Did you get your tickets?
To what you ask? To the gun show of course.
All kidding aside, we’re going to pick five of the best biceps exercises to build muscle that you won’t want to skip.
1. Barbell Cheat Curl
Here’s a twist on the traditional Barbell Biceps Curl known as the Barbell Cheat Curl. This is calculated “cheating,” not uncontrollably swinging a barbell up just to say you curled 135 pounds. We want to take advantage of the fact that our biceps are stronger eccentrically than they are concentrically. This means we can move more weight than we can with the traditional Barbell Curl, causing muscle growth. To take advantage of this, we use momentum to cheat the barbell up (while still in control) and then slowly lower it back to the starting position.
Pro-tip: Imagine there is a wall behind you. When you bring the bar up, do not let your body hit the wall.
Why you should do it: When it comes to building muscle, a number of factors are at play. From the standpoint of choosing exercises, a big focus should be on how we are able to load the lift. By incorporating the Barbell Cheat Curl, we are able to overload our muscles eccentrically, which is a known stimulus for hypertrophy.
2. Incline Dumbbell Curl
The Incline Dumbbell Curl puts tension on the biceps while it is extended, offering a distinctive benefit that other biceps exercises do not. Set up seated on a bench tilted to a 45-degree angle. Allow the shoulders to sit back behind your body, fully extending the biceps. Curl the weight as you would a normal dumbbell Curl. Keep in mind that due to the position of your arms, you may need to lighten your load.
Pro-tip: At the bottom of the Curl, pronate your forearms and contract your triceps. This will allow for further stretch of the biceps and enhance your gains.
Why you should do it: The biceps not only help to flex the elbows, but also raise the shoulders. Putting your shoulders into extension intensifies the stretch and tension on the biceps leading to muscle growth.
This is widely considered the best bodyweight biceps exercise. It provides the opportunity to progressively overload the biceps and has great scalability. Not to mention all you need is a bar and your body.
Pro-tip: When lowering, lean back from the bar to accentuate muscle stretch to get those eccentric benefits.
Why you should do it: The Chin-up allows the biceps to take advantage of both the concentric (lifting) and eccentric (lowering) portions of the exercise. Your biceps contract while raising your body to the bar, giving you maximum engagement, and by controlling your descent, you reap the benefits of eccentric loading. Translation: bigger arms.
4. Cross-Body Reverse Curl
The Cross-Body Reverse Curl is a variation of the hammer curl. This exercise creates balance between the upper and lower arm. To set up, pronate your forearms and perform a Cross-Body Curl, alternating each arm.
Pro-tip: Pronate your forearms and perform the exercise slowly, holding the contraction at the top of the exercise.
Why you should do it: The Cross-Body Reverse Curl targets an often-ignored muscle in the upper arm known as the brachialis. It lies deeper than the superficial biceps and is the prime mover in elbow flexion. By aiming to train this oft-ignored muscle, you’ll create wider biceps and tighter sleeves.
5. Dumbbell Waiter Curl
The Dumbbell Waiter Curl is a dark horse. Who doesn’t want bigger and taller biceps? This exercise is performed with a single dumbbell and is a great addition to any arm program. To perform this exercise, start in a standing position, palms up under one side of the dumbbell. Curl the weight up, imagining that the top of your dumbbell has a drink on it that you do not want to spill.
Pro-tip: Keep the top of the dumbbell parallel to the ground at all times by keeping the wrists out of the movement. This will allow for peak contraction of the biceps (and bigger peaks on your biceps).
Why you should do it: When you perform this exercise properly, you negate some of the forearm contribution in the Curl, putting greater stress on the biceps alone. You’re also able to fully contract the biceps, especially the long head, which contributes to height. Focused time under tension leads to hypertrophy.
If you want to know more about what your training plan should include, shoot me an email at [email protected] with the subject line GUNSHOW. You can also find me on Trainerize at www.trainerize.me/profile/ksfitpro/Kevin.Seaver
Photo Credit: Nutthaseth Vanchaichana/iStock