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best bicep exercises

23 Best Bicep Exercises for Mass & Strength

best bicep exercises image

If you’re searching for the best bicep exercises but struggling to find a combination that resonates with your individual fitness goals, you’ll be glad that you landed on our list. 

Here at OriGym, we have put together 23 of the very best bicep building exercises for those who are looking to build on their strength and muscle hypertrophy when they are hitting the gym. 

We are a team of qualified personal trainers and nutrition experts after all, and have years of firsthand experience training clients in these areas, so you can trust our opinion! 

Before we jump in, have you ever considered turning your passion for exercise into a fully fledged career within the fitness industry? If so, go check out our extensive range of personal training qualifications, and download our latest prospectus here for more information. 

Beginner Bicep Exercises 

We are going to start off with some simple bicep muscle exercises first for those who are not yet experienced in the world of weight training. 

If you feel that you are currently working at more of an intermediate or advanced level when practising bicep exercises at the gym, feel free to skip ahead! 

#1 - Standing Cable Bicep Curl 

Set Up: You will need a cable machine to perform this exercise, one of the first bicep curl exercises that you should attempt. Set it to a weight that you’re comfortable with lifting during the movement. 

Starting Position: 

best bicep isolation exercises image

  • Stand facing the cable machine with your feet flat on the floor, at around hip width apart 
  • Grab the cable handle in an underhand grip, and carefully pull it towards you until you are holding it just in front of your upper legs
  • Your arms should be extended, ready to curl the handle towards your chest, but your elbows shouldn’t be locked out
  • Ensure that your elbows are tucked in at your sides, and at an equal height - your hands should be at an equal height too

Execution:

best mens bicep exercises

  • Ensure that your back is straight (with your head in line with your spine), your core is braced, and your glutes are tight. Check out our guide on how to engage your core if you’re unsure of how to do so correctly! 
  • Inhale before you begin the movement 
  • Curl the handle of the cable up towards your chest, keeping your elbows in place (only your forearms should be moving). Breathe out as you do so
  • Once your biceps are contracted, hold this position for two seconds
  • Inhale before carefully moving the handle of the cable downwards again, into the original starting position
  • Repeat! 

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Muscle Worked During this Exercise:

Primary Movers: Biceps. 

Secondary Muscles: Anterior deltoid, trapezius, levator scapulae. 

Mistakes to Avoid:

  • Performing the exercise too quickly. You should ensure that you pause for 2-3 seconds at the top of the movement, so that you reap all of the benefits as well as avoiding muscle fatigue. A slow and controlled tempo will make this one of the most effective bicep exercises. 
  • Allowing the weight to drop into the stack, even when you’re in the starting position. Avoiding this will help you to make the exercise more effective by maintaining a good level of resistance and keeping your muscles active throughout the movement. When performing exercises to build the bicep muscle on the cable machine, this is incredibly important. 

Exercise Benefits:

  • During the lifting phase of the cable curl, the biceps brachii is targeted almost in isolation, with the deltoids, trapezius, and levator scapulae receiving only some of the pressure. This means that it’s one of the great exercises for the bicep to use if you’re looking to gain strength or muscle mass in this area, depending on how you choose to train. 
  • It’s one of the easiest beginner bicep exercises, especially since it involves training both arms at a time rather than just one. With regular practice, it can help you to improve the stability of the arms as it also involves the elbow and shoulder joints.

#2 - Standing Double Dumbbell Bicep Curl 

Set Up: For this exercise, you will need a single dumbbell at an appropriate weight for the training programme that you’re completing (if you’re looking to gain mass, go heavy, but not so heavy that you’re straining yourself). It is one of the most popular bicep weight exercises, and incredibly useful for training hypertrophy. 

Starting Position: 

top bicep exercises for men

  • Stand tall so that your back is straight, and have your feet at around hip-width apart.  
  • Hold the dumbbells at your sides in an underhand grip, palms facing outwards.   
  • Ensure that your elbows are tucked in close at your sides, as they should remain in a fixed position throughout the exercise. 

Execution: 

bicep exercises for beginners

  • Ensure that your core is engaged before you begin the exercise, and inhale. 
  • Curl the dumbbells upwards, exhaling as you do so, and making sure that your elbows remain in their fixed position throughout the movement. 
  • Pause when your elbows are at around a 90-degree angle, and hold your position for at least two seconds. Inhale. 
  • Return the dumbbells to the starting position in a slow and controlled motion, keeping a slight bend in your arm to maintain a good level of resistance. 
  • Repeat the exercise! 

Primary Movers: Biceps.

Secondary Muscles: Brachialis, brachioradialis.  

Common Mistakes to Avoid: 

  • Rushing through reps. You should perform this exercise with a slow tempo to maximise the benefits that you receive from it, especially since it is one of the best bicep exercises with weights. If you rush through the repetitions that you’re completing, you will inevitably lessen the effect that it has on your biceps, and even leave yourself open to injury. 
  • Curling the wrists. You should keep your wrists in a neutral and stable position throughout this exercise, and avoid curling them during the movement itself. Otherwise, you could injure them as well as eradicating the added wrist strength and power that you could achieve through performing the exercise correctly. 
  • Failing to keep your back straight. You want to keep your back straight and your overall posture immaculate while you perform this exercise, as you will then avoid any unnecessary injuries and receive all of the benefits that you should hope to achieve through completing it; it is one of the most effective bicep free weight exercises after all. 

Benefits of this Exercise:

  • Performing the double dumbbell bicep curl whilst standing is a great way for those new to strength training to learn how to engage and work their arm muscles correctly. During the concentric phase, both biceps are worked in unison since this is the two-arm version of this exercise, and this is good for developing stabilisation in the upper body, and preparing the body for more advanced weight training exercises that target this area. 
  • Since this is a bicep exercise that requires two separate dumbbells rather than a barbell, it is arguably more challenging for the muscles to curl and therefore helps to train the user’s shoulders as well as their core. This makes it one of the best bicep exercises for men who are looking to build muscle mass in their arms and upper body. 

#3 - Cable Hammer Curl

Set Up: For the cable version of the hammer curl, one of the best bicep strength exercises, all that you need is a cable machine set to a weight that you’re comfortable working with. 

Starting Position:

bicep exercises for beginners

  • Stand with your body facing the cable machine, and grip the handles with a neutral grip (your palms should be facing inwards).
  • Ensure that your elbows are tucked in close to your body rather than flaring outwards. 
  • Position your feet at around hip-width apart. 
  • Ensure that your back is straight, and that your neck is in line with your spine. 

Execution:

intermediate bicep exercises

  • Engage your core before beginning the exercise, and inhale. 
  • Curl the handles upwards in a controlled motion until your elbows are positioned at a 90-degree angle, and squeeze your biceps. Exhale as you complete this phase.
  • Hold this position for two seconds, and inhale before continuing the movement. 
  • Exhale as you bring the handles back down into the starting position, ensuring that your elbows remain in their fixed position. 
  • Repeat!

Muscles Worked During this Exercise:

Primary Movers: Biceps, deltoids 

Secondary Muscles: Triceps, brachialis, brachioradialis, trapezius.

Common Mistakes to Avoid:

  • Using the wrong stance. Many people make the mistake of standing with their feet together when using the cable machine, but this is incorrect. They should be placed at around hip-width apart to avoid injury. 
  • Curling too fast. This is one of the bicep curl exercises performed on the cable machine that uses a comparatively small range of motion. Therefore, many people use quick movements while carrying out this workout, which is not a good thing as it means that you are working against less resistance. You should maintain a good level of resistance at all times by keeping the tempo controlled, and if this is too challenging for you with a particular weight you should switch to a lighter setting for the time being. 
  • Lifting too heavy. It’s easy to load yourself up with too much weight when performing this exercise, as weights in the cable machine can be pretty deceptive since you’re lifting them with the cable. Free weights are technically more difficult to control, so in comparison the cable machine can seem easier to use. You should be aware of this and ensure that you’re not loading yourself up too heavy before you complete the exercise!

