Building strong biceps is more than just about aesthetics; it’s about increasing your physical strength and maintaining health as well. They play a crucial role in our daily activities, from lifting grocery bags to moving furniture around. In this article, we bring you the top 10 effective bicep exercises that you can incorporate into your workout routine for improved muscle strength and tone. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned athlete, these exercises offer variations to cater to every fitness level. Let’s dive in and explore these workouts to get you those sculpted arms you’ve always wanted.
The Barbell Curl is a classic bicep exercise that targets both the short and long heads of the bicep muscles. To perform this exercise, you’ll need a barbell, and it’s optional to add weights depending on your strength and fitness level.
- Start by standing tall with your feet hip-width apart, holding the barbell with an underhand grip. The barbell should rest near your thighs, arms fully extended, and palms facing upward.
- Engage your core, keep your elbows close to your body, and ensure your upper arms stay still.
- Inhale, then exhale as you curl the barbell up, contracting your biceps. Avoid using momentum and focus on using your biceps to lift the weight.
- Continue raising the barbell until your biceps are fully contracted and the bar is at shoulder level. Hold this position briefly, squeezing your biceps.
- While inhaling, slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position. Maintain control throughout the movement, emphasizing the eccentric (lowering) phase.
- Repeat the lifting and lowering motion to complete one repetition (rep).
The Barbell Curl is beneficial for several reasons. It not only targets the biceps but also works the brachialis – a muscle that can make your arms look bigger. Additionally, it improves grip strength, which is beneficial for other lifts and daily tasks.
Different variations of this exercise can target different parts of the biceps or increase the intensity. For instance, you can perform the exercise with dumbbells to engage your muscles differently, or you can use a wider or narrower grip to work different parts of your biceps.
The Hammer Curl is another fantastic exercise for developing the biceps, as well as the brachialis and brachioradialis, a muscle of the forearm. Unlike traditional curls, Hammer Curls hit your muscles from a different angle, which encourages growth and offers a balanced arm strength. To perform this exercise, you’ll need a pair of dumbbells.
- Start by standing tall with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand at arm’s length, with your elbows close to your torso and palms facing your torso. This is your starting position.
- While keeping your upper body still, breathe out and curl the weights by contracting your biceps.
- Continue raising the weights until your biceps are fully contracted and the dumbbells are at shoulder level.
- Hold the contracted position for a brief moment, squeezing your biceps.
- Inhale and slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position, maintaining control in the eccentric phase.
- You can perform hammer curls bilaterally (both arms at the same time) or unilaterally (one arm at a time) to address muscular imbalances.
While the Hammer Curl is a bicep exercise, it also significantly engages the forearm muscles, which can enhance grip strength. This can benefit you not only in carrying out other exercises but also in daily tasks that require lifting and carrying.
3.Incline Dumbbell Curl
The Incline Dumbbell Curl, a bicep workout that can be a game-changer in your muscle-building journey, targets both the long and short head of the biceps brachii, a two-headed muscle that gives your arm its bulging appearance.
- Set an adjustable bench to an incline angle of 45 to 60 degrees.
- Sit on the bench and hold a dumbbell in each hand, with your arms fully extended and palms facing forward.
- This is your starting position.
- Curl the dumbbells toward your shoulders, contracting your biceps as you exhale.
- Keep your upper arms stationary and focus on engaging only your biceps muscle.
- Hold the fully contracted position for a brief moment to maximize time under tension.
- Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position as you inhale.
- Maintain control and perform the lowering phase in a slow and controlled manner.
- This eccentric or lowering phase creates micro-tears in the muscle.
- These micro-tears, when repaired, contribute to building stronger biceps.
The Incline Dumbbell Curl offers a unique advantage over other bicep workouts; the inclined position stretches the long head of the biceps more, which can contribute to greater overall muscle development. For those who wish to increase the intensity, a variation can be performed using a cable machine, known as the Incline Cable Curl.
The Concentration Curl is one of the most effective biceps exercises for targeting the muscle group and stimulating growth, making it a staple in many bicep training routines. This exercise specifically targets the biceps brachii, the two-headed muscle that makes up the bulk of the bicep muscle group. Notably, this exercise places a high load on your biceps, isolating them and placing maximum tension on the muscle.
- Sit on a bench or chair with your feet spread wide and a dumbbell between them.
- Lean forward slightly, placing the back of your upper arm on the inside of your same-side thigh. This is your starting position.
- Exhale and curl the dumbbell while keeping your upper arm stationary. Contract your biceps, aiming to lift the dumbbell until your biceps are fully contracted and the dumbbell is at shoulder level.
- At the top of the movement, squeeze your biceps hard for a moment to increase muscle activation.
- Inhale and slowly lower the dumbbell back to the starting position, focusing on the eccentric or lowering phase.
- Repeat the exercise to complete the desired number of repetitions.
- Remember, the eccentric phase is crucial for muscle activation and overall muscle building.
The Concentration Curl can help you build muscle effectively due to its targeted nature. By isolating the biceps, you can specifically target the muscle group and apply a high level of tension. This, in combination with a proper diet and rest, can result in bigger biceps.
The Concentration Curl can contribute to the anatomy of the biceps by working both the long head and the short head. This leads to greater overall development and a more balanced look. Moreover, its focus on the biceps peak can be particularly appealing for those seeking well-defined arm muscles.
Chin-ups are among the best bicep exercises for building muscle and training biceps effectively. This compound exercise engages your biceps, brachialis muscle – a major muscle of the arm, and back muscles, offering a comprehensive workout. The movement resembles a biceps curl variation, but with an emphasis on your biceps, and hence, can significantly build your biceps strength.
