The 20 Best Biceps Exercises for Your Muscle-Building Workouts The 20 Best Biceps Exercises for Your Muscle-Building Workouts

The 20 Best Biceps Exercises for Your Muscle-Building Workouts

Biceps exercises

If you want to build bigger biceps, you've come to the right place. This article will cover 20 different bicep exercises designed specifically for muscle growth and strength. You'll learn about each one's benefits and downsides to find the best biceps workout plan for your fitness goals. So let's get started!

    Standing Barbell Curl

    You'll want to use a barbell for this exercise. Stand with a straight back and knees slightly bent, keeping your arms straight while gripping the barbell with an overhand grip. Keep your elbows close to your torso as you bend them at the elbow and curl the weight toward your shoulders.

    Keep your wrists straight and rigid throughout this movement; if they're not, it can cause injury or pain. Using light weights will help make sure you're doing it right by keeping tension on the biceps throughout the entire range of motion.

    This is one of those exercises where form matters more than anything else—you should be able to feel it in all three heads (the middle head is called brachialis), which makes for better hypertrophy gains down the road.


    Preacher Curl

    The preacher curl is a simple biceps exercise that can be performed using either a dumbbell or a barbell. It targets your brachialis, the smaller muscle beneath your biceps, making it appear larger and more defined.

    The preacher curl works best when using a bench with a pad at one end, so you can rest your elbow on it while keeping your forearm vertical throughout the exercise. You'll want to keep the weight relatively light since this movement requires more focus than strength—you should feel like you're targeting these muscles rather than just trying to lift as much weight as possible.

    Preacher Curl

    Standing EZ-Bar Curl

    The standing EZ-bar curl is a great biceps exercise because it allows you to get through a full range of motion. The bar should be held at chest level so that your shoulders are slightly in front of the bar when you exercise. 

    They're slightly behind the bar and level with the bar. Your shoulders should also be slightly above or below your body's center line. This helps prevent injuries by keeping them from bearing too much weight at any time.

    Standing EZ-Bar Curl

    Dumbbell Hammer Curl

    This is a biceps exercise that works your arms in two ways. It targets the long head of your biceps while also hitting your brachialis, brachioradialis, and pronator teres muscles. This can help you build bigger arms faster than other moves because it hits all those areas simultaneously.

    To do this exercise, start with a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, so you have good stability throughout this movement. Bend over at the waist to grab one weight in each hand using an underhand grip—your palms should be facing up (neutral grip). 

    Then pull the weights toward you until they're about level with your elbows, making sure to keep them tucked into your sides as much as possible throughout this movement. After curling straight up from here, rotate both hands, so both palms are facing down (supinated position), then lower back down again before repeating for 10-15 reps total per set.

    Dumbbell Hammer Curl

    Spider Curl

    Spider curls are for those who can't quite get their hands around a barbell. However, this move is still super important for biceps training. With your feet on a bench or box, keep your back straight and knees bent at a 90-degree angle and let the dumbbells hang from your sides, then curl them up to the sides of your chest. 

    Make sure to keep your elbows close to the body throughout this lift. Perform one full repetition, then return to starting position for another rep. This exercise should be done for 3 sets with 8–12 repetitions per set.

    Spider curl

    Side-Plank Curl

    The Side-Plank Curl is a great way to make your biceps stand out.

    Side-plunk curls

    You can perform this exercise by getting into a side plank position, with your feet and right arm reaching the ceiling. From this position, curl your arms toward the ceiling as far as possible while keeping a straight line between them and your body. After doing 10 reps on each side, lower yourself back down into the starting position and repeat for 3 sets total.

    The Side-Plank Curl works primarily on the outer head of each bicep muscle (hence its name), but it also trains forearm muscles to steer clear of strain in other areas like the shoulders or neck. You must keep good form throughout this movement to stimulate all those hardworking muscles properly!

    Incline Dumbbell Curl

    This is a great exercise for beginners, as it doesn't require a lot of strength and allows you to focus on the movement. To do this exercise, simply:

    Grab a pair of dumbbells while sitting on an incline bench (the higher the incline, the more effective).

    Use a neutral grip (palms facing each other) so that your palms face forward during this movement; if using an EZ bar instead of dumbbells, make sure your palms face up toward you. You can also use straps if necessary!

