If you’re just as focused on your appearance as building strength and mass—and there’s nothing wrong with that—there’s no better place to start than your biceps. The muscles are composed of a long and short head, which team up to handle movements like flexing, and curling, that make your arms pop.

The biceps take up a ton of prime real estate on the front of your arm, and they’re probably the easiest part of your body to show off no matter the situation, or who you’re trying to impress. Whether you rock a dress shirt or a tank top, a strong set of guns are sure to make waves.

To help you hone those arms, we created this list of 20 go-to moves to work your biceps. Some of these are classics; some are new. Some are a grind; some are fun. Some hit the long head of the muscle; some focus on the short head.

Pick the ones you like (and maybe some that you don’t), and use them to pump up your arms—and fill out your sleeves.

Contents

Build Your Biceps With This Badass Arm Plan

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1. STANDING BARBELL CURL

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This is as basic as it gets. You’ve probably heard serious lifters carrying on about oblivious meatheads taking up space in squat racks to do bicep curls, so be mindful when and where you load up a barbell — but that shouldn’t be an excuse to skip out on the move entirely. Barbells allow you to work both arms simultaneously and evenly, and the position of your grip can allow you to home in on different parts of the muscle.

How to do it: Grab the barbell with an underhand grip, with your your hands positioned about as wide as your hips. To emphasize the inner portion of the bicep, take a wider grip; to target the outer part of the muscle, bring your hands closer together. Start holding the bar at hip height, then squeeze your core and contract your biceps to curl the bar up to shoulder height. Squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement, then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position, controlling the weight through the eccentric movement. Make sure to keep your feet solidly planted throughout the exercise, and don’t use your hips to lift the weight.

2. CONCENTRATION CURL

The concentration curl is a biceps isolating standard that you’ve undoubtedly seen performed in just about any gym. You can rip through reps for volume, or take a cue from the name and focus on the eccentric portion of the move for even better results.

How to do it: You’ll need a dumbbell and a bench to start. Sit on the bench, spreading your legs. Rest your arm holding the dumbbell on the same side leg, just below the knee, so that the weight hangs down between your legs. Keep your torso upright by stabilizing your off-hand on your thigh. Curl the weight up, focusing on squeezing the bicep, pause at the top, then lower back into the original position.

3. STANDING RESISTANCE BAND HAMMER CURL

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Leave the weights on the rack and give resistance bands a shot to really reap some bicep gains. The bands allow you to work through the full range of the motion by offering resistance (get it?) through the eccentric (lowering) part of the exercise, along with the concentric (curl) lift. The hammer grip, meanwhile, shifts the focus of the work to the brachialis, a lower muscle that can really make your arms look thick.

How to do it: Step on the center of a resistance band, gripping one end of the implement in each hand. Hold the band with your palms parallel to each other. Curl your hands toward your shoulders, maintaining the position of your palms. Squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement before lowering your hands back down to your sides, maintaining constant tension on the band. Keep your elbows stable and in position at your sides throughout the movement.

4. STANDING DUMBBELL CURL

In a biceps-focused list like this, you can’t leave out the classic dumbbell curl. So we didn’t.

But we would ask that you use a weight that makes sense: If you’re swaying back wildly and contorting your body—especially excessively arching your lower back—to lift the load, you should probably get a lighter pair of dumbbells.
How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells and let them hang at arm’s length next to your sides. Turn your arms so your palms face forward. Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and curl the dumbbells as close to your shoulders as you can. Pause, then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position. Each time you return to the starting position, completely straighten your arms.

5. SPIDER CURL

This biceps move uses smart positioning to blow up your arms. According to Men’s Health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., the exercise is so effective because you’ll eliminate most of the cheating that happens with other, standing curls, which allow you to use body English to lift up the weights. Samuel recommends that you pick a weight in the lighter end of what you might typically work with, so you can handle the full challenge.

How to do it: Grab a dumbbell and sit facing forward on an incline bench. Moving only at the elbow, squeeze you bicep to curl the dumbbell way up with clean form. Make sure to keep your shoulder out of the equation by keeping your back live and engaged.

6. HAMMER CURL

Take your standard-grip curl and flip it on its side. This small difference in the way you hold the dumbbell helps transfer more of the work from your biceps brachii to your brachialis — a muscle that can make your arms look thicker.
How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells and let them hang at arm’s length next to your sides with your palms facing your thighs. Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and curl the dumbbells as close to your shoulders as you can. Pause, then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position. Each time you return to the starting position, completely straighten your arms.

7. DECLINE DUMBBELL CURL

Lying chest-down on a bench really isolates the biceps since you don’t have to maintain as much tension in your legs and core muscles as you do when you stand. Use various grips in this position to zero in on different parts of your biceps.
How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie with your chest against a bench that’s set to a 45-degree incline. Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and curl the dumbbells as close to your shoulders as you can. Pause, then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position. Each time you return to the starting position, completely straighten your arms.
Photographs by Beth Bischoff

8. INCLINE DUMBBELL CURL

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The opposite of the decline variation, you’ll lie on your back, allowing your arms to drop down behind your body. This puts an extra challenge on the long head of your biceps brachii because you’re working from a deficit — meaning, you’re starting the movement at a point where you have less leverage than normal.

How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie with your back against a bench that’s set to a 45-degree incline. Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and curl the dumbbells as close to your shoulders as you can. Pause, then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position. Each time you return to the starting position, completely straighten your arms.

9. KNEELING SINGLE-ARM CURL

Curling a weight with one arm helps you zero in on weak spots. And performing the biceps exercise in a kneeling position will diminish the chance that you use body English to heave the weight up to the top position.
How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells. Hold one dumbbell by your side in your left hand, palm facing your thigh. In your right hand, hold the dumbbell with your palm facing outward. Without moving your upper arm, bend your elbow and curl the dumbbell as close to your shoulder as you can. Pause, then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position. Each time you return to the starting position, completely straighten your arm. Perform all reps on your right arm before switching to your left.

