When it comes to the first muscle noticed on most guys, it’s going to be the biceps. Big and strong biceps are a sure-fire way to tell everyone around you that you’ve been putting in the work in the iron temple.
Although biceps brachii are a relatively small muscle, they’re very important to both aesthetics and day-to-day activities. This muscle group works with your triceps to give you thick arms that are as strong as they look. With the best bicep workout and hard work, you’ll be busting through your shirt sleeves in no time.
Another name for biceps is the brachii, which means “two-headed muscle” in Latin. These two muscles are the long head and the short head of the bicep, which work together to flex the elbow and turn the wrist. The biceps are an integral muscle in any movement that requires lifting or pressing something overhead, which means that developing them will also improve your functional fitness to some degree.
However, training the biceps is mostly about the aesthetic. The “bicep peak” is created by the long head of the muscle, and it makes up the bulk of it. After all, when trying to show off how jacked one is, the bicep is normally the first muscle to get flexed. Whether you’re strength training or bodybuilding, bigger biceps are a worthy objective. Down below we have ten of the best bicep exercises to bring your gun show to the next level.
The most classic of all bicep exercises, the barbell curl is one of the best ways to build size and strength in your biceps. Not only is it a simple exercise, but you’re also going to be able to load plenty of weight.
While many other bicep exercises use dumbbells, a barbell will allow you to use more weight since you’re going to be using both arms to lift it. And as we know, more weight equals more gains. Even though it’s a free weight movement with a relatively high amount of weight, it’s still a simple exercise to perform.
While the classic barbell curl enjoys a lot of popularity, the reverse curl is rarely seen in gyms. As the name suggests, the only difference is that your wrists are turned the other way (or partly the other way, if using an EZ-bar).However, the reverse curl is a fantastic way to not only build larger biceps but also develop strength in your forearms and grip.
Although this may not seem like a big deal (especially since we’re looking at biceps), grip strength is the first point of failure for many other lifts. Improving your grip is a great way to improve other lifts, which will in turn benefit your overall gains.
Along with pull-ups, chin-ups are one of the most challenging and well-known bodyweight exercises. Using nothing more than the weight of your own body, you can get a great upper body and arm workout. Chin-ups are also a great option for home workouts. Most people are familiar with the pull-up, where you use an overhand grip on a pull-up bar to work the back muscles such as the rhomboids and lats.
Chin-ups switch things up by using an underhand grip, with your palms facing towards you. While the chin-up still employs the back muscles to a high degree, the rotation of your arms means you’re going to be relying on your biceps a lot more. Chin-ups are also a more natural movement pattern than pull-ups, and they’re great for improving posture—especially if you’re stuck in an office chair for most of the day.
The hammer curl promises to hit the part of your bicep that matters most for size: the brachialis muscle. If you’re looking to rip some shirt sleeves, this is the muscle to be focusing on. The hammer curl happens to be the top-notch curl variation for hitting this part of your arm. Although this is mostly seen as a vanity muscle, you’ll see carryover benefits in your other lifts and day-to-day activities that require lifting or pulling. Additionally, you’ll also be training your grip strength and wrist stability.
At first glance, preacher curls and regular bicep curls are pretty much the same kinds of movement, but they both fill their niche in the gym and the bicep workout.The big difference is that for a preacher curl, you’re going to need a preacher bench. Although you’ll probably have to hit up a gym for this equipment, it does come with some special benefits.
For one, they force you into a longer negative movement (or, eccentric contraction) which is where more muscle is engaged and developed. Another benefit is that the bench takes away a lot of your ability to cheat with momentum. During regular bicep curls, it’s easy to even involuntarily swing your body in a way that helps you bring the weight up. Since you’re unable to do this on a preacher bench, your muscles are challenged that much harder.
Although the incline dumbbell curl only introduces a small variation to the conventional dumbbell curl, it’s deserving of its own place on this list because of its incredible bicep activation.When going through the movements of an incline dumbbell curl, your arms usually end up going behind your body. This effectively stretches the long head of the bicep, and when a muscle is able to stretch before contracting, it’s able to generate more force.
This makes the incline dumbbell curl the best lift for bicep activation, and for building the bicep “peak.” The incline also takes away all opportunities for using momentum to cheat. If you’re looking for a bang-for-your-buck movement when building your guns, the incline dumbbell curl is a must-have.
Another simple twist on the classic bicep curl, using a cable machine introduces a new factor into your bicep training which can ramp up your arm width and size. Cable machines are terrific in that they introduce constant tension throughout a lift—this goes for more than just biceps exercises. During a regular, free weight exercise, the tension on the muscle changes over the full range of motion due to the mechanics of that particular movement.
With cables, the tension stays the same over the entire range. With the barbell curl, the lift starts off difficult and gets easier the closer you get to the top of the movement. The cable curl maintains the same amount of difficulty throughout the lift, meaning that you’re going to develop muscles in ways that are ignored with the conventional curl.
The cable curl also provides a lot of different variety in your biceps workouts. Not only does the cable machine give you something new, but you can also curl in different ways (such as the overhead cable curl).
The concentration curl can get you very real results, but it takes absolutely perfect form if you’re looking to reap all of its rewards.It essentially comes down to a dumbbell curl, with your elbow resting on your upper leg. You only do one arm at a time with a dumbbell, so you’re not able to help your weaker arm with the stronger one.
The concentration curl removes all the shifting that might happen in the elbow during a regular curl, which allows for a greater focus on the biceps during the lift. This curl also removes all options for cheating with momentum, since you’ll be bent at the torso with your upper arm kept perpendicular to the ground.
Bent-over rows are one of the most beneficial exercises you can include in your workouts. They’re more often used for building a strong and broad back, but their usefulness extends to developing bicep size and strength.The row primarily engages your rear delts, traps, and rhomboids, giving you the classic V-shaped torso. Not only will your aesthetics improve, but using a reverse grip also works your biceps to a much greater degree.
This makes the bent-over row a great exercise for balancing the development of your front and back muscles, which can often grow unevenly. Lastly, the row will also engage your abdominals and lower back muscles. The one drawback of the bent-over row is that it places a lot of stress on the lumbar spine. If this is an issue, the inverted row is a good alternative.
The drag curl is another movement that’s rarely seen in conventional bicep-building repertoire. However, it’s a fantastic way for building bigger and stronger biceps. It places a special emphasis on the brachialis and the long head of the biceps.The reason it’s not seen very often is that it’s difficult to use the same amount of weight you’re used to lifting. It also requires very strict form to get the most out of the exercise, making it a not-so-popular option for lifters.
The ten exercises we looked at above are sure to put you on the right path towards sleeve-filling arms. With enough hard work and consistency, your biceps are going to be the envy of every lifter around you.However, lifting is only a small part of the overall game plan.
Eating enough high-quality protein, along with your other macros, is an absolute must when you’re trying to develop size and strength. A whey protein powder can help in this department, but a well-rounded diet is the only way to ensure long-term, consistent gains. Put all the pieces together and soon you’ll be shopping for shirts with bigger sleeves.