The Best Bicep Exercises for Mass

Big biceps are often one of the reasons people get into bodybuilding or weight training in general. Only ‘6 pack abs’ receive more coverage in the various men’s health and fitness magazines, so it’s no wonder it tends to be what newcomers are looking to achieve.

Isolated arm training can be extremely beneficial when it comes to mastering the big compound lifts. Building strong triceps can really help with lifts like the bench press and overhead press, while strong forearms and biceps can help with the pulling movements like rows or pull ups.

In this article we’ll briefly cover the basic anatomy of the biceps, before providing a list of the best bicep exercises for mass.

The Best Bicep Exercises for Mass 1

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Basic Bicep Anatomy

Understanding how a particular muscle or group of muscles work can help you to understand the benefits of training it regularly. When you understand the function, you’ll also understand how to train the area most effectively and get maximal returns on our workouts.

There are 3 main muscles in the biceps – the Biceps Brachili, Coracobrachialis and the Brachialis. The Biceps Brachili makes up about a third of the muscle mass of the upper arm, and runs along the length of the humerus. It’s also linked to the forearm bone. The Coracobrachialis is the smallest of the three, and works to draw your arms forward and towards the torso. The Brachialis crosses the elbow joint, and starts in the lower section of the humerus. It’s the strongest flexor in the elbow, but cannot participate in the supination and pronation of the forearm.

Developing the entire bicep muscle group will help you develop size and strength in the area.

The List of Mass Building Bicep Exercises

We’ve covered this before in our mass building articles on training your back, chest, shoulders and triceps, but it’s worth reiterating here.

Firstly, make sure you’re eating enough calories and protein as you won’t grow without them. Aim for a slight increase over your maintenance calorie intake (use an app like My Fitness Pal to track this) and try to get roughly 1g of protein per 1lb of body weight. If you’re not sure what your lean body mass is, a good way to ballpark your protein intake is to take your scale weight in pounds and multiply it by 0.8.

Make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep too, as missing out on quality sleep can really mess with your progress. I’ll recommend ‘Sleep Smarter’ for about the 100th time, as it’s the best guide to getting a good night’s sleep I’ve found.

Finally, don’t try to do every exercise on the list. Pick a few based on the equipment you have available and your experience level and aim for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps. Try to perform each  movement in a slow and controlled fashion, focusing on good form instead of big weights. The weight will come with regular training, just try to get the movement right and you’ll be fine.

Beginners

Biceps Curl with Dumbbell

Biceps Curl with Dumbbell 1Biceps Curl with Dumbbell 2

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, your back straight and your core tight
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing upwards
  3. Lower your arms down by your sides, fully extended
  4. Keeping the elbows locked and your upper arms straight, curl the weight up towards your shoulder until your forearm touches your bicep
  5. Lower the weight slowly back down to the starting position

Seated Bicep Curl with Dumbbell

Seated Bicep Curl with Dumbbell 1Seated Bicep Curl with Dumbbell 2

  1. Start on a bench with your feet planted on the floor and your back straight
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing each other
  3. Lower the weight to your sides, and curl the weight slowly until your palms are facing each other
  4. Squeeze the biceps slightly at the top of the movement before lowering the weight to the starting position

Alternating Bicep Curl with Dumbbell

Alternating Bicep Curl with Dumbbell 1Alternating Bicep Curl with Dumbbell 2

  1. Stand with your knees slightly bent, your core tight and your back straight
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing upwards
  3. Lower your arms down to the sides of your body
  4. Curl the weight upwards towards your shoulder, keeping the elbow and upper arms still, until your forearm touches your bicep
  5. Lower the weight in a controlled manner to the starting position

Bicep Curls with Barbell

Bicep Curls with Barbell 1Bicep Curls with Barbell 2

  1. Set up with your feet shoulder width apart, your core tight and your knees slightly bent
  2. Grab the barbell with your palms facing upwards, roughly shoulder width apart
  3. Start with the bar around your thighs with the arms hanging down fully
  4. Using only your elbow, curl the weight up towards your upper chest
  5. Pause briefly at the top of the movement before lowering the weight to the starting position

Try not to involve your hips or back in the movement. If you’re struggling to curl the bar then move to a lower weight. This movement can also be performed with an EZ bar or dumbbells if there is no barbell available.

Bicep Hammer Curl with Dumbbell

Bicep Hammer Curl with Dumbbell 1Bicep Hammer Curl with Dumbbell 2

  1. Set up with your feet shoulder width apart, a slight bend in the knees and a tight core
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing each other
  3. Extend the arms fully at the side of your body
  4. Keeping your elbows locked and your upper arms beside your body, curl the weight towards your shoulders
  5. Lower the weight in a controlled manner to the starting position

Two-Arm Preacher Curl with Dumbbell

Two-Arm Preacher Curl with Dumbbell 1Two-Arm Preacher Curl with Dumbbell 2

  1. Adjust the sat so that your arms are level with the top of the bench
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing up
  3. Rest your arms on the bench and extend them fully toward the floor
  4. Curl the weight towards your head, keeping your arms against the bench throughout
  5. Pause briefly at the top of the movement before lowering the weight to the starting position