10. ZOTTMAN CURL

This exercise targets the three major muscles that make up the biceps—the biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis—by rotating from an underhand to an overhand grip halfway through the move.
How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells and let them hang at arm’s length next to your sides. Turn your arms so your palms face forward. Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and curl the dumbbells as close to your shoulders as you can. Pause, then rotate the dumbbells so your palms face forward again. Slowly lower the weights down in that position. Rotate the dumbbells back to the starting position and repeat.
Photographs by Beth Bischoff

11. CABLE ROPE HAMMER CURL

Just like the dumbbell hammer curl, this biceps exercise will hit your brachialis to build thickness in your arms. But unlike the dumbbell version, the cable machine keeps a more steady and constant load on the biceps for longer, which may elicit more growth, according to Brad Schoenfeld, Ph.D.
How to do it: Hold both ends of a rope attached to the low pulley of a cable machine. Press your elbows into your sides with your palms facing each other. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, your torso upright, and your knees slightly bent. Keeping your arms stable throughout the move, curl, the rope toward your shoulders, Pause, and reverse the movement to return to the starting position.

Photographs by Beth Bischoff

12. CABLE ALTERNATING FLEX CURL

Instead of holding your arms by your sides for this variation of the biceps curl, you’ll keep them extended outwards, parallel to the floor. Just holding your arms in this position will put them to work. Adding a curl helps zero in directly on your biceps.
How to do it: Stand between the weight stacks of a cable crossover station and grab a high-pulley handle in each hand. Hold your arms out to the sides so they’re parallel to the floor. Without moving your right arm, curl your left hand toward your head. Slowly allow your left arm to straight and then repeat the move with your right arm.
Photographs by Beth Bischoff

13. EZ-BAR PREACHER CURL

Resting your arms on a sloping pad of a preacher bench helps isolate your biceps by taking your other upper-body muscles out of the equation—meaning, they won’t come into play to assist where your biceps are weakest. If you don’t have the appropriate workstation, you can use a Swiss ball or a bench angled to 45 degrees.
How to do it: Grab an EZ-bar with your hands six inches apart. Rest your upper arms on the sloping pad of a preacher bench and hold the bar in front of you with your elbows slightly bent. Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and curl the bar toward your shoulders. Pause, then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.

14. LYING PREACHER CURLS

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A post shared by Ebenezer Samuel (@ebenezersamuel23) on Jan 9, 2018 at 4:40am PST

The beauty of the preacher curl is that it increases the angle of your bicep relative to your torso, limiting your ability to cheat on the curl with your shoulders. You’re all biceps for this move — which means you’re gains will only increase. This particular version of the preacher curl has two benefits. First, instead of losing resistance (which happens at the top of a standard preacher curl, like above), you still face it at peak contraction thanks to the cables. Second, the bench/floor offers feedback for your back positioning, helping you to keep them back rather than slouching forward.

How to do it: You’ll need a bench and a cable pull-down station for this move. Position the bench beneath the cable, so that your head is in-line with the bar when you lay down. Reach up to grab the bar with your arms straight up. Bend your elbows and squeeze your biceps to curl the bar down toward your head. Keep your shoulders still, and really emphasize the bicep squeeze at the bottom of the movement before controlling the bar on the way back up.

15. OPEN-PALM MACHINE CURLS

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A post shared by Ebenezer Samuel (@ebenezersamuel23) on Dec 5, 2017 at 7:04am PST

This move is all about grip. All it takes is a subtle tweak on machine preacher curls to help you focus on your biceps more: maintain an open palm. Do this and you almost completely eliminate forearm flexor assistance, leaving your bicep to shoulder a greater load on the curl. Bonus: if you’re dealing with elbow tendonitis, you can still pull this curl off. Don’t do this all the time though; you want your muscles working well together. Mix it into your arm workouts maybe once a month.

How to do it: Sit down as if you were going to perform normal reps. Instead of grasping the handle with your fingers, keep your hands open and press against the machine with your palms up with the handle at your wrist. Curl the weight up with the open palm. Perform with either one hand alone or both simultaneously, depending on the machine available to you.

16. CHINUP

While the chinup doesn’t isolate your biceps, it certainly trains them hard. Along with other muscles in your arms, shoulders, and back, you’ll use your biceps to pull your entire bodyweight from a dead hang, building serious upper-body strength, according to Tony Gentilcore, C.S.C.S., co-owner of Cressey Performance in Hudson, Massachusetts.
How to do it: Grab a chinup bar using a shoulder-width underhand grip and hang at arm’s length. Squeeze your shoulder blades down and back, bend your elbows, and pull the top of your chest to the bar. Pause, and slowly lower your body back to the starting position.
Photographs by Mitch Mandel

17. SEATED CABLE ROW

When you sit and row instead of stand and row, your biceps are in the direct line of the pull so they work extra hard during each rep, according to Gentilcore. The seated cable row will also help you build a massive back to compliment your guns.
How to do it: Sit at a seated cable row station with your feet on the platform and your knees slightly bent. Grasp a V-bar with your palms facing each other. Keep your back flat and pull your shoulders back as you pull the bar toward your torso.
Photographs by Thomas MacDonald

18. BENT-OVER BARBELL ROW

The muscles in your upper body have two functions: push and pull. Your biceps are most active when you pull, according to Alwyn Cosgrove, a Men’s Health Fitness Advisor. Since you’re using other muscles to perform the row, you’ll likely use a weight that’s much heavier than one you would curl.
How to do it: Grab a barbell with your hands just beyond shoulder-width apart and hold it at arm’s length. Bend at your hips and knees, bracing your abs as if you’re about to be punched in the gut. Pull the bar to your ribcage, pause, and then lower back to the starting position.
Photographs by Mitch Mandel

19. RACKED FARMER’S CARRY

The farmer’s carry is a great way to work your body from head to toe as you walk, but holding the weights in a racked position can help you zero in on your biceps. It’s like an isometric hold for your guns, jostling the weight with every step. And since you typically use extra-heavy weight for farmer’s carries, you’ll overload your biceps in a completely contracted position.
How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them in the racked position so one head of each dumbbell rests by your shoulders. Walk forward for 10 yards, turn around and walk back.
Photograph by Mitch Mandel

20. UNDERHAND-GRIP INVERTED ROW

The inverted row is primarily an upper-back exercise. However, using an underhand grip instead of a standard grip forces your biceps to work harder.
How to do it: Grab a bar with an underhand, shoulder-width grip. You palms should be facing you. Hang with your arms completely straight. Your body should form a straight line from your ankles to your head. Initiate the movement by pulling your shoulder blades back, then continue the pull with your arms to lift your chest to the bar. Pause, then slowly lower your body back to the starting position.
Photographs by Beth Bischoff

The Editors of Men’s Health The editors of Men’s Health are your personal conduit to the top experts in the world on all things important to men: health, fitness, style, sex, and more.

