We all want bigger biceps. Well, most of us do. They look great in a fitted white t-shirt, look even better out of them, and help compliment a well-defined torso. Yes, some people will say exercising your biceps in isolation is stupid. We understand, but some days we just long for the pump. And you know what? There’s no shame in that.
So rather than beat around the bush, let’s get straight to it. If you want to build bigger biceps, these exercises will help get you there. Perform them properly, and it won’t just be your biceps that start to bulge, your overall health will see an improvement, too.
A recent UCLA study found that male heart patients with the most arm and leg muscle and the least belly fat were 68 percent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease over seven years than thin guys with smaller arms and less muscle. Published in the American Journal of Cardiology, the researchers concluded that muscles promote better insulin function, which might play a role in slowing the development of heart trouble.
So there you have it: bulging biceps can actually improve your health. So tell that to the next person who smirks at you when they see you on your third set of curls.
Below you’ll find the best exercises to build bigger biceps. But before we get onto that, it’s a good idea to understand just what the biceps are and the muscles that make up that part of the arm. After all, knowledge is power.
There’s probably zero chance that you don’t want bigger biceps. Having defined arms is satisfying especially when you can finally fill out a nice shirt. Not to mention, biceps are one of the first features that people notice.
“At the end of the day, biceps not only look good but also help flex your elbows so you can perform everyday tasks”.
The biggest frustration that most people have is that the biceps muscles take a lot of time and knowledge to get them to grow. Why? The bicep muscles are small. That’s why you may not see as much progress quickly as other muscle groups.
Today, our focus is to help you “speed up” this process by sharing the best exercises that may work better than others. Here is our recommendation of the six best bicep exercises for mass.
What are biceps, really?
Although it may seem like an odd question to answer, there are several components to the bicep muscle group that is important to know. This will help you target each muscle group when you’re exercising.
The biceps brachii is a Latin term which quite literally means two-headed muscle of the arm. The arm muscle anatomy of the biceps is sectioned off by the short head and long head groups.
The short head group runs alongside the long head on the inside of your arm. While the long head sits atop the short head and passes through the shoulder joint and connects the upper arm.
How to get bigger biceps
So what’s the secret to getting bigger arms? There isn’t really a secret, but the best answer is to work both the short and long groups.
You may have heard the term “attack it from all angles” when working a muscle. This couldn’t be more appropriate for the biceps muscles because to see the growth you have to work all areas of the bicep.
“The aspects of growing bigger biceps revolve around form and consistency”.
Focus on stretching and getting the blood vessels flowing. By warming up your biceps, you’re delivering more blood flow to the area which provides oxygen and nutrients while you’re working out.
Give your biceps variety. Your muscles adapt, so if you work your biceps weekly, rotate the exercises every five to six workouts.
When performing any lifting exercises, controlled breathing is key. Breathing exercises can help, but ultimately engaging your diaphragm (referred to as bracing) allows you to perform at your best. Practice this when you’re doing biceps exercises and you’ll start seeing consistent results.
It’s a no-brainer, but an important part of growing your muscles. By resting 30 to 60 seconds between sets you’re giving your muscles a chance to perform at their full capacity.
“If you don’t have the time, then train a different muscle group (like triceps) to allow your biceps a chance to recover”.
Standing Dumbbell Curl
A classic bicep exercise that has truly earned its worth is the standing dumbbell curl. Yes, it’s probably the most common bicep exercise you’ll see being performed but there is a good reason for it. The dumbbell bicep curl does a great job at targeting your biceps.
Remember to have your feet firmly planted on the floor so as to control your dumbbells properly.
Swinging your arms without proper form won’t do much, so remember to take it slow and controlled while you curl up and fully extend out.
For better control and isolation, you can also try using an arm blaster during this exercise. Focus on squeezing your biceps as you lift and for added tension take a brief pause at the contraction (top).
Standing Hammer Curl
Similar to the dumbbell curl, the hammer curl is an incredible way to attack both bicep muscle groups. The only major difference between a dumbbell curl and a hammer curl is the way you position your hand/grip on the dumbbell.
“Flip the dumbbell vertically (facing up) and curl it up and towards your shoulders”.
Hammer curls allow you to utilize the brachialis muscle which is responsible for making your arm look thicker. Remember to keep your elbows bent as you curl the dumbbells as close to your shoulder as possible.
This powerful exercise combines the motion from the dumbbell and hammer curl into one … well just about. The Zottman curl targets all major muscle groups that make up the biceps and can be pretty exhausting to do. You’ll target the biceps muscles by rotating from an underhand grip halfway up the curl.
To effectively do this exercise, start as if you’re about to do a normal bicep curl, but then rotate your hands 180 degrees on the negative portion of the rep.
“Remember to keep your elbows bent but don’t move your upper arms.Take a small pause at the top as you rotate the dumbbells and slowly return to the starting position”.
EZ Bar Preacher Curl
You could perform this exercise in a variety of ways such as standing or seated, but for the biggest advantage in growing your biceps muscles, try it on the preacher bench.
The advantage of using an EZ Bar on the preacher bench is that it allows you to get a longer range of motion, which creates the muscular tension needed to grow the biceps.
If you want more muscle growth and development, you can add occlusion straps to your routine which help increase muscle hypertrophy.
Once you’re seated on the preacher bench, rest your triceps on the padded portion. Extend your arms with your chest up and shoulders back. Grab the EZ Bar with your hands grasping the inner angle of the bar and curl up slowly as you pause at the top.
“Finally, retract the weight to starting position with control as you ready to repeat the curling motion”.
Probably the simplest exercise in terms of equipment is the chin-up. The only piece of equipment you need is a pull-up bar and your body weight.
The best way to perform chin-ups is to hang from the pull-up bar with your hands shoulder-width apart, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and pull up with your biceps until your chin meets the bar.
You will notice that your back will also activate during this exercise. If you engaged your shoulders at any point during this exercise then you aren’t targeting your biceps correctly.
“The biggest benefit of doing chin-ups is that they allow you to use your entire body weight, which can take its toll on your biceps muscles”.
The concentration curl really makes you notice your biceps doing work. Just like the name implies, you’ll really want to concentrate on curling your bicep from a full extension into a contraction.
Unlike the previous bicep exercises highlighted above, you’ll be working one arm at a time.
“Start by sitting down on a bench, resting your elbow on the inside of your thigh, and really focusing on using the dumbbell as you extend and curl your biceps. Take a short pause and really flex your biceps muscle as hard as possible”.
Concentration curls allow you to have a better connection with your muscles because you’re working one arm at a time. You’re also improving your strength if you have one side that’s weaker than the other.
Training your Biceps
You just got some great exercise options to spark the growth of your biceps muscles. Most people combine their biceps and triceps exercises and train them weekly. Strive to do 8 to 12 sets per week, whether it’s in one sitting or split between two different days.
“It’s also a good idea to train your biceps and triceps together and to do so after your back day”.
As mentioned before, you may recruit some of your bicep muscles during your pulling movements during the back day, so it’s best to wait a day or two between training your back and biceps.
Now that you’re familiar with which bicep workouts are best for gaining mass, you’ll be well on your way to developing stronger and more defined arms. Let us know in the comments below if you try any of these biceps exercises.