Zottman Curl


The Zottman Curl

The Zottman Curl is a dumbbell forearm and biceps exercise. It’s essentially a combination (hybrid) exercise of standard dumbbell curls with reverse grip curls. It’s named after George Zottman, an 1800’s strongman that used the exercise to build his powerful arms.

To perform the Zottman Curl you will take the dumbbells and first curl them up using a supinated (palms up) grip.

Once at the top of the curl, you will then rotate the dumbbells until you have a pronated (palms down) grip.

Now the dumbbells are lowered back down to the starting position before rotating the grip back again to supinated (palms up) for the next rep.

The key is to not use dumbbells so heavy that you lose the peak bicep contraction while rotating your grip allowing the dumbbells to drop too quickly. Control through the whole exercise is key.


The Brachialis and Brachioradialis muscles

Most people are weaker in reverse grip curls than standard dumbbell curls because the biceps muscle is in a weaker position during the reverse grip curls.

The generally under-developed brachioradialis muscle (runs along the top of the forearm) and brachialis muscle (lies underneath the biceps) are then required to support more of the load when the grip is changed from supinated to pronated.

The Zottman curl uses the mechanical advantages of varying grips and the fact that a muscle is stronger during an eccentric (negative) contraction than a concentric (positive) contraction.

For each rep of the Zottman curl you will be using the stronger (supinated) grip during the weaker concentric contraction and the weaker (pronated) grip during the stronger eccentric contraction.


George Zottman showing off his reported 19″ arms and 15″ forearms

The benefit of the Zottman curl is you are able to use the stronger biceps muscle to push the generally weaker brachioradialis and brachialis muscles for more equal arm and forearm growth.