Arm Workouts For Men: 5 Biceps Blasts

This is a blanket statement, but I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that every guy wants bigger guns. Even though they’re a relatively small muscle group, big biceps are important to most men. Heck, they’re practically a billboard proclaiming that their owner works out, takes care of himself, and has a solid measure of strength.

The exercise of choice to build your biceps is called the curl.

The exercise of choice to build your biceps is called the curl, but there are many variations that hit the three major components of the biceps muscle group: the long head, the short head, and the brachialis. It’s not just the actual movements that make these five biceps routines unique. By manipulating volume and rep targets, and adding post-failure techniques, you can take a beginner’s workout and make it a major-mass builder, or even increase the speed of your workout for a leaning-out phase.

What’s worth remembering: When your elbows are in front of the plane of your body (as when doing preacher curls), the biceps long head isn’t able to fully stretch, so these kinds of exercises better target the short head. Also, when your arms are behind the plane of your body (as when doing incline-bench curls), the long head is fully stretched so it picks up the greater load. Even moving your hands in and out when doing barbell curls changes the emphasis, so it’s worth exploring the many variations here.

You’ll also want to try exercises that shift the position of your palms—whether supinated (palms up), pronated (palms down), or neutral (palms facing in). These subtle shifts make a decided difference in what area of your upper arm is engaged to the fullest.

One more thing: You don’t have to be a guy to get the most out of these workouts. We know guys really want big arms, so these workouts are definitely geared toward getting you jacked, no matter your level of experience, but I encourage women to try them on for size as well!

1. Workout For Mass

Chin-ups aside, there aren’t great multijoint movements that target the biceps. You’ll want to start with the arm exercise that allows you to move maximum weight: the standing barbell curl. Use a shoulder-width grip here to work both biceps heads. Additional exercises require you to change elbow and hand position: The incline stretches the long head better, while the preacher is better for the short head. Neutral-grip moves like hammer curls hit your underlying brachialis muscle, and reverse-grip movements emphasize the brachioradialis.

One-Arm Dumbbell Preacher Curl

Notes:

These workout charts do not contain warm-up sets. Perform as many as you need, but never take your warm-up to failure.

Choose a weight that allows you to reach muscle failure by the target rep listed. This scheme follows a reverse pyramid, meaning you lighten the weight a bit on each set after your first set for slightly higher reps. But it’s important to take each set to muscle failure.

If you have a spotter, do a few forced reps on your heaviest set of each exercise, which should be your first or second set. If you don’t have a partner, do a dropset on your last set of each exercise, reduce the weight by about 25 percent when you reach muscle failure, and rep again to a second point of muscle failure.

Workout For Mass 1 4 sets, 6-8, 6-8, 8-10, 8-10 reps+ 5 more exercises

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2. Routine To Get Ripped

This workout hits all areas of your biceps, including your forearms. Supersets boost the intensity of your training, and the session calls for a slightly higher rep range that will enrage your biceps pump. The seated curls are done through a shortened range of motion, and can hence be done after the full-range standing curls.

Supersets boost the intensity of your training, and the session calls for a slightly higher rep range that will enrage your biceps pump.

Choose a weight with which you reach muscle failure by the target rep listed. You’ll use the same weight on all three sets. Take each set to muscle failure.

Do hammer curls with both arms simultaneously; do one-arm curls by alternating arms.

Superset the pairs of exercises noted, resting only after you complete both moves.

Routine To Get Ripped 1 EZ-Bar Curl Superset with Seated Close-Grip Concentration Barbell Curl 3 sets, 12 reps + 6 more exercises

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3. Beginner’s Workout

When training biceps, it’s all about the curl. We’ve included three variations in this workout, starting with one that you can probably use the most weight with. With the last movement, try it both ways—curling both arms simultaneously one set, and alternating arms the next—to see which you prefer.

Choose a weight at which you almost reach muscle failure, but don’t go to failure during your first month.

The first two movements are done pyramid-style, increasing the weight after the first set for fewer reps.

Beginner’s Workout 1 3 sets, 15, 12, 12 reps + 3 more exercises

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  • Quickly read through our step-by-step directions to ensure you’re doing each workout correctly the first time, every time.

4. Emphasis On Biceps-Peak (Long Head)

When you flex your arm, that height you see is called the peak, and it gets taller as your long head gets bigger. This routine emphasizes long-head moves.

This routine emphasizes long-head moves.

Choose a weight with which you reach muscle failure by the target rep listed.

The workout follows a pyramid, meaning you add weight on each set (for fewer reps), but take only your final set of each exercise to muscle failure.

Emphasis On Biceps-Peak (Long Head) 1 3 sets, 12, 10, 8 reps + 4 more exercises

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  • Quickly read through our step-by-step directions to ensure you’re doing each workout correctly the first time, every time.

5. Emphasis On Short (Inner) Head

To achieve fully developed biceps, you can’t rely on long-head exercises alone. To shift the emphasis to the short head, you’ll use different angles that essentially don’t allow the long head to fully stretch.

Preacher Curl

Choose a weight with which you reach muscle failure by the target rep listed.

The scheme follows a straight-sets approach in which you use the same working weight for all three sets, trying to reach the same target-rep figure on each one (but don’t stop if you can do more). You’ll use a slightly lighter weight (for a higher rep target) on each successive exercise.

