- Best Biceps Exercises For Men And Women
The biceps are one of the most commonly trained arm muscles and many people want to get bigger biceps. Here are some of the best biceps exercises for men and women, and you can perform them in many different ways. You can use dumbbells, barbells, machines, cables, or kettlebell.
Both men and women can benefit from these biceps workout exercises. Below are some of the best biceps exercises. Choose a variety of exercises, and mix up your workout to keep it fun and challenging.
Biceps Muscle Anatomy
Biceps literally means 2 heads. There is a long head and a short head– the long head start off a little further up on the shoulder blade compared to the short head. (1)
Primarily, it works on the elbow and forearm and it will bend (flex) the elbow and supinate the forearm (turn the palms face up).
Obviously, any exercise that focuses on bending the elbow will work both heads of this muscle.
Both bicep muscles help to bend the elbow, turn the palms face up, and stabilize the shoulder. Since both parts of the muscle attach to the same spot they both do the same motions.
Many people think workouts need to be complicated to be effective, but that’s just not the case. Simple workouts can be just as effective if not more effective than complicated workouts.
Examples, are barbell curls, dumbbell curls, cable curls. But, in addition to single joint exercises that only focus on the elbow the bicep will also work during pulling exercises that involve the back muscles, like pull ups or the seated row machine.
Best Biceps Exercises For Men And Women
Enter your membership, click the “new program” button in your profile and filter biceps exercises on the page that opens. You can create your free workout program by choosing at least 3 or 4 of the best biceps exercises for men and women that we have shared in this article. .
The Key is to use a weight that will cause failure around 10-12 reps. And you will aim for 10-12 reps on each set, while resting for 45-60 seconds between sets.
Another key is that you will use the reverse pyramid method. The reverse pyramid method simply starts with the heaviest weight and moves down in weight with each successive set.
Here’s a sample weight progression.
Start with 85 pounds on the first set, rest 60 seconds.Then, lower the weight to 75 pounds, rest 60 seconds.Then, lower the weight to 65 pounds, rest 60 seconds.Then, lower the weight to 55 pounds, rest 60 seconds.Then, lower the weight to 45 pounds on the last set. You’ll have to experiment with the weights until you find the right sequence for your workout.
Try this simple biceps workout 1-2 times a week, for 4-6 weeks and see what happens to your arms. If you want to track your progress, measure your arms before and after a month of working out. You can do this type of workout with other bicep exercises, so pick your favorite and just stay consistent.
1- Barbell Curl
Many bodybuilders think that bicep barbell curls are the best biceps exercises. If you want to get big biceps, using the barbell in your biceps workout is a must.
Bicep Curls with the barbell are a simple but effective biceps exercise. I always recommend bicep curls with the barbell for people who want to improve their bicep strength, and I also recommend it for people who want to get big biceps.
Starting Position: Begin with your hands at shoulder width. Use an underhand grip.
Form: Exhale and slowly bend your elbows towards your chest. Hold briefly at the top of the motion and then slowly lower to the starting position.
Personal Trainer Tips: Just like other biceps exercises, you should move in a controlled manner so that momentum doesn’t take over.
In addition, you should be mindful of your posture and keep your spine stable by engaging your core muscles. If you feel your lower back moving, that’s generally a sign that the weight is too heavy.
Some bodybuilders think that the best biceps exercises is close grip barbell curls. There are so many biceps exercises to choose from, but barbell curls are one of the staples in bodybuilding training.
Shoulder width barbell curls are the standard width, but when you use a narrow grip you will add slightly more emphasis to the long head (outer part) of the biceps. The long head is what adds to the peaked look when someone flexes their biceps.
In regards to barbell curls, you can vary the placement of your hands to vary the emphasis of the exercise.
Starting Position: Begin by simply standing with you feet a comfortable distance. Grip the bar so that your hands are just a couple of inches apart.
Form: Exhale and curl the weight towards your chest. Pause briefly at the top and then slowly lower to the starting position.
Personal Trainer Tips: With all standing bicep exercises, you must pay attention to your posture. If you feel your back arch to help with the lift, that’s a sign the weight is too heavy.
Also, move in a slow and controlled manner so that momentum does not take over.
Standing EZ Bar Curls are a good bicep exercise. Standing EZ bar curls are a little different from using the preacher bench for curls.
When you use the preacher bench, your upper body is stabilized, so you can better isolate the biceps. But on the preacher bench there is an increased tendency for the shoulders to tip forward and out of good alignment.