 Benefits of this Exercise:

  • One of the greatest benefits of completing this exercise is the fact that the cable provides a consistent tension throughout, so the user always has a good level of resistance to work against so long as they maintain a controlled tempo. This places added pressure on the muscles and is therefore a good alternative to bicep exercises for men that require dumbbells. 
  • The wrist is in a neutral position while carrying out this movement, through both the concentric and eccentric phases. This can enhance the strength of the muscles surrounding the wrist, and improve overall wrist stability. 

#4 - Cross Body Hammer Curl 

Set Up: You will only need a single dumbbell to perform this exercise, which is one of the best bicep building exercises. Be wise while choosing the weight of the dumbbell; choose it according to your capacity and strength. 

Starting Position: 

basic bicep exercises image

  • Stand with your back straight, and your feet at around hip-width apart. 
  • Hold the dumbbell with an overhead grip in the hand you wish to work with first (your palm should be facing inwards), and ensure that it is resting just above your thigh. 
  • You may find it useful to tuck your opposite arm behind your back for added support. 
  • Ensure that your elbow is in a comfortable position and close to your side, so that you are able to keep it in a stable position throughout the exercise. 

Execution: 

advanced bicep exercises

  • Inhale before you begin the exercise, and stand tall with your core tight and your back straight. 
  • Exhaling as you do so, curl the dumbbell up towards your opposite shoulder, paying particular attention to keeping your elbow in a stable and fixed position. 
  • Stop when your elbow is at a 90-degree angle, and hold your position for at least two seconds. 
  • Slowly bring the dumbbell back towards the starting position, until your arm is extended again. Keep a slight bend in your arm to maintain a good level of resistance.
  • Repeat! 

Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Biceps.

Secondary Muscles: Brachialis, brachioradialis. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid:

  • Failing to keep the back straight. If you arch your back at any point during this exercise, the weight can cause imbalance and therefore result in lower back pain. You should ensure that your back remains straight at all times to gain all of the necessary benefits from this exercise, which happens to be one of the best bicep free weight exercises, and to avoid injury. 
  • Allowing your elbow to move. Since this is the cross-body version of the hammer curl and is therefore performed with your elbow in a more forward position, you should take extra care to ensure that it doesn’t move at any point during the exercise. It should remain in a fixed position through both the concentric and eccentric phases to maximise the benefits that you recieve, especially since this is one of the best bicep weight exercises. 

Benefits of this Exercise: 

  • Since this exercise uses a neutral grip rather than an underhand grip, it chiefly targets the long head of the biceps as well as the brachialis and brachioradialis; making it one of the best bicep brachialis exercises. It is therefore effective for toning both the upper arm and the forearms alongside regular bicep curls, and is also a great option for those looking to switch up their arms workouts to avoid a plateau. It is one of the great exercises for the bicep. 
  • This is also one of the best bicep isolation exercises since it works one arm at a time, and therefore allows the user to pay extra attention to form and overall exercise execution. Some would argue that this exercise makes it easier to manage elbow positioning and keep it in a secure position throughout the movement. 

#5 - Cable Preacher Curl 

Set Up: To perform the preacher curl using a cable, one of the best bicep exercises for beginners who are looking to progress to more difficult exercises, you will need a low cable pulley machine set to a weight that you’re comfortable with lifting and a preacher bench. Place the preacher bench in front of the machine before beginning. 

Starting Position:

basic bicep exercises

  • Grip the bar of the cable machine with both hands in an underhand grip. Keep hold of the bar as you get into the correct position. 
  • Stand with a slight bend in your knees, your thighs resting against the preacher bench and feet around shoulder-width apart. Rest your biceps on the pad with your arms extended, but keep a slight bend in your elbows. 
  • Ensure that your back is straight, and that your head is in line with your spine before you begin. 

Execution:

bicep exercises gym

  • Ensure that your core is tight, and inhale before beginning the concentric phase of this exercise. 
  • Bending at your elbows, curl the bar upwards until they are at a 90-degree angle. Exhale as you do so, and be sure that you complete this phase with a slow and steady motion. 
  • Hold this position for two seconds, and inhale before you continue. 
  • Exhaling as you complete the movement, bring the bar back down into the starting position (but keep a slight bend in your arms to maintain resistance). 
  • Repeat! 

Muscles Worked During this Exercise: 

Primary Movers: Biceps.

Secondary Muscles: Brachialis, brachioradialis.

Common Mistakes to Avoid: 

  • Lifting too heavy. The cable machine can be pretty deceiving when it comes to how the weights feel in comparison to free weights, especially since exercises using this piece of equipment require less from your stabilising muscles. However, you should always err on the side of caution and start with a lighter weight when using a machine until you are used to working with it. 
  • Arching the back. You should pay particular attention to form during this exercise, as it can be dangerous to complete it (or any of the bicep curls exercises) with an arched back. This can lead to lower back pain, and will certainly negate any of the benefits that you hope to receive from completing the exercise. You may find it useful to complete this exercise in front of a mirror so that you can truly master your form. 

Benefits of this Exercise: 

  • Since preacher curls are performed using a preacher bench, it is incredibly difficult to generate momentum when completing them. This means that they are more difficult than regular cable bicep curls, and also better for isolating this muscle group as the biceps are placed under increased pressure. If you’re looking to build muscle mass and gain added strength in the area, this is a great one to start with before you progress to more advanced bicep exercises. If you want to learn more about how pairing exercises like this with good nutrition can help you to boost muscle mass, a qualification in advanced sports nutrition would be particularly beneficial.
  • Another benefit of performing this exercise using the preacher bench as opposed to standing is the fact that it promotes negative movement. This refers to the lengthening of the muscles when force is applied to them, during the eccentric phase rather than just the concentric phase. As you move the bar back into the starting position during this exercise, you are able to place more emphasis on the movement thanks to the stability of the preacher bench, and therefore place the muscles under further strain. 

#6 - Barbell Curl

Set Up: For the barbell version of the bicep curl, one of the best free weight bicep exercises, you will require a barbell and a set of plates that you’re comfortable with lifting. It is one of the first barbell bicep exercises that you should attempt if you are a beginner. 

Starting Position: 

seated bicep exercises

  • Stand tall with your back straight, and your chest and shoulders up. 
  • Hold the barbell in an underhand grip and with neutral hand positioning (not too wide, not too close). 
  • Your elbows should be tucked in close at your sides, so that they are able to remain in a stable position throughout the exercise. 
  • Have your feet positioned just over shoulder-width apart. 
  • You are now ready to begin the exercise. 

Execution: 

bicep brachialis exercises

  • Ensure that your core is engaged before beginning this exercise, and that your back is straight. Inhale. 
  • Curl the barbell upwards, keeping your elbows stable and exhaling as you do so. 
  • Pause when your elbows are at around a 90-degree angle, and hold this position for two seconds. Inhale before you continue the exercise. 
  • Exhale as you bring the barbell back down into the starting position, keeping a controlled tempo. 
  • Repeat for your desired amount of reps! 

Primary Movers: Biceps.  

Secondary Muscles: Brachialis, brachioradialis, deltoids.

Common Mistakes to Avoid:

  • Relying on momentum. Using momentum to complete a curl is one of the most common mistakes made during free weight bicep exercises. This usually happens when the barbell is too challenging for the user and they are determined to carry on, but it actually reverses any of the benefits that they hope to receive from the exercise; it can even cause injury. Instead of relying on momentum, you should switch to lighter plates if you notice this happening. 
  • Rushing through reps. Because of gravity, you can find yourself slowly curling before quickly lowering the bell to end the rep. It may seem as though you are completing the curls more productively when doing this, but it is actually hindering your progress. If you speed up the concentric phase slightly and focus on slowing the eccentric phase, you will see more progress. 
  • Poor wrist control. During the curls, you should focus on the positioning of your wrists as you contact your biceps. People often lose control of their wrists during this exercise, but this is easily fixed by performing it with the correct weight and paying particular attention to the area.