Emphasis On Short (Inner) Head 1 3 sets, 8 reps + 3 more exercises

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Training Tip

Keep your upper arms locked by your sides as you curl. If you bring them forward in an effort to raise the weight higher, the front delts will join the effort, and you might even be able to rest at the top, taking stress off the target muscle. Only on cheat curls should you be pulling your elbows slightly forward, and you should only be cheating on your last rep or two of a set.

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Brutal Biceps Workout

This workout is a high intensity, high volume biceps workout designed to hit all muscles of your biceps and spark some serious muscle growth. It is short enough to be combined with a triceps workout, but intense enough to form a workout by itself.

This workout is based heavily on the Positions of Flexion (POF) training protocol, which states that a muscle can exert maximum force through 3 positions of flexion – midrange, stretched and contracted. The exercises that have been selected for this workout follow this protocol.

You will be doing a lot of forced reps in this workout, so you will need a reliable training partner.

Enjoy!

Exercise 1: Standing Barbell Bicep Curl superset with Alternating Standing Dumbbell Bicep Curl (Midrange Position of Flexion)

Doing a big, heavy, midrange POF compound movement superset like this first in this workout serves 2 purposes. Firstly, you will be able to go heavy and move some serious weight. Secondly, it will fatigue your biceps so that you can really focus on the other positions of flexion.

Remember to drive through the midrange of this exercise with as much power as possible – keep your elbows in tight and close to your torso and focus on contracting your biceps with each and every rep. Make sure you don’t use too much of your front deltoid to lift the weight and try not to sway and cheat as you lift – keep your form as strict as possible!

Set 1: Warm up set with light weight for 15 reps + 15 reps

Set 2: Warm up set with heavier weight for 12 Reps + 12 reps

Set 3: First working set. Use enough weight to cause failure between 8 – 10 reps + 8 – 10 reps

Set 4: Second working set. Increase weight to cause failure between 6 – 8 reps + 6 – 8 reps

Set 5: Third working set. Keep weight from set 4 and fail between 6 – 8 reps + 6 – 8 reps

Set 6: Fourth working set. Increase weight to cause failure around 6 reps, then have your training partner help you force out another 6 reps with good form (forced reps) on each exercise.

*Rest 1 minute in between sets*

Exercise 2: Seated Incline Dumbbell 5 Curls (Stretched Position of Flexion)

This is an amazing biceps movement… but as great as it is, it is also possibly the most painful bicep exercise you can do. They are called “5 Curls” because you do 5 reps on your right arm, followed by 5 reps on your left arm, followed by another 5 reps on your right, followed finally by another 5 reps on your left. You MUST keep your elbows pointing towards the ground on each and every rep to ensure that your front delts don’t dominate the movement and YOU CANNOT put either dumbbell down until the entire set has been completed. You’re going to want to use your Team MassiveJoes Lifting Straps for this exercise!

Set 1: Warm up set with light weight

Set 2: First working set. Increase weight to the point where you can only just finish 5 reps on each side 2 times.

Set 3: Second working set. Increase weight to the point where you require your training partner to help you force out the last few reps on each side.

Set 4: Third working set. Increase weight to the point where you require your training partner to help you force out the second set of 5 reps on each side.

*Rest 1 minute in between sets*

Exercise 3: Preacher Curls superset with High Cable Bicep Curls (Contracted Position of Flexion)

Now your focus switches to the contracted position of flexion. This means that your mind-muscle focus also needs to switch – you need to focus on contracting your biceps as hard as you possibly can at the top of each rep. This doesn’t mean doing partial reps, this means hitting full range reps and SQUEEZING as hard as possible at the top of each rep. Doing a superset will also allow you to push as much blood as possible into your biceps for an extra powerful squeeze.

Set 1: Warm up set with light weight for 15 reps + 15 reps

Set 2: First working set. Use enough weight to cause failure between 8 – 10 reps + 8 – 10 reps

Set 3: Second working set. Increase weight to cause failure between 6 – 8 reps + 6 – 8 reps

Set 4: Third working set. Keep weight from set 3 and fail between 6 – 8 reps + 6 – 8 reps then have your training partner help you force out another 4 – 6 reps with good form (forced reps) on each exercise.

Set 5: Fourth working set. Increase weight to cause failure around 6 reps, then drop the weight to about half for another 6 reps with good form (drop set) on each exercise.

*Rest 1 minute in between sets*

Exercise 4: Seated Alternating Hammer Curls (Midrange Position of Flexion – Brachialis Focus)

As this point of the workout, your biceps will be completely hammered. So it’s the perfect opportunity to do an exercise that involves your forearms and brachialis muscles… HAMMER curls!

Make sure you keep your form perfect with every rep, squeezing your brachialis as much as possible at the top of each rep. It is very important to keep a strong mind/muscle connection during this exercise, especially since you will be exhausted from the earlier exercises.

Set 1: Warm up set with light weight for 15 reps

Set 2: First working set. Use enough weight to cause failure between 10 – 12 reps

Set 3: Second working set. Increase weight to cause failure between 6 – 8 reps, then rest for 10 seconds, then chase another 2 – 4 reps (rest-pause set)

Set 4: Third working set. Keep weight from set 3 and fail between 6 – 8 reps, then drop the weight in half and chase another 2 – 4 reps, then drop the weight again and do static holds as follows:

1st rep: hold for 1 second

2nd rep: hold for 2 seconds

3rd rep: hold for 3 seconds…

Continue until you can’t hold for the required amount of time – if you get to the 10th rep for 10 seconds, you have officially switched WILD BULL mode on!

*Rest 1 minute in between sets*

Now how good was that?! Your biceps are going to be sore as hell over the next few days! Enjoy it and make sure you feed the growth!

The Ultimate Bicep Workout Routine

Next to washboard abs, biceps are among the most popular muscles to tone and develop due to their high visibility. When someone tells you to flex, they expect to see a full on gun show.