Standing EZ bar Curls will still work the biceps really well, so don’t fret if you don’t have access to a preacher bench. In fact, the standing EZ-bar curl is one of the effective exercises that should be included in biceps workouts. One benefit of using the EZ bar is that it takes pressure off your wrists when compared to barbell curls.
Starting Position: Simply begin by standing with the EZ bar in your hands. You can use a narrow grip, shoulders width grip or wide grip.
Form: Exhale and curl the weight towards your chest. Hold for a brief second and then slowly lower to the starting position.
Personal Trainer Tips: Be mindful of the position of your shoulders and lower back.
Keep your shoulders down and back. Do not let your shoulders tip forward during this exercise. Keep your spine neutral. Do not use your lower back to lift the weight. If you have difficulty keeping good form, use a lighter weight, and always move in a slow and controlled manner.
EZ Bar Preacher Curls are one of the best biceps exercises. There are two main benefits to doing EZ bar preacher curls in your biceps workout.
The first benefit is that the EZ bar takes pressure off your wrists. Because the bar is curved, your wrist does not have to be completely turned up (supinated), and this takes some pressure off the wrist joint.
The second benefit is that the preacher bench provides some added stability, so you will generally be able to lift a little more weight compared with standing. Also, the preacher bench helps to isolate the biceps, so you slightly more muscle work.
Starting Position: Begin by sitting at the preacher bench and place your elbows on the preacher bench. You can use either a close grip or a shoulder width grip. Grasp the bar with your palms facing up.
Form: Exhale and curl the weight towards you. Hold for a brief second and then slowly lower to the starting position.
Personal Trainer Tips: In this exercise it can be difficult to keep your shoulders in the correct position. If you feel your shoulders tipping forwards during this exercise, try using a lighter weight or perform a different exercise.
Most people have poor posture, and our shoulders have the tendency to tip forwards. When the shoulders tip forward and out of good posture excess pressure is placed on the shoulder. So be mindful of the position of your shoulders.
The EZ Bar is simply a bar with Z-shaped handles so that you can use different angles for bicep exercises.
The biceps works to bend the elbow, but it also works to turn the palm face up (supination). The biceps is at its strongest when the palm is face up. However, when you change the position of your palm you can change the emphasis to other arm and forearm muscles and challenge your biceps in different positions.
When your palms are faced down (pronated), your biceps are in their weakest position so you will not be able to curl as much weight using a reverse grip as compared to a supinated (palms up) grip.
Also, when your palms are faced down, the back of your forearm (wrist extensors) will be emphasized versus the front of the forearm when the palms are face up.
Reverse bicep curls are a great exercise to shake up your biceps workout.
Starting Position: Simply begin by standing in a comfortable position. Grasp the EZ Bar with your palms facing down. You can use a close grip or shoulders width grip.
Form: Exhale and slowly curl the weight towards your chest. Hold for a brief second and then slowly return to the starting position.
Personal Trainer Tips: If you have never done this exercise, start with a light weight. The wrist muscles on the back of your forearm rarely get worked in a typical workout, so they will likely really sore the first time you try this exercise.
This exercise is great for improving grip strength, and it’s a good complimentary exercise in any biceps workout.
Dumbbell Bicep Curls are one of the best bicep building exercises and they are also a great arm toning exercise. If you want to improve the way your arms look, dumbbell curls are a great arm exercise.
If your main goal is strength and lean mass development, aim for 4-12 repetitions. If your goal is toning and endurance aim for 8-15 repetitions.
Starting Position: Simply begin by holding dumbbells in both hands.
Form: Exhale and slowly bend your elbows towards your chest. Hold briefly at the top of the motion, before slowly lowering to the starting position.
Personal Trainer Tips: Move in a slow and controlled manner. If you move too quickly, momentum will take over and your biceps will actually work a less when momentum takes over.
One of the main compensations during this bicep exercise is arching the back to assist in lifting the weight. If your back moves, that is a sign that the weight is too heavy, so try a lighter weight or do less repetitions on the next set.
7- Hammer Curl
Hammer Curls are a biceps exercise, but they also are good for strengthening your forearms.
The difference between hammer and regular bicep curls is the position of the forearm. When the palm is face up (supinated), the bicep is the most efficient and you are generally the strongest in this position.
When you are in the neutral position, your hand is in the hand shake position. The biceps still works well in this position, but another forearm muscle (the brachioradialis) is in its best position. And when your palms are face down, like in a reverse barbell curl, your biceps is at its weakest position.
