spider curl alternative
Exercise Alternative

22 Bicep-Blasting Spider Curl Alternatives

The spider curl exercise is a very good bicep blaster that helps to develop a fuller, more peaked upper body and arms. But it’s not for everyone. This exercise only works if you’ve got access to a spider curl bench.

Fortunately, there are a lot of alternatives to the spider curl, especially if you’re training at home, without the benefit of commercial gym equipment. In this article, we present 22 great spider curl alternatives to provide you with a huge array of arm training options. 

1. Chair Preacher Curl

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The chair preacher curl allows you to get a spider-like curling experience at home without specialized equipment by making an ad hoc preacher bench from a chair. This makes the curling action far stricter and more intense. The exercise targets the bicep brachii.

Equipment used 

Dumbbell, chair

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand behind a chair with a padded back support with a dumbbell in your right hand. Drape your left arm over the chair back and lower it 80 percent of the way to full extension.
  2. Curl the weight back up to your shoulder level.
  3. Lower and repeat.

Tips

Do not go all the way down as this will put you at risk of a muscle tear.

2. EZ Bar Spider Curl

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The EZ bar spider curl allows you to assume an angled handle position to target the outer head of the biceps brachii muscle.

Equipment used 

Flat bench, EZ curl bar

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Raise the base of a flat bench so that your arms will not touch the floor when hanging down from it. 
  2. Lie on the bench with an REZ curl barbell in your hands. Your head and shoulders should be off the end of the bench with your arms hanging down.
  3. From a full arm extension, curl the EZ curl bar up to full contraction.
  4. Lower and repeat.

Tips

Concentrate on the strictness of the exercise and the full isolated contraction rather than the weight you are using.

3. Couch Curls

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

Couch curls allow you to get an intense preacher and spider curl-like experience at home by turning your couch into a preacher bench. This exercise hits the belly of the biceps brachii muscle.

Equipment used 

Couch, dumbbell

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand behind a couch with a dumbbell in your right hand. Drape your arm over the couch so that it is hanging over the back support. Hold the top of the couch with your left hand,
  2. From an 80 percent extended arm position, curl your arm up to full contraction.
  3. Lower and repeat.
  4. Do 3 sets of 10-15 reps.

Tips

Don’t fully extend the arm to avoid the possibility of a muscle tear.

4. Floor Cable Curl

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The floor curl prevents you from swinging or otherwise cheating, placing all the workload on the target muscle group – your biceps.

Equipment used 

Cable pulley machine

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Set the pulley on a cable machine to its lowest setting. Lie on the floor  facing the machine and brace your feet against it.
  2. Grab the handle in both hands in an underhand grip at full arms length.
  3. Curl the bar up your torso to chin level.
  4. Lower and repeat.
  5. Do 3 sets of 8-12 reps.

Tips

You will have to lower your weight considerably to allow you to perform the exercise strictly.

5. Smith Machine Drag Curls

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The Smith machine drag curl is a very strict form of the curl that does a great job of isolating the biceps brachii muscles. 

Equipment used 

Smith Machine

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Set the bar on a Smith machine at hip height and load the appropriate weight.
  2. Stand with your hips against the bar and grab it at shoulder width with an underhand grip.
  3. Drag the bar up your body to full bicep contraction.
  4. Lower and repeat.
  5. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.
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Tips

Focus on the intense contraction you get in the top position of this exercise.

6. Bent Over DB Hang Curl

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The bent-over dumbbell hangs curl allows you to get an intense isolated contraction while removing any possibility of using momentum. The exercise hits the biceps brachii and brachioradialis.

Equipment used 

Dumbbell

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand with dumbbells in hand and bend your knees slight as you hinge your hips to assume a 45 degree torso position.
  2. From a starting position with your arms hanging down in front of your body, curl both dumbbells up to your shoulders, squeezing tightly in the top position.
  3. Lower and repeat.
  4. Perform 3 sets of 10-12 reps.

Tips

Do not swing or allow momentum to do the lifting.

7. Band High Curl

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The band high curl can be done at home to deliver an intense contraction of the short head of the biceps.

Equipment used 

Resistance band

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Attach a resistance band to top of an internal door. Stand about three feet away from the door and grab the band in both hands with a close underhand grip.
  2. Curl the band from full arm extension to full arm contraction.
  3. Reverse and repeat.

Tips

Adjust your body position so that the band is tut in the starting position. 

8. Cable High Curl

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The cable high curl places emphasis on the short head of the biceps to deliver a very intense contraction in the top position of the movement.