This movement can also be performed with the barbell or cable machine, and it can also be performed one arm at a time

Close Grip EZ Bar Curl with Barbell

Close Grip EZ Bar Curl with Barbell 1Close Grip EZ Bar Curl with Barbell 2

  1. Set up with your feet shoulder with apart, a slight bend in your knees and a tight core
  2. Grab the EZ bar with a narrow grip on the innermost part of the bar
  3. Lower your arms fully until they’re against your thighs
  4. Curl the bar towards your chest, keeping your upper arms straight
  5. Pause briefly at the top of the movement before lowering the weight in a controlled manner

Close Grip Standing Bicep Curls with Barbell

Close Grip Standing Bicep Curls with Barbell 1Close Grip Standing Bicep Curls with Barbell 2

  1. Set up with a tight core and a slight bend in the knees, feet shoulder width apart
  2. Hold the barbell with your hands roughly 12 inches apart and your palms facing upwards
  3. Lower your arms until they are against your thighs
  4. Curl the bar up towards your chest, keeping the upper arms straight and the torso still
  5. Pause briefly at the top of the movement before returning to the starting position

Concentration Curls with Dumbbell

Concentration Curls with Dumbbell 1Concentration Curls with Dumbbell 2

  1. Set up on a flat bench with your legs spread apart and your feet flat on the floor
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing upwards
  3. Press your elbow against your inner thigh and curl the dumbbell up towards your chest
  4. Return the weight the starting position in a controlled manner
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps before switching arms

Intermediate

Reverse Biceps Curl with Dumbells

Reverse Biceps Curl with Dumbells 1Reverse Biceps Curl with Dumbells 2

  1. Set up with your feet around shoulder width apart, your core tight and a slight bend in the knees
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing downwards
  3. Keeping your upper arms next to your body and your elbows steady, curl the weight up towards your shoulders
  4. Pause briefly at the top of the movement before lowering the weight to the starting position

Seated Close Grip Concentration Curls with Barbell

Seated Close Grip Concentration Curls with Barbell 1Seated Close Grip Concentration Curls with Barbell 2

  1. Set up on the end of a flat bench with your feet flat on the floor and  your legs spread apart
  2. Bend over at the waist while keeping the back straight
  3. Hols a barbell with a close grip, hands roughly 6 inches apart, with the palms facing up
  4. Press your elbows against your inner thighs and curl the bar up towards your chest
  5. Lower the bar in a controlled manner until it almost touches the floor

Seated Inner Biceps Curl with Dumbbell

Seated Inner Biceps Curl with Dumbbell 1Seated Inner Biceps Curl with Dumbbell 2

  1. Set up on the edge of a bench with both feet firmly on the floor
  2. Your back should remain straight and your core should be tight
  3. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing each other and your arms by your sides
  4. Curls the weight up towards your shoulders, turning the palms upwards as you move
  5. Lower the weight to the starting position in a controlled manner

Reverse Plate Curls with Weight

Reverse Plate Curls with Weight 1Reverse Plate Curls with Weight 2

  1. Set up with your feet roughly shoulder width apart, your core tight and a slight bend in the knees
  2. Pick up a plate with our palms facing down and your hands at the 11 and 1 o’clock positions
  3. Curl the plate upwards toward your head, keeping your elbow and arms by your side
  4. Return to the staring position in a controlled manner

Hammer Curls with Rope and Cable

Hammer Curls with Rope and Cable 1Hammer Curls with Rope and Cable 2

  1. Set up the weight stack with a pulley at the bottom
  2. You should stand up straight with a tight core and your knees slightly bent
  3. Grab the rope with your palms facing upwards
  4. Lower your arms fully until they’re just above your thighs
  5. Curl your arm at the elbow to pull the rope to your chest
  6. Pause briefly at the top of the movement before lowering the weight to the starting position

Wide Grip Standing Biceps Curl with Barbell

Wide Grip Standing Biceps Curl with Barbell 1Wide Grip Standing Biceps Curl with Barbell 2

  1. Begin with your feet shoulder width apart,  your core tight and a  slight bend in your knees
  2. Hold the barbell with as wide a grip as you can manage, palms facing up
  3. Lower your arms fully until they’re against your thighs
  4. Keeping the upper arms straight, curl the bar upwards until your forearms touch your chest
  5. Pause briefly at the top of the movement before returning to the starting position

Cross Body Hammer Curl with Dumbbell

Cross Body Hammer Curl with Dumbbell 1Cross Body Hammer Curl with Dumbbell 2

  1. Stand with a dumbbell in each hand and your palms facing inwards
  2. Your back should be straight, your knees slightly bend and your core tight
  3. Keeping the palms facing inward, curl the dumbbell up towards your opposite shoulder (without twisting your arms)
  4. Raise the dumbbell until it touches the top of the shoulder
  5. Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position

Preacher Hammer Curl with Dumbbell

Preacher Hammer Curl with Dumbbell 1Preacher Hammer Curl with Dumbbell 2

  1. The bench seat should be adjusted until your arms are level with the top of the bench
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing each other
  3. Extend your arms fully along the bench at shoulder width apart
  4. Slowly curl the dumbbells up towards your head, keeping the elbow and upper arm against the bench at all times
  5. Pause briefly at the top of the movement before lowering the weight to the starting position

