Zottman Curl Workout

Written by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.


There are variations of Zottman curls. The most popular variation is the Standing Zottman curl. This exercise uses an underhand grip and requires the performer to alternate between the left and right arms.

The first step is to curl the left arm. Then, use the right arm to flip it 180 degrees. Repeat these steps several times.

If you're looking to target specific muscles in your arms, Zottman curls may be the exercise for you.

This comprehensive guide will explain which muscles are worked during Zottman curls and provide tips on how to effectively engage your biceps, forearms, and more.

DB Zottman curl

The DB Zottman curl is a good exercise for strengthening the muscles of the forearm. The exercise focuses on the muscles of the upper arm known as the biceps brachii, which flexes when you curl your arm.

It targets three major muscles: the biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis. It requires more coordination than regular barbell curls. It also requires you to maintain an upright posture and brace your abs throughout the motion.

The biceps brachii muscle is very important for shoulder, elbow, and forearm flexion. The Zottman curl also works the brachialis, the long muscle at the base of the arm that controls the flexion of the arm.

When doing the Zottman curl, it is important to maintain good form throughout the workout.

The best way to achieve this is to use a weight that you are comfortable lifting for two or three sets. Make sure to keep your knees slightly bent.

You should also stand tall and straight while keeping your head and neck in a neutral position.

When performing Zottman curls, you should keep your chin tucked throughout the movement. In addition, ensure that your weight is distributed evenly over your feet, and grip the floor with your hands.

Another variation of the Zottman curl is the unilateral Zottman curl, which requires increased stabilization.

This exercise can be difficult for some people, especially those with weak cores.

However, if you're strong and have a well-developed core, you can try the kneeling Zottman curl. It will help strengthen your back, legs, and hips. It also improves your core stability.

While traditional bicep curls focus on a small section of the arm, the Zottman curl trains the entire arm, including the forearms.

Because of this, you'll get more muscle activation in a shorter period of time. The Zottman curl is named after American strongman George Zottman. He first began performing this exercise in the late 1800s.

Barbell Zottman curl

The barbell zottman curl is a classic exercise that works the forearm muscles. It should be performed with a light weight.

Using heavy weights can cause injuries to the wrists and elbows. Instead, use lighter weights and focus on form. Then, perform multiple sets of six to twelve reps. 

Zottman curls are very effective at building the brachioradialis, the thick forearm muscle that connects the upper and lower arms.

This exercise is particularly effective for building brachioradialis because it puts the biceps in a mechanical disadvantage during the eccentric phase of the rep. As a result, the brachioradialis must pick up the slack, which naturally stimulates the brachioradialis to grow. 

Alternative to DB Zottman curl

The Zottman curl can be programmed much like other isolation movements. You should train in a moderate-to-heavy rep range to build strength and muscle mass in your arms.

However, you should be careful not to overdo it by using too much weight. You should also ensure that you have good form when performing Zottman curls.

Incorrect form will decrease the tension in the muscles, so make sure you lift the weight slowly and smoothly.

Another alternative to the DB Zottman curl is the unilateral reverse curl. This exercise targets each bicep individually and allows for rotation of the hands at the top.

It is best performed with a barbell that can be placed on a squat rack. Using an overhand grip, hold the barbell with your hands facing downward.

Muscles Targeted 



The primary muscle worked during Zottman curls is the biceps brachii, which is located in the upper arm. This muscle is responsible for flexing the elbow joint and bringing the forearm towards the upper arm.

During Zottman curls, the biceps brachii is heavily engaged as you lift the dumbbells towards your shoulders.

This exercise specifically targets the long head of the biceps, helping to develop size and strength in this muscle.

By incorporating Zottman curls into your arm workout routine, you can effectively target and strengthen your biceps.


The brachialis is a muscle located underneath the biceps brachii. It is also involved in elbow flexion and is targeted during Zottman curls.

The brachialis muscle is an important muscle to target during Zottman curls.

Located underneath the biceps brachii, the brachialis is responsible for elbow flexion. When you perform Zottman curls, the brachialis is engaged as you lift the dumbbells towards your shoulders.

This helps to develop size and strength in the brachialis muscle, giving your arms a more defined and sculpted appearance.

By incorporating Zottman curls into your arm workout routine, you can effectively target and strengthen the brachialis muscle along with the biceps and forearms.


The brachioradialis is a muscle located in the forearm. It is responsible for flexing the forearm at the elbow joint and is activated during Zottman curls.

The brachioradialis muscle plays a significant role in Zottman curls. Situated in the forearm, it is responsible for flexing the forearm at the elbow joint.

During Zottman curls, the brachioradialis is activated as you lift the dumbbells towards your shoulders.

This engagement of the brachioradialis helps to strengthen and develop the muscle, contributing to a more well-defined and sculpted appearance in your arms.

By incorporating Zottman curls into your arm workout routine, you can effectively target and work the brachioradialis along with the biceps and forearms.

Forearm muscles:

Zottman curls also engage the muscles of the forearm, including the flexor carpi radialis, flexor carpi ulnaris, and pronator teres. These muscles assist in wrist and forearm movement during the exercise.

In addition to targeting the biceps, Zottman curls also engage the muscles of the forearm.

The flexor carpi radialis, flexor carpi ulnaris, and pronator teres all play a role in wrist and forearm movement during the exercise.

These muscles assist in stabilizing the wrist and controlling the movement of the dumbbells as you perform the curls.

By incorporating Zottman curls into your arm workout routine, you can effectively work and strengthen these forearm muscles, leading to improved grip strength and overall arm development.


While the primary focus of Zottman curls is on the biceps and forearms, the deltoid muscles in the shoulders also play a secondary role in stabilizing the upper arm during the movement.

The deltoids, specifically the anterior deltoids, are activated to a lesser extent during Zottman curls.

As you lift the dumbbells, the deltoids help to stabilize the upper arm and prevent excessive movement.

While they are not the primary target of the exercise, incorporating Zottman curls into your routine can still provide some benefit to your shoulder muscles.

It's important to maintain proper form and control throughout the movement to ensure that the deltoids are engaged effectively.


When it comes to arm-building exercises, the Zottman curl is an effective and efficient choice.

While its unfamiliar name might put some off, this exercise is actually one of the most efficient arm-building exercises around.

Unlike other curl variations which only target biceps muscles, Zottman curl trains all gripping muscles found within forearms (known as secondary mover muscles).

Other forearm muscles recruited isometrically which are known as stabilizer muscles.

Starting off the Zottman curl requires starting with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent with abs pulled in tight as a stable base of support.

Hold two dumbbells with their palms facing in opposite directions - then curl your arms by bending elbows while rotating wrists until they face inward again when lowering weights.

When lifting back off again they return back to neutral and pronation occurs; this movement targets gripping muscles in your forearm as well as short head of your biceps!

Zottman curls can be an effective way to warm-up arms and drive blood flow toward biceps at the beginning of a workout session, as well as an invigorating finishing move at the end. 

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