The 20 Best Bicep Exercises | Best Biceps Exercise & Bicep Workout

The 20 Best Bicep Exercises | Best Biceps Exercise & Bicep Workout

Dec 30, 2023

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The 20 Best Bicep Exercises for Building Bigger Arms

Want to know how to get bigger, stronger biceps? This definitive guide covers the top exercises and workouts to add size and definition to your arms.

Building impressive biceps takes targeted exercises that work the two-headed biceps brachii muscle. Whether your goal is developing eye-catching bicep peaks or lifting heavier with stronger arms, smart programming makes all the difference.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll discover the 20 most effective movements and techniques for hypertrophy, strength, and overall arm development. Learn proper form, common mistakes, and how to put together a complete biceps routine that checks all the boxes. Let’s get started!

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Why Are Strong Biceps Important?

Before diving into the nitty gritty of biceps training, let’s discuss why sculpted guns can be useful beyond aesthetics:

  • Improved strength for pushing, pulling, lifting and carrying
  • Enhanced performance in sports like baseball, tennis, boxing, and more
  • Increased capability and resilience in daily life
  • Confidence from an impressive physique
  • Injury prevention through balanced upper body strength

Developing the biceps contributes to full-body power for both fitness and function. Now let’s get big!

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Anatomy of the Biceps

The biceps muscle actually has two separate heads with distinct origins and insertions:

  • Long Head: Starts at the supraglenoid tubercle of scapula, joins with short head, inserts at radial tuberosity
  • Short Head: Originates at coracoid process of scapula, joins with long head, inserts at radial tuberosity

Though the short and long heads converge into a common tendon, each can be emphasized with different curl variations.

Below the biceps lies the brachialis muscle. Though smaller, this synergist plays a key role in elbow flexion. Training the brachialis along with the biceps leads to bigger arms.

Now that we’ve covered origins and insertions, let’s get to the good stuff: exercises!

20 Best Bicep Exercises

Barbell Curl

How to: Hold a barbell with an underhand, shoulder-width grip. Keeping your upper arms at your sides, curl the bar up towards your shoulders, squeezing at the top. Lower with control.

Why it's effective: Allows progressive overload with heavy weights to build mass. Hits all areas of the biceps.

Tips: Use a spotter. Don't swing or use momentum. Go lighter for definition.

Incline Dumbbell Curl

How to: Lie back on an incline bench holding dumbbells. Keeping upper arms pinned, curl weights up towards shoulders.

Why it's effective: Elongates the biceps for increased tension and stretch. Hits entire bicep area.

Tips: Go lighter and really squeeze at the top. Use a bench with 30-45 degree incline.

Hammer Curl

How to: Grasp dumbbells with palms facing inwards. Keeping upper arms fixed, curl weights up towards shoulders.

Why it's effective: Works the brachialis and brachioradialis for thicker arms. Palms-in grip shifts emphasis.

Tips: Slow eccentrics. No swinging. Squeeze at the peak contraction.

Chin Up

How to: Grip chin-up bar with underhand grip. Pull your body up until chin clears the bar. Lower slowly.

Why it's effective: Hits biceps through a full range of vertical pull. Adds width to arms.

Tips: Use assist bands if needed. Focus on slow negatives.


How to: 7 half reps from the bottom, 7 from the top, 7 full range reps.

Why it's effective: Fatigues the biceps through different angles and ranges. Killer pump.

Tips: No rest between sets. Use lighter weight. Squeeze hard on full range set.

Spider Curl

How to: Lie face down on an incline bench, arms hanging down. Elbows fixed, curl weights up towards shoulders.

Why it's effective: Strict isolation exercise. Removes cheating. Hits outer bicep peak.

Tips: Lighter weight, 12-15 reps. Pin upper arms to sides. Feel the burn!

Concentration Curl

How to: Sit on a bench. Brace working elbow against inner thigh. Curl dumbbell up towards same-side shoulder.

Why it's effective: Eliminates swing and cheating. Allows peak contraction and squeeze.

Tips: Control eccentric. No momentum. Focus on mind-muscle connection.

Cable Rope Hammer Curl

How to: Attach a rope handle to low cable pulley. Keeping palms in, curl rope up to shoulders.

Why it's effective: Constant tension from cables. Works brachialis for thicker look.

Tips: Sit on an incline bench to increase stretch. No swinging. Squeeze at peak.

Zottman Curl

How to: Curl dumbbell up with underhand grip, rotate to overhand grip at top, lower slowly.

Why it's effective: Works biceps through whole range of motion. Also hits forearms.