Benefits of this Exercise: 

  • Performing this exercise using a barbell makes it one of the top bicep exercises for men who are looking to improve their grip strength. This is thanks to the fact that more emphasis is placed on this since you are only lifting one weight at a time, and since barbells are better for use alongside progressive overload. 
  • Following on from our last point, this means that your wrists are able to be loaded with more weight than they would be during dumbbell curls, and are ultimately made stronger. If you want to learn more about working on grip strength, check out our article on the best forearm exercises for mass & grip strength here!
  • The fact that the biceps are placed under additional pressure makes barbell curls better for developing muscular hypertrophy, and they are therefore one of the best bicep exercises for mass. 

#7 - Close Grip Standing Barbell Curl 

Set Up: For this exercise, you will require a barbell and a set of plates that you’re comfortable with lifting. Since this is one of the bicep gym exercises that uses a close grip, you may find it useful to start out with a lighter weight while you adjust to the movement. 

Starting Position:

bicep resistance exercises

  • Grip the barbell with an underhand grip, your hands around one hand width apart. 
  • Stand tall with your back straight and your feet placed just over shoulder-width apart. 
  • Hold the barbell just in front of your thighs, your arms extended but with a slight bend in your elbows. 
  • You are now ready to begin this exercise. 

Execution:

different types of bicep exercises

  • Brace your core, and inhale before you begin. 
  • Bending at the elbows and exhaling as you do so, curl the barbell upwards in a controlled motion until your elbows reach a 90-degree angle. Pay attention to squeezing your biceps at the top of the movement. 
  • Hold this position for at least two seconds, and inhale. 
  • Continue the exercise by exhaling and moving the barbell back down into the starting position with a slow tempo. Keep a slight bend in your arms before completing your next rep so that you maintain a good level of resistance. 
  • Repeat! 

Muscles Worked:

Primary Movers: Biceps (particularly the long head). 

Secondary Muscles: Brachialis, brachioradialis, deltoids.

Common Mistakes to Avoid: 

  • Having your hands too close together. While this is a close grip exercise, you should not have too narrow of a grip, and your hands should certainly not be touching. Having your hands too close together will place too much strain on your wrists, and likely cause an injury to your wrists or your elbows in the process. It will also shift all of the pressure away from your biceps, and therefore nullify the benefits of the exercise, which is one of the best barbell bicep exercises. 
  • Rushing through reps. You should always ensure that you perform this exercise with a slow tempo to really work the long head of your biceps. Rushing through reps will take the tension away from your biceps and fail to work them effectively. 

Benefits of this Exercise: 

  • This is one of the most effective bicep exercises for hitting the long outer head of the biceps due to the fact that it employs a close grip. It’s important to vary the exercises that you perform to avoid a plateau, especially if you’re performing bicep exercises for growth, as it’s important to hit all three heads of the bicep. 
  • The narrow grip used during this exercise also ensures that the muscles within the forearms are placed under a good amount of pressure as they are employed to help stabilise the weight throughout both the eccentric and concentric phases. They therefore benefit from added strength when this exercise is practised regularly, alongside other bicep barbell exercises. 

You may also like: 

#8 - Reverse Grip Barbell Curl 

Set Up: You will need a barbell to perform this exercise, as well as a set of plates that you’re comfortable with lifting (they should still pose a challenge, though).

Starting Position:

bicep exercises image

  • Stand with your feet at around hip-width apart.
  • Lean down and hold the barbell in an overhand grip, with your hands positioned at a  neutral distance apart. Lift it carefully so that it rests in front of your thighs. Your arms should be extended. 
  • Ensure that you are standing tall, and that your back is straight. 

Execution:

best bicep exercises

  • Engage your core and inhale before starting the exercise. 
  • Bending at the elbows, curl the barbell upwards until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Exhale as you complete this phase of the exercise. 
  • Remain in this position for at least two seconds, and inhale. 
  • Exhale as you bring the barbell back down into the starting position, exhaling as you do so and maintaining good form. 
  • Repeat!

Muscles Worked:

Primary Movers: Biceps.

Secondary Muscles: Brachialis, brachioradialis. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid:

  • Lifting too heavy. Most beginners make the mistake of using plates that are too heavy for this exercise. You should ensure that you start out with lighter weights since this exercise uses an alternate grip, until you are familiar with the movement. It is worth taking your time, especially since it is one of the best bicep exercises for definition. 
  • Locking out your elbows. You should keep a slight bend in your arms at all times when completing this exercise, even at the bottom of the movement. This ensures a constant level of resistance, and allows you to avoid injuring your elbow joints. 
  • Forgetting to keep your elbows in a fixed position. Your elbows should remain in a stable and fixed position during both the concentric and eccentric phases, and should not flare out. You may find it useful to imagine that they are connected by an invisible line that runs through your body to ensure that this happens. 

Benefits of this Exercise:

  • This is one of the most effective bicep exercises for targeting the brachialis muscle, which is the muscle that bridges the bone within the upper arm with those within the forearm. The change in grip allows this to happen, and so performing this exercise alongside other great bicep exercises is perfect for those looking to develop the strength and overall muscular structure of the biceps. 
  • Thanks to the reverse grip that is used during this exercise, the wrist joint is actually strengthened through regular practise. This can prevent injuries to the wrist, and allow you to progress to more advanced exercises quicker than you would have done otherwise. These include the chest press and back squat, as they both require a good amount of wrist strength and stability. 

Intermediate Bicep Exercises

This section is for those looking for more of a challenge when practising bicep exercises at the gym. It contains a list of bicep exercises that will challenge your strength and develop your muscular hypertrophy even further. 

#9 - Standing One Arm Dumbbell Curl Over Incline Bench 

Set Up: To complete this exercise, one of the best bench bicep exercises, you will need a single dumbbell that you’re comfortable with lifting and access to an incline bench. If you don’t own one and you’re practising this exercise at home, you should take a look at our list of the best weight benches here

Starting Position:

exercises for the bicep

  • Place your working arm over the incline bench whilst holding the dumbbell in an underhand grip. Ensure that you keep a slight bend in your arm. 
  • Have the leg closest to the working arm forward, and the other placed behind it in a wide stance that feels comfortable and stable to you. 
  • Use your free hand to grip the bench and support your body. 
  • Ensure that your back is straight, and that your head is in line with your spine before beginning.

Execution:

exercises bicep

  • Inhale, and ensure that your core is tight. 
  • Carefully curl the dumbbell upwards until your elbow is at around a 90-degree angle, and squeeze your biceps as you do so. Exhale throughout this phase. 
  • Hold this position for at least two seconds, and inhale before you continue the exercise. 
  • Exhale as you lower the dumbbell back down into the starting position, at a slower tempo than you used during the concentric phase, until your arm is extended. Keep a slight bend in your arm at the bottom of the movement. 
  • Repeat!  

 

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Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Biceps, brachialis, brachioradialis. 

Secondary Muscles: Pronator teres, wrist extensors. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid: 

  • Failing to keep the back straight. You should pay particular attention to form during this exercise, especially when it comes to your back. You should perform it in front of a mirror so that you can ensure that your back is properly straight, and that your head is in line with your spine throughout the movement. If you are struggling to maintain good form, you may be working with a weight that is too heavy for you; consider switching it out for a lighter one. 
  • Rushing through reps. This may be one of the best bicep isolation exercises, which is great for those looking to build mass in their upper arm, but this also makes it one of the most difficult to perform with heavy weights. If you’re rushing through reps, it could be because the weight that you’re using is too heavy for you and therefore too challenging to use with proper tempo. You should consider switching to a lighter weight while you familiarise yourself with the exercise so that you can reap all of the benefits. 

