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Top 10 Best Bicep Exercises – For Mass & Muscle

Though they are not the biggest muscle group, they are definitely one of the most noticeable ones. Having nicely developed biceps shows at once that you’re on top of your workout game. That’s why having toned, defined arms is usually high on lifter’s list of priorities. Very few people who don’t incorporate at least some biceps exercises into their workout. So here are the top 10 best bicep exercises that you can do at home or at the gym. They will help you reach new levels of growth and develop the best arms you can.

10 Best Bicep Exercises

Barbell Curl

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The first one is a classic. It’s the most popular and one of the most effective bicep exercises. It allows to work both arms simultaneously and it allows to lift a profound amount of weight.

How To Do It

Grab a barbell with an underhand grip. The hands should be positioned at a shoulder-width distance. Stand straight, arms extended, abs tight and chest up. Keeping the upper arms stationary, curl the bar from your hip area towards your upper chest. At the top, pause for a second, squeeze your biceps and then slowly return the bar to its starting position.

Make sure to keep your elbows fixed in at the sides and keep your body in its straight stance without swinging the hips. Also, performing the exercise slower and in a more focused manner will help to prevent the mistake of leaning backward and place a higher intensity on the muscle group.

You can also add a few variations to the barbell curl. For example, you can play around with the grip to find a more comfortable position and to emphasize different parts of the biceps. You can do narrow grip curls to emphasize the outer portion of your biceps or you can do wider grip curls to emphasize the inner portion.

Incline Dumbbell Curl

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This next dumbbell exercise for your arms puts more emphasis on the long head of your biceps, though the short head is also activated to an extent. The backward incline of your torso places your shoulder in a hyper-extended position, stretching the long head of the biceps. And the more horizontal the bench, the better stretch you’ll get of the long head.

How To Do It

Start by setting your weight bench to a 45-60 degree incline. Sit back on the incline bench and let the dumbbells hang to your sides with the palms of your hands facing forward. In the starting position, your arms will also be slightly behind your body. Next, curl the weights forward until the biceps are fully contracted, then pause, and slowly bring the dumbbells back to the starting position and straighten your arms.

Dumbbell Concentration Curl

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Working on one arm at a time gives you more control and limits the degree of momentum effect in this exercise. It stimulates the biceps from the ends to the peak and puts extra emphasis on the short head of the biceps.

How To Do It

Sit at the end of a bench and use your free hand for support by placing it against the same-side thigh. Use the other hand to grab a dumbbell, while also locking this arm on the top of the same-side inner thigh. This will help you to keep balance during the exercise. Also, in this starting position, your arm should be extended and the palm of your hand with the barbell should be facing away from your thigh.

Moving only the forearms, curl the weight forward until the bicep is fully contracted. At the top pause for a second, squeeze your biceps and slowly return to the start.

After performing all the reps on one side, do the same on the other.

Ez-Bar Biceps Curl

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Barbell curls with a straight bar might provide better biceps activation but the slightly more pronated grip of the EZ bar puts the wrists, forearms and elbows in a more comfortable and safe position. In addition, the EZ bar allows for some more brachialis and shoulder to come into play during the curls.

How To Do It

The same as with a barbell curl.

Hammer Curls

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The name of this exercise draws its name from the hammer-handle-like grip that you have on the dumbbell. So you basically take your standard-grip curl and just flip it on its side. While also working on your biceps, this exercise puts more emphasis on the brachialis muscle, which sits under your biceps. This is the muscle that gives your arms width.

How To Do It

For this exercise, you’ll also need a pair of dumbbells. Let them hang next to your sides with your palms facing each other. Keep your upper arms fixed and curl the dumbbells as close to your shoulders as you can. Make sure that during the entire your palms keep facing each other. At the top, make a pause and squeeze the biceps. Lastly, slowly bring the weight back to the starting position. Before you start your second rep, your arms should be completely straightened out.

