When it comes to bodybuilding, your arms can be one of the most rewarding parts of your body to exercise. There’s nothing quite as aesthetically good looking as well-defined arms. Whether it’s a bench-press, standing shoulder press, pull-up, or push-up, your arms are key muscles that work in cohesion with your targeted muscle group to make you stronger.
A proper biceps workout is key to building stronger arms and increasing your power to lift. The benefits of stronger biceps are not only for better aesthetics but also for better pulling power as your increased power to pull can help in a range of exercise that depend on this motion. While some basic biceps exercises can be done by just about anyone, the more advanced ones fall strictly into the ‘professionals only’ category and should only be attempted by seasoned bodybuilders.
Let’s take a look at the 30 best biceps workouts out there and see what they can do for you and your body.
30 Best Biceps Workouts
- Standing Barbell Curl
This is the most basic biceps training exercise around and the starting point for any beginner. Here, you have to grab a barbell with an underhand, at shoulder-width grip with the palms facing out. Keep the barbell at waist level and keep your back and knees straight then bring it up to your chest make sure to follow the natural contraction and expansion movement of your biceps.
- Single hand Barbell Curl
This is another exercise that every beginner should add to their biceps workout routine. You’ve probably seen it done a million times in movies and videos. Grab two dumbbells with an underhand grip with palms facing out, and then raise one from the waist level to chest level, first with one arm and then with the other. Repeat.
- Chin Ups
This is one of the best calisthenic exercises for building biceps and helps you improve your strength and stamina. You have to grab a pull-up bar with a narrow, underhand grip and jump up so that all your body weight is supported by your arms. Then, you have to pull yourself up till the bar is at chest level.
- Zottman Bicep Curl
This is an exercise that targets both your biceps and your forearms. It works pretty much like a dumbbell curl, except for one little twist (quite literally). The first part is the same as a regular dumbbell curl, but once your dumbbell is at the top of the movement, pause and rotate the dumbbells so your palms face forward. Lower the weights down in that position. Then, rotate the dumbbells back and repeat.
- Cable Alternating Flex
What’s a good bicep routine without some cables, right? For this exercise, you stand in the middle of the cable crossover bay and grab the pulleys with both hands, arms straight and parallel to the floor. You then pull on one of the pulleys by bending your elbow and bring it up towards your ear as much as your arm will naturally allow. Then, repeat the motion with the other hand.
- Ez Bar Preacher Curl
Considered to be one of the best biceps workouts, the Preacher curl has many varieties, but the EZ bar version is the most explosive for your muscles. All you have to do is place your hands on the slanted pads of a preacher machine, grab the EZ bar with your hands six inches apart and pull it as close to your chin as you can.
- Hammer Curl
Another biceps workout that targets both, the biceps and forearms. Hammer curls follow the same range of movement as regular dumbbell curls, but instead of your palms facing away from your body, they face your hips. So, in this exercise, you raise the weights just like you’d raise a hammer.
- Concentration Curl
One of the best biceps workout to isolate the biceps, the concentration curl should definitely be in everyone’s biceps training routine. Sit on the bench and spread your legs. Hold the dumbbell and keep your elbow on the same side leg. Let the weight hang down between your legs. Bring the weight up, pause at the top, then lower back into the original position.
- Lying Preacher Curls
This version of Preacher Curls helps maximize the muscle strain as you face maximum resistance throughout the movement. Lie on your workout bench just below the cable station, then grab the pulley above you and curl against gravity.
- Static Dumbbell Curl
This is a resistance exercise where you’re building biceps without motion. Put your workout bench up at close to 45 degrees. Then, lean your elbow on the slant and lower the dumbbell to just below halfway. Hold this position for 20 seconds and then repeat with the other arm.
- Cable Rope Hammer Curl
There’s nothing like gripping a rope to build forearm strength, making this version of the hammer curl one of the most effective. You’ll need a cable station with a rope pulley instead of the iron. Keep your body straight and curl in the hammer motion with your clenched hands slightly more malleable to the movement of the rope.
- EZ Bar Barbell Curl
While the basic barbell curl is one of the most loved exercises around, the EZ bar barbell curl is the preferred option for those looking to build muscle fast. The EZ bar lets your hands grip the bar in a more natural position and puts more pressure on the biceps than forearms, leading to better gains.
These are some of the basic exercises that ought to be part of your biceps workout routine. However, the trick to building muscle is to keep pushing the boundaries and exploring new exercises that will task your body in different ways. Once you have achieved a certain level of ease with the exercises stated above, you should look at different varieties where you can achieve more by lifting less.
Some of the popular advanced biceps exercises are-
- Incline Dumbbell Curl
A dumbbell curl on an inclined bench puts more pressure on your arms to lift.
- Decline Dumbbell Curl
Lie face down on an incline bench and lift the dumbbells against gravity.
- Standing Resistance Band Hammer Curl
Stand on top of the resistance band, grab two sides at about shoulder width apart and do hammer curls with the band.
- Parallel Pause Curl
Follow the normal motions of a barbell curl, but when bringing down the weight, pause when your forearms are parallel to the floor and angled at 90 degrees from your body.
- Kneeling Single Arm Curl
Kneeling curls leave you unbalanced and put more pressure on the arms to maintain smooth movement.
- Start Stop Chin Up
A chin-up, but you should pause at the halfway point while going down.
- Preacher Curl Machine
The Preacher Curl machine helps you ensure that your exercise movement remains optimal.
- Seated Cable Row
A back exercise that is also great for building biceps due to the pull movement involved.
- Bent Over Barbell Row
Another back exercise that emphasizes on the pull movement to work out your biceps.
- Push Up Position Hammer Curl
An advanced biceps workout where you perform curls in a push-up position resting all your weight on one arm when you curl the other.
- Split Jack Curl
Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them by your side with your palms facing your thighs. Jump into a split stance and curl the weights to your shoulders at the same time.
- Underhand Grip Inverted Row
An inverted barbell row, keep your body parallel to the ground and raise it up on a pull-up bar.
- Squat Concentration Curl
Concentration curls while your body is in a squatting position.
- Single Hand Preacher Dumbbell Curl
Put the pressure on one of your biceps as you perform a preacher curl while concentrating on just one arm.
- Racked Farmers Carry
Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them in the racked position so one head of each dumbbell is close to your shoulders. Walk forward for a certain distance, turn around and walk back. Repeat.
- The Cheat Curl
Popularized by the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger, the cheat curl involves loosening your body to utilize a little bit more momentum to help you lift heavier weights on your barbell curl. This should be used for limited reps only, ideally 3 to 4.
- Reverse Chin Up
Instead of focusing on pulling yourself up, this exercise needs you to focus on pulling yourself down. Jump up to grab the pull-up bar so that you start the move with the bar at chest level.
- Dumbbell Clean
The clean and jerk is a popular sport at international sports events, but there’s a version for your biceps as well. It involves keeping your body lose and utilizing the full range of motion to lift the dumbbells to shoulder level.
This is an expansive list of the biceps exercises that you can do to truly reach elite levels of performance. Please be aware that building biceps takes time, so don’t jump the gun and try advanced exercises at the very beginning. Start with the basics and the rest will follow. A poster of Arnold’s chiselled and monstrous biceps should be all the inspiration you need to get started on these workouts! Happy gymming!