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Do Reverse Curls Work Triceps? (Why You Feel Your Triceps!)

Reverse curls are a forearm and bicep-building exercise.

That doesn’t mean that some people won’t feel them in other muscles like their triceps though.

If you’re one of these people who feel reverse curls in your triceps, you might be wondering whether the exercise actually puts some focus on the back of your arm as well as the front. 

Well, that’s exactly what we’re about to cover in this article, whether reverse curls work your triceps or not.

We also look at why some people feel tricep activation during reverse curls and whether you should do reverse curls if your triceps are sore or uncomfortable.

Do Reverse Curls Work Your Triceps?

No, reverse curls don’t work your triceps.

The main muscles being worked during reverse curls are your biceps, brachioradialis, and brachialis.

Other muscles come into play to varying degrees as stabilizing muscles, but these tend to be your deltoids (shoulders) and trapezius instead of your triceps.

As your triceps are not primary, secondary, or stabilizing muscles during reverse curls, the exercise does not work them in any way.

Why Some People Feel Tricep Activation During Reverse Curls

There could be several reasons why some people feel tricep activation during reverse curls.

Tricep Injury

If you have an injury to your tricep that you’re unaware of, you might mistake the discomfort it causes as activation during reverse curls.

During reverse curls, you should only feel activation in your biceps and forearms.

Anything felt in your triceps could be a sign of an injury that you might want to seek medical advice for.

Muscle Confusion

Another option as to why some people feel activation in their triceps during reverse curls is that they are confusing one muscle with another.

This can happen in a number of different exercises and is probably more common than you might think.

For example, during shrugs, you might struggle to work out whether you’re feeling activation in your shoulders, traps, or upper back.

A similar thing could happen during reverse curls.

Your brachialis is located between your biceps and your triceps.

While you probably won’t feel it activate, it’s possible that it could cause you some confusion as to where the activation is happening.

As your brachialis is pretty close to your triceps, it could be that it’s this muscle that is activating, but it might feel like it is coming from your triceps as you’re more familiar with these activating.

Incorrect Technique

If your technique is not completely correct during reverse curls (or any other exercise), the focus can shift from the target muscles to other muscle groups. 

Although your reverse curl technique would need to be pretty bad to feel tricep activation, it could be a possibility.

Your triceps should not come into play at all during reverse curls. So, if you do feel them activate, checking your technique could be a worthwhile starting point.

Here’s a quick video to show you how to do reverse curls correctly!

Are Cable Rope Hammer Curls Good For Triceps?

Like reverse curls, cable rope hammer curls do not target your triceps.

The target muscles of both exercises are your biceps, brachialis, and brachioradialis.

Cable rope hammer curls put more focus on your biceps than reverse curls do, in particular, the bicep peak-building long head.

Your forearms still play a big role in the movement though, so they’re actually a very good all-round arm-building exercise.

During most (if not all curl movements) your triceps will play no role in the exercise.

Curling exercises focus on flexion of the elbow which triceps do not assist with.

That’s why reverse curls and cable rope hammer curls are bad choices if you’re trying to build muscular triceps.

Should You Do Reverse Curls If You Have Sore Triceps?

Like a lot of fitness-based questions, the answer to this question could be both yes and no.

If your triceps are sore as a result of you training them previously, then there aren’t too many reasons why you couldn’t do reverse curls with some discomfort in your triceps.

Your triceps come into play more during pushing movements whereas reverse curls are considered a pulling movement.

This means they won’t activate during reverse curls so they can continue to recover while you train other muscles.

The main reason you might want to avoid reverse curls (and all exercises) due to sore triceps is if you have a tricep injury.

Even though your triceps won’t activate during the movement, it’s usually a good idea to completely rest while you are recovering from an injury.

Once you have fully recovered, you can then get back into your training and perform all exercises without the worry of making an injury worse and delaying your recovery.


Reverse Barbell Curls Muscles Worked