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3 Reasons Why Incline Curls Are Harder (Explained For Beginners)

When trying to build big strong arms, it makes sense to do exercises that challenge the working muscles in the most effective way.

With that in mind, knowing which exercises are harder than others can help you decide which ones to include in your workouts.

If you’re looking for exercises that’ll have the biggest impact on building your biceps, you might be searching for something more than a standard bicep curl.

You may be thinking that incline curls could be a worthwhile addition to your training program.

Well, in this article, we look at whether incline curls are harder than bicep curls, why they might be harder, who they’re best suited for, as well as looking at adaptations to make them even more challenging for your biceps.

Woman doing an incline curl in a gym

Are Incline Curls Harder Than Bicep Curls?

The incline angle of the bench creates a greater range of movement during incline curls than you get in standard bicep curls.

As the range of movement is bigger, your arms have to travel further during the exercise.

This causes a greater stretch to the muscles as well as causing them to work harder to complete the full movement.

Incline curls also isolate your biceps more than bicep curls.

The seated position prevents you from generating momentum through swinging or arching your back.

All of these things combined make incline curls harder than bicep curls.

Why Incline Curls Are Harder Than Bicep Curls

Greater Distance For Arms To Travel

The movement required for incline curls covers a greater distance than that covered in standard bicep curls.

As your biceps have to cover more distance during the exercise, they’re placed under tension for longer.

The longer your muscles are placed under tension, the harder the exercise is to perform.

More Isolation Of Your Biceps

Although incline curls are not a full isolation exercise, they do isolate your biceps more than standard bicep curls do.

If the working muscles are isolated, they have to work harder as they have fewer secondary muscles assisting in the movement.

It’s not just the reduction of secondary muscles in incline curls either, but also the lack of momentum you’re able to build.

As your back is supported by the bench during incline curls, you’re less able to swing or arch your back to help you move the weight.

Targets The Long Head Of Your Biceps

Incline curls put more focus on the long head of your biceps.

Standard bicep curls tend to bring in both heads to some extent.

If one head has to work on its own, the exercise will be more challenging than if both were working together.

Are Incline Curls Suitable For Beginners?

Incline curls can be suitable for beginners but care needs to be taken to ensure the correct technique is used throughout the movement (as shown below).

The movement required is flexion of the elbow.

As this is a basic physiological movement, most people should be able to perform it with little issue.

The problem will be whether a beginner is able to accurately select the right weight to lift, and whether they fully understand the technique used.

Also, some people believe that beginners are better off focusing on compound exercises. In which case, you may want to focus on exercises like pull-ups.

How To Make Incline Curls Harder

Incline curls can be made more challenging by lifting a heavier weight, performing more reps, or changing the order of the exercises in your workout so they’re performed later on in the session.

Adding weight to incline curls should be done gradually, so it may be more beneficial (and suitable) to increase the number of reps you do before looking to increase the weight.

Are Incline Curls Better Than Bicep Curls?

Deciding whether incline curls are better than bicep curls will come down to several considerations.

If you want a more challenging bicep exercise that isolates your biceps a little more (in particular the peak-building long head), then incline curls could be better than bicep curls.

If you would rather perform an arm exercise where more weight can be lifted with more muscles coming into play throughout the movement, then bicep curls might be better for you.

Ultimately, deciding whether incline curls are better than bicep curls will likely come down to your experience in the gym, your fitness goals, and your personal preferences between the two exercises.


How To Do An Incline Curl