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If you want great-looking arms, you should perform different exercises for the triceps and biceps. A wonderful exercise to add to your routine is the Zottman curl. This exercise was named after George Zottman, an American strongman from Philadelphia who, in the late 1800s, had 19-inch biceps and 15-inch forearms.

Below we’ll look deeper into Zottman curls and we’ll cover the following:

  • Muscles involved in the Zottman curl
  • Benefits associated with Zottman curls
  • How to properly do Zottman curl
  • Common mistakes when performing Zottman curls
  • Video on how to do a Zottman curl
  • Bicep exercises to complete your arm workout

What Muscles Do Zottman Curls Work?

Primary muscles involved in dumbbell bicep curls:

  • Biceps: The biceps brachii is the large muscle that lies on the anterior part of the upper arm between the shoulder and the elbow. It arises on the scapula and runs towards the upper forearm. The biceps muscle has two heads (the short head and the long head) – therefore its name. The biceps’ main function is to flex and supinates the elbow -allowing it to rotate so the palm faces up or forward. When the biceps contract, they pull up the forearm is pulled up.
  • Brachialis: The brachialis muscle sits under the biceps brachii. This long muscle flexes your elbow. It connects your upper arm bone (humerus) to the long forearm bone (ulna).
  • Brachioradialis: This muscle also sits in the anterior compartment of the upper arm. The brachioradialis muscle assists the brachialis with elbow flexion and connects your humerus bone to the short lower arm bone known as the radius.
  • Wrist Extensors: These muscles are located along the forearm. They connect the upper arm bone (humerus) to your hand via your wrist and are involved in extending the wrists and fingers. Some of the wrist extensor muscles are the capri ulnaris, the digiti minimi, the digitorum, the indices, the pollicis brevis, and the retinaculum of the hand.
  • Wrist Flexors: These muscles are also located along the forearm and connect your elbow to your hand. The wrist flexor muscles serve to flex the wrists and fingers. Your carpi radialis and carpi ulnaris flex your wrist up towards your forearm while you digitorum profundus and superficialis flexor muscles connect your forearm bone to the bones in your fingers, allowing them to curl.

Secondary muscles engaged:

  • Deltoids: These muscles make up your shoulders. The wide part of the muscles attaches to your shoulder blade (scapula) and your collarbone (clavicle) before stretching down to your humerus bone. The anterior deltoid flexes and medially rotates the arm, the lateral deltoid abducts the arm, and the posterior deltoid extends and laterally rotates the arms.

Zottman Curls Benefits

  • Hypertrophy: Zottman curls help increase muscle size in your biceps and forearms.
  • Inclusive Bicep Exercise: They work the short head and the long head of the bicep muscle.
  • Isolation: The bicep curl is a single-joint movement, making it great to isolate the biceps.
  • Full Range of Motion: The Zottman curl involves a big movement and gives the bicep a full stretch, making it very effective.
  • Upper Body Health: Biceps collaborate in forearm supination, elbow flexion, and shoulder stabilization. So stronger biceps help you to maintain a healthy upper body.
  • Endurance & Strength: They allow the muscle to be under tension for a long period of time, increasing bicep endurance and making you stronger. Strong biceps come in handy when you are picking up objects, carrying things around, or moving heavier loads when doing other exercises, such as rows and lat pulldowns.
  • Strong Wrists and Grip: Zottman curls improve wrist stability and strengthen your grip, much needed when lifting heavy and engaging in other compound moves.
  • Challenging: It is not an easy exercise so you can be challenged with light weights.
  • Aesthetics: Bicep curls help develop beautiful arms, which can translate into a great upper body.
  • Simplicity: The Zottman curl is a straightforward and simple exercise. You just need a pair of dumbbells. However, you can also perform it with resistance bands.


How to Do Zottman Curls

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your knees slightly bent.
  • Tight up your abdominal muscles, straighten your back, and move your shoulders backward.
  • Grab a pair of dumbbells, and let them hang down at your sides with your palms facing each other.
  • As you exhale, slowly flex at the elbows, and curl the dumbbells up as you rotate the wrists and allow the palms to face the ceiling.
  • Keep your upper arms steady and your elbows close to your body.
  • When your hands are up to your shoulders, pause and rotate the dumbbells so your palms face the ground.
  • As you inhale, lower the dumbbells to the initial position in a controlled manner.
  • Repeat the movement for 8 to 12-15 repetitions and for 3 sets.
  • You can work both arms simultaneously, one arm at a time, or alternating arms.


Zottman Curls Mistakes

Now that we know how to perform Zotman curls, let’s see what the most common mistakes associated with these curls are:

  • Moving the arms back and forth: Do not move your elbows and upper arms throughout the movement. Aim to maintain the arms steady.
  • Rounding your back: Keep your back straight and engage your core. A straight back helps you maintain proper alignment and perform the exercise properly.
  • Moving the weights fast: Don’t perform the movement fast to avoid momentum. Slow down the repetition timing and squeeze every rep to isolate your biceps.
  • Using very heavy weights: Do not use very heavy weights in order to avoid that other muscles, such as the core and back, help carry the load instead of the biceps. Lighter loads allow you to perform controlled reps with good form and lower the weight slowly.

Zottman Curl Video

Bicep Workout

You can complete your bicep workout by performing the following exercises:

As you can see the Zottman curl is a wonderful bicep and forearm exercise. It offers tremendous benefits associated with hypertrophy, strength, endurance, and aesthetics. Now that you know how to properly perform Zottman curls, you can avoid the most common mistakes, enjoy their benefits, and complement your bicep workout.

Remember, whether you want to lose weight, tone your body, gain strength, or increase muscle size, all muscles must be trained – Lift, Burn more Fat, Get Stronger, and Live Healthier!

To a Fitter Healthier You,

Adriana Albritton

The Fitness Wellness Mentor

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