June 10, 2021 10 min read

Everybody wants to beef up their biceps. They’re a set of muscles that are satisfying to show off, and they’re the gateway to growth in a variety of exercises.

The versatility and showmanship you get from your biceps are well worth taking the time and effort to get them warmed up so you can put your best effort into your upper arm exercises and draw the most out of your workouts.

Arm muscles anterior compartment labeled.

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If you want to learn how to warm up your biceps you should learn what they even are first. If you’re just randomly stretching your arms on the way to the weight rack, then you’re not going to be stretching effectively, leading to injury and stunted muscle growth

In a professional setting, you might hear your biceps referred to by their Latin name,  “musculus biceps brachii.”  This translates to a pretty literal description of their structure, “two-headed muscle of the arm.” This name is reflected in how your biceps are built in your body.

There’s a thick “belly” that starts on the supraglenoid tubercle and the coracoid process. Both of which are areas on the inside of your shoulder blade. This means that your biceps, at their most basic, are partially responsible for keeping your back attached to your front. 

If you follow your biceps from their origin on the scapula, they eventually split into two distinct heads. These are the parts of your biceps responsible for bringing your lower arm up towards your body. The split nature of your biceps also allows them to supinate and pronate your arm.

If you stick your arm out to your side and rotate it while flexing your arm you can appreciate the complexity and usefulness of your biceps in a hands-on fashion. Your biceps are incredibly unique and useful in their ability to allow your arms a wide range of motion and a deep well of strength.

The two-headed nature of your biceps along with the clever way. The two-headed nature of your biceps allows them to do a number of things in your arms. 

The 5 Best Bicep Stretches

1. Seated Biceps Stretch

Seated bicep stretches are one of the simplest and most effective methods for isolating your biceps. Seated bicep stretches are also called chest openers because they secondarily stretch your pecs and force your back muscles to engage a little. These are great not just for folks getting ready to do some curls, but also for those of us stuck spending our time at a desk all day.

  • Start by sitting on the floor with your knees up towards your chest and both of your feet on the floor
  • Place both of palms on the floor behind your back
  • Make sure your fingers are pointed away from your body, you should feel a little tension in your biceps at this point
  • Keep your head and back straight throughout this stretch
  • Scooch your buttocks closer to your feet slowly 
  • Once you feel your biceps stretching hold that position for around 20 to 30 seconds
  • Push yourself back to your starting position and repeat until your biceps feel sufficiently warmed up 

2. Wall Biceps Stretch

  • Start by standing around 1 foot away from a wall or sturdy vertical surface with your back toward the wall or surface 
  • Extend your arms back behind yourself while leaning forward Lean forward and extend your arms behind you. 
  • Place your palms against your wall with your fingers pointing towards the ceiling
  • Lower yourself into a squat, make sure your arms are still engaged in the stretch the entire time your body approaches the floor
  • Once you reach a comfortable low point, hold this position for about 20 second
  • Push yourself back up into the starting position
  • Repeat as needed
strong athletic rough man stretching muscles

    3. Standing Biceps Stretch

    This standing stretch is something you can integrate into your daily life. If you’re feeling tightness or soreness in your upper body, this is a great stretch for relieving a great deal of pressure. No matter where you are you can benefit from a couple of quick seconds of this stretch

    • Stand with your feet at a comfortable distance apart, usually about shoulder-width apart
    • Keep your back straight and clasp your hands together to lace your fingers together behind your back
    • Keep your fingers laced together and open your palms away from your body
    • Lift your hands up towards your head. If you’re having trouble lifting your hands in this position you may use a surface like a countertop or a table.
    • Slowly lower yourself into a squat, if you have the flexibility for it
    • Hold this stretch for around 15 seconds and repeat a handful of times 

    4. Horizontal Arm Extensions

    These work by using the twin-headed design of your biceps. When you’re twisting your arms in this position, you’re forcing the heads of your biceps to limber themselves up.

