Building The Biceps: straight bar vs ez bar

Straight Bar vs. EZ Curl Bar

When it comes to building the biceps a lot of people are confused as to which bar they should use for their curls…

The EZ Curl Bar is popular because it tends to feel more natural and more comfortable on the wrists and elbows. So a lot of people will opt for that when doing curls.

However, if you are a bodybuilder than your main goal is NOT to be “comfortable”…

It’s to build the Biggest Baddest Biceps that you can!

And that’s why I recommend using the straight bar for your bicep curls. Granted it’s a little more awkward, but it will stimulate the biceps to a greater degree.

To show you what I mean, just bend your arm at a 90 degree angle right now while you are reading this blog post. Now without tensing your arm, just rotate your wrist back and forth, so that the palm of your hand is facing sideways and then facing up towards the ceiling… Just do that a few times back and forth.

What happened to your biceps? Chances are you could notice your arms “peaking” as you twisted your palm up towards the ceiling. Just the simple action of rotating your wrist all the way, also known as supinating your wrist, causes your biceps to flex.

So to get the most bang for your buck when doing bicep curls stick to the straight bar, rather than the EZ curl bar. Yes, it may feel a bit uncomfortable at first, and you may have to lighten the load a little initially, but the size you gain on your arms will be well worth the effort!

And if you’d like to get some more bicep training tips, be sure to pick up a copy of my new e-Book

“Blast Your Biceps”

Blast Your Biceps Book

This is a complete arm specialization course that can help you add as much as 2 inches to your arms in as little as 8 weeks!

About The Author


Lee Hayward is a former competitive bodybuilder and muscle building coach who has been online coaching people since 1997. His work has been featured in several international magazines such as: FLEX, Muscle Insider, Muscle Mag International, Testosterone, Ironmag, and Forbes. Lee's main focus right now is with helping men over 40 - who don't want to be fat anymore - lose the gut, build muscle, and get back in shape. If you're ready to "Start Again" for the last time and finally build a lean healthy body that you can be proud of, just e-mail Lee to discuss a realistic action plan that's right for you...


  • You are completely right Lee! Great post once again…

  • Dave Ruel: You are completely right Lee! Great post once again…  (Quote)

    Lee and I did a video about barbell curls a few months ago, showing a unique twist to lift more weight and therefore stimulate your biceps even more.

    Go check it out:

  • thank you coach that was really helpful i always wondered about that, but i have a suggestion how about if guys like me who lives abroad (by the way im from Jordan) can send you pictures of our body’s and you can give us advice’s on what to concentrate on its just a thought ……any way i just wanna say you are the best coach lee keep up the good work
    Mohammad Alkenni

  • ivan

    then ez bar, makes a blend of hammer curl and bicep curl?

  • Farley

    I tend to use the curl bar to avoid strain on the tendons in my elbows. Otherwise I get hurt and can’t lift at all, which is no good :(.

    But I do get your point.

  • Hackim

    Great advice lee,

    But how many bicep exercises would you recommand to do in a workout ?

  • Bruce

    I like the “fat” straight bar…it also blasts the forearms

  • Jaws2

    E-Z bar reduces pain in my elbows. A combo of curl bar, hammer curls, and standard twisting dumbbell curls would work just as well. Whatever works for you as an individual. We’re all different.

  • First I’ve done both and Lee is right once you work thru the pain period it is better to use a strait bar, now that pain period could last a while but its worth it in the end to last it out and blast the strait

  • michael sture

    lee why not just use both taking turns one after the other and then you are hitting your biceps from all angels.

    allso ive just used your tip on my bicep workout today off lying flat on the bench and doing cable curls i must tell you the pump on my arms was amazing thanks for the tips mick from the uk.

  • Jack

    I normally get a good mix of both.

    The straight bar is also good for the forearms though it can bring a lot of strain to the wrists.

    Personally you could probably get good results just using one or the other, but mixing both may get the results slightly quicker.

  • Stephen Doc Lymburner

    Mix it up for bulk and peak I like the straight bar [ use some cheats too ] but I use the E-Z Curl and do a cycle of the outer mid and inner [close grip ] to blast from all angles. Doc

  • David

    As an older guy, the strain on my wrists is more than just uncomfortable. However, I can take a moderately wider grip on a barbell and do Drag Curls, which emphasizes the biceps peak without unduly straining the wrists. The EZ bar in my gym is not balanced properly, which is worse than using a barbell.