Benefits of this Exercise: 

  • This exercise is seen as a hybrid between the concentration curl and the preacher curl, and is therefore one of the best bicep exercises for mass when performed correctly. 
  • The arm is placed on an incline bench during the exercise, which means that the user is able to place more pressure on the biceps throughout the eccentric phase as well as the concentric phase, as this will stimulate muscle growth. The incline bench takes the pressure away from the stabilising muscles within the upper and lower body and places this on the biceps, making them work even harder than they would during a usual standing curl. 

#10 - Suspended Curl 

Set Up: Attach the TRX straps to an anchor point above your head, and ensure that the straps are suspended at about mid-length. Check out the TRX exercises list by OriGym for more exercises that can be performed with this popular piece of equipment!

Starting Position:

bicep exercises image

  • Grip the handles of the TRX system with a neutral grip (palms facing inwards), and stand with your feet at around hip-width apart. 
  • Lean back until your body is at around a 45-degree angle in relation to the floor, and your arms are extended. You should have soft knees (a slight bend in the area). 
  • Ensure that your back is straight, and that your head is in line with your spine. 

Execution:

exercises for bicep

  • Inhale before you start the exercise, and ensure that your core is tight. 
  • Exhale as you bend at the elbows, and curl your body upwards towards the handles. Maintain proper form throughout this movement, and be especially careful not to arch your back. 
  • Hold yourself in the top position for at least two seconds, and inhale. 
  • Exhale as you bring yourself back down into the starting position, keeping a slight bend in your arms at the bottom of the movement ready for your next rep. 
  • Repeat for your desired amount of repetitions! 

Muscles Worked During this Exercise:

Primary Movers: Biceps. 

Secondary Muscles: Deltoids, brachioradialis, rectus abdominis. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid: 

  • Dropping the elbows. It is tempting to allow the elbows to drop down during the concentric phase of this exercise due to muscle fatigue or poor form. You should ensure that they reach a 90-degree angle at the top of the movement rather than allowing them to drop, otherwise you are turning the curl into a row and placing strain on the back rather than the biceps. 
  • Beginning with incorrect form. Many people complete this exercise without studying their form in a mirror beforehand, and throughout the movement. This can lead to poor form, which in turn leads to injury. You should always ensure that you study your form as you complete the exercise and correct it accordingly. 

Benefits of this Exercise:

  • Since it involves the user’s own body weight as the main form of resistance, this is one of the good bicep exercises for building strength and hypertrophy in the upper arms. In truth, if you are looking to make significant progress in terms of muscular strength and hypertrophy, it’s a great idea to perform some compound exercises alongside bicep isolation exercises. Check out this list of the best push up variations by OriGym if this is what you are hoping to achieve, and even pair them with some more TRX exercises that work the upper arms.  
  • Alongside targeting the biceps and the core, this exercise in particular targets the forearms and shoulders. If the strength and hypertrophy of these areas are improved, the overall appearance of the upper arms will be improved simultaneously. It is one of the best bicep exercises for definition in the upper body. Want to learn more about how the TRX System can supplement your strength training? Take a look at this list of TRX benefits by OriGym

#11 - Bicep Curl Shoulder Press 

Set Up: For this exercise, one of the best bicep weight exercises out there, you will need two dumbbells of an appropriate weight.  

Starting Position:

exercises to build muscle mass image

  • Stand with your feet at around shoulder-width apart, and one dumbbell in each hand. You should be holding them with an underhand grip.
  • Your elbows should be tucked in close at your sides, and not flaring outwards. They should remain in this position throughout the curling phase of this exercise. 
  • Ensure that you are standing tall and that your back is straight; it should remain this way throughout the exercises. 
  • You are now ready to begin. 

Execution: 

list of bicep exercises

  • Make sure that your core is braced, and inhale before you start this exercise. 
  • Curl the dumbbells upwards until your elbows are at around a 90-degree angle, exhaling as you do so. 
  • Bring your arms outwards and your shoulder blades together. Your wrists should now be in a pronated position, with your palms facing outwards. Inhale. 
  • Exhale as you press the dumbbells into the overhead position, keeping a slight bend in your elbows at the top of the movement. 
  • Hold this position for two seconds, and inhale. 
  • Bring the dumbbells back down, your elbows at a 90-degree angle and wrists still in the pronated position. Exhale as you do so. 
  • Inhale, and bring your arms inwards so that your wrists are supinated once again (a.k.a. the top bicep curl position). 
  • Exhale as you bring the dumbbells back down into the original starting position, ready for your next rep. Remember to keep a slight bend in your elbows to maintain a good level of resistance. 
  • Repeat!

Muscles Worked During this Exercise:

Primary Movers: Biceps, deltoids, rotator cuffs, trapezius. 

Secondary Muscles: Rectus abdominis, triceps.

Common Mistakes to Avoid: 

  • Curving the back. It is especially important to keep the back in a safe position during this exercise, one of the more difficult bicep curl exercises, especially since it involves an overhead lift. You should ensure that your back is straight at all times, and engage your core properly to support your lower back. Your neck should always be in line with your spine also. 
  • Lifting too heavy. The overhead lift, also known as the shoulder press portion of this exercise will be difficult for those who have not attempted this type of exercise before. Therefore, even if the weight feels less challenging during the bicep curl portion, you should start with a lighter weight and gradually increase it as you become more accustomed to the movement. When it comes to bicep exercises with free weights, you do not want to make this mistake. 

Benefits of this Exercise: 

  • In comparison to many of the other exercises listed here, this exercise is a compound movement that trains multiple muscles in the upper body at once as well as targeting the biceps. The deltoids, rotator cuffs and trapezius are involved in the movement, and training these areas will result in improved strength and hypertrophy in your upper body as a whole. Good bicep exercises for men that involve other muscles are sometimes difficult to find, but this is one that you should incorporate into your training routine as soon as you can. 
  • The fact that the exercise pushes two separate movements together means that the user is able to save time during their workout, and push two of their sets together also. Rather than performing three sets of bicep curls and three sets of shoulder presses, for example, they are able to combine the two. 

#12 - Dumbbell Hammer Curl and Press 

Set Up: You will need a pair of dumbbells to perform this exercise, and they should be an appropriate weight that you’re comfortable with lifting. 

Starting Position: 

bicep stretch exercises

  • Stand with your feet at around shoulder-width apart, and one dumbbell in each hand. You should be holding them with a neutral grip, as you would during a regular hammer curl. 
  • Your elbows should be tucked in close at your sides, and they should remain in a stable and fixed position for the first portion of this exercise. 
  • Ensure that you are standing tall and that your back is straight; it should remain this way throughout the exercises.

Execution: 

best bicep isolation exercises image

  • Make sure that your core is braced, and inhale before you start this exercise. 
  • Curl the dumbbells upwards until your elbows are at around a 90-degree angle, exhaling as you do so. 
  • Bring your arms outwards and your shoulder blades together. Your wrists should now be in a neutral position, with your palms facing inwards. Inhale. 
  • Exhale as you press the dumbbells into the overhead position, keeping a slight bend in your elbows at the top of the movement. 
  • Hold this position for two seconds, and inhale. 
  • Bring the dumbbells back down, your elbows at a 90-degree angle and wrists still in the neutral position. Exhale as you do so. 
  • Pause for a moment, and inhale. 
  • Exhale as you bring the dumbbells back down into the original starting position, ready for your next rep. Remember to keep a slight bend in your elbows to maintain a good level of resistance. 
  • Repeat!

Muscle Worked During this Exercise:

Primary Movers: Biceps, deltoids, rotator cuffs, trapezius. 

