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What Are the Different Brachialis Exercises?

By Kelly Ferguson
Updated: May 17, 2024

The brachialis muscles are arm muscles that, similar to the biceps muscles, flex the elbow joint. Brachilis exercises, therefore, look and feel very similar to biceps exercises, and often involve a lot of various kinds of curls. Most people are not concerned with specifically targeting the brachialis muscle during strength training because it is so often used in synergy with the biceps during regular training, but many bodybuilders seek it out because developing the muscle can affect the size and appearance of the upper arm. Biceps, triceps, and brachialis exercises are the main components of upper arm training for most bodybuilders to develop the most size and definition.

One of the most commonly used brachialis exercises is a prone incline curl. This is typically done on a weightlifting bench that has been raised to a fairly steep incline position. The weightlifter usually kneels on or straddles the lower part of the bench that is not inclined and lies forward on his or her stomach and chest so the upper half of the body is inclined forward, face down. From there, a dumbbell, barbell, or other type of resistance is used to perform curls.

Hammer curls are another example of popular brachialis exercises. These differ from traditional curls because, instead of rotating the dumbbell during the movement so that the bar is parallel to the floor, the wrists stay in the same position throughout the whole exercise so at the top of the curl, the bar is perpendicular to the floor as if the dumbbell were standing on its end. Like other forms of curls, hammer curls can be done in a variety of positions, but are usually performed either sitting or standing upright.

Other brachialis exercises include reverse-grip curls, in which an overhand grip is used on the bar of the barbell or dumbbell, concentration curls, where one elbow is braced against the inner thigh in either a seated or squatting position, and many other variations on basic biceps exercises. To a certain extent, even performing the basic biceps exercises will stimulate the brachialis muscle as well, and doing brachialis exercises will also work the biceps. Adding a reverse-grip set to many of these exercises can not only bring the brachialis more into focus but also stimulate both the brachialis and the biceps in different areas of the muscle that might not be as frequently trained.

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