“Your biceps are major, highly visible muscles,” explains Brian Willett at Demand Media. “The training that you do for your biceps will have a significant impact on the appearance of your arms. . .working your biceps can help contribute to a tighter, more defined, and more toned look for your arms.”

However, to get that tight, defined look you’ve always wanted, it takes more than a couple of dumbbells and some bicep curls. Just as it takes a wide range of motion to sculpt a six pack, it takes a variety of exercises to build bigger, better, stronger biceps.

Here’s the ultimate bicep workout routine to get you started, no matter your expertise level.

More: 10 Ways to Build Bigger Biceps

Standing Barbell Curl

This is the most basic of all bicep exercises. When performed correctly, it works major muscle groups in the arm while promoting bigger biceps.

Begin with hands and feet about shoulder-width apart. Palms should be facing upward. Make sure the upper arms are vertical and tucked to your sides as you lift the barbell to your chest. A little space between your chest and your arms is fine, but make sure your upper arms aren’t flared out to the side.

Pull the abs into the spine while keeping the back straight. Press your shoulders down away from your ears. Bend your elbows, and bring the weight slowly up to your chest. Do not let your shoulders rise toward your ears as you bring the weight upward.

More: Top 6 Exercises to Tone Your Arms

As you bring the weight up to its high point, squeeze the barbell tightly for an extra pump, flexing the biceps for a solid two-count, before lowering the weight back to starting position. Aim for 8 to 12 repetitions (to muscle failure).

Wide-Grip Standing Barbell Curl

This variation follows the same basic motion as standing barbell curls, but with the hands placed further apart on the barbell. This isolates the short head of the biceps.

Close-Grip Standing Barbell Curl

Placing hands closer together focuses on the long head of the biceps.

More: 4 Exercises to Sculpt Your Upper Body

10 Ways You Can Build Arm Muscles Without Weights

There are guys out there who could spend all day at the gym, and some actually do. For everyone else, hitting the bike and weight room is more of a task than a treat. Getting cardio away from the confines of the treadmill is easy enough. All you have to do is lace up your shoes and head outside for a run, bike, or hop in the pool to swim some laps. Even some strengthening exercises, like squats and planks, are easy to work into a routine away from the gym.

Working your arms is a little more problematic, because most of the go-to moves require a full set of dumbbells and other machinery. The secret to taking these moves out of the weight room is modifying them just a bit. With these moves you can lose the gym without losing your physique.

1. Downward dog push-ups

This is the start of your downward dog push-ups. | iStock.com

The downward dog is the base for a weights-free arm workout that targets your triceps and shoulders. Plus, it’s a nice departure from the hum-drum push-ups from the plank position.

Take a cue from HowCast’s video on proper form — start yourself in a standard push-up — or plank — position, before pushing up into downward dog. For a rep, use your arms and shoulders to lower your forehead toward the ground. Then, exhale and engage your triceps to lift yourself back up.

2. Chair dips

You can do chair dips anywhere. | iStock.com

While a lot of tricep exercises are difficult to do correctly, the chair dip is a happy exception. You don’t even need specialized equipment. Just begin seated with your feet together on the floor in front of you as you grip the edge of the chair, as Livestrong outlines. Raise yourself off the seat, keeping your arms straight, then move your body forward just enough so you won’t hit the chair as you lower yourself to the ground. Your knees should be aligned with your ankles. Bend your elbows to lower your body until your hips move below the edge of the seat, then push straight back into the starting position. Planning on running stadium stairs? Use those seats to your advantage.

3. Towel curl

Use a towel to get the biceps of your dreams. | iStock.com

For an unexpectedly effective way to work your arms, Men’s Health recommends this curl variation. You create a sling with a towel to hold one of your feet, allowing you to provide as much or little resistance as necessary. Grab a large bath towel and fold it over a few times, and then hold one end in each hand. Stand with your back leaning against a wall, and position your feet about one foot in front of you. Keeping your right knee slightly bent, bend your left knee, and position your left foot in the center of the towel. Keeping your upper arms still, curl the edges of the towel toward you, using your foot to resist the movement. Pause briefly at the top of the move, then return to the starting position. Repeat sets as you would using dumbbells, switching legs halfway through.

4. Elevated pike push-up

Try out these pike push-ups for a challenge. | iStock.com

As with the dips, you’ll need a sturdy chair or bench to perform this move. Placing your feet on the chair or bench, get into the push-up position. Carefully walk your hands backwards until your butt is pointed straight into the air. Slowly lower your body until your head is just above the floor, then push yourself all the way back up, keeping your stomach tight the whole time. Check out Men’s Fitness for photos to give you a better idea of the best form.

5. Single-leg tricep dip

Try a different twist on dips. | iStock.com/Toxicoz

Start on all fours as you would for doing standard dips. Then, extend your right leg out straight in front of you. Using your core and leg muscles to stabilize the extended leg, push up into your bridge and continue doing tricep dips as you normally would. Taking one leg out of the equation increases the resistance, giving you even more of a burn than you would get with standard tricep dips. Just make sure to switch legs and do equal reps to keep your body balanced!

Feeling like you can handle an extra challenge? Cross this exercise with tricep dips using a chair or a bench.

6. Inverted rows

Inverted rows are more effective than they look. | iStock.com/DeRepente

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need weights or a gym machine to perform this bicep- and back-working exercise. Travel Strong has a good how-to on doing this exercise, and even suggests using the corner of a sturdy table in place of a pull-up bar. Or take this exercise outside and use the bars at your local park.

7. Band push-downs

Get yourself a pair of resistance bands. | iStock.com

There’s plenty of pricey equipment out there promising the best at-home workouts. But you don’t need any of it if you have some basic tools. Livestrong explains how to set up a station for this move by setting the anchor at the top of the door before closing it. Next, thread the band through the anchor loop so the handles dangle at either end. You want the handles to be about eye level, so make sure your door is tall enough.

Once you’ve set up your makeshift equipment, you’re ready to execute the push-downs. Grasp one end of the band in each hand. Keeping your upper arms pinned to your sides, extend your arms until your elbows are no longer bent, then return to the starting position. Muscle & Fitness recommends grasping the bands at a resistance that allows you to complete 50 to 75 repetitions.

