Let’s face it, the real reason you joined the gym was so you could work your guns. And yes, muscular arms make you look fit and remind everyone around you that you’re not that guy you can mess around with. And since we’re pretty sure there’s a study somewhere that tells you girls dig biceps more than abs, here are 10 best biceps exercises to pump up your arms.
Best biceps exercises
Biceps tend to be the most noticed muscle group. And while it helps to show off that you’re really on top of your workout game, the fact is that you also need to work on your triceps too. If you’re working on your biceps, heavy weights do work well. But as anyone who’s been there and done that will remind you that lighter weights with higher reps tend to be just as effective (or in some cases more so) and cause less injuries. With that in mind, here are some of the best biceps exercises that will help you fill out your sleeves.
1. Standing Dumbbell Curl
Also known as the classic curl, to perform this weightlifting technique you require a pair of dumbbells that are most suitable for your body type. Hold the dumbbells at arm’s length next to your sides. Turn your arms, palms facing forward. Now, without moving your upper arm bend your elbows curling the dumbbells towards your shoulder as much as possible. Take a brief pause and lower the weight back to its original position. Completely straighten your arms when you return to the first position.
2. Barbell Curl
This is one of the best biceps exercises on the planet. Unlike other workouts, it does not require you to focus on one arm at a time. Hold a barbell with an underhand grip about the width of your shoulder and keep your arms extended. Tighten your abs, puff your chest out and hold your head straight before you begin. Curl the bar from your hip area to ward your upper chest, simultaneously contracting your biceps. Remember – keep your elbows stable by your sides throughout. Pause and squeeze your biceps at the top while slowly returning the weight along the same path. You could also replace your straight bar for an EZ-bar for this exercise.
3. Off-set Grip Dumbbell Curl
Similar to the standing dumbbell curl, in this exercise your palm is not placed centrally on the bar of the dumbbell. Holding them close to one of the heads, shifts the weight distribution. Hold the dumbbells at arm’s length by your sides ensuring that either your little finger or thumb is touching one of the heads, then perform the biceps exercise the same way as the standard dumbbell curl.
4. Close-Grip Chin-Up Curl
This exercise targets the back muscles and is therefore perhaps one of the most controversial ones on the list of biceps exercises. Grasp a fixed bar overhead with a firm underhand grip. Hang on to the bar, arms fully extended, palms facing you in a shoulder-width and ankles crossed at the back. Ensure your back and biceps are strong enough to pull your chin up over the bar, bending your elbows as you hoist your bodyweight. Hold for a moment before you return to the original position.
5. Hammer Curl
This exercise is the standing dumbbell curl flipped on its side and is also one of the best biceps exercises. Hold the dumbbells with your palms facing your thighs. Now perform the exercise the way you would do the standing grip curl. This small difference in the way you hold the dumbbell will help you transfer the energy from your biceps brachii to your brachialis (a muscle that could make your arms look bigger).
6. Decline Dumbbell Curl
This exercise is also one of the best biceps exercises and involves lying chest-down on a bench which isolates the biceps since the tension in your legs and core muscles is comparatively reduced in this position. Using various grips will help you narrow down on different parts of your biceps. Make sure you’re lying (face down) on a bench that is inclined to a 45-degree angle. Hold the dumbbells and bend your elbows without moving your upper arms, curling the dumbbells as close to your shoulders as you can. Take a pause and then slowly lower the weight back to its start position. Don’t forget to completely straighten your arms each time you return to the starting position.
7. Static Dumbbell Curl
The advantage of this exercise is that it incorporates isometric training – a technique where you hold the weight in one position for a long time. According to BJ Gaddour, Men’s Health Fitness Director, performing this biceps workout will stimulate your muscles in a way that is different from performing full reps. And new growth can be spurred by that simple change. Start by standing behind a bench that is raised at a 45-degree angle while holding the dumbbell with your right hand. Slowly lower the dumbbell until it reaches just beyond halfway. Hold this position for about 20 seconds and repeat the same with your left arm.
8. Incline Dumbbell Curl
This workout is a hardcore free-weight movement that stretches the biceps and activates stretch shortening cycle (SSC). It basically leads to a more powerful concentric contraction of the biceps via stored elastic energy. Sit back squarely against the pad of a 45-degree inclined bench with your feet flat on the floor. Hang your arms straight down by your sides, palms facing upward. Ensure your shoulders are set back and upper arms perpendicular to the floor. Slowly curl the weights toward your shoulder (either one arm at a time or both simultaneously). Squeeze your biceps hard at the top before you return to the starting position.
9. Kneeling Single Arm Curl
This workout is on the list of the best biceps exercises for a reason. The advantage of curling a weight with one arm is that it helps you focus on weak spots – especially if one arm is stronger than the other. Hold the dumbbell by your side with your left hand and palm facing your thigh. With your right hand, hold the dumbbell with your palm facing outward. Bend your elbow and curl the dumbbell close to your shoulder without moving your upper arm. Take a slight pause and slowly lower the weight back to the starting position. Don’t forget to straighten your arm completely at this point. Make sure you perform all reps on your right arm before you switch to your left.
10. Scott Curl
What makes the Scott Curl one of the best biceps exercises is that it permits you to directly work against gravitational pull. Similar to a barbell curl, this workout requires you to lean chest-facing against the angled side of the bench, keeping your knees slightly bent and back tight. Your triceps need to be pressed into the flat portion of the bench and armpits fit securely against the top of the pad. Keep your palms facing up and hold the bar straight toward the floor. With your head in a neutral direction and eyes focused forward, curl the weight in a smooth arc, hold your biceps hard by squeezing them for one count and slowly lower the bar back to a position where your elbows are nearly straight. (You could also opt to use a dumbbell and train using one arm at a time).
These exercises performed regularly should ensure that you have bulging biceps. But if you’re a beginner, you could start with the exercises demonstrated in the video below: