These 10 Bicep Workouts Build Muscle
Having huge biceps is important for being able to do some heavy lifting and to help prevent injury. But that’s not the main reason you’re pumping so much iron at the gym. It’s because the look of some bulky biceps in a fitted t-shirt is a surefire way to look buff and tough.
Your biceps are the large muscle group that sits on the front section of your upper arm. The “bi” part of the word refers to the short and long head that the muscle is split into. It’s what you stare at in the mirror when you flex.
But you’re not going to be the only one staring after you’re finished with these 10 bicep exercises to build more muscle. It’s time to say bye to tiny bi’s.
1. Dumbbell Curl
Bicep exercises utilize a pulling motion, as opposed to tricep exercises that rely on pushing sensations. It’s pretty much impossible to nail bicep exercises without understanding the dumbbell curl, as almost every bicep exercise is a variation.
You can do this standing or sitting, but we recommend standing for the greatest range of motion and full effect. Not to mention, you can whip out your Gorilla Bow for this one for the added benefit of resistance training.
Here’s how it’s done:
- With feet shoulder-width apart, hold the dumbbells at your thighs, palms facing forward. If you’ve got the Gorilla Bow on hand, stand on the resistance band and hold the bar at your thighs in the same way.
- Keeping your upper arms against your body, lift the weight up towards your shoulders. Only bend your elbows. If you notice you’re arching your back, lower the weight.
- Slowly lower the weights back down to the starting position. Repeat.
It’s all about slow, controlled movements. Master this simple exercise before you move on to any of the others on this list.
2. Zottman Curl
This is one of our favorites because there are very few bicep exercises that target all three major muscle groups in your upper arm. It’s named after a 19th-century strongman who used to do this move with 50-pound dumbbells. We definitely recommend you start at a lower weight… for now at least.
To do the Zottman Curl:
- Do a bicep curl, bringing the dumbbells to your shoulders.
- Instead of lowering them as usual, twist your hands so that your palms face away from your shoulders rather than towards them.
- Gently lower the weight down to your thighs. Twist your arms back around to the bicep curl starting position.
3. Hammer Curl
This slight variation on the normal dumbbell curl makes a world of difference. By flipping the dumbbell on its side, you make your brachialis work a lot harder (that’s the part of your muscle that makes your arm look big).
Make MC Hammer proud by doing this:
- Get into the bicep curl starting position, but hold the dumbbells so that your palms are facing each other, with dumbbells sideways.
- Gently lift the weights to your shoulders.
- Lower them back down slowly. Repeat.
4. Upright Row
The upright row is another one that focuses the work on your brachialis. However, it’s also a great workout for your deltoids (shoulders) and trapezius (upper back).
You can use dumbbells again. Or, get out that Gorilla Bow yet again for an extra challenging resistance workout:
- Feet shoulder-width apart, standing on the resistance band if using the bow. Hold the weight or bar at your thighs, palms facing you.
- Lift the weights straight up towards your chin, letting your elbows bend outward. Don’t let your arms go higher than parallel with your shoulders.
- Return the weights back to the starting position slowly. Repeat.
5. Bent-Over Row
Rowing exercises are compound exercises that work multiple parts of your body. And a bent-over row works more of your mid-back, such as your latissimus dorsi and your rhomboids. However, a bent-over row keeps working that brachialis as well.
Here’s how to do it:
- Feet shoulder-width apart. Hinge your hips back and try to make your spine is as parallel to the ground as possible. Hold the dumbbells straight down in front of you.
- Pull the weights up towards the sides of your abdomen. Squeeze your shoulder blades as if trying to grip a pencil between them.
- Slowly return the weight to the starting position. Repeat.
Want a modification? Take it to a reverse grip bent-over row by facing your palms up away from you while holding the dumbbells. This helps to work the brachioradialis which is on the side of the forearm. Or, try doing the same movements with your Gorilla Bow and bump up your resistance.
6. Seated Row
All this rowing and you’ll be ready to join the crew team. We love rowing because it doesn’t isolate the biceps: it incorporates a ton of back and shoulder muscles to give you an upper body workout that’ll leave you feeling sore all over.
You can’t really do a seated row unless you have a cable machine or your trusted Gorilla Bow:
- Sitting on the floor, bend your knees and hold the bar with an underhand grip. Keep the resistance band of the bow under the bottom of your feet.
- Lean back slightly, keeping your spine straight. Pull the bar towards your belly button, squeezing your shoulder blades.
- Return the bar to the starting position and repeat.
Chin-ups are arguably one of the toughest strength-building exercises. Most people can’t even do one. But when accomplished properly, this exercise will make all of your shirts start fitting a little bit too snug.
It works out your biceps while also doing wonders for your shoulders and back. You’ll need a chin-up bar, or a sturdy vertical bar, somewhere above your head:
- With palms facing toward you, grab the bar with a grip that is slightly more narrow than shoulder-width.
- Pull yourself up until your head is above the bar. Keep your body straight and your arms uniform.
- Slowly lower yourself back down and repeat (if you can).
8. Concentration Curl
As the name implies, this one is all about focusing your energy on your biceps, allowing you to make a weaker arm stronger. If your left arm is less strong, you can add more reps to that side to try to even yourself out.
You’ll need a bench and a dumbbell:
- Sit on the bench with your feet wide. Allow your elbow to rest on the inside of your thigh, and let the dumbbell hang in the middle.
- Slowly curl the dumbbell upward, concentrating on contracting your biceps throughout the move. Flex as hard as you can at the top of the movement.
- Slowly lower the weights back to the starting position. Repeat on one side and then switch arms.
9. Incline Dumbbell Curl
Especially if you’re using higher weights, you might start using your back for support during a standing bicep curl. This can hurt your back and prevent you from getting the most out of the movement. By taking it to an incline bench, you eliminate this momentum and maintain a strict form.
You’ll need an incline bench and some dumbbells:
- Lay back on a 60-degree incline bench, holding the dumbbells hang fully extended in each hand.
- Without moving your shoulders, curl the weights up to your shoulders.
- Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position. Repeat.
10. Decline Dumbbell Curl
Let’s keep that incline press out for one final workout. By flipping yourself over and facing the floor while completing a bicep curl, you’re forcing your body to use a lot more effort and stability. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it is for the people who want bigger biceps fast.
Here’s how to do this final exercise:
- Set an incline bench to 45 degrees. Lie with your chest facing down, allowing the dumbbells to hang down in front of you, palms facing forward.
- Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and curl the dumbbells up to your shoulders.
- Slowly lower back to the starting position. Repeat.
The Cool Down
Your biceps are one of the most defining muscles in your body, instantly giving you the buff and chiseled appearance you’re looking for. If your upper arms aren’t throbbing by the end of these ten workouts, then maybe it’s time for a change.
The Gorilla Bow All-Access Membership gives you unlimited access to on-demand classes and live programs to help diversify your workouts. It’s exactly what you need to get the most out of your Gorilla Bow while simultaneously achieving your best body ever.
Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier | The Mayo Clinic
The Zottman Curl | Men's Journal
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