8. Lateral plank walk

Take your plank for a walk. | iStock.com/g-stockstudio

You know those workouts that look like they will be fairly easy, and then you end up sweating bullets halfway through? The lateral plank walk fits that category well. Not only does “walking” side to side in a plank position work every part of your arm from wrist to shoulder, but it will also have you feeling the burn within seconds.

All weights-free arm workouts should have some kind of plank-based workout in it. The position itself works every part of the body, and its many variations are great for targeting your arms. The need for coordination in this exercise also bumps up your heart rate, so you will work up a sweat while working your arm muscles.

9. Towel pull-ups

Your towel will come in handy once again. | iStock.com

The move is simple to perform. Just sling a towel over a bar, and grasp one end in each hand. Pull yourself up until your chin rises just above your hands. Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position, and repeat as many times as you can. Be warned, this is an extremely challenging move. If you find yourself unable to complete the pull-ups, Men’s Fitness suggests hanging in the beginning position as long as possible. It’ll still be quite a challenge for your forearms.

10. Arm rotations

Arm rotations can really get you toned. | iStock.com/Kikovic

Want the built arms of a tennis player? This exercise is where it’s at. While rotating your arms in circles might not seem like much of an exercise without weights, adding a resistance band will help you build your biceps, triceps, and shoulders. Plus, it also serves as a way to get your body loose before doing bigger arm workouts. “This will loosen up your shoulders, reducing shoulder impingement and other injuries,” FitDay explains.

Set up for this is easy: Start making small circles with your arms, then gradually make the size of those circles bigger. AZCentral.com says, “To really hone in on your muscles, complete the circles for two to three minutes in each direction, resting between each exercise for about one minute.”

6 Awesome Arm Exercises You Can Do Without Weights

Exclusive Download: Target your biceps and triceps at home (without weights) with your FREE workout, featuring all 6 of the exercises in this article.

Everybody wants to know how to improve the look of their arms. Guys want them to be bigger. Women want them to be slender and toned.

Arms, like abs, are at the forefront of most people’s minds because they look impressive.

They’re not something that people are just born with – it’s obvious that you had to put in the work to get them. Unlike calves (the size of which are largely determined by genetics), arms are most often the result of serious time under the iron.

Gym-owners know this, and thus most gyms are packed wall-to-wall with equipment specifically designed to work your arms. While not all of it is useful, getting results is simply a question of putting in the work and following a smart plan like this one.

But if you’re travelling, working out at home or elsewhere, it’s a bit trickier. You still need to do the work, but you also need a way of training your arms without weights.

Fortunately for us, there are a number of arm exercises that you can do just about anywhere. These mainly involve using your bodyweight, but it’s also useful to have access to a TRX or resistance bands.

Before we get to the exercises, it’s worth taking a moment to look at the anatomy of the arms so we can understand what makes them look the way that they do.

The Anatomy of The Arms

Forgetting about the forearms for the time being (which we’ll take a look at in another article), the main muscles of the arm are the triceps and biceps.

These are the muscles that we need to focus on training if you want to improve the look and strength of your arms.

It’s worth restating here that using light weights and doing countless reps (15+) isn’t going to cut it; this goes for men and women.

To force the muscles to grow (which is what gives them shape and definition/makes them look ‘toned’) you need to overload them with exercises that you can ideally perform for sets of 6-12 reps.

It’s not uncommon for people to prioritize training one of these muscles over the other based on a particular goal, but it’s crucial that both are trained equally to achieve a balanced look and avoid injuries.

Triceps

The triceps are found on the back of the arm, and are often neglected by men in particular who would rather train the muscle that they can see – their biceps (curls get the girls etc).

But it’s worth paying particular attention to the triceps because they are a bigger muscle group than the biceps. If you want bigger arms it follows that you need to place added emphasis on training them.

Training the triceps isn’t just important for men, though. Women are genetically predisposed to storing more fat than men, and in different places. Whereas a man typically stores fat on the upper body (resulting in beer bellies), women tend to store it on their thighs and arms.

The most effective way of losing fat, and thus getting rid of ‘turkey/bingo’ wings is through diet. But it is also crucial to strengthen the muscle underneath – the triceps – to give the arms shape and definition.

Biceps

Although the biceps are relatively small muscles, that doesn’t mean that they should be paid any less attention (not that anybody is guilty of that!)

Located at the front of the arm, biceps are perhaps the muscle most commonly associated with strength – just ask any child to make a muscle and he or she will strike a biceps pose.

Not only are they good for looking at, but they have practical uses too. A strong set of biceps will help you with any pulling exercises that strengthen your back. In turn, this will help to improve posture and reduce the chances of any pain or injuries that may otherwise occur.

Don’t miss out: Best part? It only takes 30 minutes (max).

Best Triceps Exercises

The great thing about tricep (and chest) exercises is that they can truly be done anywhere – you really don’t need any equipment, other than a floor and a wall. Here are 3 of the best:

1. Diamond Push-Up

Diamond push-ups are far from easy, but done correctly they’re one of the best tricep exercises you can do.

To perform a regular push-up you would position your hands roughly shoulder-width apart, involving both the chest and triceps. By placing your hands together and keeping your elbows close to your body to do a diamond push-up, the emphasis is placed upon your triceps as opposed to your chest.

Here’s how it should be done:

  • Start in a push-up position with your thumbs and index fingers of each hand touching to make a diamond shape
  • While keeping your elbows as close to your side as possible, lower yourself down until your chest touches the back of your hands.
  • Keep everything tight (abs, glutes, thigh muscles) throughout the movement.
  • Push back up to the starting position and repeat.

Regressions (if it’s too difficult):

  • Diamond Push-Up Against Wall
  • Hands-Elevated Diamond Push-Up
  • Regular Push-Up From Floor

Progressions (if it’s too easy):

  • Feet-Elevated Diamond Push-Up
  • Weighted Diamond Push-Up (using a backpack or resistance band)

2. Dip

Dips are another great exercise that work the triceps and chest to varying degrees depending on the variation you choose.