    Keep your elbows close to your sides throughout the movement with wrists straight and shoulders back—this will help ensure you're engaging all three heads of the biceps muscle group. The range of motion for this lift should be about 10-15 degrees from straight arms down to full flexion in front of the torso.

    incline dumbbell curl

    Zottman Curl

    Using a barbell with a V-handle attachment, sit on the floor, knees bent and feet flat. Hold the bar with an underhand grip and place your arms on the floor in front of you. The weight of your body should be resting on your forearms; make sure not to rest it directly on your elbows because that can put undue pressure on them—instead, keep them slightly bent.

    Lift your hips off the ground while keeping both feet planted on their respective corners, so they stay parallel to each other (this is called "maintaining proper form"). Your back should also stay straight; don't round or arch it!

    Now, lift your arms off the ground and straighten them in front of you. You should feel a stretch in the back of your shoulders. Hold this position for about 15 seconds or until it becomes uncomfortable; then slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position—make sure to keep your elbows slightly bent so they don't take all of your weight!

    Single-Arm Concentration Curl

    To perform this exercise, you'll need to find a bench or chair that you can lean on with one arm. You'll also want to hold a dumbbell in the opposite hand. Ideally, you should use something similar in weight to your other arm's dumbbell—or even heavier if possible! Once set up, raise the weight toward your shoulder and slowly lower it. Repeat until failure (that is until you can't move anymore).

    Single-Arm Concentration Curl

    The single-arm concentration curl would work your biceps muscles if it wasn't obvious. As with most exercises on this list, however, it also works for several other groups—including triceps and forearms—so don't forget about those when doing this exercise! And if there's anything else going on with your body lately (i.e., if any joints are hurting), speak up during these workouts so we can help out as needed!

    Alternating Incline Dumbbell Curl

    The alternating incline dumbbell curl is similar to the regular barbell curl, except that it uses dumbbells, which allow you to perform the exercise at a higher incline angle and thus target different parts of your biceps. This can be done while standing on a bench or leaning against a wall, as pictured here. To do this variation:

    Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold one dumbbell in each hand, arms hanging down at the sides, palms facing toward the body.* Inhale as you bend elbows and raise hands toward shoulders until arms are parallel to the floor.* Pause; then exhale as you lower weights back down again.* Keep elbows close to the sides throughout the movement.* Don't swing weights up or move torso side-to-side; focus on using just your biceps muscles during curling motion.* Squeeze for a second at the top position before lowering weight again—you'll feel it!

    Alternating Incline Dumbbell Curl

    Incline Inner-Biceps Curl

    The Incline Inner-Biceps Curl is an effective exercise for targeting the brachialis and biceps brachii muscles. Depending on your preference, this move can be made using a barbell or dumbbell.

    Begin with your upper arms supported by a bench at a 45-degree angle. Hold one weight in each hand with palms facing you and elbows bent to 90 degrees, as if you were doing curls. Slowly curl the weights toward your shoulders while keeping your elbows stationary in line with your torso until they're completely flexed at the top of the movement (with wrists fully extended). Lower back to starting position slowly and repeat until the set is complete.

    For more intensity: Increase resistance by adding more weight to each side or performing fewer reps per set (6-8) instead of 8-10 reps per set as prescribed above . . . If this isn't enough, try increasing resistance further by using dumbbells rather than barbells since dumbbells allow for a greater range of motion than a barbell (which generally stays close to the body).

    Incline Inner-Biceps Curl

    Plate Drag Curl

    This exercise is a fantastic way to build up the biceps, but because it involves using a plate, it can be difficult to do correctly.

    To start this exercise, place a weight plate under your feet. Keep your back straight and your elbows tucked with each rep you do. Move slowly from side to side as you perform reps of this exercise; you'll want to make sure that each rep takes about 3 seconds before moving on to the next one. Repeat for reps until failure!

    Plate Drag Curl

    Start with 1-2 sets of 10 reps if you're a beginner. If you're an intermediate lifter, try 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps. Advanced lifters should aim for 5-10 sets of 8-12 reps.

    90-Degree Cable External Rotation

    If you're looking to isolate your biceps and build the long head of your biceps, the flye is a great exercise to include in your workout routine. This exercise can be performed with a cable machine or dumbbells and can also be done at home without any equipment!

