Why it's on the list: The standard shoulder-width curl engages the short and long heads of the biceps equally, you can alter grip width to slightly change the emphasis (wide to target the short head, narrow for the long head), you can really pile on the weight, and you don't have to sit there endlessly working one arm at a time.
How many more reasons do you need? If you're only going to do one biceps exercise, make it this one.
Want to use a straight bar instead of a cambered EZ-bar? Have at it, if your wrists don't mind. A 2018 study found that while both variants produced greater activity than dumbbell curls, "The small difference between [barbell] and EZ variants… makes the choice between these two exercises a matter of subjective comfort."
Barbell Curl Variations for Biceps Growth:
- Standing Barbell curl (standard, close grip, wide grip)
- Standing EZ-bar curl (standard, close grip, wide grip)
- Seated barbell curl (emphasizing top half of range of motion)
In your workout: Hit your heavy curls at the beginning of your biceps workout when you can really challenge yourself with weight. For a bit more of a strength stimulus, choose a weight you can handle for about 6-8 reps, or even a classic size-and-strength rep range like 5x5. A common biceps blunder is rocking your body excessively on this movement. Keep it strict for the most part, especially when you're going heavy.