What is a High Cable Bicep Curl?

What is a high cable bicep curl?

What is a high cable bicep curl?

The high cable bicep curl is an underrated and underused exercise for building bigger arms. If you use just one isolation exercise for your biceps, this should be the one. So, what is a high cable bicep curl?

The high cable bicep curl is a resistance exercise for building bigger biceps. It is performed on a cable pulley station with a bar attachment. 

There is no better exercise for building bigger peaks and a thicker bicep than the high cable bicep curl. It is easy to perform, gives a great pump and there is very little risk of injury. If barbell curls are not working for you, try the high cable bicep curls instead.

How do I perform a high cable bicep curl?

If you are working both arms at the same time, you will need a twin cable station. Position the cables just above shoulder height and select a comfortable weight. 

You need to be selecting a weight that is relatively easy to lift as you will need to hold the top of the movement and have full control throughout.

Attach the stirrup to the cables. Grab the stirrups from underneath so that your arms are outstretched with palms facing upwards. 

Make sure that you are standing in line with the cables or slightly in front of them to avoid bringing your shoulders into the movement. 

Take a deep breath in and on exhale, curl both sides together until your forearms touch your biceps. Hold this position for a couple of seconds before slowly straightening your arms. 

Once your arms are outstretched, repeat the movement for the required number of repetitions. 

How many reps and sets of high cable curls should I perform?

This is an isolation exercise that purely targets the biceps so there is no point in going too heavy. It is far more beneficial regarding hypertrophy and strength to opt for a moderate rate that allows you to perform 12-15 reps. 

If you want to add intensity to the exercise, slow down the stretching out element of the exercise to the count of 5 seconds. The slow negative motion increases time under tension and makes the exercise much harder. 

Variations of a high cable curl.

The high cable curl can not be performed with dumbbells or barbells, so it is not a workable option if you do not have cable machines at your gym. It is possible to use resistance bands attached at a high point as an alternative, but make sure that they are good quality bands, in good condition and securely fastened.

If your gym only has a single cable machine, you can just work one arm at a time. The set-up and movement is the same as it would be for a regular high cable curl. 

Another option for a high cable curl on a single cable machine is to use a close grip in a forward-facing position. This can be done with a straight bar, EZ bar, or rope attachment.

What is a high cable bicep curl

If performing the front-facing high cable curl, set the pin at just above head height and lean back slightly when curling. Keep your upper arms in a fixed position and do not pull the weight with your shoulders or back. If you need to use anything other than your biceps to curl the weight, you are going too heavy.

Benefits of using a high cable curl

One of the main benefits of a high cable curl is that you will have better control over the movement. If you use a regular grip handle, your backhand and wrist may not be aligned with your fingers. By changing this grip, you will be able to effectively work on bicep muscles more efficiently.


The high cable curl is not a movement that you regularly see being performed in a commercial gym but if you are training for hypertrophy and a big bicep peak, it is the ultimate exercise. 

Barbell curls, drag curls, hammer curls and incline curls are all great for developing overall mass in the biceps but to really add the height try adding some high cable bicep curls into your training routine. 

We hope that you have found this article informative and that we have answered the original question - what is a high cable bicep curl?

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What is a high cable bicep curl alternative?

Barbell curl

The barbell curl is a great overall mass builder for the biceps and should be the main focus of any hypertrophy training split. Although good for building thicker biceps, it does not have the same 'peak building' ability as the high cable bicep curl. 

Rope hammer curl

The rope hammer curl is a great alternative to the high cable bicep curl. It really isolates the bicep and develops the forearm at the same time. Make sure that you include rope hammer curls or dumbbell hammer curls in your routine for maximum muscle growth in the arms. 

Spider curl

The spider curl is probably the best alternative if you are looking to replicate the high cable bicep curl. It is virtually the same as a front-facing high cable curl and it activates exactly the same muscles. Make sure that you are using a moderate weight and focusing on correct form, slow movements and maximum time under tension. 

Preacher curl

The preacher curl is probably the best bicep isolation movement there is. Add on a couple of drop sets to the end of a heavy arm session to really finish off the bicep and force hypertrophy. 

Incline dumbbell curl

Incline dumbbell curls are another great way to hit biceps from a different angle and keep the muscles guessing. Adding them in with a variety of other arm exercises is the best way to get maximum gains in hypertrophy and strength.

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