How To Do The Zottman Curl

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The forearms are neither the easiest nor the most exciting part of your body to train. They don’t look good in beach photos and only impress in social situations when you get a chance to show off your awesome grip strength with a firm handshake.

That doesn’t mean you should neglect them, however, because a strong grip will be a major boon when you attempt all manner of other lifts, not to mention life-or-death situations. Should you ever find yourself hanging from a ledge, you’ll definitely regret spending all your time on squats when you could have been building stronger forearms.

If you’re still not convinced of the merits of forearm training, the Zottman curl might be a good way to ease yourself in, because the exercise also helps build bulging biceps while working your lower arms. In fact, because you rotate the dumbbell as you perform the curl you hit the entire biceps group of muscles. That’s greater functional strength and bigger mirror muscles courtesy of one simple exercise. Why isn’t everyone doing Zottman curls?

How To Do The Zottman Curl

Hold a pair of dumbbells by your sides with your palms facing. Curl the weights up to your shoulders, keeping your upper arms still and turning your hands so your palms face up as you lift. Pause at the top of the movement and slowly rotate your grip so your palms are facing downwards. Lower the dumbbells slowly back to the starting position using this overhand grip, counting for three to five beats as you lower the weight to make sure you’re not moving it too quickly. When the dumbbells are close to your thighs again, turn your hands so your palms are in the starting position facing one another. You can perform Zottman curls with both arms at the same time, or alternate the arm you lift with.

Don’t go heavy because the slow lowering section of the Zottman curl will quickly become impossible if you overdo the weight, and the dumbbells will descend too fast. That said, if you do want a target weight to build up to, 19th-century strongman George Zottman – the man the exercise is named after – used to do it with 22.5kg weights.