Equipment used 

High pulley cable machine

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Set the cable on a pulley machine at its top setting and put a short bar handle on it.
  2. Stand about two feet in front of the machine, facing it nd grab the handle with both hands in an underhand grip.
  3. Step back so that your arms arms fully extended overhead.
  4. Curl the cable down to your chin.
  5. Reverse and repeat.

Tips

Be sure to get a full extension and contraction of the arms on every rep.

9. Bicep Stretch

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The biceps stretch provides for an intense elongation of the biceps with an isometric contraction.

Equipment used 

Wall

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand side on to a wall corner, facing it with your left arm stretched out laterally at shoulder height on the wall.
  2. Apply pressure by pushing your arm against the wall as your extend it out.
  3. Hold for 20 seconds
  4. Do five 20 second holds on each arm.

Tips

Maintain an upright body position with a neutral spine.

10. Guillotine High Cable Curl

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The guillotine high cable curl is a very strict biceps move that isolates the biceps, preventing the momentum that can rob the curl of its benefits.

Equipment used 

High cable pulley machine

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Put a bench in front of a cable pulley machine. Set the pulley to shoulder height and put a short bar handle on the end of the cable.
  2. Lie on the bench with your head closest to the pulley nd grab the handle above your head with n overhand grip.
  3. From a position of full arm extension, curl down to your head to fully contract the biceps.
  4. Reverse and repeat.
  5. Perform 3 sets of 8-12 reps.

Tips

This exercise focuses on getting an intense contraction of the biceps brachii in the end position.

11. Single Arm Preacher Curl

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The single-arm preacher curl allows for a great unilateral contraction of the biceps. It also prevents cheating as you cannot use momentum on this exercise. The emphasis is on the biceps brachii and brachioradialis.

Equipment used 

Preacher bench

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Position yourself on a preacher curl bench with a dumbbell in your right arm draped over the bench to full arm extension. Rest the other hand on the top of the bench.
  2. Curl your arm up to full contraction.
  3. Lower to 80 percent of arm extension, reverse and repeat.

Tips

Do not lower your arm all the way down as this can compromise the biceps brachioradialis, potentially leading to a biceps muscle tear.

12. Plate Curl

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The plate curl allows for a more intense biceps contraction at the top of the movement than any other exercise apart from the spider curl itself. It hits the short head of the biceps.

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Equipment used 

Weight plate

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand with a weight plate held in front of your body at full arm extension, with your hands on the edges of the plate.
  2. Curl the weight plate up to your chest level.
  3. Lower and repeat.
  4. Do 3 sets of 12-15 reps.

Tips

Do not bend your back or otherwise use momentum to get the weight up.

13. TRX Curl

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The TRX curl allows you to curl against gravity and your bodyweight from a unique angle to provide an intense arm training experience. It works the entire biceps muscle.

Equipment used 

TRX system

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Secure the TRX band to an upright bout a foot above your head.
  2. Stand about a foot from the upright and grab the band handles with an underhand grip. Lean back so tht your body is at about a 45 degree angle when your arms are fully extended. 
  3. Pull your body back toward the anchor point by curling your arms to full contraction.
  4. Reverse and repeat.
  5. Perform 3 sets of 10-15 reps.

Tips

Keep your core tight and your body rigid throughout the movement.

14. Fat Grip DB Curl

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The fat grip dumbbell curl challenges you with greater emphasis on the forearms and brachioradialis.

Equipment used 

Dumbbells, Fat Gripz

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Place a pair of Fat Gripz around the handles of the dumbbells. Grab the dumbbells and hold at arms length with palms facing forward. 
  2. Squeeze tight as you curl the weights up to full contraction.
  3. Lower and repeat.
  4. Perform 3 sets of 10-15 reps.

Tips

Keep the forearms tightly contracted throughout the entire movement. 

15. Band Hammer Curls

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The banded hammer curl places the focus on the brachioradialis muscle to strengthen and build the forearms.

Equipment used 

Resistance band

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand with a resistance band looped under your left foot. Hold the other end in your left hand in a neutral grip (knuckles facing forward).
  2. Now curl the band up and across your chest to full bicep contraction. Lower to the start position.
  3. Perform 3 sets of 10-12 reps.

Tips

Maintain a  neutral spine position and do not use momentum.

16. Squat Hold + Biceps Curl

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The squat hold + biceps curl delivers an intense isolation contraction to the biceps that is similar to doing a concentration curl.

Equipment used 

Resistance band

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand with feet just a bit wider than shoulder distance apart, toes pointed out and a  banded secured under your feet. Hold the other end of the band in front of your torso with both hands. Now drop down into a parallel squat position.
  2. The band should be between your legs. Curl the band up until your biceps are fully contracted then lower them back down.
  3. Perform 3 sets of 12 reps.

Tips

Perform both parts of this compound move as one fluid movement.

