How do I Choose the Best Bicep Exercises?

M. Harris

Developing more muscular biceps is the goal of many weight lifters. It can be difficult, however, to know which bicep exercises are right for you and which ones will produce the most muscle mass. Most of the best bicep exercises involve curls and pulling motions, typically through the use of dumbbells. Some proven exercises that can help build biceps include the standard dumbbell curl, hammer curl and chin ups.

An anatomical illustration showing many muscles in the upper body, including the bicep.
An anatomical illustration showing many muscles in the upper body, including the bicep.

The standard dumbbell curl involves holding dumbbells at your side with an underhand grip. First, simply hold the dumbbell in front while keeping your elbows at your sides. Next, curl the weight up close to your chest. If you are using proper form, then the dumbbell should be somewhere in the middle of your chest. Make sure that you use slow, controlled movements and do not swing the weights.

Doing push-ups can help strengthen the biceps.
Doing push-ups can help strengthen the biceps.

Another bicep exercise that targets the biceps is called a hammer curl. This targets a different muscle group where the biceps end and the forearms begin. To perform hammer curls, start with your palms facing your thighs. Next, slowly lift the dumbbell while keeping your wrist straight. Raise the dumbbells until you feel the muscle contract and hold for a second. Then, slowly lower the dumbbells and repeat.

When performing bicep curls with dumbbells, use slow and controlled movements.
When performing bicep curls with dumbbells, use slow and controlled movements.

There are many alternative bicep exercises that do not involve dumbbells, such as chin ups. Many people underestimate the power of this exercise when it comes to a bicep workout. It can be a very good exercise when performed correctly, and all one needs is an overhead bar.

Building strength throughout the bicep requires utilizing this muscle in a variety of exercises.
Building strength throughout the bicep requires utilizing this muscle in a variety of exercises.

To best work the biceps, perform the chin up by grasping the bar with your palms facing toward you about shoulder width apart. Then slowly lift your body until your chin passes the bar. For an extra boost, slowly lower your body back down, keeping the biceps engaged.

Curls help strengthen the biceps and other muscles of the arms.
Curls help strengthen the biceps and other muscles of the arms.

When choosing the best bicep exercises, decide on the type of equipment needed and your fitness level. A good set of dumbbells are relatively inexpensive compared to other exercise equipment. Your fitness level can be determined as beginner, intermediate, or advanced for these muscle group workouts.

A beginner should choose only one or two exercises to perform when beginning a workout routine and aim to complete one set of 8 to 10 repetitions of the dumbbell exercises. Intermediate weight lifters should be able to complete slightly more exercises with better consistency. Advanced enthusiast should complete a minimum of two sets of each exercise with at least eight reps per session.

Dumbbell curls, seated or standing, are an effective way to build stronger biceps.
Dumbbell curls, seated or standing, are an effective way to build stronger biceps.

Discussion Comments

Laotionne

I think the best exercise for building large biceps is still pushups. People have been doing these exercises for ages with good results. They are simple exercises and you don't use any fancy equipment, but they work. Unfortunately, I don't have the strength to do pushups.

Sporkasia

Tennis is a good toning and biceps strengthening exercise. I play tennis at least nine months out of the year and usually much more, and my biceps are definitely firm. However, tennis will not give you humongous biceps like most football players and boxers have.

Drentel

According to the rules of weight lifting, you are not supposed to work the same muscles on back to back days. The thought here is that working the muscles too often doesn't give them time to rest and grow. This makes sense, but then I think about the guys I know who have the massive arms and they are men who lift heavy objects and use their arm muscles five and six days a week. This makes me wonder whether the old weight lifting rule is really appropriate.

Feryll

When I was in high school, all of the guys on the football team wanted to have big "guns". In other words we all wanted big biceps, so much of our free time in the weight room was occupied with various bicep exercises. We all did numerous types of bicep strengthening exercises with the dumbbells.

This worked for many of my teammates, but for whatever reason I could never build up my arms. Even today, I have a difficult time building the muscles in my arms and I work out five times a week. On three of those days each week, I work on my biceps. I think some people just don't have the genes to have big guns.

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