    To do this exercise, grab whatever weight you choose (some people prefer heavier weights while others prefer lighter ones) and start by standing next to the cable machine. Then, extend both arms out straight and rotate them upward until they're parallel with the ground (if using a cable machine). You can place one hand higher than the other if you'd like more emphasis on one side than another.

    90-Degree Cable External Rotation

    Overhead Cable Curl

    This exercise is a good option if you're looking for a way to isolate and strengthen the biceps. It also works your forearms and can be performed standing or sitting, which makes it easy to do at home or in the gym.

    The equipment: You'll need a cable machine with an overhand grip attachment and two dumbbells (one heavy and one light). With your arms fully extended at shoulder height, grab onto the bar with both hands and curl it towards your chest. Focus on keeping your elbows close to your body throughout each repetition; don't let them drift outwards from under tension.

    Overhead Cable Curl

    Close-Grip EZ-Bar Drag Curl

    This exercise is a variation of the dumbbell drag curl. It targets the biceps and forearms but emphasizes the latter muscle group more than a regular drag curl.

    • Grab an EZ-bar with your palms facing forward and walk forward until it's about halfway down your thighs

    • Rotate your hands so that they're facing you, then bring them down to where they rest on top of each thigh (as shown)

    • Keeping your elbows close to your sides, start curling up slowly until only about three inches remain before you go back down again; repeat for reps or time.

    Close-Grip EZ-Bar Drag Curl

    Landmine Biceps Buster

    These simple ones can be very effective for building biceps strength and definition.

    First, you'll need a barbell and a landmine. The barbell should be in front of you while the landmine should be behind you. Then, lift the weight with both hands by placing them on top of the landmine with your elbows tucked into your sides and shoulders (think: "beach muscles").

    Next, you'll want to lift the weight and bring it back down in a curling motion. When you're done with one rep, place the barbell back on its rack. If you don't have access to a landmine or barbell, there are other ways to do this exercise. You can use dumbbells or kettlebells instead of a barbell; alternatively,

    Landmine Biceps Buster

    Seated Alternating Dumbbell Curl

    The Seated Alternating Dumbbell Curl is a simple exercise that can be done anywhere, allowing you to target your biceps when you don't have access to weights.

    • Sit on a bench or chair with your back straight and feet flat on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with arms hanging down at your sides, palms facing inward.

    • Lift one weight upward until it's at shoulder level, then lower it back down without letting it touch your side as you alternate sides. Make sure to keep your elbows in so they don't come past your forearms, and use a full range of motion to target all three heads of the biceps muscle. Make sure not to lock out during this exercise because this will stress the joints rather than isolate them like we want!

    Seated alternating incline bench dumbbell curls

    Reverse-Grip Barbell Row to High Pull (a.k.a. "Up and Out")

    This is a great exercise for developing the biceps, chest, and shoulders. It's performed by grabbing a barbell with an underhand grip (palms facing you), then pulling it up until your elbows are at shoulder height. Lower back down and repeat. 

    You can also perform this exercise on a cable machine or use dumbbells instead of the barbell if you have access to neither equipment. A landmine is another option that will allow you to target those back muscles even more specifically while giving more variety to your workout routine!

    Reverse-Grip Barbell Row to High Pull (a.k.a. "Up and Out")

    Landmine Wrist Curl/Extension Combo Cycle 

    This exercise is great for building the front of your biceps, and it can be done with either a barbell or a dumbbell. Position yourself with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and back straight. Hold the weight before your body with an overhand grip beyond shoulder width. Your palms are facing up (supinated), and keep your elbows slightly bent throughout the exercise to avoid injury.

    Lower the weight until your forearms are parallel to the floor, keeping them close together; then, raise it back up by flexing the elbow joint until they're fully extended. Perform all repetitions smoothly without locking out at any point during this exercise; this will ensure you get a better range of motion than if you were doing machine curls instead!

    Landmine Wrist Curl/Extension Combo Cycle through all of them at least once per workout, or focus on the ones you need most on that day. Takeaway: You'll have bigger arms after these three exercises!


    We've covered a lot of information in this article. But don't worry. We left you with an actionable list at the end. No need to read the whole thing! Now that you know what exercises there are, how they work and how many sets and reps to do, it's time to get started on your muscle-building workouts!

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