Secondary Muscles: Rectus abdominis, triceps.

Common Mistakes to Avoid: 

  • Selecting dumbbells that are too heavy. Like with any of the bicep resistance exercises, using a weight that is too heavy for you will likely result in injury. This is especially true of this exercise since it involves an overhead press. 
  • Arching the lower back. This will put you in danger of injuring your lower back, or developing chronic lower back pain if you make this mistake over a long time period with any of the listed bicep curls exercises. You should always ensure that your back is straight, and that your head is in line with your spine when completing this exercise. 

Exercise Benefits: 

  • The neutral grip used during this exercise is preferred by many when this exercise is compared to the regular curl and press. This is because it is arguably a more ‘natural’ grip, and feels lighter on the wrists for many people. You may find it useful to compare both grips, and decide on whichever feels more comfortable for you personally before adding it to your list of the best bicep training exercises. 
  • For those who are looking to save time in the gym, this exercise is an all round favourite. It trains the biceps, rotator cuffs, deltoids, and the trapezius simultaneously, and then eradicates the need for the extra sets that you would have to perform if you were to train these muscle groups separately. 

#13 - Barbell Drag Curl 

Set Up: To complete this exercise, you will need a barbell and a set of plates of an appropriate weight. Although you cannot load the barbell up as heavy as you would for a regular bicep curl, it is still more effective to use for this exercise over dumbbells as they require more stabilisation and therefore you cannot use heavy dumbbells. It is one of the best bicep exercises for men who truly want to increase the muscle mass in their upper arms. 

Starting Position:

exercises to build bicep muscle

  • Stand with your feet at around shoulder-width apart, and bend your knees so that you are able to hold the barbell with an underhand grip. Keep your back straight so that you do not strain it as you lift the barbell. 
  • Carefully lift the barbell until you are holding it just in front of your thighs. 
  • Your arms should be extended, and you should be standing tall with your back straight. 
  • You are now ready to begin the exercise. 

Execution: 

bicep exercises at gym

  • Ensure that your core is tight, and inhale before you begin. 
  • Exhale as you curl the barbell upwards, towards your shoulders. Remember that you are dragging your elbows backwards and behind your torso as you do so, and that this movement differs from a regular curl. 
  • Stop when your elbows are at around a 90-degree angle, and squeeze your biceps. 
  • Hold your position for two seconds. Inhale. 
  • Exhale as you bring the barbell back down into the starting position, keeping a slight bend in your elbows at the bottom of the movement. 
  • Repeat! 

Muscles Worked:

Primary Movers: Biceps (particularly the long head). 

Secondary Muscles: Brachialis.  

Common Mistakes to Avoid: 

  • Moving the elbows forwards. It is especially important to keep your elbows tucked in close to your torso during this exercise, one of the most effective barbell bicep exercises, and to drag them backwards as you lift the barbell upwards. If you move them forwards, you will not be completing a drag curl as such, and may risk injuring your upper body. 
  • Rushing through reps. This is one of the bicep barbell exercises that you should perform at a slow tempo, especially since the concentric phase is so different to that of regular curls. You should ensure that every repetition is performed in a slow and controlled manner, and if you are rushing through reps because the movement is too challenging for you, switch to lighter plates. 
  • Dragging the bar too far upwards. You should stop when your elbows reach a 90-degree angle, and avoid dragging the barbell up too high. This could result in injury to your shoulder joints, or to your elbows, and this is definitely something that you want to avoid during any bicep gym exercises. 

Benefits of this Exercise:

  • The drag curl is one of the best outer bicep exercises since it hits the long head of your biceps harder than alternative exercises. This is because the shoulder is more or less taken out of the equation, and more pressure is placed on this area of the bicep as a result. The underhand grip helps with this also. 
  • Since it is performed in a standing position, this exercise is also good for working your core and the stabilising muscles in your upper body, and can therefore help to improve your overall performance in other exercises that require this. We have an ultimate guide to calisthenics for beginners that you can check out here if you are interested in bodyweight exercises. 

#14 - Seated Bicep Curl 

Set Up: To complete this exercise, one of the best bicep weight exercises, you will need a pair of dumbbells of an appropriate weight as well as an incline bench. You may need to switch out the ones that you use for standing bicep curls for a lighter pair, since this exercise is more difficult to perform from a seated position.

Starting Position:  

great bicep exercises

  • Sit with your back flat to the bench and your feet positioned just over shoulder-width apart. 
  • Hold the dumbbells in an underhand grip, and have them suspended at either side of your torso. 
  • Ensure that your neck is in line with your spine, and you are then ready to begin the exercise. 

Execution: 

bodybuilding bicep exercises

  • Brace your core and inhale before you begin. 
  • Bending at your elbows, curl the dumbbells upwards towards your shoulders, exhaling as you do so. Ensure that your elbows remain in a fixed position. 
  • When your elbows reach a 90-degree angle, pause and hold your position for at least two seconds. Inhale. 
  • Exhale as you bring the dumbbells back down into the starting position, and keep a slight bend in your arms at the bottom of the movement. 
  • Repeat for your desired amount of repetitions.

Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Biceps. 

Secondary Muscles: Brachialis, brachioradialis. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid:

  • Arching your back. This is a sure sign that the dumbbells that you are working with are too heavy for you, and you should consider switching them out for a lighter pair if you find yourself doing this. It is a more difficult movement than the standing version, being one of the best seated bicep exercises, so pay no attention to your ego. 
  • Flaring your elbows outwards. It is crucial that you keep your elbows in a fixed position during this exercise, otherwise you will take all of the strain away from your biceps and place it elsewhere. This could cause injury to your upper body, particularly your elbow joints or your shoulders, so beware. If you are looking to get the most from our list of great bicep exercises, you do not want to make this mistake.
  • Neglecting to keep your head in line with your spine. This is dangerous for your neck and lower back, and will surely cause you pain in these areas over the long term if you make this mistake frequently. 

Benefits of this Exercise:

  • This exercise is performed in a seated position, which means that there is a natural increase in ground reaction force. This means that your biceps will have to work even harder to curl the weights in a controlled motion, and will ultimately be placed under increased pressure. This makes the exercise one of the best bicep exercises for men who are looking to build muscle mass in the area, as well as additional strength. 
  • Aside from this, the exercise also offers a greater range of motion for the biceps to stretch across, which is another element that makes it more difficult to perform than the standard bicep curl. This makes it effective for building strength, as well as being one of the best bicep exercises for mass, and is great for those who have reached a plateau in their training. 

#15 - Seated Close Grip Concentration Barbell Curl 

Set Up: For this exercise, you will require one barbell with a set of plates that you’re comfortable with lifting. If you're looking for good biceps exercises for mass, this is one of the best out there. 

Starting Position:

bicep exercises for size

  • Have the bench in a horizontal position with the barbell placed in front of it on the floor, and sit on it with your feet positioned in a wide stance. 
  • Hold the barbell with an underhand grip, your hands positioned in a close grip, and lift it carefully so that it rests in front of your shins - your arms should be extended. 
  • Ensure that your back is straight, and that your neck is in line with your spine before you begin. 

Execution:

different bicep exercises image

  • Inhale before you make a start on the exercise, and ensure that your core is engaged. 
  • Bending at the elbow, curl the barbell upwards as you exhale until your elbows reach a 90-degree angle. 
  • Hold this position for two seconds, and inhale before resuming the exercise. 
  • Exhale as you bring the barbell back down into the starting position, keeping a slight bend in your arms at the bottom of the movement to maintain resistance. 
  • Repeat the exercise! 

Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Biceps (particularly the long head). 

Secondary Muscles: Brachialis, brachioradialis, deltoids.

