Biceps Exercises - Strength Exercises for the Biceps

1
Biceps Curls

Paige Waehner

The biceps curl is probably the most tradition exercise targeting the bicep muscles. By using dumbbells, you can work both arms independently, which is a great way to work on any weaknesses you may have in your non-dominant arm.

  1. Stand with feet about hip-width apart, abs engaged as you hold medium-heavy dumbbells in front of the thighs.
  2. Squeeze the biceps and bend the arms, curling the weights up towards the shoulders.
  3. Keep the elbows stationary and only bring the weight as high as you can without moving the elbows.
  4. Slowly lower the weights, keeping a slight bend in the elbows at the bottom (e.g., don't lock the joints and try to keep tension on the muscle)
  5. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-15 reps.

Next Exercise:  Barbell Biceps Curls

2
Barbell Bicep Curls

Barbell Biceps Curls
Paige Waehner

The barbell bicep curl is a great way to work both heads of the biceps with a heavier weight than we can typically handle with dumbbells. This is a great compliment to dumbbell curls which allow you to work each arm individually.

  1. Stand with feet about hip-width apart, abs engaged as you hold the weight in front of the thighs.
  2. Squeeze the biceps and bend the arms, curling the weight up towards the shoulders.
  3. Keep the elbows stationary and only bring the weight as high as you can without moving the elbows.
  4. Slowly lower the weight, keeping a slight bend in the elbows at the bottom (e.g., don't lock the joints and try to keep tension on the muscle)
  5. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-15 reps.

Next Exercise:  Incline Curls on the Ball

3
Incline Bicep Curls on the Ball

Paige Waehner

There aren't many ways to change a bicep curl, but one way to make the exercise a bit more challenging is to do them at an incline. You can do this on an incline bench or use an exercise ball, as shown. Because you're at an incline, you'll have to work a bit harder against gravity, so you may want to use a lighter weight.

  1. Sit on the ball with the weights resting on the thighs.
  2. Slowly walk the feet forward until you're at an incline with the ball supporting your back, weights hanging down with palms facing out.
  3. Bend the elbows and bring the weights towards the shoulder without swinging the arms.
  4. Lower back down, keeping a slight bend in the elbow at the bottom of the movement (don't lock the joints).
  5. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps.

Next Exercise:  Alternating Biceps Curls

4
Bicep Curls - Alternating Arms

Paige Waehner

If you're looking for a simple way to change your bicep exercises, try alternating your arms. By alternating the arms, you change the exercise just a bit and may be able to use heavier weights than you use with regular curls. Because one arms gets a bit of a rest while the other one works, you may find heavier weights a better choice.

  1. Stand with feet about hip-distance apart or whatever is comfortable and hold weights in front of thighs, palms facing out.
  2. Bend the right elbow and curl the weight up towards the shoulder, keeping the elbow static.
  3. Lower the weight, keeping a slight bend at the bottom to keep tension on the muscle.
  4. Repeat the move with the left arm.
  5. Continue alternating arms for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.
  6. Avoid using momentum. Keep the move slow and controlled and don't swing the weights.

Next Exercise:  Preacher Curls on the Ball

5
Preacher Curls on the Ball

Preacher Curl on the Ball
Paige Waehner

The preacher curl is just one variation on the traditional bicep curl. By placing your arms at an angle, you really challenge both heads of the biceps muscles so you may need to use less weight with this move. In this version, a ball is used to create the angle but you can also do this move on a preacher bench. If you have any elbow issues, you may want to skip this move.

  1. Holding weights, kneel in front of the ball and drape yourself over it, placing the elbows about halfway down the ball and parallel to one another.
  2. Lower the weights until arms are almost fully extended.
  3. Contract the biceps to raise the weights until the forearms are vertical to the back of the upper arm.
  4. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps.

Tips

  • This move can strain the front side of the elbow if you use weight that is too heavy or if you don't position yourself correctly. If you feel any pain or discomfort, skip this exercise.
  • Use control when lowering the weight to avoid injury.
  • Don't stop short of full range of motion. Try to lower the weights until your arms are nearly straight.