For most people, bench dips make a good starting point, but your goal should be to work your way towards the parallel bar dip as this variation involves more musculature.

The only drawback of the parallel bar dip is that you will need to find somewhere suitable to do it. Playgrounds quite often have parallel bars of some description, but failing that you could use the corner of a worktop or even the backs of two sturdy chairs.

Here’s how to perform a bench dip as per the video above:

  • Balance between two benches or chairs, with your feet on one chair and your hands on the other.
  • Keep you chest up and your back straight throughout the exercise.
  • Lower yourself until your elbows are bent to about 90 degrees.
  • Then press back up to straighten out your arms.

Regressions:

  • Bent-Knee Bench Dips (from the floor)
  • Straight-Leg Bench Dips (from the floor)

Progressions:

  • Weighted Bench Dip (resting a heavy backpack or suitcase on your thighs)
  • Parallel Bar Dip
  • Weighted Parallel Bar Dip (using a backpack or something you can lock in between your legs)

3. Tricep Extension

Compound exercises, such as the push-up and dip, are great because they work multiple muscles at once.

But single-joint, or isolation, exercises also have their place in a well-rounded routine to train one specific muscle while working on any weaknesses or imbalances.

In the video above Ben Bruno demonstrates the bodyweight triceps extension – which isolates the triceps – using a TRX and weighted vest (because he’s a beast), but you can use a wall or any other surface instead.

Here’s how they’re done:

  • Stand in front of the surface, and place your hands about 6 inches apart.
  • Step back a few feet, letting your body straighten out as you do so. Keep your abs and glutes so that your body forms a straight line.
  • Now lower your entire body forward, bending only at your elbows, so that your head ducks below your hands (as if you are trying to do an overhead tricep stretch).
  • Keep your elbows tucked in close the whole way. The only movement should occur at the elbows.
  • Extend back up using your triceps.

Regression:

  • From wall (the higher you place your hands and the steeper the angle of your body, the easier it will be)

Progression:

  • From floor

Bonus Download: Want a FREE biceps (and triceps) workout you can do at home without equipment? You got it. Get instant access here.

Best Biceps Exercises

Unfortunately, you’re going to need some equipment to give your arms a complete workout by training your biceps (the same goes for your back).

At the very least you will need a stable overhead surface from which to hang and a horizontal edge such as a table. You can usually find both of these things in a playground.

Once you’ve got that sorted, these are my top 3 bodyweight bicep exercises to try:

1. Chin-Up

The chin-up is one of my favorite exercises, second only to the deadlift.

Like the pull-up (palms facing away from you), chin-ups are a great exercise for your back, but due to the difference in grip (palms facing each other or towards you) there is added emphasis on the biceps.

I’ve always believed that chin-ups are better for developing the biceps than curls because of the amount of weight involved (your entire bodyweight vs the weight of a dumbbell/barbell), and the range of motion your arms are traveling through. This view is supported by research from Bret Contreras that he carried out as part of his his ‘Inside The Muscles’ series.

It’s another exercise that beginners will find difficult so some modifications are listed below, but if you feel ready to give it a go here are a few pointers on form:

  • Grab the bar with your palms facing each other or towards you, and a grip closer than the shoulder width.
  • Squeeze your glutes and abs to keep your body in a straight line (like a pillar).
  • As you pull your chest towards the bar, pull your shoulder blades back and down (imagine trying to put them into your back pocket).
  • Pause at the top, and slowly lower yourself back down.

Regressions:

  • Negative Chin-Ups
  • Isometric Chin-Up Holds

Progressions:

  • Pull-Ups
  • Weighted Chin-Ups

2. Inverted Row

Even when I’m in the gym, the inverted row is my back exercise of choice.

You’ve probably heard of the regular barbell row. You pick up a barbell, bend over at the waist, and pull the weight up towards your chest. It’s a good exercise when it’s done properly, but when the weight gets heavy it gets extremely difficult to maintain good form.

The inverted row solves that problem.

It’s a difficult exercise to screw up, which means that you can progressively make it more difficult without simultaneously increasing the risk of injury.

Not only does it work the back, but it’s also a great exercise for the biceps (hence it being included here) and the core.

Check out the video above of Steve Kamb demonstrating the exercise, and keep the following in mind:

  • Lie on the floor underneath a bar or table (which should be just above where you can reach from the ground).
  • Grab the bar or edge of the table with an overhand grip (palms facing AWAY from you).
  • Contract your abs, and try to keep your body a completely straight line.
  • Pull yourself upwards until your chest touches the bar or table.
  • Lower yourself back down.

Regressions:

  • Doorway Row
  • Towel Row

Progressions:

  • Feet elevated inverted row
  • Weighted (using a backpack)

3. TRX/Resistance Band/Curl

For the final biceps exercise in this list, you will need either a TRX or set of resistance bands.

Similarly to the triceps extension, this is more of an isolation exercise that is a great way to finish off training the biceps. But to be completely honest you probably won’t need to worry too much about these if you’re regularly performing chin-ups and inverted rows.

Using resistance bands:

  • Grasp the two ends of a resistance band and place the center of the band under your feet as an anchor.
  • Let your arms hang by your hips. There should be a bit of slack in the band.
  • Keep your chest tall.
  • Bending your elbows, raise your hands to your shoulders, pulling the resistance band taut.
  • Slowly lower your arms.

Using a TRX:

  • Face the anchor point. Hold the handles with your arms extended. Lean back (the further you lean back the harder it will be).
  • Bend your elbows until hands are either side of your head, with your palms facing towards you.
  • Slowly return to the starting position with your arms straight. Keep your elbows high throughout.

Your Go-To Bodyweight Arm Workout

Using the exercises above, I’ve put together together a bodyweight arm workout that you can do just about anywhere.

This would work well as an ‘upper-body day’ as part of a well-rounded program (I don’t recommend training your arms exclusively, as tempting as that may be!)