    This is a great way to stretch if you feel like the pronation and supination of your biceps are suffering.

    It’s easy to only think of your biceps as a set of muscles that are suited only for flexing your elbow. Try not to forget about this stretch if you’re serious about retaining the mobility of your upper arms.

    • Fully extend your arms out by your sides until they’re totally parallel with the floor
    • Extend your fingers and point your thumbs at the ground by pointing your palms towards your back until you feel a stretch in your biceps. You may need to push them a little further back depending on how flexible you are currently
    • This simple version can be performed sitting or standing and extending your arms out to the side parallel to the floor. Turn your thumbs down, palms faced behind you until you feel a stretch in your biceps. Hold the stretch for about 30-seconds.

    4. Warm-up Curls

    The trouble with stretching your biceps lies in where they’re situated on your elbow. These are muscles designed to flex a joint that only moves in one direction. Most people are unable to extend their elbows past the point at which their arm is fully extended. Most stretches rely on flexibility not everyone has.

    An easy way to mitigate this is with a light warm-up exercise rather than stretches. Plenty of people will extol the benefits of active stretching and using light forms of the exercise you’re about to perform. Warm-up curls are the perfect way to limber up your biceps if you feel like other stretches aren’t doing it for you. 

    • Find a light weight, something around 5 to 10 pounds will do 
    • Grab the dumbbells with your palms facing up
    • Curl the weight up until your forearm is meeting your upper arm
    • Slowly lower the weight back into your starting position
    • Repeat this for a set of about 10 reps

    Surrounding Muscles

    You should know by now that your muscles come in pairs. Every joint with a flexing muscle needs an opposing muscle group for extending them back into their original position. If you didn’t have antagonist muscles, you’d just ball up once early in your life and you’d get stuck there.

    This aspect of your body’s design means that you need to take both halves of the equation into account when you’re working out. Your workout routine needs to account for the muscle group you want to work on as well as the opposing muscle group so you’re creating a balanced system.

    Your chest is one of the simplest examples of how important this aspect of your health is. If you spend several weeks only working on your chest without stretching regularly or supplementing the strength of your back muscles, you’ll very quickly see that your chest muscles will start pulling your back into a hunch. This will ruin your posture, which will lead to a domino effect of health problems. 

    The same principle applies when we’re talking about warming up your upper body. You should be taking into consideration the auxiliary muscles you’ll be using when you’re warming up your biceps. Otherwise, you’re just going to create tight muscles around your limber areas that are just as susceptible to injury as if you had done nothing at all.

    Triceps

    Your triceps are the muscles positioned directly in opposition to your biceps. They’re the muscles that are situated along the backside of your arms. They’re primarily responsible for pulling your arms back into their fully extended position.

    Your triceps share a lot of similarities to your biceps, which is convenient given their primary function. The Latin name for your triceps is musculus triceps brachii. If you’ve been paying attention, you can probably guess what that means. Instead of the measly two heads your biceps are built with, triceps have three heads connected to a single thick “belly” just like your biceps. 

    The three heads of your triceps act in a similar manner to the two heads of your biceps. Instead of controlling supination and pronation, though, they’re employed to control the fine motor functions of your arm. Your triceps come into play when you’re doing small focused work like writing and typing. They also provide stability when you’re carrying heavy loads or lifting weights.

    Deltoids

    You may have noticed that your biceps keep your scapular attached to your body rather than connecting to the socket of your humerus. If that’s the case, then we need to figure out where that socket support is coming from. This is where your delts come into play.

    Your deltoids are a small triangular pair of muscles that sit on top of your shoulder to keep your arms attached to your body when you’re lifting and lugging weights. Without your delts, you’d be a lot like Mr. Potato Head. Keeping them healthy and limber with a few arm rotations before you get to work will work wonders for your overall physical abilities.

