You may, however, be surprised to learn that there’s more to bicep training than just curls. Developing a range of dynamic exercises for this body part is a key move in developing size and achieving those gains.
Here’s a list of the top 10 muscle building bicep exercises to get those arms filling out your sleeves.
1.Standing Barbell Curl
When it comes to growing a muscle there are two main things that matter: muscle activation and the weight you’re lifting. If you’ve stimulated the muscle to a great degree but are only curling a 5lb dumbbell then your arms won’t grow. Similarly, if you’re lifting a house but your form is all over the place then your arms won’t grow either. It comes down to finding that sweet middle spot. The standing barbell curl does just that.
Holding the bar at shoulder-width means that both the short and long head of the biceps are activated to a great extent whilst the barbell allows for you to train both arms at the same time.
Completing the exercise standing opposed to seated means that you can get a slight sway to help you lift the weight up on those final few reps; therefore allowing you to lift more weight. Doing them seated doesn’t have that advantage.
Remember, the sway is only slight. You don’t want to be using solely your back and hips to move the weight but it can help get you past a sticking point when you start to fatigue.
2. Standing Cable Curl
Using a cable instead of a barbell means that there is tension throughout the whole movement. A study from the American Council on Exercise showed this exercise to be the second best exercise at activating the biceps muscle.
It’s advised to use this or the standing barbell curl in your training, not both. Switch to the other when you grow bored of the movement you’re currently using.
3. Alternate Dumbbell Curls
The advantage of a dumbbell curl is that you can take them all the way down to your sides. This ensures a full stretch in the bicep and a complete range of motion.
Doing the motion alternatively means that you can put 100% focus on one arm at a time to get the most out of the exercise. It will also highlight any discrepancies or imbalances between each arm.
4. Weighted Chin Ups
Chin-ups are one of the best upper body exercises you can get. Not only will they ensure you build big guns but they’re the best movement for targeting the lats as well. If you want a big, v-shaped upper body then you need to make these a staple in your training. Adding weight allows for you to hit the muscles to a greater degree and stimulate growth more.
5. Reverse Grip Barbell Row
This is another compound movement that’s fantastic for building size across the entire upper body. The benefits of compound movements are that you can really load up on weight whilst the reverse grip means that you heavily engage the biceps. Add this to your back days to give your arms a boost.
6. Hammer Curls
Hammer curls mean that the palms are facing towards each other as if you were doing a neutral grip chin up. The main advantage with hammer curls is that they also hit the brachialis muscle which also adds width to your upper arm. You can complete this movement with dumbbells or cables.
7. Incline Bench Curl
This version of the standard curl aims to hit the long head of the biceps muscle with little activation in the short head. The incline bench allows for you to really elongate the bicep at the bottom of the movement which in turn requires a greater degree of strength in order to complete the entire movement.
The incline bench curl is perfect for finishing off your workout and really fatiguing the biceps to create growth.
8. Concentration Curls
This exercise scored the highest activation in the biceps muscle according to the American Council on Exercise. They completely isolate the biceps and take out any help you could get from other muscles. As your full concentration is now focused entirely on your arms, the exercise also strengthens the mind-muscle connection that old school bodybuilders believed was the key to growth.
If you want one exercise that will leave your arms sore the next day, concentration curls are your best friend.
9. Preacher Curls
Preacher curls are the double armed version of the concentration curl. The difference is that because you’re using both arms then you can lift more weight. The exercise can be complete with a machine, barbell or cable and can also be done standing or seated. Pick whichever suits you for your workouts and give them a try.
10. Barbell Drag Curl
The difference in this exercise and the standard curl is that you push your elbows backwards opposed to pinning them by your side. It reduces the range of motion but is perfect for negatives, the portion of the exercise which tears the most muscle fibres. Use it as a heavy end to your workout to really finish off your muscles.