’s reasonably high. Completing 8 – 12 reps is usually the recommended range for size building.

This means you need to have a suitable weight on the bar where you can perform at least 8 barbell curls but no more than 12 each set.

If you can’t reach 8 reps, the weight is likely too high. If you can comfortably perform 12 reps, then you probably need a bit more weight on the bar. 

As you will be performing lots of reps, the number of sets you should be able to complete will likely be between 3 and 5.

How Many Barbell Curls Should You Do For Gaining Strength?

Building strength requires a different set and rep range than building size.

As the weight you will be lifting will be heavy, the number of reps you are able to perform drops quite significantly.

For effective strength building with barbell curls, you should aim to complete 2 – 6 sets of 1 – 5 reps.

Something to bear in mind with strength training is that the weight you’re lifting needs to be heavy. 

If you can lift it for more than 6 reps – it’s probably not heavy enough for strength training.

German Volume Training with Hammer Curls

German volume training is all about adding size to your muscles by making them work super hard during your workout.

It involves completing 10 sets of 10 reps with 60 seconds of rest between each set.

This is probably the hardest method of training when it comes to selecting the right weight for you. 

It’s been suggested that for most people, 60% of your 1 rep max will likely be a suitable weight for German volume training. 

As a rough guide, this will likely be a weight that you could complete 1 set of 20 reps with before failing.

This might sound like a light weight to be lifting, but once you get past the first 5 sets, your arms will be working extremely hard and the weight will feel much heavier.

How Often Should You Do Barbell Curls?

As a very basic guide, usually 24 – 48 hours is needed for muscle recovery after training.

That time frame isn’t always sufficient though, so the frequency you do barbell curls will be very much dependent on your goals and training style.

The heavier the weights you are lifting, the more recovery time your muscles generally need.

This might mean that you can only perform barbell curls once or twice a week if you allow them enough time to recover in between.

It’s probably a good idea to rest your muscles enough to fully recover before putting them under stress during another workout. 

With that in mind, you might be able to do barbell curls anywhere between 1 and 3 times per week.


Hypertrophy Rep Range

German Volume Training