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The 5 Best Biceps Exercises

biceps, muscle, biceps curl, biceps muscle, biceps exercises

What’s commonly referred to as the “biceps” muscle is actually a lot different from what most people think. In reality the biceps only makes up about 1/3 of the arm–the triceps and deltoids (shoulder) make up the other 2/3–and it’s comprised of 3 muscles: the biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis. If you want toned-up, titanic-sized arms, it’s essential that you hit all 3 parts of the “biceps,” in addition to the triceps and deltoids.

For all biceps exercises, it’s 100% necessary that you follow a 2-2 tempo–meaning, raise the weight for 2 seconds going up and lower the weight for a full 2 seconds going down.


The Big 5:


1. Standing Barbell Biceps Curl

Hits primarily the biceps brachii (the big muscle you flex), but also does a fantastic job of hitting the entire biceps region all at once. Keep your elbows tucked in against your torso, keep your back straight, and squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement. Do NOT rock your body and use momentum during the lift…all that does is NOT work your biceps. Space your hands about shoulder width apart, directly outside of your thighs.

standing barbell curl 


2. Chin Ups

Chin ups work your back, specifically your lats, but they also do a great job of blasting all 3 parts of the biceps, as well as the forearms. Make sure that you lower all the way down  so that your arms are fully extended, and raise yourself all the way up until your biceps are fully contracted. Once you’re able to do 12 chin ups in a set, start adding weight plates (using a chain weight belt) to up the intensity and difficulty. Space your hands about shoulder width apart.

Chin Ups 


3. EZ Bar Biceps Preacher Curls

EZ Bar

EZ bar biceps preacher curls are one of my absolute favorite ways to emphasize the brachialis–which adds thickness and width to the biceps–and isolate the inner/outer heads of the biceps brachii muscle (so that when you flex, your biceps mound looks like it has two distinct parts). They also produce a ridiculously amazing skin-tearing pump.

Sit at a preacher bench so that your armpits rest comfortably at the top of the pad. First do 2 sets with your hands spaced widely apart, and then 2 do sets with your hands spaced with a narrow grip (in the video he uses a narrow grip). By changing up the spacing you’re effectively hitting both “heads” of the biceps brachii. Make sure to lower all the way down…

preacher curls 

3a. EZ Bar Reverse Preacher Curls

Same setup, but instead of using an underhand grip use an overhand grip. In simple terms, flip your hands over after you’re done with the sets of regular EZ bar biceps preacher curls. The reverse variety emphasizes mainly the brachioradialis and forearms. They’re much more difficult, so make sure to use less weight.

reverse curls


4. Incline Biceps Dumbbell Curls.

These produce the most INSANE burn I’ve ever felt in my life. If you do them right it’ll legitimately feel like acid is bubbling up in the belly of your biceps muscle. LOVE IT!

Incline biceps dumbbell curls are fantastic for emphasizing the lower part of the biceps brachii, giving the biceps a really full, long, sleeve-busting look. Set the bench to a 60 degree angle initially (if you’re feeling really strong and want to make it more difficult, set the bench to 45 degrees) and supinate during the motion–at the bottom of the motion start with your palms facing in towards your legs, and gradually throughout the motion rotate your palm so that it faces forward. The twisting motion makes sure that the motion not only hits the biceps brachii, but also the brachialis.

incline dumbbell curls


5. Dumbbell Hammer Biceps Curls.

Dumbbell hammer biceps curls are the best exercise for putting a lot of stress on the brachialis–the muscle primarily responsible for adding width to the biceps. Set up a preacher bench so that your armpit is comfortably resting at the top of the pad and the hold the dumbbell with a neutral grip (palms facing out). Lower down all the way…


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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 Instagram (@BRYDISANTO) & Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto
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