Dumbbell Wrist Curl

Start Position
End Position

Starting position:

  1. Kneel on the floor, perpendicular to a flat exercise bench.
  2. Grasp two dumbbells with a closed, supinated (palms facing upward) grip.
  3. Place the backside of your forearms on the bench so your wrists and hands can hang over the edge of the bench.
  4. Keep arms firmly placed on the bench at all times throughout the movement.
  5. Extend wrists by allowing the weight of the bar to hang your hands downward within a comfortable range of motion.

Upward movement/concentric phase:

  1. Flex both wrists simultaneously, lifting dumbbells upward.
  2. Keep arms stationary, as only the wrists should be moving.

Downward movement/eccentric phase:

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


Exercise Data

  • Primary Muscles: Flexor carpi radialis, Flexor carpi ulnaris
  • Synergists: Flexor digitorum superficialis, palmaris longus, flexor digitorum profundus
  • Stabilizers: Palmaris longus
  • Type: Strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance
  • Mechanics: Wrist flexion
  • Equipment: Two dumbbells
  • Lever: 1st class lever
  • Level: Beginner to advanced
  • FAQ'S & FACTS ABOUT Dumbbell Wrist Curl

    What Is A Dumbbell Wrist Curl?

    A dumbbell wrist curl is a resistance exercise, which involves the primary wrist flexors, the flexor carpi radialis and flexor carpi ulnaris. This exercise is performed with two dumbbells supported over the edge of a bench while kneeling on the floor. The concentric portion of the lift is wrist flexion, which involves the lifting of the weight. The eccentric portion is wrist extension, which involves the descent of the weight.

    The purpose of dumbbell wrist curls is to strengthen the wrist flexors while promoting hypertrophy (increases in size) of the forearms.

    Why Do A Dumbbell Wrist Curl?

    Dumbbell wrist curls strengthen and increase the size of the primary wrist flexors, the flexor carpi radialis and flexor carpi ulnaris. Dumbbell wrist curls increase the size of the wrist flexors, increasing forearm strength and aesthetics. Stronger forearms also complement exercise performance when training larger muscle groups and with multi-joint exercises.
    Performing this exercise with dumbbells, as opposed to with an EZ bar or barbell, allows the lifter to isolate the contraction of both forearms, individually, throughout the set. This can also help the lifter detect strengths and weaknesses between arms, if any.

    Anatomy Of A Dumbbell Wrist Curl

    The wrist flexors are located on the front of the forearms with their origins on the medial side of the elbows (with palms facing out, the side of the elbow closest to your body). Their insertions are located at the wrists and hands. Upon wrist flexion, you can see superficial tendons of the wrist flexors rise near their point of insertion at the wrist.

    The two primary wrist flexors are the flexor carpi radialis and the flexor carpi ulnaris. The flexor carpi radialis originates at the medial epicondyle of the humerus at the elbow joint and inserts at the base of the second and third metacarpals of the hand.

    The flexor carpi ulnaris is a two-headed muscle originating at the medial epicondyle of the humerus and the olecranon process of the elbow. Its insertion is at the pisiform and hamate carpal bones at the wrist and at the base of the fifth metacarpal of the hand.

    Aiding in wrist flexion are the flexor digitorum superficialis and flexor digitorum profundus. The flexor digitorum superficialis is a two-headed muscle that is located under the flexor carpi radialis and flexor carpi ulnaris. It originates at the medial epicondyle of the humerus, the coronoid process of the ulna and the shaft of the radius. It inserts by four tendons into the middle phalanges of all fingers except the thumb.

    The flexor digitorum profundus, as its name suggests, is a deep muscle, located underneath the flexor digitorum superficialis. Its origin is located at the anteromedial surface of the ulna and at the interosseous membrane (located between the ulna and radius). Like the flexor digitorum superficialis, the insertion of the flexor digitorum profundus inserts by four tendons into the phalanges of all fingers except the thumb, but at the distal portion of the phalanges (further down the finger bones).

    Aiding in wrist flexion while also providing stability is the palmaris longus. The palmaris longus is a small muscle that runs superficially down the forearm with the flexor carpi radialis and flexor carpi ulnaris at each side. Its origin is located at the medial epicondyle of the humerus and inserts at the fascia of the palm of the hand.

    Variations Of A Dumbbell Wrist Curl

    Finger curls, barbell wrist curls, EZ bar wrist curls, cable wrist curls, reverse wrist curls (wrist extension).

    How To Improve Your Dumbbell Wrist Curls

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

    Wrist curls may be performed in a simultaneous fashion (as described) or in an alternating fashion. You may also do a set with one arm at a time to fully isolate the wrist flexors of each arm.

    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. Perform a few sets of wrist curls followed by wrist extensions to ensure you’re targeting both sides of the forearm. When performing wrist curls, incorporating finger curls will ensure you place a maximal stretch on the wrist flexors, increasing their activation with flexion.

    Focus on the concentric portion of the contraction, concentrating on “squeezing” at the end of wrist flexion as the dumbbell are 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 Dumbbell 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 Dumbbell 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 Dumbbell 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 flexors, the wrist flexors’ tendons become inflamed. Without proper rest and treatment, the inflammation remains and results in tendonitis.