Having strong, rounded arms is something almost every weightlifter desires, and if you’re actively trying to achieve it, then you’ve come to the right place!
Your biceps is a muscle group that allows you to flex and rotate your forearm, which is the basis of many crucial strength training exercises, both for your upper and lower body. Having strong biceps will help you have better workouts, on top of making you look great, so you’ll definitely want to add some biceps exercises to your next workout routine.
To help you on your strength training and bodybuilding journey, we’ve put together a list of some of the best biceps exercises, as well as a few tips that you should follow for a safer and more effective biceps workout!
Best exercises for your biceps
There are a ton of biceps exercises that you can do by implementing all kinds of weights and accessories and trying all the different variations. Here are some of the best biceps exercises that you can add to your upper-body routine:
When you think of biceps exercises, this is probably the first one to come to mind - and for a good reason! It’s very simple yet can make your biceps grow bigger and stronger quickly, allowing you to make progress gradually by constantly changing the weight.
How to do it:
- Standing straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, grab a loaded barbell or EZ bar with an underhand grip.
- Keep both elbows to your sides so that they’re directly below your shoulders.
- Begin the movement by curling the bar up until it’s at chest height, feeling the tension on your biceps, and making sure that you’re keeping your back straight and your face up.
- At the top of the movement, hold for a second, then lower the bar and repeat.
While cable curls and biceps curls are visually very similar, they offer different kinds of tension to your muscles. With cable curls, your biceps muscles are constantly resisting the constant tension of the cable, making it a challenging exercise throughout the full range of motion. Plus, cable biceps exercises can be improved just by choosing different handles!
How to do it:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart in front of a cable machine with a low pulley and the desired handle attached to it.
- Grab the handle comfortably with both hands and take a couple of steps back to distance yourself from the machine and increase the tension on the cable.
- Begin by curling the weight up to your chest, keeping your back straight.
- Make a quick pause at the top of the movement, then go back and repeat.
This exercise requires you to already have some biceps and general arm strength to lift your body weight, but other than that it’s super straightforward and effective! If you’re a beginner and can’t lift yourself yet, your can used an assisted pull-up machine to practice your form and develop your upper arm strength.
How to do it:
- Grab the bar with an underhand grip at a shoulder-width distance so you can perform the exercise comfortably.
- Begin by hanging from the bar and pulling your body up, just like you would with a regular pull-up, making sure that you’re squeezing your shoulder blades together.
- When your chin reaches the bar, pause for a second, then slowly go back down and repeat.
This movement is performed with a pair of dumbbells, one in each hand, and with a neutral grip. This will allow you to lift more weight at once and target the biceps brachialis more than with the regular biceps curl, allowing you to grow bigger and rounder muscles in less time.
How to do it:
- Stand straight with a dumbbell in each hand, holding them with a neutral grip so that they’re both facing each other.
- Keeping your elbows to your sides, begin the movement by curling the weights up until they’re at chest height.
- At the top of the movement, hold the position for a second, then release and repeat.
Another biceps curl variation, but this time with a dynamic grip that changes while you go through the range of movement. This is one of the best free-weight biceps exercises because it allows you to hit every major muscle that makes up your biceps for a more complete workout.
How to do it:
- Stand straight while holding a dumbbell in each hand with an underhand grip, so that your palms are facing forward.
- Begin the movement by curling the dumbbells up until they’re at chest height, making sure you’re keeping your elbows to your sides.
- At the top of the movement, rotate your wrists so that your palms are facing forward again, and slowly lower the weight.
- Rotate the weights once again at the bottom, and repeat.
Underhand seated row
This is both a great exercise for your biceps and your back because of the rowing movement! Since you’re working out on a cable machine, the tension of the cable will be in line with your biceps muscles, targeting and giving them a great workout.
How to do it:
- Sit in front of the cable machine, either on the floor or on a vertical bench with footpads.
- Grab the bar attachment with both hands shoulder-width apart in an underhand grip.
