Machine Vertical Curl

Start Position
End Position

Starting position:

  1. Sit on the machine bench, placing arms and back against their respective support pads.
  2. Place feet flat on the floor.
  3. Grasp the handles with a closed, supinated grip (palms facing upward).
  4. Extend elbows and allow arms to hang down at your sides.
  5. Sit straight (with an erect torso).

Upward movement/concentric phase:

  1. Flex the elbows, lifting the handles toward your shoulders.
Do not jerk the body as the weight is lifted.

Downward movement/eccentric phase:

    1. In a slow and controlled fashion, allow the elbows to extend back to the starting position.
    2. Keep wrists straight throughout the exercise.
Do not fully extend elbows before the next repetition to keep the tension on the biceps. Do not let the stack of plates drop 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: Biceps brachii and brachialis
  • Synergists: Brachioradialis
  • Stabilizers: Forearm flexors (flexor carpi radialis and flexor carpi ulnaris)
  • Type: Strength, hypertrophy
  • Mechanics: Elbow flexion
  • Equipment: Vertical bench biceps curl machine
  • Lever: 3rd class lever
  • Level: Beginner to advanced
  • FAQ'S & FACTS ABOUT Machine Vertical Curl

    What Is A Biceps Machine Vertical Curl?

    A vertical machine biceps curl is a resistance exercise, which involves the primary elbow flexors, the brachialis and biceps brachii. This particular machine is a variation of the biceps curl in which the lifter is seated with upper arms are rested on pads, preventing the movement of the shoulders while isolating the biceps.

    The concentric portion of the lift is elbow flexion, which involves the lifting of the weight. The eccentric portion is elbow extension, which involves the descent of the weight.

    The positioning of the arms mimics a wide grip biceps curl, which activates the short head (inner portion) of the biceps brachii.

    Why Do Biceps Machine Vertical Curls?

    Vertical machine biceps curls strengthen and increase the size of the biceps brachii, brachialis and brachioradialis. It is a seated variation of the biceps curl that has the lifter curl with a wider grip angle. This helps develop the inner portion of the biceps brachii.

    Performing biceps curls on machines allows novice lifters to learn and develop biceps curl technique and strength. Intermediate and advanced lifters can benefit from implementing machine biceps curls into their regimen as machines can provide a variation in angle, grip and resistance. Although it is primarily an exercise for aesthetics, machine biceps curls also serve as an auxiliary exercise that can increase strength involved in other multi-joint exercises.

    Anatomy Of A Biceps Machine Vertical Curl

    The biceps brachii is located on the front of the arm, originating at the shoulder and inserting in the elbow joint. It consists of two heads, the long head (outer portion) and the short head (inner portion). The long head tendon helps stabilize the shoulder joint and its origin is located at the tubercle and lip of the glenoid cavity of the scapula (shoulder blade). The short head origin is located at the coracoid process of the scapula. The long and short head unite as the muscle bellies run down the front of the arm. Both heads merge, sharing insertion into the radial tuberosity of the elbow joint.

    The biceps brachii flexes the elbow joint and supinates the forearm. Supination refers to the simultaneous rotation of the wrist and elbow as the palm of your hand faces upward.

    The brachialis lies underneath the biceps brachii, originating at the front of the lower end of the humerus bone. Its insertion is located at the coronoid process of the ulna at the elbow joint. The brachialis is a primary elbow flexor.

    The brachioradialis aids the biceps brachii and brachialis, helping stabilize the elbow joint during biceps curls.

    Although their contribution is minimal, forearm muscles, palmaris longus, flexor carpi radialis, and pronator teres contribute as weak flexors of the elbow joint.

    Primary forearms flexors, flexor carpi radialis and flexor carpi ulnaris are stabilizers. Both insert at the elbow joint and attach at the metacarpals near the wrist.

    Variations Of A Biceps Machine Vertical Curl

    One-arm machine curl.

    How To Improve Your Biceps Machine Vertical Curl

    Focus on the concentric portion of the contraction, concentrating on “squeezing” at the end of the flexing portion.

    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). It is also important to allow adequate recovery days in between biceps training to allow muscles to repair.

    Common Mistakes When Doing Biceps Machine Vertical Curls

    Returning the weight to starting position too quickly can threaten joint and tendon integrity. Performing the eccentric portion of the lift ballistically (e.g. dropping the weight on the way down, extending the elbows quickly) and/or hyperextending the elbows can result in biceps tendon injuries and/or elbow injuries.

    It is important to note that exercise machines, in general, may not accommodate ergonomically to the varying heights, torso lengths and limb lengths of individuals. Adjust the seat height accordingly and ensure that you do not place your joints in any compromising positions against the weighted resistance.

    Injuries Or Ailments & Their Effects Regarding Biceps Machine Vertical 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), the likelihood of a biceps and/or elbow injury increases.

    Although rare, biceps tendon rupture may occur if warm-up is not sufficient and/or if intensity (load) is increased inappropriately.

    If proper recovery is not implemented between training days for optimal muscle repair of the biceps, the biceps tendon becomes inflamed. Without proper rest and treatment, the inflammation remains and results in biceps tendonitis.

    Impingement syndrome and rotator cuff injuries, in general, are commonly associated with biceps tendonitis/biceps tendinosis. Therefore, it’s best to avoid biceps exercises when addressing impingement syndrome/rotator cuff injury unless advised by a physical therapist.