Tips: Control the rotation at the top. Use lighter weight to master form.

Reverse Barbell Curl

How to: Grip barbell with overhand shoulder-width grip. Keeping upper arms fixed, curl bar up.

Why it's effective: Strong emphasis on brachioradialis muscle for width.

Tips: No cheating or swinging. Sit on incline bench. Go lighter for burn.

Incline Dumbbell Hammer Curl

How to: Lie back on an incline bench holding dumbbells with neutral grip. Keeping upper arms fixed, curl weights to shoulders.

Why it's effective: Hits brachialis and brachioradialis. Incline increases stretch.

Tips: Go lighter and focus on squeezing. Use 30-45 degree incline. No swinging.

Close Grip Chin Up

How to: Grasp chin-up bar with underhand shoulder-width grip. Pull body up until chin clears bar.

Why it's effective: Vertical pull that hits biceps hard, especially brachialis for width.

Tips: Use band assist if needed. Focus on slow negatives.

Standing Cable Curl

How to: Attach straight bar to low pulley. Stand with slight knee bend. Fix elbows and curl bar up.

Why it's effective: Constant cable tension provides great biceps contraction.

Tips: Squeeze hard at peak contraction. Strict form - no body movement.

Drag Curl

How to: Holding a barbell, curl weight up while dragging barbell up along your body.

Why it's effective: Changes angle of resistance to target different biceps fibers.

Tips: Keep bar tight to body throughout motion. Use lighter weights first.

One Arm Preacher Curl

How to: Sit at a preacher bench station. Curl dumbbell up focusing on contraction.

Why it's effective: Isolates each arm. Preacher bench fixes upper arms to isolate biceps.

Tips: Focus on squeezing. Go lighter and higher reps for burn.

Seated Offset Dumbbell Curl

How to: Sit on a bench. Hold dumbbells at one side. Curl the dumbbells up towards shoulder.

Why it's effective: Creates a varied angle for bicep contraction.

Tips: No resting. Keep reps controlled and smooth.

Wide Grip Barbell Curl

How to: Use an extra wide overhand grip to curl a barbell up to shoulders.

Why it's effective: Emphasizes the outer biceps head for wider, thicker arms.

Tips: No swinging. Upper arm fixed. Squeeze hard at peak.

Dumbbell Incline Inner Biceps Curl

How to: Lie back on an incline bench. Curl dumbbells while keeping elbows at side dumbells wide.

Why it's effective: Targets the inner biceps head near elbow for defined separation.

Tips: Go lighter. Focus on squeeze. Use 30-45 degree incline.

Cable Curl 21's

How to: Attach a straight bar to a low pulley. Perform cable curl 21's - 7 lower, 7 upper, 7 full.

Why it's effective: Fatigues the biceps through multiple angles. Insane pump.

Tips: No rest between sets. Strict form. Squeeze hard.

Eccentric Barbell Curl

How to: Use weight you can strictly curl once. Curl bar up then very slowly lower for 5 seconds.

Why it's effective: Eccentrics cause more muscle damage, spurring new growth.

Tips: Use spotter. Focus only on lowering weight. 3-5 seconds down.

Things to Remember

Arm yourself with these essential tips before training biceps:

  • Perform 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps using multiple movements
  • Prioritize perfect form over heavy weight
  • Get a deep stretch and full contraction each rep
  • Go slow on eccentric phase
  • Take sets to near muscular failure
  • Use controlled tempo lifting: 3-1-3 seconds
  • Allow at least 48 hours between sessions
  • Eat adequate protein and get enough sleep

Follow these science-based guidelines to program an effective biceps workout for maximal growth and strength gains. Combining heavy compounds like barbell curls with focused isolation using cables and dumbbells checks all the boxes.

Now get to work building your best biceps ever! Let us know your favorite exercises and tips. Just remember: Arms aren’t just for show - they’re essential tools for life!

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Biceps Exercise FAQ

What is the best bicep exercise?

The best bicep exercise is the "bicep curl." This exercise involves curling a dumbbell or barbell towards your shoulder, targeting the biceps muscle.

How can I effectively target my biceps during a workout?

To target your biceps effectively, focus on exercises like "bicep curls" and "hammer curls." Squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement for maximum muscle activation.

What is the importance of the long head and short head of the biceps?

The long head and short head are two parts of the biceps muscle. The long head contributes to the overall size and shape of the biceps, while the short head adds thickness.

What is the best bicep workout for building muscle?

The "best bicep workout" includes a combination of exercises like "dumbbell bicep curls," "hammer curls," and "concentration curls" to target different areas of the biceps and promote muscle growth.