Common Mistakes to Avoid:

  • Rushing through repetitions. This exercise is a concentration curl, which means that you should be focusing all of your energy on working the target muscle group; the biceps. If you rush through repetitions, you will fail to engage the biceps properly and therefore negate the benefits that you hope to achieve.
  • Using momentum. This is one of the most common mistakes, yet one of the easiest to avoid. It’s a sure sign that you are curling a weight that is too heavy for you, so you should switch to lighter plates and progress once they become less of a challenge. Once you master the exercise and overcome this mistake, it is one of the best bench bicep exercises. 
  • Allowing the elbows to move. If you fail to keep them in a stable and fixed position, you will remove any of the benefits that you wish to achieve from performing this exercise. This is especially true during concentration bicep exercises. The back of your upper arms should rest against your inner thighs, and your elbows should remain in the same position throughout the exercise. 

Benefits of this Exercise:

  • Once the user has mastered the standing bicep curl along with the other basic bicep exercises, this exercise can provide them with a much greater challenge. It is performed from a seated position, which increases the amount of ground reaction force that the user must work against, and is also a form of concentration curl which isolates the biceps even further, specifically during the concentric phase. It is one of the most effective bicep strength exercises. 
  • Since this exercise is performed with the wrists in the supinated position, the user is able to safely load up the barbell and train with progressive overload, more so than they would be able to do when performing a similar bicep exercise with a dumbbell. This means that it is ultimately better for muscle growth, and is therefore one of the best bicep exercises for size. 

#16 - Incline Barbell Curl 

Set Up: You will require an incline bench, a barbell, and a suitable set of plates to complete this exercise. It is one of the top bicep exercises for bodybuilding when used with progressive overload, so be sure to have access to a range of plates. 

Starting Position:

bicep exercises bodybuilding

  • Set the incline bench so that it is at around a 45-degree incline. 
  • Lie face down on the bench, resting your weight on your toes. Your feet should be positioned just over shoulder-width apart. 
  • Have your spotter place the barbell into your hands, and hold it with an underhand grip. Your hands should be positioned at a standard width apart, not too close and not too wide. 
  • Ensure that your back is straight, and that your head is in line with your spine. 

Execution:

most effective bicep exercises

  • Tighten your core, and inhale. 
  • Bending at the elbows, curl the barbell upwards until your arms are at a 90-degree angle. Remember to exhale as you do so, and squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement. 
  • Inhale, and hold your position for at least two seconds before you continue. 
  • Exhale as you carefully bring the barbell back down into the starting position, keeping a slight bend in your arms at the bottom of the movement. 
  • Repeat! 

Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Biceps. 

Secondary Muscles: Brachialis, brachioradialis. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid:

  • Improper form. You should always perform this exercise with access to a mirror if you are not familiar with working on gym benches. It’s easy to be deceived into thinking that your back is straight when it is not, thanks to the fact that the exercise is performed whilst in a lying position; you should always ensure that your back isn’t curved, and that your head is in line with your spine. When it comes to bicep exercises with free weights, you do not want to make this mistake. 
  • Using the wrong grip. The intention behind performing this exercise is to hit your biceps. If you use a grip that is too wide, your chest will be more heavily involved in the exercise and therefore some of the strain will be taken away from the biceps. You do not want to make this mistake during bodybuilding bicep exercises. 

Benefits of this Exercise:

  • This is a great exercise for those looking to progress from the regular barbell curl, as the incline bench provides the biceps with greater resistance and an increased ground reaction force to work against. It places a significant amount of pressure on the biceps during both the concentric and eccentric phases because of this, and is more challenging than most standing bicep exercises. 
  • Since this version of the exercise requires a barbell rather than a set of dumbbells, it is much easier to use with progressive overload. This means that over time it is more beneficial for building muscular hypertrophy, and therefore one of the best bicep exercises for size. 

#17 - Incline Hammer Curl 

Set Up: You will need a barbell, an appropriate set of plates, and an incline bench for this exercise. It is one of the best bicep exercises for mass when used with progressive overload, and one of the most popular barbell bicep exercises full stop. 

Starting Position:

top bicep exercises

  • Sit on the bench with your feet positioned in a wide stance (wider than shoulder-width apart). 
  • Lean down and grip the dumbbells with a neutral grip, and carefully lift them as you sit back up. They should be suspended at either side of you. 
  • Ensure that your back is straight, your shoulders are back, and that your head is in line with your spine. 

Execution: 

bicep building exercises

  • Engage your core, and inhale before beginning the exercise. 
  • Exhaling as you do so, curl the dumbbells upwards until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Keep a neutral grip throughout this phase. 
  • Hold this position for two seconds, and inhale. 
  • Exhale as you bring the dumbbells back down into the starting position, remembering to keep a slight bend in your arms. 
  • Repeat the exercise! 

Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Biceps. 

Secondary Muscles: Brachialis, brachioradialis. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid:

  • Curling too fast. Many people perform this exercise too quickly when they are using dumbbells that are too light for them. Switch to a set of heavier dumbbells to make the exercise more challenging, and always ensure that you are moving in a slow and controlled manner. This is one of the more difficult bicep curl exercises, so you should focus on your form.  
  • Swinging the dumbbells. Like with the above point, if the dumbbells that you are using are too heavy, this will likely result in you swinging them throughout the movement. You should ensure that you are not using momentum to complete repetitions, and instead pick a weight that allows you to perform the exercise correctly. 
  • Moving the elbows. If your elbows tend to float out to your sides during the exercise, you should pay particular attention to quashing this habit. You should keep your elbows locked in at your sides in a stable position at all times to maintain focus on the biceps, and to avoid injury. 

Benefits of this Exercise:

  • The hammer version of the incline curl hits the long head of the bicep, thanks to the change in grip. It is therefore one of the best bicep building exercises for men who are looking to change up their workout routine and avoid hitting a plateau in their training. 
  • Wrist stability is another added benefit that this exercise brings to the table. The muscles surrounding the wrist are improved due to the fact that the wrist remains in a neutral position whilst executing this exercise, and this in turn is good for improving overall grip strength. 

#18 - Incline Inner Bicep Curl 

Set Up: You will require an incline bench and a set of dumbbells that you’re comfortable working with for this exercise. 

Starting Position:  

free weight bicep exercises

  • Sit with your back against the bench, and have your feet positioned at around shoulder-width apart. 
  • Grip the dumbbells with an underhand grip, and lift them carefully so that they are suspended at your sides. 
  • Your arms should be at around a 45-degree angle in relation to your torso for this exercise, since it targets the inner biceps. 

Execution: 

good bicep exercises

  • Ensure that your core is tight, your chest is up, your back is straight, and your head is in line with your neck. Inhale.
  • Curl the dumbbells upwards, exhaling as you do so, and paying particular attention to the position of your elbows. They should remain in a fixed position. 
  • Pause when your elbows are at a 90-degree angle, and hold your position for two seconds. Inhale. 
  • Exhale as you move the dumbbells back into the starting position. 
  • Repeat! 

Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Biceps brachii. 

Secondary Muscles: Brachialis, brachioradialis. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid:

  • Arching the lower back. You should ensure that your back is straight, and that your chest and shoulders are upright throughout this exercise. Your head should also be in line with your spine. If you do arch your lower back, you will leave yourself open to lower back pain, or worse; an injury to the area. 
  • Incorrect elbow positioning. Your elbows should be positioned to sit at a 45-degree angle in relation to your body, and they should remain in a fixed position throughout the exercise. If you have them at any other angle, you may encounter issues such as shifting the focus from your biceps onto your shoulders. 
  • Rushing through reps. Being one of the more advanced bicep exercises, it can be a struggle to make it through all of your repetitions with perfect form whilst using your usual set of dumbbells. If you find yourself rushing through repetitions, or struggling with them in any way, you should switch to a lighter weight. 

