The experts weigh in on the ideal weight for bicep curls

If you’re doing bicep curls to build bigger arms, you’d better use the ideal weight for the best results.

However, weight standards vary between individuals with different fitness levels.

In general, a good curl is one that challenges the user for the range of reps allotted.

Plus, I’ll reveal how much weight the average person should be able to curl, what’s generally considered good quality, and tips from 4 fitness experts for perfecting a sub-par bicep curl!

The bicep curl weight standards are based on my personal 4 year training experience.

Key Bicep Curl Weights for the Average Person Specific Bicep Curl Weight Standards Factors That Affect Your Ideal Bicep Curl Weights Difference Between Dumbbell, Barbell, and Cable Weight Curls Are Light Or Heavy Bicep Curls Better?

The average male athlete should be able to do a bicep curl of about 20% of his body weight for 1 rep.

The average female novice should be able to do a bicep curl at about 10% of her body weight for 1 rep.

Bicep curl weight standards vary depending on body weight, rep range, experience, gender and equipment.

The ideal weight for bicep curls is one that is light enough to allow you to lift with good form, but heavy enough to fatigue the biceps in each set.

Lift in a fairly high rep range of 10-15 reps per set for optimal arm growth.

bicep curl weight for the average person

What weight should the average person be able to curl a bicep with a dumbbell?

The average male with 6 months of bicep curl training should be able to lift about 20% of body weight for one repetition.

In contrast, females should be able to lift 10% of their body weight.

Lighter weights should be used for higher rep ranges.

So if you are a newbie and you can curl at the above standards, you can be confident that you are lifting good weight.

However, these are only average bicep curl weight standards for men and women.

And there really is no “one size fits all” when it comes to lifting the ideal weight.

Everyone is different and the weight you should be curling depends a lot on your training level and rep range (how many reps in a row you are lifting).

Specific Bicep Curl Weight Standards

The table below shows how much weight you should be curling with a dumbbell for 10 reps (a good rep range for arms), according to your training level and body weight.

Bicep curl weight standards:

Body Weight Beginner 10-Rep Bicep Curl (1 Month Training) Novice10-Rep Bicep Curl (6 Month Training) Intermediate 10-Rep Bicep Curl (2 Year Training)120 lb6 lb14 lb27 lb140 lb7 lb17 lb31 lb 160 lb lb 1 lb 1 lb 1 lb lb 1 lb 1lb 8 lb200 lb 13 lb25 lb42 lb220 lb16 lb28 lb45 lb240 lb17 lb30 lb48 lb260 lb19 lb33 lb51 lb280 lb21 lb35 lb54 lb300 lb22 lb32 lb48 lb260 lb19 lb33 lb51 lb280 lb21 lb35 lb54 lb300 lb 22 lb37 lb56 lbMales:14% Should that the weight lifting standards would have been given).

There are weights per dumbbell.

If you are currently wondering what your ideal bicep curl weight is, the standards above are a good place to start.

If so, and you are matching or exceeding these standards, you know you are lifting good and respectable weight to build arm muscle.

Note: the above standards apply to a range of 10 reps.

For more details on how to choose the right amount of training to blast your biceps, you can check out my guide on lifting the right number of sets and reps for arms.

Factors Affecting Your Ideal Bicep Curl Weight

Here are the 6 main factors that determine the ideal weight you should lift for your bicep curl:

Body weight.

Heavier people generally have more muscle mass and can squat heavier weights.

In general, experienced lifters can curl heavier weights that represent a higher percentage of their own body weight, compared to beginners.

Working in high rep ranges means lifting lighter weights (and vice versa).

Men have more muscle mass compared to women so they can lift heavier weights.

Harder variations don’t allow you to lift as much weight.

You can check out my other post to learn how to choose the ideal number of bicep exercises to include in your program to build bigger arms.

Compound pulling movements such as dumbbell rows and biceps pull-ups tend to work as well (follow the links for the respective weight standards).

People who practice these exercises regularly can expect an above average bicep curl, compared to someone who doesn’t do compound pulls.

In addition, the bicep curl equipment you prefer also affects how much weight you should lift (see next).

Difference Between Dumbbell, Barbell, And Cable Curl Weights

Bicep curls are often performed using dumbbells, barbells, and cable machines.

In general, most people can dumbbell curl about 45% of the weight they could otherwise lift using a barbell or cable machine.

This is because dumbbells are less stable by nature and therefore less weight can be lifted.