Next Exercise:  Hammer Curls

6
Hammer Curl

Paige Waehner

Like the regular curl shown previously, the hammer curl targets the biceps muscles. But, because the hands are rotated in, the forearms also get a bit more attention in this exercise. Changing the hand position can also make the exercise challenging in a different way, so you can do these in combination with regular curls or barbell curls to target the full range of the biceps and the forearms.

  1. Stand with feet about hip-width apart, abs engaged as you hold medium-heavy dumbbells in front of the thighs.
  2. Turn the hands so that the palms face each other and squeeze the biceps to curl the weights towards the shoulders.
  3. Keep the elbows stationary and only bring the weight as high as you can without moving the elbows.
  4. Slowly lower the weights, keeping a slight bend in the elbows at the bottom (e.g., don't lock the joints and try to keep tension on the muscle)
  5. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-15 reps.

Next Exercise:  Concentration Curls

7
Concentration Curls

Concentration curls, as the name implies, not only takes concentration to get your form right, it also seems to concentrate all your energy right into your bicep muscle. This is a great exercise to put at the end of your biceps workout to really get the blood to your muscles (or the 'pump').

  1. Sit or kneel and hold a dumbbell in the right hand.
  2. Bend forward, keeping the abs engaged and prop the right elbow against the inside of the right thigh.
  3. Contract the bicep and curl the hand towards the shoulder without moving the elbow. You don't have to touch your shoulder.
  4. Lower all the way down (keep a very slight bend in the elbow to keep tension in the biceps) and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps on each side.

Next Exercise:  Barbell Concentration Curls

8
Barbell Concentration Curl

Barbell Concentration Curl
Paige Waehner

The Concentration curl is an excellent exercise for the biceps and this version, done with a barbell, adds even more intensity. With this version, you're in a bent over position, which shortens the range of motion and requires the abs and back to work harder to keep you stable. Because the range of motion is short, you'll really feel this exercise, so start with a lighter weight if you're new to this exercise.

  1. Sit in a chair or on a bench and hold a medium-weight barbell with hands about shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Bend over, keeping the back flat and the abs engaged, and prop the elbows on the inside of the thighs.
  3. Begin the move with the arms straight, barbell hanging down to mid-shin.
  4. Squeeze the biceps to curl the barbell up as high as you can (the range of motion will be shorter due to your position).
  5. Lower back down, keeping a slight bend in the elbows at the bottom of the motion.
  6. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps.
  7. Keep the core strong and the back straight throughout the movement.

Next Exercise:  Reverse Biceps Curls

9
Reverse Curls

Reverse Biceps Curls
Paige Waehner

While traditional biceps exercises, like curls, work the biceps as well as the forearms, the reverse curl is a great way to focus more attention on the forearms. In the reverse curl, you turn the palms out so that the forearms do most of the work while the biceps help as synergists. This move is great for anyone into sports like golf, baseball or tennis where you need forearm and grip strength.

  1. Hold medium-heavy dumbbells in front of the thighs with palms facing the thighs.
  2. Curl the weight up towards the shoulders so that the forearms are vertical and the palms face out.
  3. Lower back down and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.
  4. It's normal for your hands to widen at an angle at the top of the movement.
  5. You can also do this move with a barbell.

Next Exercise:  One Arm Preacher Curls

10
One-Arm Preacher Curl on the Ball

One-arm concentration curl
Paige Waehner

The preacher curl is a great exercise for isolating the biceps muscles. By resting your arm on a preacher bench or, in this case, an exercise ball, you take the momentum out of the movement, allowing the biceps to do all the work. When using a ball for this exercise, practice with your positioning until you feel supported and are able to use good form throughout the exercise.

  1. Place a medium-heavy weight on the floor in front of you and roll forward on the ball so that the torso is supported.
  2. Extend the right arm over the ball and grab the dumbbell, keeping the back of the arm resting against the ball. Take care not to hyperextend the elbow here. Make sure you're forward enough on the ball that you can safely reach the weight.
  3. Contract the biceps to curl the weight up toward the shoulder, keeping the wrist straight.
  4. Lower back down, without locking the elbow joint, and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps and switch sides.

Continue Reading