17. Bicep Isolated with Band

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

This exercise allows you to isolate the bicep with an intense, strict unilateral contraction. It works the entire biceps muscle.

Equipment used 

Resistance band

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder distance apart and the end of a resistance band under your left foot. Grab the other end of the band with your right hand in a knuckles forward grip.
  2. Now descend to a parallel squat position. Curl the band up and across your body. Squeeze your biceps in the fully contracted position. Lower to the start position. 
  3. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

Tips

Use a lighter weight and concentrate on a full extension and contraction on every rep.

18. Band Side Lunge with Bicep Curls

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

This combination exercise places your body in a unique lateral position that shifts the curling emphasis to the outer part of the biceps brachii muscle.

Equipment used 

Resistance band

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand with your left foot extended and a resistance band looped under the foot. Hold the band with an underhand grip, hands close together.
  2. Extend the rear leg back and drop down into a rear lunge. As you come out of the lunge, curl your arms up to chest level to perform a bicep curl. That is one rep. 
  3. Do 3 sets of 12 reps on each leg.
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Tips

Perform all of your reps on one side before repeating on the other side.

19. Band Deadlift + Bicep Curl

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The band deadlift and bicep curl hit the long head of the biceps through both the deadlift pull and the ensuing bicep curl to provide both stretch and contraction.

Equipment used 

Resistance band

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand with feet hip distance apart and a resistance band under your feet. Hold the other end of the band at your sides, palms facing forward.
  2. Now, bend at the hip to bring your torso down to a parallel floor position, being sure to maintain a neutral spine.
  3. Return to the start position and then curl your arms up to your chin to perform a biceps curl.
  4. Perform 3 sets of 8 reps.

Tips

Do not overextend your lower back; maintain a natural curvature to the spine.

20. Reverse Lunge + Bicep Hammer Curl

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

This combination exercise allows you to work both your quads, forearms, and biceps in one compound move.

Equipment used 

Resistance band

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand with feet shoulder distance apart and a resistance band under your right foot. Hold the other end of the band in your right hand.
  2. Now draw your left leg up, simultaneously curling your right hand to your shoulder. Then kick your leg back into a reverse lunge position. That is one rep.
  3. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg.

Tips

Perform all reps on one leg before repeating with the other side.

21. Sumo Bicep Curl

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The sumo bicep curl places an intense contraction on the belly of the biceps brachii muscle to add fullness to the muscle.

Equipment used 

Resistance band

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Position a resistance band around a secure upright at waist level and stand about four feet in front of it, holding the band in your hands, palms up. Your feet should be wider than shoulder distance apart, with toes pointed out slightly.
  2. Now curl your hands to your chin and then extend them back to the start position.
  3. Next, perform a parallel squat. 
  4. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.

Tips

Do not pause between the curl and squat parts of this exercise.

22. Barbell Static Hold

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The barbell static hold provides an intense isometric contraction that enhances your time under tension for greater hypertrophy.

Equipment used 

Barbell

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Grab hold of a barbell and hold it at arms length.
  2. Curl the bar one third of the way up and then stop, holding for a count of 15 seconds.
  3. Curl to the mid point and hold for another 15 seconds.
  4. Curl to the top position and hold for  final 15 seconds.
  5. Do 3 sets of 8 reps.

Tips

Use a relatively light weight that allows you to maintain the static hold position.

Final Thoughts

The spider curl is an awesome exercise to hit the outer head of the biceps brachii muscle. Finding the equipment to do this exercise, however, is not easy. That’s why I’ve empowered you with 22 effective spider curl alternatives to allow you to blast your biceps from all angles.

Use them to construct your biceps workout program, selecting 2 or 3 exercises for a total of 8 sets. Training your biceps once every 5 days to provide the time for your guns to grow.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are preacher curls and spider curls the same?

The spider curl and the preacher curl are similar exercises but there is a distinct difference. With the spider curl, the arm pad is positioned perpendicular to the floor, rather than at a 45-degree angle. This works the biceps differently, allowing for an intense contraction of the outer head of the biceps brachii muscle. 

How do you do Zottman curls?

The Zottman curl is essentially a combination between a regular curl and a reverse curl done with dumbbells. Start with the dumbbells at arm’s length with palms facing up. Curls both arms together, supinating the wrist halfway through the lift so that, in the top position, the palms are facing down. Reverse the action on the way down.

How do you do cheat curls?

Cheat curls involve using a little bit of momentum to allow you to get a heavier weight up than you would be able to do on a strict barbell curl. This is achieved with a slight hip movement to get past the sticking point of the concentric part of the rep.

Steve Theunissen

Steve Theunissen is a former gym owner and personal trainer based in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness, and fat loss.

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