Barbell Reverse Wrist Curl

Start Position
End Position

Starting position:

  1. Sit at the end of an exercise bench.
  2. Grasp a barbell with a closed, pronated (palms facing downward) and shoulder-width grip.
  3. Place the underside of your forearms on your thighs so your wrists and hands can hang over the edge of your knees.
  4. Keep arms firmly placed over thighs at all times throughout the movement.
  5. Flex wrists by allowing the weight of the barbell to hang your hands downward.

Upward movement/concentric phase:

  1. Extend the wrists, lifting barbell upward.
  2. Keep arms stationary and as only the wrists should be moving.

Downward movement/eccentric phase:

    1. In a controlled fashion, allow the wrists to flex back to the starting position
Do not bounce your hands off of your legs at the bottom of the movement when proceeding to the next repetition/concentric phase.
Do not hold your breath. Exhale during the concentric/phase phase and inhale during the eccentric/lowering phase.


Exercise Data

  • Primary Muscles: Extensor carpi radialis longus, Extensor carpi radialis brevis, Extensor carpi ulnaris
  • Synergists: Extensor indicis, Extensor digitorum
  • Stabilizers: Extensor digitorum
  • Type: Strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance
  • Mechanics: Wrist extension
  • Equipment: Barbell
  • Lever: 1st class lever
  • Level: Beginner to advanced
  • FAQ'S & FACTS ABOUT Barbell Reverse Wrist Curl

    What Is A Barbell Reverse Wrist Curl?

    A barbell reverse wrist curl is a resistance exercise, which involves the primary wrist extensors, the extensor carpi radialis brevis and longus and extensor carpi ulnaris. This exercise is performed seated with an Olympic bar or other barbell alternative. The concentric portion of the lift is wrist extension, which involves the lifting of the weight. The eccentric portion is wrist flexion, which involves the descent of the weight.

    The purpose of the barbell reverse wrist curls is to strengthen the wrist extensors while promoting hypertrophy (increases in size) of the forearms.

    Why Do A Barbell Reverse Wrist Curl?

    Barbell reverse wrist curls strengthen and increase the size of the primary wrist extensors, the extensor carpi radialis brevis and longus and extensor carpi ulnaris. By activating the wrist extensors, barbell reverse wrist curls increase forearm strength and aesthetics. Stronger forearms also complement exercise performance when training larger muscle groups and with multi-joint exercises.

    Anatomy Of A Barbell Reverse Wrist Curl

    The wrist extensors are located on the backside of the forearms with their origins on the lateral side of the elbows (with palms facing out, the side of the elbow furthest from your body). Their insertions are located at the wrists and hands.

    The primary wrist extensors are the extensor carpi radialis longus, extensor carpi radialis brevis and extensor carpi ulnaris. The extensor carpi radialis longus runs parallel and next to the brachioradialis. It originates at the lateral supracondylar ridge of the humerus near the elbow joint and inserts at the base of the second metacarpal of the hand.

    The extensor carpi radialis brevis, as its name indicates, is a shorter extensor muscle that lies underneath the extensor carpi radialis longus. It originates at the lateral epicondyle of the humerus at the elbow joint and inserts at the base of the third metacarpal of the hand.

    The extensor carpi ulnaris originates at the lateral epicondyle of the humerus at the elbow joint and inserts at the base of the 5th metacarpal of the hand.

    Aiding in wrist extension are the extensor digitorum and extensor indicis. The extensor digitorum lies next to the extensor carpi ulnaris, originating at the lateral epicondyle of the humerus at the elbow joint and inserting by four tendons into the middle phalanges of all fingers except the thumb. The extensor indicis is a small muscle located close to the wrist. Its origin is located at the lower end and backside of the ulna. Its insertion is located at the extensor expansion of the index finger, joining the tendon of the extensor digitorum that inserts into the 2nd phalange (index finger).

    Variations Of A Barbell Reverse Wrist Curl

    Cable reverse wrist curls.

    How To Improve Your Barbell Reverse Wrist Curls

    Reverse wrist curls improve the strength and performance of the wrist extensors, improving forearm contribution to other exercises. Reverse wrist curls also complement the aesthetics of the forearms by increasing their size.

    Forearm training should be done at the end of an exercise session that trains upper body (e.g. biceps and back) to not jeopardize the quality of exercise when training larger muscle groups. For example, reverse curls and hammer curls activate the brachioradialis, which increases the strength and size of the forearms. Reverse wrist curls performed after a training session that included reverse curls and/or hammer curls would complement the aesthetics of the posterior muscles of the forearm.

    Focus on the concentric portion of the contraction, concentrating on “squeezing” at the end of wrist extension as the barbell is curled all the way.

    Emphasis on eccentric contractions, prolonging the eccentric portion of the contraction, may also be incorporated in a training program focused on increasing strength. This should be implemented accordingly and with adequate muscle recovery as eccentric contractions cause substantial damage to muscle tissue.

    It’s important to note that your repetition and set volume will depend on your goals (e.g. strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance). Strategically varying your intensity (load) and volume (number of repetitions in a set) will optimize forearm development with time.

    Common Mistakes When Doing Barbell Reverse Wrist Curls

    Training forearms before training larger muscle groups can decrease the quality of a lifting session if forearm muscles are fatigued initially. Many resistance exercises (e.g. biceps exercises) activate the forearm muscles in the process to assist with larger muscles. This is why it is important to train them after training large muscles, at the end of a session.

    Bouncing the barbell at the bottom of the movement before the upward phase can result in wrist injury. Therefore, it is important to control the downward and upward phases of the exercise.

    Injuries Or Ailments & Their Effects Regarding Barbell Reverse Wrist Curls

    If proper technique is not adhered to (e.g. dropping the weight quickly instead of controlling the descent on the eccentric portion of the lift, lifting a load too heavy for the lifter), the likelihood of injury increases.

    If proper recovery is not implemented between training days for optimal muscle repair of the wrist extensors, the wrist extensors’ tendons become inflamed. Without proper rest and treatment, the inflammation remains and results in tendonitis.