The dumbbell biceps curl is among the most commonly-practiced free weight exercises for strengthening your arms. Designed to isolate the biceps brachii muscles, the dumbbell curl exercise directs most of the weight directly to your biceps for quick and effective muscle building.
Although there are no official average curl weights for dumbbell curls across the board, a general range can be estimated based on your current fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning this or any exercise regimen.
Average Weight for Biceps Curls
As with most things fitness-related, there's no one weight that's best for everyone, even where curls are involved. There also aren't really any surveys or studies that research the national average weight for biceps curls (more on that below). With that said, there are a few standards you can use when you're starting out.
On average, beginners tend to lift anywhere from 10 to 15 pounds, according to Carolina Araujo, CPT, a New York-based strength coach. For advanced lifters this number can vary from 20 to 40 pounds.
With Araujo's suggestions, you can use the chart below to get a general idea of what most people tend to lift for biceps curls. This data was compiled by Strength Level, an online lift calculator that compiled users' biceps curl results from more than a million lifts to create a list of standards.
Again, though, there are no actual standards for biceps curls, so try not to get caught up in these numbers and focus on the factors you can control (more on that below) instead.
Average Biceps Curl Standards
People Assigned Male at Birth
People Assigned Female at Birth
What is Considered a Strong Curl?
Some athletes may consider advanced or elite lifters' standards to be typical, strong curl weights. But for others, the intermediate standard may be a curl weight goal. What's strong to one gym-goer may not be as impressive to another.
It's all about perspective and so long as you're making gradual progress to heavier weights over time, you can consider your curls strong.
Factors That Affect Your Curling Weight
1. Your Fitness Level
Comparing beginner and intermediate lifters, it's apparent that fitness level plays a pretty big role in how much weight you can curl on average. Intermediate lifters can curl more than double the average beginner's weight.
With that said, curling lower weight than the average intermediate lifter doesn't mean you aren't strong or fit. Biceps curls are an isolation arm exercise, which means a big majority of the work comes from your bicep muscles, Araujo says.
"Unless you do biceps curls pretty often, you can be a really fit person but still your numbers won't match up to some of these so-called standards," she says. "That's why it's not really helpful to take averages too seriously and focus on your own progress."
2. Your Form
If you're not using good form, you miss out on a lot of muscle-building benefits. It also makes progressing to heavier weights more challenging, Araujo says. As you work to find your best, average biceps curl weight, find a pair of dumbbells that feel comfortably challenging.
"You should be able to do all your reps with good form even if it becomes a little tough at the end of your set," she says.
Before you start testing different weights, brush up on your form.
Dumbbell Biceps Curl
- Stand with your feet at hip-width distance, holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides.
- Keeping your elbows pinned to your sides and stable, lift the weights with an underhand grip.
- Lift the dumbbells until they reach your shoulders, elbows locked in place.
- Reverse the motion with control and bring the weights back down to your sides.
3. Your Curl Style
Some curl variations are more difficult than others. Compare a standard, standing curl to a seated biceps curl — the seated version is a little more challenging because you can't use momentum to help lift the weight up, Araujo says. Also, alternating curls are easier than curling both weights up at once.
Similarly, different curl variations can feel more or less challenging. Isolation curls, for instance, are generally more difficult than standard curls or hammer curls, as there's no way to use other body parts to help you lift the weight (it's only your bicep working).
Different weight tools can feel more or less difficult, too. Usually, dumbbells feel easier than a barbell, as they allow you to bend and twist your wrist for maximum comfort. A fixed bar, on the other hand, limits your range of motion.
Finding Your Average Curling Weight
Although there are a number of methods for finding your personal lifting weight, experiment until you find a weight that you can lift 12 to 15 times with good form. Selecting the right weight for your dumbbell curl exercises is ultimately a personal choice best determined with trial-and-error.
You can also use online calculators (like Strength Level) to find your one-rep maximum (the maximum amount of weight you could possibly lift for one rep). From there, you can cut the weight in half (or a little more) and that can be considered your average curl weight, Araujo suggests
"Again, it's not a science, though," she says. "The best way to find your average weight is to just practice the exercise and see what feels best for your body."