Here are the steps to perform chin-ups:
- Find a sturdy, overhead bar either at home or at the gym.
- Grip the bar with your palms facing towards you, slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart. This is your starting position.
- Engage your core and pull your body upward until your chin is above the bar. Make sure your biceps contract significantly to get a bicep squeeze at the top of the movement.
- Lower your body back down to the initial position in a controlled manner.
- Focus on the biceps movement, especially during the lowering part, as it is crucial for strengthening exercises.
- Chin-ups place emphasis on the outer portion of the biceps, targeting them from a different angle compared to exercises like hammer curls and concentration curls.
- This variation can result in a well-rounded and balanced set of biceps.
- The robust contraction during each repetition can improve the functions of the biceps, enhancing overall arm strength.
Adding chin-ups to your biceps routine is undoubtedly one of the best biceps workout strategies. This exercise not only targets the entire biceps directly but also involves the brachialis and back muscles, providing a holistic upper body workout. Its inclusion in your biceps workout exercises is sure to yield noticeable results, contributing to your journey of building bicep strength.
6.EZ Bar Curl
The EZ Bar Curl is a variation of the traditional bicep curl that offers unique benefits and challenges. This exercise targets both heads of the biceps muscle group, making it an efficient way to build well-rounded biceps. The EZ bar, named for its ‘zig-zag’ shape, places less strain on your wrists and forearms compared to other curl variations.
This allows for a more comfortable grip and can minimize wrist pain, making it an excellent option for those with joint issues.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and grasp the EZ bar at shoulder width.
- Keep your elbows close to your body as you exhale and curl the bar towards your chest in a controlled manner.
- Engage your biceps throughout the movement and avoid swinging your body to lift the bar.
- Squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement for a moment.
- Slowly lower the bar back to the starting position.
- Control the eccentric phase to maximize muscle activation and strength.
- Take advantage of the angled grip of the EZ bar to target the long head of the biceps.
- This exercise can also contribute to building forearm and grip strength, enhancing performance in other exercises.
The Preacher Curl, aptly named for the specialized bench used, is a highly effective exercise for targeting the biceps brachii. This exercise is unique, as it minimizes the involvement of other muscle groups, placing an intense focus on the biceps. Performing the Preacher Curl requires a preacher bench and a barbell or EZ bar.
- Sit on the preacher bench with your upper arms resting on the padded slope. The slope should end just where your armpits begin.
- Grab your desired bar with a shoulder-width grip, palms facing upward, and arms fully extended.
- Inhale and curl the bar, bringing it up until your biceps are fully contracted and the bar is at shoulder level. Keep your upper arms stationary, moving only your forearms. Hold the contraction and squeeze your biceps.
- Exhale and slowly lower the bar back to the initial position. This lowering phase, or the ‘eccentric’ phase, is crucial for muscle growth.
- Repeat the exercise for the desired number of repetitions, maintaining proper form throughout.
The cable curl is another variation of the bicep curl that targets the biceps and forearms muscles. It is usually performed using a cable machine with an attachment such as a rope, bar or handle.
To perform a cable curl:
- Start by setting the weight on the cable machine according to your strength and fitness level.
- Stand facing the cable machine with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
- Grab the cable attachment with an underhand grip (palms facing up) and keep your elbows close to your sides.
- Slowly curl the weight towards your shoulders, keeping your upper arms still and only moving at the elbow joint.
- Squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement and then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
9.Standing Resistance Band Hammer Curl
The Standing Resistance Band Hammer Curl is a great option for those looking to add variety to their bicep workout. This exercise not only targets the biceps but also engages your shoulders and forearms.
To perform this variation:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart on top of a resistance band.
- Hold one end of the band in each hand, keeping your palms facing each other and your arms by your sides.
- Curl the bands towards your shoulders, keeping your elbows close to your sides and squeezing your biceps at the top of the movement.
- Slowly lower the bands back to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
This exercise can also be done with one arm at a time, providing a unilateral challenge and promoting muscle balance. Additionally, the resistance band offers continual tension throughout the movement, creating an effective way to build strength and size in your biceps.
10.Seated Alternating Dumbbell Curl
The Seated Alternating Dumbbell Curl is another variation that targets the biceps individually, allowing for a greater challenge in building muscle symmetry. This exercise also engages your core muscles and promotes stability.
To perform this exercise:
- Sit on a bench with your back supported, holding a dumbbell in each hand by your sides.
- Keep one arm stationary as you curl the other dumbbell towards your shoulder, rotating your palm to face upward at the top of the movement.
- Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position and repeat with the other arm.
- Continue alternating arms for the desired number of repetitions.
Remember to keep your upper arms still and only move at the elbow joint, focusing on fully contracting your biceps with each repetition.
Incorporating a variety of bicep exercises into your workout routine can help build strength, size, and symmetry in your arms. However, it is essential to also consider the proper form and controlling the movement for maximum muscle activation. Additionally, incorporating exercises that target both heads of the biceps and promote grip strength can have a positive impact on your overall fitness goals. So, next time you hit the gym, be sure to include these top 10 bicep exercises in your routine for an effective and well-rounded workout!
Keep pushing yourself and staying consistent with your training, and you will see progress and results in no time. Remember always to listen to your body and adjust accordingly to prevent injuries. So grab those dumbbells, bars, cables or resistance bands and start building those biceps! Have fun and stay strong.
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