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Target Practice: Add Massive Size To Your BICEPS With These 5 Power Biceps Exercises [Exercise Lists]

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Image: Muscle and Fitness

BEEF UP THOSE BICEPS. We’re gunning for massive, sleeve-bursting muscles that light eyes up like artillery cannons. As if you’re battling at Normandy.

  • The good news: biceps training really isn’t that difficult. At all.
  • The bad news: you’re probably wasting time and doing it all wrong.

Most people blast their biceps into oblivion with low-intensity marathon workouts, endless sets, and 230,123,984 different types of curls; all with next-to-no results to show for it and a surplus of wasted time.

When it comes to biceps, less is more, with the exception of two things — weight and range of motion. Go HEAVY and LONG.

Unlike the shoulders, abs, and legs, the biceps are a small and relatively uncomplicated muscle group to workout. There’s little need to dissect the region, pair individual muscles with a micro-isolation exercise, and blast each one separately. You can easily knock out the entirety of the biceps with 1-2 exercises per workout.

Because the biceps are heavily involved in most back exercises, 75% of your training should come from bigger lifts. Compound back exercises—think deadlifts, various rows, and pull-ups—are your #1 biceps builders, even though they’re not traditionally thought of as “arm exercises.”

ABD. ALWAYS BE DEADLIFTING. That’s workout efficiency.

That said, spending some time on direct biceps exercises is important if you want elite arms. They’re the sprinkles and frosting on top of a moist, decadent cupcake — they actively carve out definition, add density, and heighten the “peak” when you’re flexing.

The final 25% should derive from a select group of movements that isolate the region and tear it up directly. Just make sure you fire away with the right exercises.

To help stimulate your arms training and keep it as effective as possible, we’ve loaded up 5 of the best power biceps exercises in existence for adding mass and definition to your arms.

Think of it as target practice. You’re actively polishing your guns until they’re battle ready. GET ‘EM BLAZING.


 

Quick Science — Anatomy of the Biceps


BicepsAnatomy

Anatomy-wise, here’s what’s on a need to know basis.

The biceps brachii forms the bulk of the “biceps” and is subdivided into 2 muscles—the short head and long head—that runs vertically up the humerus. It’s the part of your arm that piles into a mound when you’re straight flexing.

It’s undercut by the brachialis, which runs across the elbow and helps to prop the biceps upward and give it lift. It also adds width and thickness along the middle of the arm. And if you want monstrous forearms, the brachioradialis is the primary muscle that plunges from the elbow into the lower part of the arm.

Three easy rules to remember what the hell you’re working:

  • Any biceps exercise done with an underhand grip primarily works the biceps brachii.
  • Any biceps exercise done with a neutral grip emphasizes the brachialis.
  • Any biceps exercise done with an overhand grip negates the biceps and hits the brachioradialis.

To focus on one particular region, simply shift your grip to hit the desired muscle (e.g. curling with a neutral grip—think hammer curls—is an effective way to smash the brachialis).

As for cadence and techniques, biceps respond best to heavy weight and extensive range of motion. For each of the 5 biceps exercises below, stick in the 6-10 rep range; and use reps that are slow, under control, and reach a full extension.

Pick a few of your favorites and combine them for 4-8 total sets per workout. That’s it.

 

The Top 5 Power Biceps Exercises


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*Click each exercise name for a video demo.

 

Biceps Exercises 1 & 2: Underhand Bent-Over Rows & Chin Ups


BarbellRowsChinUps

How To:

Target Muscle(s): Biceps Brachii, Brachialis, Brachioradialis

We’re busting out a 2-for-1 bonus pack. Underhand Bent-Over Rows and Chin Ups are variations of the Bent-Over Barbell Row and Pull Up—two power back exercises—with a biceps-centric spin. By flipping your grip it directly increases the involvement of the biceps, while still leveraging the lats and back muscles to dominate heavy weight.

They’re two sledgehammers in your workout arsenal that allow the biceps to handle MUCH more weight than curls ever can; a major prerequisite for explosive growth and a key component of overall physique development.

