Barbell bicep curls are the most effective bicep exercise that you can do. Period. But what’s the difference between doing the curls with a typical straight barbell or the EZ bar?
EZ bars look like curved or bent versions of a typical barbell; they allow the palms to take a less supinated (upward), more natural position when curling. This helps ease the wrist or elbow pain that some lifters experience on a typical barbell. In short, the EZ bar makes curling a bit easier and less painful.
However, it comes at a price. As an experiment, make a fist with your right hand, palm facing upward. Hold your arm as though you were about to do a curl with a 90 angle in your bent elbow. Look at your bicep. It should be flexing. Now slowly rotate your palm inward about 45 degrees – mimicking the grip on an EZ bar. You’ll notice that the bicep flexing decreases, and that some of the contraction moves into your forearm. This is precisely the problem with the EZ bar; it’s not as effective for bicep curls.
If using the typical straight barbell doesn’t result in wrist or elbow pain during your workout, stick with it. The straight barbell will give you a better workout – and better results. But for those individuals experiencing discomfort, the EZ is a great alternative.