How do I perform a proper biceps curl?

To perform a bicep curl, grab a dumbbell in each hand, curl the weight towards your shoulders, and then lower it in a controlled manner. Focus on contracting your biceps throughout the movement.

Can you recommend an effective arm workout?

An effective "arm workout" should include a variety of bicep and tricep exercises. Incorporate bicep curls, tricep dips, and push-ups for a well-rounded arm routine.

How do I build my biceps strength?

To build biceps strength, consistently perform bicep exercises like "curls" and "hammer curls" using a challenging weight. Gradually increase the resistance over time.

What muscle group do bicep exercises target?

Bicep exercises primarily target the "biceps muscle group," which consists of the long head and short head of the biceps.

What is the best bicep routine for overall muscle development?

The "best bicep routine" for overall muscle development includes a mix of compound and isolation exercises, such as bicep curls, hammer curls, and preacher curls.

How important is grip strength in bicep workouts?

Grip strength is crucial in bicep workouts, as it allows you to securely hold the weight during exercises like curls. Improving grip strength can enhance your overall bicep performance.

What exercises isolate the biceps effectively?

Exercises like "concentration curls" and "preacher curls" isolate the biceps effectively by minimizing assistance from other muscle groups.

How can I activate my biceps during a workout?

To activate your biceps during a workout, focus on squeezing your biceps at the top of each repetition and maintain strict form throughout the exercise.

What is the role of the long head of the biceps in bicep training?

The "long head of the biceps" is responsible for the peak of the biceps. Targeting it with exercises like "incline dumbbell curls" can enhance the bicep's appearance.

What exercises make up the biceps routine in strength and muscle training?

In strength and muscle training, biceps exercises like "dumbbell bicep curls," "barbell curls," and "cable curls" are essential components of a biceps routine.

What is the best bicep-building move?

The "best bicep-building move" is the bicep curl, as it directly targets and stimulates muscle growth in the biceps.

How can I work on my biceps effectively?

To work on your biceps effectively, incorporate a combination of bicep exercises, maintain proper form, and progressively increase the weight to challenge your muscles.

How do I contract my biceps to curl the weight properly?

To contract your biceps properly during a curl, focus on squeezing the biceps at the top of the movement while maintaining control as you lower the weight.

What are the benefits of including dumbbell bicep workouts in my routine?

Dumbbell bicep workouts offer a versatile way to target your biceps while also engaging stabilizing muscles. They allow for a wide range of motion and muscle activation.

How do I perform a bicep workout that specifically targets the long head of the biceps?

To target the "long head of the biceps," include exercises like "incline dumbbell curls" and "spider curls" in your bicep workout routine.

What is the significance of tension on the bicep muscle during workouts?

Maintaining tension on the bicep muscle during workouts ensures continuous muscle activation, contributing to effective bicep development.

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Here's my personal take on some of my favorite and most effective biceps exercises for growth:

Getting Guns: My Biceps Routine Journey

When I first started lifting, my scrawny arms were a huge insecurity. I longed for big, popping biceps but had no clue how to train them. After testing dozens of bicep curl variations, I've finally built a killer set of pipes. Let me save you some trouble!

I started like most bros - 4 sets of EZ bar curls every arm day. But my biceps refused to grow. I soon learned not all exercises are created equal for maximum hypertrophy. Growth requires mechanical tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress.

After researching, I incorporated weighted chin-ups to really blast my biceps and lats from new angles. Those first few weeks doing heavy chin-ups were humbling, but they exploded my biceps in ways curls never had! Pro-tip: engage your biceps and squeeze hard on each rep. Don't overlook compounds movements for arms!

For isolation, spider curls supercharged my biceps peak by completely removing momentum. Humbling and horrifying when done right - they had me shaking like a newborn fawn! But I loved the deep burn indicating my biceps were under constant tension.

I also began incorporating drop sets and cheating reps to introduce new stimulus. That stretch at the bottom of a heavy eccentric curl before blasting out 6 cheat reps is excruciatingly satisfying!

So don't be afraid to experiment with new exercises, techniques, angles, and intensities if you've plateaued. Targeting all bicep heads and muscle fibers is key.

Now excuse me while I go admire my glorious pumped peak in the mirror!

