The Top 5 Exercises For Increasing Bicep Mass

Alex Stewart
Written By: Alex Stewart
December 30th, 2010
Updated: March 18th, 2021
Categories: Articles Training
826.3K Reads
Shirtless, muscular man doing ez-bar bicep curls.
Build bulging, peaked biceps with these 5 exercises: barbell curl, alternating dumbbell curl, hammer curl, supinated bent rows and the chin up.

There’s a desire among most men that take in interest in bodybuilding to gain as much muscle mass as possible. Whether it’s for show purposes or practical use, many who work towards this end often gauge effectiveness and success on the sheer size, shape and ripped physique they can create. For many, the target muscle that often gets most attention is the biceps, hence the neverending quest to find the top exercises to increase the biceps.

The biceps are one of the most “famous” muscles in the body. Even in youth, kids raises their arms and flex to the mirror, or one another, as a show of who is stronger and more dominant. When someone asks you to flex, they’re not talking about seeing a ripped chest or detailed back – they want to see the bicep. It’s long been used to gauge the overall muscle build of a man, and for those that want to increase the size of that area there are some very specific workouts that can be done to achieve maximum muscle in the biceps.

Granted, these workouts are less effective on their own. It’s best to pair them with an overall workout plan that targets the entire body.  There’s no skeletal muscle that is more important than another, and it’s important to remember that fact as you work through the top 5 exercises for increasing your biceps.

Bicep Anatomy

Before starting any workout plan you should take time to understand the muscles that you’ll be using and the role they play in your everyday life. When you understand their function, you’ll be able to learn how to best use and manipulate those muscles during these top 5 exercises to achieve an optimal workout of your biceps.

The biceps consist of three primary muscles; the Biceps Brachii, Coracobrachialis and Brachialis

Biceps Brachii

This segment of muscle tissue is linked to the forearm bone (the radius) and originates in the process of the scapula (shoulder blade).  This muscle tissue runs the length of the anterior side of the humerus (upper longbone of the arm) and makes up about 1/3 of the muscle mass of the upper arm.

Coracobrachialis

This muscle, the smallest of the trifecta, attaches also to the coracoid process of the scapula with the other end attached to the humerus.  The action of this muscle draws the arm forward and toward the torso.

Brachialis

This muscle crossed the elbow joint, originating in the lower segment of the humerus and extending to the ulna.  While part of the bicep muscle group, the brachialis is the strongest flexor of the elbow however because it only inserts on the ulna (not the radius) it cannot participate in pronation and supination of the forearm (rotation).

The Top 5 Exercises for Increasing Biceps

First and foremost, there’s a lot of equipment out there and the equipment you use is going to change the form and position of your workout. Some machines are available to reduce strain on the rest of your body or promote a motionless workout while ramping up resistance. Whatever you use, that resistance is what’s important because the weight or resistance is what pushes the limits of the muscles and forces them to recover and grow.

For this article, we’re focusing primarily on free weights because they require more form and concentration – giving a more powerful workout to the biceps.

1. Standing Barbell Curl

If you have any interest in building your biceps up in order to look like a tank, the standard barbell bicep curl is the best all-inclusive bicep exercise. Regardless of the amount of weight, your body will use all of the bicep muscles and some forearm muscles to raise the weight as you flex the arm closed. The standard curl forces the arm to work in relative isolation from the back and shoulders, but on one condition – you can’t cheat.

Torso swinging is common, and needs to be avoided if you want the most effective workout. The goal is to remain stationary, flexing the arm at the elbow joint without moving your upper body. Perform this bicep curl by holding a barbell in both hands. Hold the weight with your palm outward and let the weight hang at your hip so that your arm is fully extended downward. Tuck your elbow into your sides and curl the weight to your chin without moving your elbow, hips or torso. Maintain tension, let the weight down slow. Do not bounce the weight off your hips or quads to start the next rep.

2. Alternating Dumbbell Curl

The alternating dumbbell curl is a simple exercise that functions as a cross between a hammer curl and a standard curl. Instead of curling one weight using both biceps, or simultaneously curling with two separate weights, the alternating curl lets you focus the intensity of the workout in each bicep separately.

Torso swinging is also common in this workout, so it’s important to once again keep your elbows tucked into the body. Start at the same point as a standard curl with your arm fully extended however your palms will be facing in toward your body. As the weight clears your flank you can begin to rotate your arm. At the end of the movement your palm will be facing toward your head.