Sure, they’re not as sexy as curls, but they work — and given their intensity, they actively burn fat in the process. Plus, if you’re grouping back and bicep together in one workout, it’s a stellar way to knock out both simultaneously. EFFICIENCY!

  • Underhand Bent-Over Rows — Hold a barbell with an underhand grip. Stick your butt out, tighten your abs, and bend over to 45º. Powerfully contract your lats and biceps, and row the bar up into your stomach. Lower slowly to a full extension and repeat.
  • Chin Ups — It’s the same movement as a pull-up, except that you’re using an underhand grip. Your hands should be roughly shoulder-width apart. Pull yourself up, squeeze your biceps at the top, and lower down to a dead hang.

 

Biceps Exercise 3: EZ Bar Biceps Curls


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Image: Bodybuilding.com

How To:

Target Muscle(s): Biceps Brachii, Brachialis, Brachioradialis

If you’re going to make one isolation biceps exercise a core part of your training routine, start with EZ Bar Biceps Curls. They’re your direct steamroller and a critical exercise to master over time. They crush the entirety of the biceps brachii first and foremost, and given the angled hand placement, fire away at the brachialis and brachioradialis similtaneously.

Mechanically,the EZ bar feels much more natural than a standard straight bar, and because it incorporates all 3 major biceps muscles, makes lifting heavy weight much easier than the latter.

Of all of the direct biceps exercises, EZ Bar Curls facilitate a heavier weight progression most other exercises ever will. Fire up a few sets and watch the growth skyrocket.

  • (1) Hold an EZ bar with an underhand grip. It should rest on top of your thighs.
  • (2) Powerfully contract your biceps and curl the weight up as far as possible. DO NOT SWING OR USE MOMENTUM. Raise it under control and squeeze at the top.
  • (3) Slowly lower down to a fill extension. Repeat.

 

Biceps Exercise 4: Incline Biceps Curls


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Image: Bodybuilding.com

How To:

Target Muscle(s): Biceps Brachii, Brachialis, Brachioradialis

Incline Biceps Curls are an upper echelon isolation move that allows the biceps to move across an exaggerated range of motion. Because of the reclined position, gravity forces the weight down AND back, which naturally increases the resistance and forces the biceps into a DEEP stretch at the bottom of every rep.

Incline Curls are excellent for creating tsunami-like pumps and really burning out the biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis in one movement. They also help build a tall biceps peak.

They will burn like all hell as the lactic acid sizzles. But the potential results are infectious.

  • (1) Set an incline bench to a 60º angle. Drop your arms to a dead hang with a neutral grip.
  • (2) Powerfully curl the weights up, and as you raise, twist your arms and rotate them outward to an undergand grip. SQUEEZE at the top.
  • (3) Slowly lower the weights and gradually rotate the dumbbells inward to a neutral grip. Lower to a full extension and repeat.

 

Biceps Exercise 5: One Arm Preacher Curls


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How To:

Target Muscle(s): Biceps Brachii

If there’s one exercise that excels at adding a tall PEAK to the biceps and accentuating their height, it’s the One Arm Preacher Curl.

Preacher benches are excellent because they stabilize the upper arm and isolate the tension specifically on the biceps brachii. Unlike traditional curls, there’s no swinging permitted — your only way to get the weight up is purely by churning through the muscle fibers in your biceps.

No cheating allowed.

Additionally, the preacher bench effectively guarantees that you’ll move across a full range of motion—you’re required to tap the pad at the bottom—one of the biggest keys to strong biceps development.

  • (1) Grab a dumbbell and position yourself at a preacher bench or incline bench. Stick your armpit into the top of the bench.
  • (2) Start with your forearm against the bench, contract your biceps, and powerfully curl the weight up. SQUEEZE at the peak.
  • (3) Slowly lower until your forearm taps the bench. Repeat.

 

Bryan DiSanto

Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto
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  • Wes

    This is a great article. How many reps should I be doing with these exercises?

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