Hammer Dumbbell Curls are a great complement to other bicep exercises to strengthen your forearms and build muscle.
Here are the instructions.
Starting Position: Simply begin by holding dumbbells with your palms facing your legs.
Form: Exhale and bend your elbows while keeping your palms facing in towards your body. Hold briefly at the top and then slowly return to the starting position.
Personal Trainer Tips: As with all bicep exercises, it is important to pay attention to the position of your lower back. As the weights get heavy, the tendency is to compensate by arching the back to help lift the weight.
If you feel yourself moving, try a lower weight.
It is also important to move in a slow and controlled manner so that momentum doesn’t take over.
Hammer dumbbell curls are a nice way to change up your biceps routine if you always do curls with your palms up. So try adding them in every now and then.
8- Cable Curl
Cable Curls are a good bicep exercise to get a great pump. Obviously you can work your biceps with machines or free weights. There is a big difference in using dumbbells or cables.
With dumbbells the actual resistance of the weight changes through the range of motion. And at the top of the range of motion and bottom of the range of motion there is much less tension with dumbbells.
Actually many cable machines use cams that also change the resistance throughout the range of motion, but there is more of a constant tension when using the cables.
So the big difference between cable bicep curls and dumbbell bicep curls is the constant tension with cables. Because of the constant tension, there is a lot of effort needed at the top of the range of motion and this helps to create a great pump in the biceps.
Starting Position: Attach a straight bar to the bottom of a cable machine. Grasp the bar with your palms facing up.
Form: Exhale and curl the bar towards your chest. Hold for a brief second at the top and then slowly return to the starting position.
Personal Trainer Tips: Be mindful of your posture. Keep your core muscles tight to maintain proper form.
Move in a slow and controlled manner so that momentum does not take over.
Changing the grip, changes the emphasis. During the reverse curl the muscles on the back of your forearm will get a ton of muscle work. Some people get bored with the same old bicep exercises with dumbbells, but you can really spice up your bicep workout just by simply switching all your exercises to cables.
Changing the position of your palms, changes the emphasis on the arm muscles. When you do reverse curls, more emphasis is placed on the forearm muscles. Varying your hand position helps to strengthen your arms in multiple positions and can help to develop well rounded strength.
Starting Position: Attach a straight bar to the bottom of a cable machine. Grasp the bar with an over hand grip so that your palms are facing the floor. Keep a slight bend in your knees and make sure that your lower back is in good alignment.
Form: Exhale and bend your elbows up towards the ceiling. Hold for a brief second and then slowly return to the starting position.
Personal Trainer Tips: When your palms are faced down (pronated) your biceps don’t pull as well, so you will not be able to do as much weight on the reverse curl as you would on regular cable curls with your palms faced up.
As with all bicep strengthening exercises, make sure that you keep your lower back in good posture. When the weight is too heavy there will be a tendency to use your lower back to cheat. Stay upright and keep good form.
If you don’t have access to a cable machine, you can also do reverse curls with dumbbells or a barbell.
Cables are a versatile tool, and there are many great bicep exercises that men and women can do with a cable machine.
Cables offer a much different feeling when compared to dumbbells or machines. They provide constant tension like most machines, but they offer an increased stability challenge when compared to machines.
You can use many different attachments to add variety to your arm workouts. Rope hammer curls on a cable machine will work your forearms and improve your grip strength.
A rope attachment is much less stable than a straight bar or other solid attachment, so you will have an increased challenge on your shoulder stabilizers and grip muscles.
Hammer curls are a great way to work the brachioradialis (a major forearm muscle) and the brachialis (a huge elbow flexor underneath the biceps). Hammer curls are a great addition to any bicep or arm workout.
Starting Position: Attach a rope to the bottom of a cable machine. Grasp both sides of the rope with each hand. Make sure that your palms are facing each other and your thumbs are pointing up towards the ceiling.
Keep a slight bend in your knees and make sure that your lower back is in good alignment.
Form: Exhale and bend your elbows as if you were raising up a hammer. Hold for a brief second and then slowly return to the starting position.
Personal Trainer Tips: During hammer curls, it is important to make sure that you keep your thumbs pointing towards the ceiling throughout the entire movement.
When your palm is in the “hand shake position” (thumbs up) during bicep exercises, the brachioradialis and brachialis are emphasized.You can also do hammer curls with dumbbells.
