Skip to main content

Spider curls: A complete guide to this effective arm exercise

Equipment required, variations, and more

Spider curls.
lipoputra / Adobe Stock

Some exercises are designed to target a certain part of the body. They can also be so specialized that they are specific to a muscle or muscle group, and spider curls are a great example.

Spider curls are designed to strengthen the muscles in the arms, particularly the biceps. Strong biceps help with everyday activities, as they are activated when carrying or lifting objects, which most of us do regularly.

So with this in mind, what exactly are spider curls? Keep reading for the complete guide on everything you need to know about this exercise, including how to perform them, variations you can try, and how often they should be performed for optimal results.

What muscles do spider curls target?

Man doing resistance band bicep curls.
Pixela Audiovisuales / Pexels

As mentioned, spider curls are an isolation exercise that targets the bicep muscle. The biceps are located on the front of the upper arm and take much of the force when lifting heavy objects.

Including spider curls in a regular exercise program can help build and tone the biceps, leading to more arm power that can be utilized in daily life and when performing other exercises in a gym or at home.

Do you need any equipment for spider curls?

Incline bench.
Amine Ben Mohamed / Unsplash

Spider curls can be performed using various types of equipment, and, unfortunately, there isn’t a bodyweight-only version. 

Equipment needed for spider curls includes weights, such as dumbbells, barbells, or an EZ curl bar. Choosing weights you are comfortable with will make the curls easier and safer to complete.

No matter what form of resistance you choose, an incline bench is always needed. This is the safest and most practical way to get the most out of this exercise, as it can help ensure safety and correct posture during each curl. 

How to perform spider curls

barbell bicep curls
Westend61 / Shutterstock
  1. Begin by setting up an incline bench to a comfortable angle, usually around 45 degrees.
  2. Sit face down on the bench with your chest against the backrest and your arms hanging straight towards the floor by your sides.
  3. Grip the dumbbells or barbell with an underhand grip, keeping your palms facing up.
  4. With your upper arms stationary, bend your elbows to slowly curl the weights towards your shoulders, squeezing your biceps at the top of the movement.
  5. Lower the weights back down in a controlled manner, fully extending your arms before beginning the next rep.

Spider curl variations

Man doing dumbbell concentration curls.
Monkey Business / Adobe Stock

As is often the case with established exercises, variations on the original theme appear, and this has happened with spider curls. Some variants improve on the original or are created to improve bicep activation or activate even more muscles. Either way, these variations can keep things interesting and fun as you pursue your muscle-building goals.

  • Alternating spider curls: As the name suggests, you can perform spider curls one arm at a time, alternating between arms with each rep to increase the intensity.
  • Hammer spider curls: This variation involves using a neutral grip with your palms facing each other to target the brachialis muscle.
  • Preacher bench spider curls: For curls, you can use a preacher bench instead of an incline bench. This changes the angle of the exercise and shifts the focus to different areas of the biceps.

How often should you do spider curls for optimal results?

Man flexing biceps.
mahmood sufiyan / Pexels

To get optimal results from spider curls, incorporate them into your workout routine two to three times per week.

You can perform three to four sets of eight to 10 reps, focusing on proper technique throughout each set. This will ensure that you get maximum benefit from each workout session. Over time, you should start to see results if you are consistent with spider curls, as well as fuel your body properly.

Things to avoid

Man in a gym watching himself in the mirror
Joseph Bucanan / Pexels
  • Over-exercising: It is tempting to rush the entire exercise process to obtain rapid results. This usually means you exercise every day without any rest periods in between. This can result in fatigue and injury, such as muscle pulls. For optimum results from exercise, including curls, avoid targeting the same muscle group two days in a row.
  • Using excessive weight: Choose a weight that allows you to maintain proper technique and complete the full range of motion without straining. Again, this can help prevent muscle and joint injuries.
  • Arching your back: Keep your core engaged and your body flat against the bench to protect your spine and maintain stability throughout the exercise. Using a manageable weight can also help prevent bad posture habits from developing. The muscles that are supposed to take the full force of a curl will do so without straining, which can happen when applying too much weight to bars. Increasing the load should be a gradual process in response to boosted arm strength. 

As with all forms of exercise, it is best to listen to your body and progress slowly. Remember to eat sensibly and increase your protein intake to aid muscle building as well.

Topics
Christine VanDoren
Christine is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist with an undergraduate degree from Missouri State University. Her…
How to train for a half marathon: Your complete guide
How to create the perfect training plan
Man running outside

Training for a half marathon can seem like a daunting task, but with the right plan, anyone can conquer those 13.1 miles. Whether you are a beginner lacing up your running shoes for the first time or a seasoned runner aiming for a new PR, a well-structured training program is the key to success. To help guide you on how to train for a half marathon, we spoke with Sean Garbutt, director of training programs for three Fleet Feet running shops in and around Sacramento, California. With extensive experience training hundreds of athletes for half marathons, Sean offers invaluable tips and insights to help you achieve your goals and cross the finish line with confidence.
The benefits of training for a half marathon

Training for a half marathon, rather than jumping in unprepared, provides numerous benefits that will enhance both your running experience and your overall health. Structured training will improve your heart health, build your strength, and increase your endurance. This will reduce your risk of injury by gradually conditioning your body to handle the physical demands of long-distance running. Training can also help you to improve your pace and refine your running technique, which is of the utmost importance when trying to improve your time on race day.
Creating a training plan

Read more
How to do a military press the right way: These are the tips you need
Here's how to do a military press with proper form to lower your risk of injury and reap the benefits
man wearing grey t shirt in gym doing overhead press or military press with barbell

There’s something primal about picking up a heavy object, hoisting it up in the air, and lowering it back down to the ground. The military press sparks that feeling. This effective exercise is a feat of strength that’s popular in the powerlifting and bodybuilding world. Because you’re hoisting the weight up overhead, it’s crucial you have proper form to lower your risk of injury, including shoulder injury. Here’s how to perform this movement with proper form to get the benefits. 
What is the military press?

The military press is a classic compound weight training exercise that works various muscles, including your deltoids and triceps. You press a barbell over your head straight up in the air before bringing it back down again. You can add this movement to your shoulder training and upper body training days. The military press is similar to the overhead press, but there are slight differences. For example, you need a wider stance to perform the overhead press. 
What muscles does the military press target?

Read more
Da Rulk tells us his fitness secrets (it’s about more than just lifting weights)
Get in shape outside the gym
Rulk and Haven bag

There are all kinds of reasons to get in shape. Ensuring you live a long and healthy life full of being able to climb mountains, go on hikes, run a marathon, and pick up your kids is the main reason. Also, making sure your clothes fit well is a great reason. And it's never a bad thing to look great naked. That is why there are hundreds of training programs and fitness regimens that will whip you into shape in no time. Another great reason to get in shape is for the purpose of doing your job as a cop, soldier, athlete, or fireman. That is where Da Rulk comes into the picture.

He designed and created a revolutionary training program called Raw Functional Training. RFT is a bodyweight movement curriculum specifically developed to improve mobility, and increase functional strength, and a series of movement modalities that optimize the (CNS) central nervous system to maximize overall body performance and conditioning. The training also incorporates dynamic movement sequencing and sensory processing to activate the adrenal system and enable all energy systems to operate on the highest levels of efficiency.

Read more