Watch out for the most common mistakes, such performing the exercise too fast and swaying torso. The first one will limit the effectiveness of the exercise and the second one is cheating.

You could also add a few variations to this movement. For example, you can do it sitting down and use back support or you can also perform by alternating arms.

Chin-Ups

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This exercise doesn’t isolate your biceps and it does first of all targets the shoulders and back. However, chin-ups also require the biceps to get heavily involved. It takes a lot of bicep strength to bend your elbows and lift your bodyweight.

How To Do It

Grasp a fixed overhead bar with an underhand grip. You can place your hands at shoulder-width or slightly narrower. Hang freely from the bar, bend the knees and cross your lower legs. Retract your shoulder blades and pull your body up until your chin clears the bar. Make sure to keep your body stable and the core engaged. Pause for a second, squeeze your biceps and slowly lower your back to the starting position.

If you’re struggling with the chin-ups, you can use the assistance of a resistance band. On the other hand, if you can easily do over 10 chin-ups, consider adding some more resistance by using a weight belt.

Barbell Preacher Curl

best exercise for biceps at home

As you rest your arms on the arms support pad of a preacher bench, you isolate your biceps from all the other upper body muscles.

How To Do It

Adjust the preacher bench so that as you sit down, your arms can comfortably sit over the arms support pad. Take an underhand grip on a barbell, keeping your hands at a shoulder-width distance. Make sure that your arms are parallel to each other, the back is straight and the feet are flat on the floor. Take the weight off the rack, while keeping the upper arms positioned against the pad. Keep your head straight as you curl the weight upward to bring the bar as high as possible. Squeeze the biceps at the top, hold for a count of two and then lower the barbell until your elbows are fully extended.

As an alternative, you can use an EZ bar for this exercise or do hammer curls with dumbbells. If you don’t have a preacher bench, you can use Swiss ball or an inclined bench.

Overhead Cable Curl

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Overhead cable curls are another great type of exercise for bigger biceps. The cables provide constant tension and resistance during the movement, helping you to build strength in the upper arms. This biceps exercise targets brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis muscles.

How To Do It

For this exercise, you’ll need a pulley machine. On each side, set a weight that is comfortable for you. Next, adjust the height of the pulleys so that the handles are about 12-15 inches above shoulder level. Stand in the middle and grasp a stirrup in each hand using an underhand grip. Stretch out your arms and make them parallel to the ground. Keeping your elbows in a fixed position, slowly curl your hands towards your shoulders. Hold it for a second, squeeze your biceps and return to starting position.

Reverse Grip Bent Over Barbell Row

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Bent over row exercise works not only your biceps but also your back and core. The biceps work to bent the elbows and lift the weight. By doing the reverse grip row, you put more emphasis on the biceps.

How To Do It

Grab a barbell with some weight on. Have the palms facing upward and the hands slightly wider than shoulder-width. Slightly bend your knees and while keeping the back straight, bring the torso forward until it is almost parallel to the floor. The barbell should hang directly in front of you, just below knee level. While you keep the head up and the torso stationary, lift the barbell up to just below your chest. On the top position, squeeze your shoulder blades and slowly lower the bar back to the starting position.

Resistance Band Hammer Curl

best bicep exercises

You can build mass and strength in your biceps also by doing the resistance band hammer curls. You work your bicep muscles through the full range of motion with the changing resistance as you lift and lower your arms. Also, since you’re doing the hammer movement, you’re mainly targeting the brachialis – the muscle that makes your arms look thick.

How To Do It

Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grab a resistance band and loop it under your feet and grab one end of it also in each hand. The palms in this position and throughout the exercise should be facing each other. Curl the hands towards your shoulders, bending the elbows but now moving your upper arms. Squeeze your biceps at the top and lower your hands back to your sides.

If you do this biceps exercise more slowly, you’ll be using more of the muscles and not just momentum to build strength.

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