Hammer curls are a great addition to any bicep workout, and they can be done with dumbbells or cables.
Both dumbbells and cables offer a different feel, so choose the one you like best or include both in your bicep workout if you really want to emphasis some of the accessory forearm muscles.
If you just want to tone and strengthen choose a weight that you can comfortably lift for 12 or more reps, and if you want to focus more on building lean muscle mass then choose a weight that is challenging between 1-12 reps.
11- High Cable Curl
High cable curls are one of the best biceps exercises for improving the peak of the bicep muscle. High cable curls are the best exercise to pump up the biceps and give them a shape that will turn heads.
If you really want to change the shape of your biceps and create that peaked looked when you flex your arms, then high cable curls are a must.
Many cable exercises are effective at improving the biceps because the cables provide a constant tension throughout the entire range of motion. The constant tension really helps to pump blood to the biceps and can increase the pump you feel after your workout.
Bodybuilders use this exercise all the time, and it resembles the popular “double biceps” bodybuilding pose.
If you want to add inches to your biceps and improve the peak of your biceps include high cable curls in your bicep workout.
Starting Position: Attach handles to the top portion of a cable machine. Adjust the weight, grasp the handles, and position yourself in the middle of the cable machine.
Form: Exhale and bend your elbows so that your fists almost touch your ears. Hold for a brief second and then slowly return to the starting position.
Personal Trainer Tips: In this exercise make sure that you keep your shoulders still throughout the entire movement. Just focus on moving your elbows.
It’s also important to really squeeze your biceps at the end of the exercise. Make sure you hold the finishing position for at least a second before slowly returning to the starting position.
As with all bicep exercises, make sure that you do not use your lower back to compensate during the exercise.
You can also do this exercise with one arm at a time to really focus on each individual arm– 1 arm high cable curls.
There are so many ways to work the biceps, but if you want to improve the peak of your biceps you should definitely include high cable curls in your bicep workout.
Cables offer a different feeling than machines or free weights, and it’s good to include cable exercises in your workouts from time to time.
You can do so many different bicep exercises with cables. The one arm high cable curls are a great exercise to build up the biceps while adding in a little core stability.
Whenever you go from 2 arms to 1 arm for any upper body exercise you increase the core stability challenge.
When you only have weights in one hand there is no counter balance so your core muscles must work harder to stabilize your body and keep it in good alignment.
Starting Position: Attach a handle to the top portion of a cable machine. Adjust the weight, grasp the handle, and position yourself in the middle of the cable machine.
Form: Exhale and bend your elbow so that your fist almost touch your ear. Hold for a brief second and then slowly return to the starting position.
Personal Trainer Tips: The squeeze at the end of the range of motion is one of the most important parts of this exercise.
You’ll get more out of it if you move in a slow and controlled manner and hold briefly at the end of the range of motion.
You can also do this exercise with both arms at the same time– 2 arm high cable curls.
Cables are a great way to work the biceps, and whenever you only use one arm you get a little extra core work. Mix up your workout from time to time and try different exercises for your biceps.
13- Biceps Machine
You can work your biceps with dumbbells, barbells, cables, or machines. They all have a different benefit.
One of the differences between dumbbell bicep curls and the bicep machine is that there is constant tension throughout the range of motion when using the bicep machine; whereas, the resistance using the dumbbells changes based on the relationship to gravity.
Many people also find it harder to cheat when using a bicep machine. When you are standing with the dumbbells, you can more easily cheat by using your shoulders or lower back to help get the weights moving.
Starting Position: Sit comfortably in the bicep machine. Adjust the seat so that your elbow is near the pivot point on the machine.
Form: Exhale and bend your elbows towards your body. Hold for a brief second at the top of the movement and then slowly lower to the starting position.
Personal Trainer Tips: Every bicep machine is a little different, but as you extend and straighten your arms make sure not to hyper-extend your elbows.
Always keep a slight bend in your elbows as you extend.
Also, be mindful of the position of your wrists. Keep your wrists neutral and in good alignment throughout the movement.
There are hundreds of different ways to work your arms, so choose your favorite arm exercises and get to work!
Try to stay in the range of 10-12 reps on each set. If a weight feels light, it’s okay to do a few extra reps on that set.
If you can do 15 reps, you will likely be able to get 10 reps on the next set without lowering the weight.
As you get stronger over the weeks, increase the weights so that you still fatigue between 10-12 reps.
I hope those tips help you to easily construct a workout that will get your biceps pumped like crazy.