    Latissimus Dorsi

    Unless you’re doing your bicep exercises lying down and you never plan on standing up straight again, then you should be paying attention to the flexibility and strength of your lats. These are a set of muscles that make up a large surface area on your back.

    They’re located specifically along either side of your back, running from your shoulder all the way down to your hips. They keep your back connected to your bottom half while providing stability during your workouts.

    If you ignore them you’ll immediately start losing mobility and it will become increasingly more difficult to isolate your biceps because your body is going to be diverting a ton of energy to the simple task of keeping your back steady.

    Obliques

    We don’t tend to think of our obliques when we think about the function of our biceps, but they’re crucial to exercises like curls or overhead presses. Your core is the primary muscle group we recruit when it's time to draw strength out of our bodies. If you can’t trust your obliques to set your core, then you’re not going to be able to curl even the lightest dumbbells.

    You instinctually set your obliques when you’re about to use your upper body. This means that you should keep them limber if you plan on using any of the muscles in your upper body. A strong and solid core is going to be the difference between an extra set at the gym and fizzling out as soon as your warm-up is over.

    Benefits

    We all know that stretching is good for your body, but sometimes it’s easy to forget why we do the things we do. It’s good to get a refresher on the benefits of stretching before your workouts. The extra information should stick in your mind better and make you more likely to remember to properly stretch before your workouts.

    Encouraging Muscle Growth

    The single most encouraging thing about regularly stretching your muscles is how much it helps your body when you’re in pursuit of gains. Continually stretching your body is one of the simplest ways to help yourself when you’re on the path to bulking up.

    Stretching opens up your muscles to blood flow which is crucial to building muscle. This is because your body uses your blood to transport nutrients throughout itself, and nutrients are the key to bulking up. When you’re working out your body is continually being torn to shreds. These tears need to be reconstructed in order to compensate for the microtrauma that your workouts have subjected your body to.

    You need material to rebuild the tears you’ve made. Those repairs come in the form of protein in your diet. The easier you make it for your body to send protein to these damaged areas of your body, the quicker you’ll be able to start building muscle in between workouts.

    Stretches shouldn’t be relegated to pre-workouts.

    You should also take time on your rest days to stretch the muscles you’ve been abusing during your workouts. If you don’t want to squander the work you’ve been putting in throughout the week, then stretching every day is one of the best ways to make sure the work you’ve done sticks around. 

    Maintaining Flexibility

    If you’re working out you’re building muscle, there’s no way around it really. Even if you’re focusing on endurance and weight loss. If you’re using your muscles, then you’re building muscle. 

    The thing about muscle fibers is that they’re naturally pretty rigid. This makes sense, you need taut, powerful muscle to impart strength to your body for all of the work you do throughout the day. Muscle needs to be tough by virtue of the job it’s expected to do on a regular basis.

    The problem with covering your body with rigid muscle fibers is the amount of damage it can do to your body.  

    Rigid muscle likes to pull on things, and if you’re not careful it’ll pull things out of place. This can be especially damaging for the areas your biceps are connected to. You could create upper back pain or ruin your elbows if you let your biceps grow unchecked.

    Preventing Injury

    This is very closely related to keeping your muscles from becoming too rigid. A good warm-up does a number of things to prevent injury once you’ve started your workout. When you stretch, you’re lengthening your muscles in preparation for the work ahead, this ensures your body is ready to move your weights throughout your body’s natural range of motion. 

    You’ll also be imparting elasticity to your muscles, which will keep them from “pulling” under the strain of your weights. This elasticity is brought on by blood flow and the natural plasticity of your muscle fibers after they’ve been extended a few times.

    Keep Your Arms on a Swivel

    Your biceps are an incredible set of muscles. They’re responsible for a wide range of motion in what are arguably our most useful pair of limbs. Without your biceps, you’re losing out on one of our primary methods for interacting with the world.

    If you know what you’re doing, you can cultivate biceps that empower you to push past your limits while framing your body in the most flattering light. Treat them right and they’ll treat you right.


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