- Lean back just a little and begin the movement by rowing the bar toward your body, pulling it all the way until it almost touches your belly.
- Hold for a second while squeezing your biceps, then go back and repeat.
Incline dumbbell curl
The inclined position allows both the long head and the short head of your biceps to be more stretched out due to the wider range of movement, making it a highly effective workout for building your biceps size and strength and helping increase the overall tension of the exercise.
How to do it:
- Grab a dumbbell in each hand and sit on an incline bench, leaning back so that you’re laying comfortable on the backrest.
- Your arms should be hanging at your sides in a neutral position, forming a perpendicular line with the floor.
- Begin by curling the weights up and slightly rotating them as they move up until they’re at chest height with your palms facing you.
- Hold for a second, then go back while returning your hands to a neutral position, and repeat.
Similar to the chin-up exercise, the inverted row doesn’t involve lifting free weights. Instead, you’ll be lifting your body weight off the floor while giving your biceps a good burn, plus the rest of your arms, your back, and your core.
How to do it:
- Place a bar at a low level on the rack so that it’s at arm’s length.
- Lay on the floor under the bar and grab it with both hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart with an underhand grip.
- With your feet close together and your back straight, begin the movement by flexing your elbows and pulling yourself up and toward the bar. Keep your body in a straight line during this movement, without curving your back or bending at the hips.
- When your chest almost touches the bar, hold for a moment, then go back and repeat.
Training tips for your biceps
Growing bigger and stronger biceps isn’t as easy as just stepping into the gym and lifting the first weight you see. These are a few tips that you should follow for a more effective biceps workout:
Don’t be afraid of the barbell
If there’s a free weight that you want in your workout, it’s the barbell! Its ability to hold a lot of weight will be your best friend during a strength training journey, especially when it comes to arm muscles such as your biceps.
A lot of people tend to run away from barbell exercises and instead stick to dumbbells or just their body weight, but we’re here to tell you that a bar doesn’t have to be heavy if you don’t want it to be! The great thing about it is that you can load it and unload it however you like, so you can start by not loading it at all and just practice your form with the bar. You can then add a couple of light plates and make progress gradually with time!
Hit them from every angle
Your biceps is not a single muscle but a group of muscles that compose the front part of your arm, so it’s important to hit them from every angle to make sure that you’ll have those nice and toned arms that you’re looking for.
Targeting the biceps and making sure that you’re giving them a complete workout is as easy as just trying different exercises! Instead of sticking to just one or two that you like, make sure to rotate your workout and try a couple of different variations as well as new exercises that you haven’t tried yet.
Control your breathing
When it comes to strength training, controlling your breathing is incredibly important. You want to be able to move the weights with control so you can make the most out of your workout time. This will allow you to go through the full range of motion comfortably, whether you’re doing biceps curls or chin-ups, and allow you to last longer at the gym!
Don’t overwork them
The biceps might be one of the most prominent muscle groups in your body, but that doesn’t mean that they’re made of steel!
They’re relatively small muscles compared to other muscles in your body, so you need to take good care of them and avoid overworking them. Lifting more weight than you should or training them several times a week isn’t going to help you grow them faster, it’ll just bring you closer to a possible injury!
Work your biceps two to three times a week with at least one rest day in between bicep workouts. However, if you train heavy one day, meaning you're biceps are carrying a weight that only allows you to complete 6-8 reps, then rest at least two days before your next bicep workout.
Maintain good form
Usually, weightlifters focus a lot on their biceps because they make your arms look great when they grow, and maintaining good form during your biceps workout it’s essential if this is what you’re after.
If you don’t pay attention to your form, you might accidentally transfer the work to other muscles, such as your triceps and deltoids, preventing you from making true progress with your biceps. Plus, this helps avoid unwanted injuries, so always try to keep good form!
If you keep these tips in mind and include some of our favorite biceps exercises in your upper-body routine, you’ll be able to have a more complete and safe workout that will give you great results in no time. Just remember to take it slow and always prioritize wellness over gains!
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