Drag Curl with Barbell

Drag Curl with Barbell 1Drag Curl with Barbell 2

  1. Stand with your feet around shoulder width apart, your core tight and your knees slightly bent
  2. Hold the barbell at around shoulder width and with your palms facing downwards
  3. Lower your arms until they are against your thighs
  4. Slowly curl the weight up to your chest, keeping the palms downwards and the upper arm and elbows still
  5. Lower the weight to the starting position in a controlled manner

 

Advanced

Prone Incline Biceps Curl with Dumbbell

Prone Incline Biceps Curl with Dumbbell 1Prone Incline Biceps Curl with Dumbbell 2

  1. Set up on a bench at a 45 degree angle
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and lean face down against the bench, using your feet for support
  3. Hang your arms down by your sides
  4. Contract your biceps to raise the dumbbells towards your head, keeping the elbows straight
  5. Lower the weight in a controlled manner to the starting position

Standing One Arm Curl Over Incline Bench with Dumbbell

Standing One Arm Curl Over Incline Bench with Dumbbell 1Standing One Arm Curl Over Incline Bench with Dumbbell 2

  1. Set up an include bench and rest your arm on the angled portion
  2. Hold a dumbbell in your hand with your palm facing up
  3. Rest your arm against the back bench and extend it downward
  4. Curl the weight up towards your head, keeping your arm against the bench at all times
  5. Pause briefly at the top of the movement before lowering the weight slowly to the starting position

 

Lying Bicep Cable Curl

Lying Bicep Cable Curl 1Lying Bicep Cable Curl 2

  1. Set the cable pulley to the lowest setting
  2. Lie down on the floor with your feet touching the weight stack
  3. Hold the bar with both palms facing upwards
  4. With your arms extended fully and your elbows by your sides, pull the bar in an arc towards your chest
  5. Pause briefly at the top of the movement to contract your biceps
  6. Return the weight to the starting position in a controlled manner

Lying High Bench Biceps Curl with Barbell

Lying High Bench Biceps Curl with Barbell 1Lying High Bench Biceps Curl with Barbell 2

  1. Set up face-down on a high bench with your head at one end and your toes pressed against the floor for support
  2. Hold the barbell with your palms facing upwards, approximately 12 inches apart
  3. Lower your arms to the floor, before curling the weight up  towards your head in an arc
  4. Pause briefly as the biceps touch the forearm before lowering the weight to the starting position

Zottman Curl with Dumbbells

Zottman Curl with Dumbbells  1Zottman Curl with Dumbbells  2

  1. Set up with your feet shoulder with apart, your core tight and a slight bend in the knees
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing inwards
  3. Begin with the hands down by your sides
  4. Curl the weight up towards your chest, rotating the wrist so the palms downwards at the top of the movement
  5. Pause briefly at the top of the movement before returning to the starting position

 Stork Stance Bicep Curl with Dumbbells

Stork Stance Bicep Curl with Dumbbells 1Stork Stance Bicep Curl with Dumbbells 2

  1. Hold your dumbbells in each hand with your palms facing upwards
  2. With your weight on one leg, extend your other leg backwards and reach your arms down in front of you
  3. Balancing on your standing foot, curl the weight up towards your chest
  4. Lower the weight to the starting position and switch standing legs

Lying Supine Biceps Curl with Dumbbell

Lying Supine Biceps Curl with Dumbbell 1Lying Supine Biceps Curl with Dumbbell 2

  1. Set up on a flat bench with your head at one end and your feet planted on the floor
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing inwards and hang your arms off the bench
  3. Raise your arms up until they are level with your chest
  4. Curl the weight by twisting your palms until the forearms are touching the biceps
  5. Return the weight to the starting position in a controlled manner

 Zottman Preacher Curl with Dumbbells

Zottman Preacher Curl with Dumbbells 1Zottman Preacher Curl with Dumbbells 2

  1. Set up on a preacher curl bench
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with the palms facing up
  3. Both arms should be fully extended across the bench
  4. Curl the weight up towards your chest, turning your wrist so the palms face downwards when you reach your chest
  5. Pause briefly at the top of the movement before returning to the starting position

Overhead Curl with Cable

Overhead Curl with Cable 1Overhead Curl with Cable 2

  1. Set up the high pulley machine with a stirrup cable on each side
  2. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, hold the handles with your palms facing upwards
  3. Your arms should be fully extended at either side of you
  4. Slowly curl your wrists up towards the side of your head, while keeping your elbows steady
  5. Pause at the top of the movement briefly
  6. Slowly lower the weight to the starting position

Sources

http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/picture-of-the-biceps

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biceps

Images via http://db.everkinetic.com/

The Best Bicep Exercises for Mass 2


The Best Bicep Exercises for Mass

In this article we’ll briefly cover the basic anatomy of the biceps, before providing a list of the best bicep exercises for mass.

The Best Bicep Exercises for Mass 3



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