3. Hammer Curl

While a significant amount of focus is given to the bicep, some of the muscle groups within the forearm will be working as well. Because the focus here is on a rotated curl there is a lot of emphasis on the brachialis and brachioradialis of the forearm.

The starting position for this curl is identical to the alternating curl, where the palms face in toward the body. Your elbows remain tucked in with your body and upper arms remaining stationary. Lift the weight, curling it upward without rotating the weight or forearm to the point where the weight is almost touching the shoulder of your lifting arm. Think of the motion of swinging a hammer – this is also where the bicep exercise got its name.

4. Supinated Bent Rows

Resistance breeds muscle gain, and more weight equals more resistance. You can sack more weight into a bicep workout using rowing. Bent over straight bar rows can let you work double the weight over your standard curling or straight bar curls.

Grab the straight bar with palms facing up/away with hands shoulder width apart. Either pull the weight from the rack or deadlift the weight from the floor to a standing position. Once the weight is up, bend into position so that your upper body is almost parallel to the floor. Avoid rounding off or trying to lift with your lower back. While bent, raise the bar to touch your abdomen while keeping your elbows tucked into your flanks. Lower the bar just short of fully extended and repeat.

5. Chin Ups

Not just any chin up either – this is about close grip chin ups.   While curling or rowing can give you a significant workout, when was the last time you tried to curl your body weight with success? If you’re over 150lbs and you don’t often try to beat yourself into submission then likely not often.

Closing the grip on your chin ups will focus the pull on your biceps. You can use any secured straight bar or chin up bar. Reach up and grasp the bar so that your palms are facing you and about 6” apart. Pull yourself upward, keeping your legs raised/crossed so that you do not touch the floor when you lower yourself. It’s important to get your chin up over the bar so that your arms are fully flexed. Maintain the tension as you lower yourself, and avoid relaxing once you get to the bottom of the rep.

While all of these exercises will help you target the biceps, they’re intended to be inclusive with an overall workout program. You should never try to build only your biceps. You need to think in terms of your biceps being just a small part of the major muscle groups that form your body. In order for each of the muscles to work properly, the surrounding muscles need to be targeted as well.

Here are some Sample workouts:

Beginner Workout

Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Curls 2 8
Alternating Dumbbell Curls 2 12
Hammer Curls 1 10-12

Intermediate Workout

Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Curls 3 8
Chin Ups 2 Failure
Hammer Curls 2 10
Alternating Dumbbell Curls 2 12

Advanced Workout

Exercise Sets Reps
1a. Alternating Dumbbell Curls 3 12
1b. Supinated Bent Rows 3 8
2. Hammer Curls 2 10
3a. Chin Ups 3 Failure
3b. Barbell Curls 3 10, 8, 6

Conclusion

Biceps, like most muscle groups if worked out in this fashion, should be trained once a week twice at the most if you have really weak biceps. Go hit the weights hard, these workouts will help you get the biceps you are looking for. Good luck.

As always if you have any questions regarding the article above or anything fitness in general please don’t hesitate to send me an email: AlexBigStew@gmail.com.

Alex Stewart is the Sales Manager for Betancourt Nutrition Supplements. For more information on Betancourt Nutrition supplements, click here.

28 Comments
chandan
Posted on: Sat, 11/19/2016 - 12:55

Hello I want to increase my biceps but how old give some videos

Tholal
Posted on: Thu, 03/03/2016 - 14:32

Hello
I have a problem with workout at the time of workout i see my Biceps are awesome but after 2 to 3 days. they back to the normal size.
Can any buddy help me what type of protein I need to take. Please kindly help me friends.
Thanks,
Tholal

yuvaraj
Posted on: Thu, 09/04/2014 - 11:36

Please can you send me the best bicep
exercise

yuvaraj
Posted on: Thu, 09/04/2014 - 11:33

Can u send me best bicep exercises with photo please please

KMB
Posted on: Tue, 06/10/2014 - 04:21

Lol...what's with all the Indian curlbros here Ram, Anil, Ajay, Ramesh ? This won't make much sense but stop focusing on isolation to start out with. Do Squats, Deadlifts and close grip pullups (chinups ) and watch your biceps explode. If you have to ask for photos and more details on these basic exercises chances are you haven't been doing any actual lifting. Just curling biceps every other day wont get you big arms.
Disclaimer : I am Indian too but not being a curlbro has helped me get Hrithik Roshan sized biceps (if that makes sense)

Ram
Posted on: Fri, 05/16/2014 - 07:17

Hi,

I have a small problem with workout at the time of workout i see my Biceps are awesome but after 3 – 4 hrs. they back to the normal size.
Can any buddy help me what type of protein I need to take. Please kindly help me friends.

