How to do a Towel Bicep Curl

What is a Towel Bicep Curl?

The bicep is a recognizable muscle on the front of your upper arm. It is your tricep’s antagonist; when the tricep is flexed the bicep is stretched, and when the bicep is flexed the tricep is stretched. The bicep is involved in any pulling motion you do with your arms, and supports the muscles in your back when you perform Rows, Pull-Ups and Inverted Rows.
Unlike the three exercises just mentioned, the Towel Bicep Curl isolates your biceps as the prime mover. This movement uses a towel and your leg for resistance instead of using dumbbells which most gym Bicep Curl movements utilize. But before you scoff at the fact that this movement does not use “real weights”, try the progressions at the end of this post. You will be sore the next day when this movement is done correctly, and the standing variations will engage the balancing muscles in your legs and core. 

The following muscle groups is engaged by the Towel Bicep Curl:

  • Biceps

How to Do a Towel Bicep Curl (Instructions):

Start in a sitting position. Bend your right knee and place the middle of the towel underneath your right leg. With your arms by your side and palms facing forward holding the towel, pull on the towel and bend your arms until your arms are flexed. For resistance, press down on the towel with your right leg. Lower your arms back down until your arms are back by your side. Repeat.

Trainer Tips for the Towel Bicep Curl: 

  • Progression (make harder)
    • Use a thicker towel. This will make the movement more challenging for your forearms.
    • Use more resistance from the leg the towel is wrapped under.
    • Perform the movement and squeeze your biceps for 2 seconds at the top of the movement, then return to the starting position.
    • Perform the movement slowly. Count to 2 on your way up and count to 4 on your way down. Ensure to apply equal resistance from your leg throughout the movement. 
    • Perform the movement while standing, with the towel under your thigh.
    • Perform the movement while standing, with the towel under your foot
  • Regression (make easier)
    • Use a thinner towel. This will make the movement easier on your forearms.
    • Use less resistance from the leg the towel is wrapped under. 
  • Application:
    • Do a “Ladder” workout with towel bicep curls.
      • A “Ladder” is a workout that is comprised of  ascending and descending repetitions. For example:
        • Perform one towel bicep curl, then rest. Perform two towel bicep curls, then rest. Keep ascending until you feel like you are going to fail. Once you reach the failure point (let’s say 8), rest, then perform seven towel bicep curls, then rest. Descend until you are back at one.
Towel Bicep Curls are used in the Layman’s Fitness 12 Week Bodyweight Program, which you can learn more about here.