Skip to Content

Concentration Curls vs Incline Curls (For Biceps & Forearms)

When it comes to building big arms, many people rely on exercises such as concentration curls and incline dumbbell curls.

While they’re both great at helping build those sought-after muscular arms, it’s always worth looking into whether one is actually better than the other.

As with many things in fitness, there’s a lot of conflicting information out there about concentration curls and incline dumbbell curls.

Well, that’s exactly why we’ve put this post together. To help you get a real idea if one of these exercises is better suited to you than the other.

In it, we compare the muscles worked in each one, the difficulty level, ease of access, and variability.

Ready?

Let’s get started.

What’s The Difference Between Concentration Curls And Incline Dumbbell Curls?

Concentration curls are solely focused on working your biceps as much as possible.

As your working arm is supported by your leg during the movement, no other muscles can come into the movement.

The bracing leg also prevents momentum from helping you out. 

While incline dumbbell curls limit the amount of momentum you can generate due to your back being supported by the incline bench, your arms are able to move more freely so additional muscles come into play.

In very basic terms, concentration curls isolate your biceps whereas incline dumbbell curls bring other arm muscles into the movement too.

Which Is Better For Building Biceps?

Both of these exercises are great additions to workouts aiming to increase the size and strength of your biceps.

However, concentration curls do a fantastic job of isolating the working muscles making them better at building biceps.

Any exercise that makes your biceps do a lot of work with minimal assistance from other muscles (like concentration curls), is very effective at building biceps.

Which Is Better For Building Forearms?

Incline dumbbell curls will be better for forearm activation compared to concentration curls.

This is because your biceps aren’t isolated during incline dumbbell curls, so secondary muscles can assist in the movement.

As your forearms are assisting muscles during the exercise, you can get some noticeable benefits from incline dumbbell curls.

Difficulty Level

Concentration Curls

The main difficulty with concentration curls is the position you have to get into to perform them effectively. 

The seated bent-over position can put quite a bit of stress on your lower back which can be an issue for some people.

However, the movement itself of concentration curls has a pretty low difficulty level.

As long as you can comfortably be in the correct body position and you’re able to flex and extend your elbow, concentration curls shouldn’t provide too many issues for you.

Incline Dumbell Curls

Incline dumbbell curls put your biceps into an uncomfortable position throughout the exercise which can make them quite challenging.

The movement required is fairly easy but the technique can be quite challenging to master as your shoulders will want to assist in the movement.

The Verdict

Both concentration curls and incline dumbbell curls have a reasonably low level of difficulty. 

The technique of incline dumbbell curls tends to be a little harder to master due to other muscle groups trying to assist in the movement.

As your movement is quite restricted in concentration curls, they tend to be easier to do correctly.

Ease of Access

Concentration Curls

Concentration curls require a dumbbell and somewhere to sit in order to do them effectively.

Dumbbells are very basic gym equipment. So no matter where you train, you should have plenty of access to what you need.

When it comes to the seated position for concentration curls, a bench is ideal. But other alternatives such as a chair could be used, so they have great ease of access.

Incline Dumbbell Curls

Dumbbells are widely available in pretty much every gym you can go to.

Even if you train at home, dumbbells are readily available and cheap to buy.

The only limitation to the accessibility of incline dumbbell curls is the requirement of an incline bench.

While these are fairly common in most gyms, they might not be as available as you need them to be in others.

Training in a home gym could be an issue for incline dumbbell curls if you don’t have the budget or space for an incline bench.

The Verdict

Although both exercises require dumbbells, the need for an incline bench in incline dumbbell curls reduces their ease of access.

You need a bench to sit on for concentration curls. But as you can use a chair as an alternative, they have better accessibility.

Variability

Concentration Curls

Concentration curls don’t have much room for variability due to their isolating position. 

You can change from the seated bent-over position to a standing bent-over position. But you’ll need to be mindful of the added stress this can place on your lower back.

Incline Dumbbell Curls

Incline dumbbell curls offer a reasonable level of variability.

Simply changing from a supinated grip (palms-up) to a neutral grip (palms facing your body), you can work your biceps in a different way.

(Neutral grip incline curls are more commonly called incline hammer curls.)

Switching to alternate arm incline dumbbell curls is another way of mixing things up to keep your workouts varied.

The Verdict

Incline dumbbell curls offer greater levels of variability than concentration curls. Mainly because they don’t restrict your movement to keep your biceps isolated.

As you have more movement available to adapt, you can change incline dumbbell curls in more ways.

The need for an incline bench will limit the variability of incline dumbbell curls somewhat, but you still have plenty of options when it comes to variations.

Concentration Curls vs Incline Dumbbell Curls: Which Is Better?

Both concentration curls and incline dumbbell curls are very effective and worthwhile arm exercises. 

If you’re looking for an exercise that isolates your biceps, is fairly easy to perform, and has slightly better ease of access, then concentration curls are a good choice for you.

If you want an arm exercise that brings in a few more muscles and offers more variation options, then incline dumbbell curls might be the one for you.

Ultimately, you’ll probably have a preference as to which exercise you would rather do, and that will likely be the biggest deciding factor as to whether concentration curls or incline dumbbell curls are better for you.

You might also find these articles interesting…

Sources

Incline Dumbbell Curls Muscles Worked

Concentration Curls Muscles Worked