  • tony

    deffinately agree there.
    i used to use the EZ curl bar all the time i went to gym and nothing used to happen.
    for a change, i picked up something from a gym friend who used a straight bar instead, so i decided to follow his strategy.
    within 4 weeks, the results i got were shocking as my biceps where now twice as big!
    i really would recommend a straight bar too for anyone trying to get big biceps

  • Yes, It’s really true, the straight bar blast your biceps better than EZ Bar.

    Thanks Lee!

  • Sean

    I think Close-Grip weighted pull-ups are the best bicep exercise, period. Why? It is really hard to cheat, unless you lean back and use your lats. Saying that, it also means using a straight bar, so Lee is correct. Use wrist wraps and straps if you need to in order to get a good grip or have issue with your wrists. Using the parallel grip will act like a hammer curl, jut much harder.

    I also like doing DB work so my right arm doesn’t do more work allowing me to get my left arm to catch up.

  • jorge

    I cannot use the straight bar because my arms are limited into pronation, this is a defect from genetics my mother and other relatives have the same. The only way I can workout my biceps are dumbells or EZ bar. This might be the reason I don´t have huge arms although I train them heavy.

  • AG

    Hey Lee, thanks for finally clearing it out!

    Well, would this be the same for preacher curls as well? And as for preacher curls, wide-grip, close-grip?

    Cos I see everyone, even pro bodybuilders on YouTube using the EZ-bar for preachers, and never the barbells. Could you help me out please?

    Cheers bro!

  • vijay

    which one is the best lee. my guess is straight bar……………………

  • AG

    vijay, it’s stated in the article above. the best, comfort-wise, is the ez-bar. the best for really targeting your biceps is the straight bar.

  • AG

    vijay: which one is the best lee. my guess is straight bar……………………  (Quote)

    vijay, it’s stated in the article above. the best, comfort-wise, is the ez-bar. the best for really targeting your biceps is the straight bar.

  • Wes

    I totally agree… I have been using the universal bar now at the beginning of my Bi workouts. I will do a 5/10/20 starting with the UBar curls @ 145 lbs, 5 x’s, then, alternating standing curls @ 50 lbs 10 x’s, finishing them off with 30 lbs hammer curls 20 x’s. This is an awesome plateau breaker that should only be used once or twice a month. I believe it was instrumental in getting me from 18″ to 19″ guns that command respect in and out of the gym.

  • TinyTim

    Straight bar is better but I rarely do it because it kills my small wrists. Close grip lat pulldowns with a v-bar will get ya good.

  • TinyTim

    The best bicep exercise for me are spider curls with an ez curl bar on a preacher bench (the 90 degree angle side) focusing on the eccentric (negative) part of the lift by going very slow with a good amount of weight and having a partner help with the concentric part and pausing for a second or two at the top. Spider curls are better than preacher curls because there is a better range of motion.

  • Shaun

    Stick with ez close grip curls. When your at peak contraction squeeze your elbows inwards and your bi’s will light up like nothing before! Try this while lying face down on a low incline bench for even better stimulation and no cheating. You’ll never go back to the preacher again!

  • Khalid

    Hey lee Thanks very much for sending me those free ebooks they really helped me men I’m your biggest fan men…….not because you’ve done something for me it because your the men

  • ryan hopkins

    Jaws2: E-Z bar reduces pain in my elbows. A combo of curl bar, hammer curls, and standard twisting dumbbell curls would work just as well. Whatever works for you as an individual. We’re all different.  

    wrong everbodys got the same body mech like lee said u need to lighton the wieght until ur joint,tendons an muscal get use to the straight bar it will feel more comfortable lee knows is stuff listen.ryan

  • You are totally right Lee, that,s the bar i,ve used since along time and the result were good. Everything has changed since i started using EZ bar n my arms are now growing smaller,,,, thanks alot, could,nt figure out what went wrong,, cheers

  • Dice

    I’ve been using the straight bar for years. Let me tell you if you stick with it you will unleash the monster within those biceps!

  • Joel

    yeah you are right , using an bigger bar help you to built big and strong muscles..

  • mohamed salmi

    i have a problem with my wrists,so i use generally the ez bar;but occasionally i work with the sraight bar and really ifeel good pomp in my biceps.

  • KevinF

    I see where you’re going here, but I don’t think it is worth it to risk injury to get slightly more emphasis on the bicep.

  • elvis

    different workouts works the muscle in a different way though straight barbell curls are great but the EZ bar is good also to try if you’r arms are not changing size

  • beejolson

    agreed Lee! the ezbar will take the load off of the bicep brachii and you’ll be using primarily brachialis to lift the bar.

    go lighter and use a straight bar if you have wrist pain!