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  1. Schoenfeld, B.J., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J.W. (2017). "The dose-response relationship between resistance training volume and muscle hypertrophy: Are there really still any doubts?" Journal of Sports Sciences, 35(20), 1985-1991. Link to Article
  2. Schoenfeld, B.J. (2010). "The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(10), 2857-2872. Link to Article
  3. Damas, F., Phillips, S.M., Libardi, C.A., Vechin, F.C., Lixandrão, M.E., Jannig, P.R., Costa, L.A., Bacurau, A.V., Snijders, T., Parise, G., Tricoli, V., Roschel, H., & Ugrinowitsch, C. (2016). "Resistance training-induced changes in integrated myofibrillar protein synthesis are related to hypertrophy only after attenuation of muscle damage." Journal of Physiology, 594(18), 5209-5222. Link to Article
  4. Fry, A.C. (2004). "The role of resistance exercise intensity on muscle fibre adaptations." Sports Medicine, 34(10), 663-679. Link to Article
  5. Buresh, R., Berg, K., & French, J. (2009). "The effect of resistive exercise rest interval on hormonal response, strength, and hypertrophy with training." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 23(1), 62-71. Link to Article

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Continued Information About The Best Bicep Curl Exercises

Best Biceps Exercises

Looking to build impressive biceps? It's time to dive into the best biceps exercises that will help you sculpt those arms. Let's break down the key exercises and techniques for effective biceps training.

Biceps Exercise: Curl the Dumbbell

Curling a dumbbell is a fundamental biceps exercise that forms the basis of many biceps workouts. Hold the dumbbell in your hand and curl it upwards, focusing on contracting your biceps with each repetition.

Biceps Workout: Straighten Your Arm

Incorporating the motion of straightening your arm during your biceps workout can provide a complete range of motion for the biceps muscles. This action ensures that you engage both the short and long heads of the biceps.

Pair of Dumbbells: A Versatile Choice

Using a pair of dumbbells in your biceps routine offers versatility. Dumbbells allow for a wide range of exercises that target different aspects of your biceps, providing a balanced workout.

Best Biceps Exercises for Growth

To achieve biceps growth, it's essential to include the best biceps exercises in your routine. These exercises focus on isolating and stimulating the biceps muscles for maximum hypertrophy.

Train Your Biceps for Strength

Training your biceps for strength involves progressively increasing the resistance and challenging your muscles. Incorporate exercises that allow you to lift heavier weights with proper form.

Best Biceps Workout: A Comprehensive Approach

The best biceps workout is one that combines various exercises, including curls, hammer curls, and concentration curls. This comprehensive approach ensures that you target all areas of your biceps for optimal results.

Build Your Biceps Effectively

Building your biceps effectively requires consistent effort and the right exercises. Include bicep curls, hammer curls, and other targeted movements in your routine to achieve your desired arm size.

Exercises for Building Muscle

Incorporate exercises for building muscle into your biceps workout routine. Exercises like cable curls and barbell curls can help you add mass to your biceps over time.

Use Dumbbells Wisely

Using dumbbells in your biceps workouts can provide a range of motion and muscle activation that barbells may not offer. Choose exercises that maximize the benefits of using dumbbells.

Strength Training for Biceps

Strength training is a key component of biceps development. Lift weights that challenge your strength and gradually increase the resistance to build stronger biceps.

Grab a Pair of Dumbbells: Start Your Workout

Before you begin your biceps workout, grab a pair of dumbbells. These versatile tools will be your companions throughout your biceps-building journey.

Best Exercises for Biceps Training

Discover the best exercises for biceps training that target the long head and short head of the biceps. A balanced approach ensures even muscle development.

Train Biceps with Precision

Training the biceps with precision means focusing on each repetition and maintaining strict form. This approach helps isolate the biceps for effective workouts.

Best Biceps-Building Techniques

Incorporate the best biceps-building techniques into your routine to stimulate muscle growth. Techniques like supersets and drop sets can add intensity to your workouts.

The Best Biceps Move

The "best biceps move" is the one that targets your biceps effectively and aligns with your fitness goals. Experiment with different exercises to find what works best for you.

Remember, consistency, proper form, and progressively challenging your muscles are key to achieving your desired biceps development. Whether you're aiming for size, strength, or definition, these biceps exercises and tips will help you reach your goals. So, grab those dumbbells and get ready to sculpt those biceps!

For More Training Advice + Diet and Lifestyle visit us RIPL Fitness

PS: Make sure you check out the rest of our Bicep Training Guides:

12 Best Bicep Tendonitis Exercises | Biceps Tendon Treatment

The 10 Best Kettlebell Bicep Exercises for Bigger, Stronger Arms

The 14 Best Resistance Band Bicep Exercises

The 14 Best Short Head Biceps Exercises

17 Best Long Head Bicep Exercises

Get Stronger Biceps with a Bicep Curl Machine