The table below gives you an idea of ​​how different types of equipment affect your standard bicep curl weight:

Bicep Curl Weight Equipment For Teenagers 200lb Male With 6 Months Of TrainingDumbbell36lbs (per dumbbell)Barbell80lbsCable Machine75lbsNote: weight standards are for a 1-rep max (movable maximum weight for one repetition).

Why it is better to choose a moderate weight that is not too heavy when doing bicep curls.

As you know, bicep curls in a low rep range (eg 5 reps) allow you to lift more weight compared to curls in a high rep range (eg 15 reps).

So which is better – lifting heavy weights for low reps or light weights for high reps?

As a general rule, for bicep growth it is best to lift in a fairly high rep range of 8-12 reps.

Lighter weights allow good form to be maintained, and this maximizes biceps activation.

In contrast, heavier weights can compromise form and reduce bicep activation.

Conventional weightlifting consensus tells us that lifting heavier weight = more muscle growth.

And one of the most common mistakes is choosing the wrong rep range and weight.

All 4 experts unanimously agree that most of your bicep curls should be done with lighter weights performed at a moderate-high rep range.

You still need to lift a weight that challenges you for the range of reps allotted.

Here are 4 of the most common reasons why you shouldn’t do bicep curls with heavy weights:

How to bicep curl moderate weights in a controlled manner to maximize biceps activation.

Like all weight lifting exercises, the bicep curl consists of an upward (concentric) movement and a downward (eccentric) movement.

Jeff Nippard explains that both the concentric and eccentric steps should be done in a slow and controlled manner.

He also advises you to squeeze your bicep at the top of the concentric phase, and slowly lower the weight back down to work your bicep maximally on the eccentric phase.

In fact, a 2017 study showed that the eccentric phase is more beneficial for hypertrophy (muscle growth) compared to the concentric phase.

This type of controlled bicep training cannot be achieved if your weight is too heavy.

Instead, keep your bicep curl to moderate weights and focus on controlling your concentric and eccentric contractions.

If you are looking to buy dumbbells to build bigger arms at home, you can check out my other post that explains how to choose the ideal dumbbell weight to build arm muscle.

What does cheating look like for a bicep curl using a weight that is too heavy.

Good weight lifting form refers to adopting practices to safely and exclusively activate the target muscles.

Jeremy Ethier explains that using a dumbbell that is too heavy encourages you to recruit the surrounding muscles to help the movement of the bicep curl (also known as “cheating).

Crouching in the bicep cavity can inadvertently recruit the front deltoids (shoulders) and trapezius (upper back), reducing biceps activation.

A tell-tale sign that you’re lifting too much weight on the bicep curl is if your shoulders move forward and up as you curl a dumbbell.

These are examples of both forms of sacrifice for heavy weights, and should be avoided.

Instead, you should do lighter bicep curls with good form to maximize bicep engagement.

3) Heavy Weights Cheating For Advance.

By using lighter weights you will allow full range of motion and more bicep pressure, resulting in increased muscle growth.

Jeremy Ethier suggests that “cheat lifts” are a common consequence of curling a heavy weight that your biceps can’t handle.

This in turn reduces the range of motion of the bicep curl and prevents you from achieving a good “bicep press”.

This has been demonstrated in a 2012 study that found that partial range of motion (i.e. the dumbbell does not travel completely up and down during a deadlift) reduces bicep growth by 9%.

Additionally, another 2018 study found that those who lifted heavier weights but failed to fully press the bicep saw 5.5% less bicep growth compared to those who achieved a good bicep press with lighter weights.

So you should use a light, moderate weight for bicep curls – one that challenges you but also allows for good lifting form.

4) Heavy Bicep Curls Don’t Develop Mind-Muscle Connection.

Jeff Cavalier emphasizes the importance of performing lighter bicep curls to maximize your mind-muscle connection.

By using a lighter weight, you can actively feel your bicep contract while doing a curl.

Jeff also notes that once you’ve built a solid base of bicep strength, you can add more weight.

For more details on how to add weight to your bicep curl, you can check out my other post on progressive overload with dumbbells.

Other Weight Standards For Bicep Curl Muscles

Here are weight standards for other exercises that hit similar muscle groups:

Dumbbell row – a compound back movement that works the biceps as secondary drivers.

The ideal weight for bicep curls is one that allows you to lift perfectly and challenge you for the allotted rep range.

Moderate-high rep ranges of 8-15 reps are ideal for building bigger biceps.

For most novices, 10-20lb dumbbells are a good weight to start lifting for the rep range.

Note, however, that weight standards can vary greatly depending on your body weight, rep range, gender and experience.

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