Thanks,
Ram.

Evan
Posted on: Fri, 05/16/2014 - 09:38

Hey Ram, if you need help on workout routines, supplements or anything else you can add me on facebook or email me @ Evdogwins@yahoo.com and I will help you out as much as I can.
Experience: 3 years lifting, 17inch arms.

anil
Posted on: Mon, 03/03/2014 - 13:21

biceps r veryy important in ur bodyy but wdout supplement i need my biceps to be4 of 15-16 inches

Lastprince Amja...
Posted on: Wed, 02/12/2014 - 16:08

To day I reed this .all ready my bicep 16 .but I wat 22 inch. Pls sum tips plsssssss

emmanuel
Posted on: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 14:05

this is good if you work with it.... i like it.

ajay
Posted on: Sat, 04/13/2013 - 06:08

Well I read hundreds of fitness books n watched many videos giving tips on building great arms.For me the best exercise that gave me volume n shape was the Trio of alternate dumbell curls,alternate hammer curls and preacher curls.Try doing a super set of all three at once,resting 2minutes between sets and watch that blood flow in your arms.Increase weight every set,do five sets first alternate dumbell curls then alternate hammer curls n preacher curls without resting back to back and see the difference.

Royce
Posted on: Sun, 02/08/2015 - 18:22

Hey Ajay your advice sounds good. I am 70 6'2 205-215 but slim with smallish biceps over the years I have tried just about every thing . Gonna try a variation of your plan for 6 weeks.

ramesh
Posted on: Mon, 04/01/2013 - 23:47

Pls add photos .of all biceps excersise.

ramesh
Posted on: Mon, 04/01/2013 - 23:47

Pls add photos .of all biceps excersise.

JL
Posted on: Wed, 03/13/2013 - 09:16

Would like a bicep exercise video please

M&S Team Badge
mnsjason
Posted on: Wed, 03/13/2013 - 19:23

There are quite a few videos for bicep movements here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises/biceps

jasem
Posted on: Thu, 03/07/2013 - 03:10

can u send me the best bicep exercise with photo or vedio please thanks u

vincent
Posted on: Fri, 02/15/2013 - 10:56

chin ups is the best. but what i dont know is can i add weight or should i workout till i can control my full body weight?

Thomas
Posted on: Tue, 08/30/2016 - 22:48

Don't add weight to your pull up (chin up) until you are exceeding 20 reps easily.

wahed
Posted on: Wed, 08/22/2012 - 03:26

loved it

superboy
Posted on: Tue, 08/21/2012 - 15:32

L-arginine before work out and glutamine after read up on them

Preetam Kadam
Posted on: Fri, 07/27/2012 - 17:55

Hi, What supplements we should specially take to build up the biceps??? What supplements will make our biceps to grow well... Thank you.. Waiting for the reply...

sekander
Posted on: Tue, 03/19/2013 - 01:15

Have One Can of Nano Vapor

aadi
Posted on: Sat, 06/15/2013 - 07:32

well dear use .. sci mx .. hardcore its good .. i increse my bicep .. 16.5 .. frm 13

Santosh
Posted on: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 00:25

its quite useful for me.It has not been long since i've started doing exercise of forearms so it would be kind if you pls tell me the intial steps at first.The other thing is that it would be easy for me if uyou upload some videos of this kind of exercise.thank u

chulbul pandey
Posted on: Fri, 01/14/2011 - 04:16

i found the article very helpful. and i also implemented it in my routine. but i was reading a couple of other articles, and they said that biceps are relatively small muscles and should be done max once a week. however, the article states that you can do it twice a week.

Rodger
Posted on: Thu, 08/29/2013 - 06:12

It says, "Biceps like most muscle groups if worked out in this fashion should be trained once a week twice at the most if you have really weak biceps." And I'm guessing you have really weak biceps so go ahead and work them a couple of times a week.

Mohsin Khan
Posted on: Mon, 10/24/2016 - 07:40

I want gain to my bucep and Chez size . I am doing exercise not eaten any sulpliment.
Suggest me what suppliment am eaten best for me
And gain size and Body weight.
Sent me mail
What suppliment im use whic is not body internal parts.