I’ve ‘supersetted’ triceps exercises with biceps exercises to make this workout as time-efficient as possible; it shouldn’t take longer than 30 mins start to finish.

A superset is a pairing of exercises whereby one set of an exercise is performed and then a set of another exercise immediately after. The setup works because it allows one muscle to recover while the other is being trained.

The order in which the supersets should be performed are indicated by a number, and the pairing by a letter. So in this workout, for example, the first superset involves chin-ups (1A) and diamond push-ups (1B). You perform one set of chin-ups, and then a set of push-ups straight after.

When you can perform a given exercise for the prescribed number of sets and reps, switch to one of the more challenging variations.

Featured Download: , featuring all 6 of the exercises in this article.

How long have you been working on your arms? Let me know what has or hasn’t worked for you below!

5 Best Strength-Building Bicep Exercises for Mass

When it comes to looking strong, it’s all about the biceps. And to get solid biceps you need to know the best bicep exercises.

Bicep Exercises: What Are the Best?

Think about it: Ask someone to flex and, nine times out of 10, they’ll flash you their biceps. Sometimes, they’ll invite you to squeeze them. (Thanks, but no thanks.)

Below are five of the best bicep exercises for targeting and building your biceps. The first three are dumbbell bicep exercises and the fourth is a barbell bicep exercise, the fifth uses a cable. Integrate three or four into your regular routine, which should already involve upper-body work, including pulling movements like rows and pull-ups. Perform three to five sets of six to 12 reps, resting for 30 to 90 seconds between each set. Use a weight that allows you to just barely get through your last rep with proper form.

As soon as you can perform two extra reps during your last two sets, move up in weight. After six to 12 weeks of performing those bicep curl variations, rotate through three to four new ones. Once you exhaust the list, start the cycle back over.

Oh, and get ready to receive some flex requests.

1. Seated Alternating Dumbbell Curl

When discussing valuable bicep exercises, We’d be remiss not to start things off with the tried-and-true dumbbell curl. Sure, it’s the basis for every exercise on this list, but research published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine shows that its popularity holds up, with it activating the biceps far better than some other curl variations (not listed here).

To get the most from your traditional bicep curl, perform it alternating. The vast majority of exercisers can lift slightly more total weight when curling one arm at a time than they can if they curl both arms together. And the more weight your biceps curl, the stronger they’re going to get.

How to do it: Sit on a 90-degree bench with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing forward, arms extended straight toward the floor but not locked out, and shoulders pulled back. From here, slowly lift one weight to the front of your shoulder while keeping your back pressed firmly against the bench and elbow and shoulder stationary. Pause, squeezing your bicep at the top, then slowly reverse the movement to return to start. Repeat on the opposite side.

Related: How to Do Perfect Pull-Ups in 28 Days: A Step-by-Step Plan

2. Alternating Incline Dumbbell Curl

When you think about your biceps, you probably envision your biceps brachii, which sits above your brachialis (we’ll get to that later) and is largely responsible for that bicep bulge we all want, explains Matthew J. Capolongo, C.S.C.S., P.E.S., a sports performance coach at Professional Athletic Performance Center in New York City. He adds that research shows that this move is one of the best for the developing the biceps brachii.

How to do it: Lie back on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing forward, arms extended straight toward the floor but not locked out, and shoulders pulled back. From here, slowly lift one weight to the front of your shoulder while keeping your back pressed firmly against the bench and elbow and shoulder stationary. Pause, squeezing your bicep at the top, then slowly reverse the movement to return to start. Repeat on the opposite side.

3. Seated Alternating Hammer Curl

By curling your dumbbells with a neutral rather than underhand grip, you automatically switch the main muscle worked from the biceps brachii to the brachialis, explains Capolongo. That’s because your biceps brachii help you rotate your forearms so that your palms face up. And, while the brachialis is a deeper, barely visible muscle, it helps give your biceps as a whole more shape and strength, he says.

How to do it: For this biceps exercise, sit on a 90-degree bench with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in toward your body, arms extended straight toward the floor, but not locked out, and shoulders pulled back. From here, slowly lift one weight to the front of your shoulder while keeping your back pressed firmly against the bench and elbow and shoulder stationary. Pause, squeezing your bicep at the top, then slowly reverse the movement to return to start. Repeat on the opposite side.

Related: 7 Things Your Trainer Will Never Tell You About Your Fitness Routine

4. Standing Reverse Barbell Curl

According to 2015 research from Frontiers in Physiology, this variation significantly increases activity in the brachioradialis, the third and final muscle that makes up your biceps. This is because, when you curl a weight with an overhand grip (which is easiest to maintain with a barbell), you put the biceps brachii at a huge mechanical disadvantage, meaning the typically underused brachioradialis has to step in to pick up the slack, explains Minnesota-based exercise physiologist Mike T. Nelson, Ph.D., C.S.C.S.

It’s worth noting that you won’t be able to curl near as much weight with this variation compared to the other exercises on this list. Don’t be too proud to go light.

How to do it: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart holding a barbell with both hands, palms facing in toward your body, arms extended straight toward the floor but not locked out, and shoulders pulled back. From here, slowly lift the weight to the front of your shoulders while keeping your elbows and shoulders stationary. Pause, squeezing your biceps at the top, then slowly reverse the movement to return to start. Repeat on the opposite side.

5. Standing Cable Curl

Cable curls are a great when paired with free-weight bicep exercises. While dumbbells and barbells place the greatest amount of force on the biceps when your elbows are bent to 90 degrees, cables keep resistance constant through the entire range of motion. So with this variation, you’ll notice your biceps working a lot harder at the very top and bottom of the movement than they do with dumbbells.

How to do it: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart facing a cable station, with a straight handle fixed to the lowest setting. Hold the handle with both hands, shoulder-width apart, palms facing forward, arms extended straight toward the floor but not locked out, and shoulders pulled back. From here, slowly lift the weight to the front of your shoulders while keeping your elbows and shoulders stationary. Pause, squeezing your biceps at the top, then slowly reverse the movement to return to start. Repeat on the opposite side.

Bicep workout at home

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