Forgotten Exercises: Zottman Curls

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Looking for a new arm exercise? Of course you are, who isn’t?

Following our discussion of the see-saw shoulder press last week, we thought it was time to examine another forgotten exercise, the Zottman Curl. Named after 19th century strongman George Zottman, the Zottman curl is a fantastic way of stressing the biceps, brachialis muscles, and forearm supinators.

So what are Zottman Curls and how do I perform one?

Although a rare sight in gymnasiums nowadays,  Zottman Curls are a fantastic way to develop your forearms and biceps. To execute the perfect curl

  • Position yourself as you would normally for a standard biceps curl i.e.  dumbbells at your sides, elbows close to your torso and palms facing forward
  • Curl the DB up to your shoulders
  • Squeeze your biceps at the top
  • Turn hands over so your palms are now facing away from you (pronated grip) i.e rotate your wrists outward so your palms face forward again.
  • Lower the weight to the starting position using a pronated grip.
  • At the bottom position, switch back to original supinated grip. Repeat for prescribed number of repetitions.

Here’s a video of current bodybuilding sensation Rich Piana performing the exercise

Variations

Like any bicep exercise, the Zottman Curl can be done in a variety of ways, be it standing, seated or incline. Play around and see which suits you best.

Bonus Material

The Zottman Curl was a favourite bicep developer of the Iron Guru, Vince Gironda. Check out this rare footage below of Gironda performing the movement.

3 comments

  1. I like Vince’s movements. Their fairly fluid and remind me of my martial arts days. I wonder if there are more exercises that incorporate that sort of flowing movement?

    1. It’s remarkable to contrast how Vince and Rich Piana do the exact same curls. Vince’s is much more fluid and there is something reminiscent of a martial art in it.

      I can’t think of any off hand except maybe continuous squatting which has always had something of a mystical quality about it for me! Old videos of Tom Platz doing high reps with loaded bars have always fascinated me!

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