Benefits of this Exercise:

  • During the concentric phase of this exercise, the biceps are trained more intensely than they are during most other mass building bicep exercises, thanks to the fact that the exercise is seated, and performed at an incline. This is due the the increased range of motion that the muscles are worked across, and the increase in ground reaction force that they must battle with as they lift the dumbbells. It is one of the most effective seated bicep exercises. 
  • Since the exercise is performed with the elbows positioned at a 45-degree angle in relation to your body, rather than with them tucked in close to your sides, the inner bicep (also known as the biceps brachii) is targeted. This makes the exercise one of the best bicep exercises for bodybuilding, since it allows those looking for alternate ways of training their biceps to avoid a plateau. 

#19 - Dumbbell Prone Incline Curl 

Set Up: You will need an incline bench, as well as a set of dumbbells of an appropriate weight to complete this exercise. 

Starting Position:

best bicep exercises for mass

  • Set the incline bench so that it is at around a 45-degree incline. 
  • Lie face down on the bench and rest your weight on your toes. Position your feet to be just over shoulder-width apart. 
  • Hold the dumbbells with an underhand grip, your arms extended and the bells in line with your shoulders. 
  • Ensure that your back is straight, and that your head is in line with your spine. 

Execution: 

bicep weight exercises image

  • Engage your core, and inhale. 
  • Curl the dumbbells upwards until your arms are at a 90-degree angle. Exhale as you do so, and squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement. 
  • Pause and hold your position for at least two seconds before you continue. Inhale. 
  • Bring the barbell back down into the starting position, exhaling as you do so and keeping a slight bend in your arms at the bottom of the movement. 
  • Repeat for your desired amount of reps! 

Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Biceps. 

Secondary Muscles: Brachialis, brachioradialis. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid:

  • Not keeping the back straight. Many of those who have never attempted this exercise before (one of the more difficult barbell bicep exercises) fail to maintain good form, the main issue being forgetting to keep their back straight. We would recommend performing this exercise in front of a mirror to ensure that your back is straight at all times, and that your head remains in line with your spine. 
  • Flaring the elbows. Your elbows should remain tucked in close to your sides during this exercise, as well as all other bicep exercises with free weights, and should not flare outwards. You may find it helpful to imagine that they are connected by an invisible axis as you curl the weights, as making this mistake during bodybuilding bicep exercises is dangerous. 

Benefits of this Exercise:

  • Since this exercise is performed at an incline in a forward-facing position, the biceps are worked across a larger range of motion than they would be during standing versions of this exercise. It is therefore a useful variation and one of the good bicep exercises for those looking to build their muscular strength and hypertrophy, especially if they have hit a plateau in their training and are looking for a greater challenge. 
  • Another strength that this exercise offers over others is the fact that it creates an increased ground reaction force for the biceps to work against, increasing the challenge further. This means that it is one of the best bicep exercises for size. 

Advanced Bicep Exercises

The advanced bicep muscle exercises on our list are understandably some of the best bicep growth exercises out there, especially since they are particularly challenging in comparison to those that are previously listed. 

You should only attempt these once you are proficient in performing all of the aforementioned exercises. 

#20 - Concentration Curl 

Set Up: You will need a gym bench set to a flat position, and a set of dumbbells that are an appropriate weight. This is one of the top bicep exercises for men who wish to isolate the triceps, so pay particular attention to form. 

Starting Position: 

best bicep exercise image

  • Sit on the gym bench, and grip the dumbbell with your working hand in an underhand grip. 
  • Your feet should be flat to the floor, and positioned in a wide stance with your toes pointing slightly outwards 
  • Have the upper arm area of your working arm resting on the inner part of your opposite thigh as you hold the dumbbell, your arm fully extended but with a slight bend in your elbow. 
  • Ensure that your back is straight, and that your head is in line with your spine. 

Execution: 

best bicep exercises image

  • Tighten your core, and inhale before beginning the exercise. 
  • While squeezing the bicep of your working arm, curl the dumbbell upwards towards your chest. Take extra care to keep your elbow in a fixed position, and exhale as you complete this movement. 
  • Pause when your elbow reaches a 90-degree angle, and maintain your position for at least two seconds. Inhale. 
  • Carefully move the dumbbell back into the starting position by reversing the movement that you just completed, and exhale as you do so. 
  • Repeat for your desired amount of repetitions.

Primary Movers: Biceps.

Secondary Muscles: Brachialis, brachioradialis, deltoids. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid: 

  • Using momentum. Using this to get you through the exercise will only hinder your progress. It is also a sure sign that the weight that you are working with is too heavy. If you find yourself using momentum, you should switch to a lighter weight to maximise the benefits of the exercise and avoid unnecessary injury.  If you are looking to get the most from our list of great bicep exercises, you do not want to make this mistake.
  • Rushing through reps. Rushing will also hinder your progress; rushing through the reps by lowering the bell too quickly during the eccentric phase will not allow you to develop your upper body strength. You should ensure that you use a controlled tempo throughout the exercise for the best results. 
  • Moving your elbows. You should keep your elbow anchored to your inner thigh for the duration of this exercise to really place the emphasis on the bicep. If you have any issues doing so, it is likely that the weight that you are using is too heavy.  

Benefits of a Concentration Curl:

  • Living up to its name, this exercise isolates the biceps by removing body momentum from the equation, since it is performed in a seated position. This places added stress on the muscles, and forces them to work harder during both the concentric and eccentric phases as the upper and lower body stabilizing muscles are not able to aid them in working against the resistance. 
  • Another of the main benefits is that despite being one of the more advanced bicep exercises, concentration curls are relatively easy to execute once you master the correct form and require minimal gym equipment; they can even be performed at home. Check out our full guide to the concentration curl here to find out more. 

#21 - Preacher Hammer Dumbbell Curl 

Set Up: For this exercise, you will require a dumbbell of an appropriate weight alongside a preacher bench. 

Starting Position:

bicep weight exercises

  • Sit with your back straight, your neck in line with your spine, and your feet positioned at a wide stance for this exercise. 
  • Grip the dumbbell in a neutral grip, and rest the bicep of your upper arm against the pad on the preacher bench. 
  • Your arm should be extended with a slight bend at the elbow.

Execution:

bicep exercises for men

  • Ensure that your core is tight, and that your back is straight before beginning. Inhale. 
  • Bending at the elbow, exhale as you curl the dumbbell upwards. 
  • You should maintain a neutral grip throughout the exercise, and ensure that you squeeze your bicep. 
  • Once your elbow reaches a 90-degree angle, pause for two seconds. Inhale before you continue. 
  • Bring the dumbbell back down into the starting position, exhaling as you do so and keeping a slight bend in your arm at the bottom of the movement. 
  • Repeat!

Muscles Worked: 

Primary Movers: Biceps brachii

Secondary Muscles: Brachialis, brachioradialis. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid:

  • Using a fast tempo. This exercise should be performed at a slow and controlled tempo only, as this is the only way to contract and overload the muscle effectively. If you use momentum rather than squeezing your biceps at the top of the movement, you will remove most of the strain from the muscles and place it elsewhere. 
  • Lifting too heavy. You should begin with a lighter weight if you are not used to completing this exercise, as lifting heavy can add extra pressure to the biceps tendon and the shoulder joint, and this is something that you do not want to do. It can cause unnecessary injury, that is easily avoided by performing the exercise correctly. 

Benefits of this Exercise:

  • Since this exercise is performed using one arm at a time, the user is able to focus all of their attention on working each bicep to exhaustion. It is arguable one of the best bicep isolation exercises for this reason. 
  • The hammer version of this exercise uses a neutral grip, which is arguably a more natural grip and therefore allows the user to lift heavier weights once they become accustomed to the movement. It also means that the long head of the biceps, the biceps brachii, is targeted further than it is during regular bicep curls. It is one of the most effective bicep strength exercises since the muscle cannot rely on momentum. 

