Pull out your favorite gym tank because it is time to get your biceps so swole that it is going to feel like they are going to pop. Biceps are one of my favorite muscles to train not because the exercises are fun but because of the feeling that you get from the exercises. I used to think that training biceps was unnecessary for gaining arm size as you work your biceps when you do heavy back. However I realized that back workouts do not isolate the bicep enough to stress the muscle as much as you would in a solid bicep workout. After I began training biceps again I started to notice an improvement in my arm size as a result. Before I jump into what my top exercises are there are a couple pointers I would like to make clear. First: in performing the reps it is important to really squeeze when the bicep is contracted to get the most out of your reps. Doing uncontrolled swinging reps which I commonly see in one arm dumbbell curls are less effective as you are using more of your shoulder muscles to lift the weight than you should be. You can avoid swinging the weight by focusing on keeping the rest of your body still when you are performing the rep. Also if you would like to feel an extra burn try doing either negative reps or a drop set on the last set of your exercise. With all of that being said here are my top bicep exercises:
Incline Bench Curls
By leaning back on the incline bench and doing curls you are able to increase the range of motion on your reps and have more isolation on your arm muscles than a regular curl. Use 2 dumbbells and an incline bench that is set to a 45-degree angle to perform this exercise. Hang both arms to the side with a dumbbell in each hand. There are two variations to this exercise:
- Have both palms facing outward and curl the weight to your shoulder. The dumbbells should be parallel to each other when you are performing the rep. This variation will focus the most on the bicep brachii.
- Perform the rep like you would a hammer curl. This exercise works more the brachioradialis (muscle that connects from your forearm to your arm) but still works the bicep brachii and the brachialis.
Note: The dumbbells that you perform this exercise with will be lighter than the ones you use for curls, as this exercise is more difficult.
E-Z Bar Curls
It is right on the name, this curve shaped bar makes it easier to perform curls as the position that it allows your hands to be in is more comfortable than a traditional bar. To perform the reps first grip the bar with your palms facing forward. Then curl the weight up until your bicep is fully contracted. Do not forget to squeeze throughout the rep! There are three grip variations that you can use to stress the bicep in different ways:
- Regular Grip: Curling the weight with your arms about shoulder width apart (grip where the outer adhesive part is basically). This variation will work both the long and short heads of the bicep as well as the brachialis about evenly.
- Close Grip: Grip the bar so that your hands are closer than shoulder width apart but no closer than 2 inches apart from each other. This variation will put more stress on the long head of your bicep.
- Wide Grip: Your grip should be wider than shoulder width apart by about half a foot on each side. This grip will make the exercise stress your short head of the bicep brachii more.
This exercise involves a preacher curl bench and a dumbbell or an E-Z curl bar. Place your upper arms on the bench and grasp the weight with your palms facing outward. Start with the weight at the bottom so that your bicep is stretched out. Curl the weight up so that it is at shoulder height and your bicep is fully contracted. Squeeze your bicep at the top for a second and then slowly begin to lower the weight back down to the starting position. This exercise predominantly works the brachialis, which is located at the lower part of your bicep. There are a couple variations that you can make to this exercise including:
- Changing your grip on the E-Z curl bar. You can grip the bar using either a regular, close, or wide grip to change the parts of the bicep that are primarily stressed (as I mentioned in the above paragraph).
- Single Arm Dumbbell Negatives: Use a heavy weight that you can only do a few reps with. When you cannot perform any more reps aid your lift up with your other arm and as slowly as possible release it back down.
- Single Arm Dumbbell Hammers: Similar to performing a single arm preacher curl only your palm will be facing inward so that the weight is held like a hammer. This variation works your brachioradialis more than your bicep brachii or brachialis.
Performed just like regular dumbbell curls only your palms are facing your body. The action is in the name you are lifting the weight up and down as if you were hitting a hammer. Hammer curls primarily hit your brachioradialis but also work your bicep brachii and brachialis. There are two variations to hammer curls that can be done:
- Regular: Start with your arm fully extended at your side. In the hammer position curl the weight up to your shoulder, squeeze it there, and then slowly release the weight back to the starting position.
- Cross body: Start the same way that you would for a regular hammer curl with your palms facing in. Curl the weight up to your opposite shoulder in a controlled manner. Once your bicep is fully contracted squeeze it and slowly bring it back down to its starting point.