#22 - Two Arm Dumbbell Preacher Curls 

Set Up: For this exercise, one of the best bicep exercises for mass, you will need a set of dumbbells of an appropriate weight as well as a preacher bench. 

Starting Position:

best bicep exercises for men

  • Sit with your back straight, and your biceps resting against the preacher bench. 
  • Have your feet positioned at around shoulder-width apart. 
  • Hold the dumbbells in an underhand grip with your arms extended (wrists in the supinated position).
  • Ensure that your neck is in line with your spine, and that there is a slight bend in your arms before you begin the exercise. 

Execution:

best bicep exercise image

  • Ensure that your core is engaged, and that your biceps are firmly planted on the preacher bench before you begin. Inhale. 
  • Bending at the elbows, curl both of the weights upwards until your elbows reach a 90-degree angle. Exhale as you do this, and ensure that you use a slow and controlled tempo. 
  • Inhale, and hold this position for at least two seconds before you continue. 
  • Exhale as you lower the weights back down into the starting position, keeping a slight bend in your elbows at the bottom of the movement. 
  • Repeat! 

Muscles Worked During this Exercise: 

Primary Movers: Biceps brachii. 

Secondary Muscles: Brachialis, brachioradialis. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid:

  • Incorrect arm placement. You must ensure that the back of your upper arm is securely planted on the support pad of the preacher bench, and that your elbows are in line with your shoulders. If they are placed too close together or too far apart, you could encounter issues like strained muscles or unnecessary injury. 
  • Arching the lower back. You may find it useful to perform this exercise in front of a mirror, so that you can examine the positioning of your back throughout the movement and correct your form should you fail to maintain it. If you do arch the lower back, you could leave yourself susceptible to injury. 
  • Lifting too heavy. This is certainly something that you should avoid during any form of preacher curl; you should always start out with a light weight at first until you have mastered the exercise. 

Benefits of this Exercise:

  • The use of two dumbbells during this exercise as opposed to a barbell means that the biceps must work harder to stabilise the weights throughout both the concentric and eccentric phases. This means that they are essentially working harder, and will see more progress in the long run, unless you are able to use more overload with a barbell. If you are looking for different types of bicep exercises, this one is pretty unique and will truly ramp up your training. 
  • The fact that this exercise is performed over a preacher bench and from a seated position rather than whilst standing means that the biceps must also work harder to stabilise the weights since no lower body stabilising muscles are employed to aid them. This means that the biceps are isolated further, making this one of the best free weight bicep exercises to perform. 

#23 - Zottman Preacher Curl 

Starting Position:

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  • Sit on the preacher bench with your back straight, and your biceps firmly planted against the support pad. 
  • Ensure that your feet are positioned at around shoulder-width apart. 
  • Hold the dumbbells with an underhand grip, your arms extended (your wrists in the supinated position). 
  • Ensure that your neck is in line with your spine, and that there is a slight bend in your elbows before you begin the exercise. 

Execution:

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  • Tighten your core, and double check that your biceps are in a secure position against the support pad. Inhale. 
  • Exhale as you curl both of the weights upwards until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. 
  • Inhale, and pause for two seconds.
  • Rotate your wrists so that they are in the pronated position, and exhale as you bring them back down into the starting position. 
  • Rotate your wrists back into the supinated position ready for your next repetition, and repeat! 

Muscles Worked During this Exercise: 

Primary Movers: Biceps brachii. 

Secondary Muscles: Brachialis, brachioradialis. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid:

  • Using momentum. This is one of the most common mistakes with this exercise, since it is more complex than other movements due to the shifting wrist position. If momentum is used though, it is a sign that the weight that the user is lifting with is too heavy. If you do struggle to complete repetitions without momentum, you should consider switching to a lower weight. It is one of the best bicep growth exercises when performed correctly, so you do not want to be making this mistake. 
  • Rounding the back. Another of the most common mistakes amongst the weightlifters that attempt this exercise is rounding the back. Doing so can inevitably lead to injury, whether it is instant or sustained over a long period of time. To avoid this, we would recommend performing the exercise in front of a mirror so that you are able to monitor and correct your form accordingly. 

Benefits of this Exercise:

  • One of the most advanced bicep exercises out there, the zottman preacher curl is a favourite with bodybuilders and regular weight lifters who are looking to increase their muscular strength as well as hypertrophy. It is therefore one of the top bicep exercises for bodybuilding. The biceps are placed under immense pressure during both the concentric and eccentric phases due to the change in wrist position, and are therefore easily worked to their maximum capacity during this exercise. 
  • This exercise is arguably more effective than the barbell preacher curl, since it requires the biceps to work harder across the range of motion that they travel across; they must work to stabilise the dumbbells as there are two of them. It is also impossible to complete the zottman curl with a barbell, which is another advantage and makes this one of the more different bicep exercises to try out if you have not done so already.

Reps, Sets & Rest Gaps 

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Armed with the 23 top bicep exercises, you are now ready to select your favourites from the list and incorporate them into a killer bicep workout that will allow you to achieve all of your goals for this muscle group. 

As you do so, you will need to decide on how many repetitions and sets that you will perform. This is incredibly important to get right, as it will determine the outcome of your training. 

Repetitions and sets are one of the most important aspects of training the biceps, alongside how well you perform the exercises themselves and what your diet looks like. If you are looking for some help with this area too, check out OriGym’s personal trainer meal plan example to find out more!

Here are the different sets and repetition amounts for each of the different main training programmes when it comes to biceps. 

REPS 

  • If you are training for strength, you should perform 1-5 repetitions
  • If you are training for muscular hypertrophy, you should perform 6-12 repetitions
  • If you are training for muscular endurance, you should perform 12+ repetitions. 

Sets & Rest Gaps 

  • If you are training for strength, you should perform 2 sets of each exercise with around 90-180 seconds of rest between sets. 
  • If you are training for hypertrophy, you should perform 3 sets of each exercise with around 60-90 seconds of rest between sets.
  • If you are training for muscular endurance, you should perform 5 sets of each exercise with around 30-45 seconds of rest between sets.

Aside from repetitions and sets, rest gaps are an important factor to consider when putting together any strength training programme, as they can affect the overall performance and outcome for the individual completing it. 

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To support our point, here is a quote from Belmiro Freitas de Salles (PhD) et al in their study, 'Rest Interval Between Sets in Strength Training':

In summary, the rest interval between sets is an important variable that should receive more attention in resistance exercise prescription. When prescribed appropriately with other important prescriptive variables (i.e. volume and intensity), the amount of rest between sets can influence the efficiency, safety and ultimate effectiveness of a strength training programme.

It’s clear that rest gaps should not be overlooked by any individual hoping to achieve optimum results from their training plan. 

While there is room for some variation from the suggested rest gaps that we have included above, adhering to these guidelines will ensure that your programme does not suffer due to insufficient rest gaps. 

If you stick to intervals that are mostly in line with those suggested above, you should be able to plan your workout effectively and reach your goals much faster than you would do through training any other way. 

Conclusion 

Now that you’ve reached the end of our guide to the best bicep exercises out there, you should have everything that you need to construct an effective bicep workout that allows you to achieve all of the goals that you have set for yourself. 

You have all of the information that you need, even the set and repetition guidelines that you should be adhering to when completing your personal training programme. 

Ever felt like a career change that reflects your passion for fitness? If so, be sure to check out our Personal Training Diploma here, or download our latest prospectus to find out more. 

References

  1. de Salles, B.F., Simao, R., Miranda, F., da Silva Novaes, J., Lemos, A. and Willardson, J.M., 2009. Rest interval between sets in strength training. Sports medicine, 39(9), pp.765-777.

 

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Written by Chloe Twist

Fitness Professional & Blogger

Chloe is a nerd turned fitness addict with a passion for blogging, gaming, and playing guitar. She can be found in her room either swinging kettlebells or binging on Netflix.

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