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The 9 Best Bicep Exercises to Build Huge Arms

Updated: Jan 20, 2022

Having big, bulging biceps is a dream shared among the vast majority of men out there. And to the women, it's been shown to be one of the most attractive muscles on a man as well.


They give off the sense of strength and the ability to provide protection, and are also important muscles that play large roles in everyday movements and activities.


However, while they are an important muscle group to train, it can often be difficult for one to pick out the best bicep exercises on their own, especially for beginners who are newer to strength training.


That's why in this post, I'll be going over the 9 best bicep exercises that you can do in the gym to have your arms filling your sleeves as fast as possible!



Man with big and muscular arms doing barbell curls to build muscle and strength in his biceps

The Best Bicep Exercises



Chin Ups


Compound exercises allow us to overload our muscles with large loads, and allow us to place them under much more mechanical tension than we otherwise would be able to. This is great for building muscular strength, which comes in handy when we're looking to progressively overload our workouts and lift heavier and heavier over time.


The chin up is a great compound exercise that heavily engages the biceps, and also allows for both a great stretch and contraction of the muscle. We'd definitely recommend including them into your training program if you're looking to build impressive biceps.


To do the chin up:


  1. Hang on a pull up bar with a shoulder width grip. Palms facing towards you.

  2. Pull your shoulder blades down and back. You should feel more tension in your back.

  3. Pull yourself up by thinking about drawing the elbows down and into the side of your torso.

  4. Get your chin to the level of the bar and flex the biceps.

  5. Lower yourself back down with control over 2-3 seconds.

  6. Repeat.


Check out the awesome video below by CrossFit Hurstville to see a demonstration of this exercise!



Reverse Grip Rows


Whether you do these with a barbell, on a cable machine or with your own bodyweight is completely up to you. Rows are another great way to hit the back, with heavy engagement of the biceps as well. They're another heavy compound exercise that allows us to overload the muscles very heavily, and taking a reverse grip is going to put the biceps in a stronger position, increasing their engagement.


We'd also definitely include these in your training program if you're looking to build your biceps.


To do the reverse grip row (barbell):


  1. Start with the bar on the ground.

  2. Grip the bar with your palms facing upwards, and a shoulder width grip.

  3. Deadlift the bar up and stay in the lockout position.

  4. Bend your knees slightly and push the hips back to hinge downwards.

  5. Stop once you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.

  6. Keeping your spine neutral, drive the bar up to a point just below your sternum.

  7. Squeeze the muscles of the back and the biceps.

  8. Lower the bar back down with control.

  9. Repeat.


See the video below by Evogen Nutrition to see a demonstration of this exercise!



Strict EZ Bar Curls


Next up on this list we've got he strict EZ Bar curl. EZ Bar curls are a staple in my training program, as they allow you to tax the biceps quite heavily, whilst being an isolation movement, which means the biceps are really the only muscles working.


Doing the EZ Bar curl strictly is going to help you avoid any cheating and momentum, which can draw attention away from the biceps and cause the curl to become more of a total body exercise. That is not what we want at all.



An EZ Bar is also often preferred over a straight barbell as it allows for a more wrist friendly position, and you're less likely to feel pain or cause injury. However, if you like the straight bar more, that is absolutely fine to curl with as well.


To do the EZ Bar strict curl:


  1. Grab the bar in the part that curves downwards and into the center of the barbell.

  2. Stand up and lean on your back against a wall. Ensure that you can't cheat or use your back in any way to bring the weight up.

  3. Curl the weight up by flexing hard and forcefully at the elbows.

  4. Keep your elbows more or less in the same position throughout the entire movement. You can bring them upwards a little as you bring the weight up to achieve a better contraction if you want.

  5. Squeeze the biceps hard at the top.

  6. Lower the weight back down with full control, ideally over 1-3 seconds.

  7. Repeat.


See the video below by nptitim1 for a demonstration of this!



Standing Hammer Curls


For our next exercise, we've got the standing hammer curl. This is a great exercise to isolate the biceps, and work the brachialis a little more, which is a muscle that lies underneath the biceps. Building this up is going to push the biceps out and increase the overall strength and size of your arms. Plus, you'll get a little emphasis on the long head of the bicep too.


You can either do them alternating from arm to arm, or both arms at the same time.


To do the standing hammer curl:


  1. Grip the dumbbells with a neutral grip, meaning your palms are facing towards each other.

  2. Start in a standing position, holding the dumbbells. You should feel a stretch in your biceps.

  3. Using as little momentum as possible, curl the weight up by flexing hard and forcefully at the elbows.

  4. Squeeze the muscles of the biceps hard at the top of the movement.

  5. Lower the weight back down with control.

  6. Repeat.


ActiveID Training Systems has a great video below showing you how to do this!



Incline Dumbbell Curls


Next up we've got the incline dumbbell curl. This is a great exercise to target the long head of the biceps, and getting a stretch on them that you otherwise wouldn't be able to with many other bicep exercises.


To do the incline dumbbell curl:


  1. Set your bench to approximately a 45-50 degree incline.

  2. Sit on the bench, and start with the dumbbells down at the bottom. You should feel a stretch in your biceps already.

  3. Curl the weight up by flexing at the elbow.

  4. Squeeze the biceps hard at the top of the movement and see if you can hold it there for a second.

  5. Lower the weight back down with full control over it.

  6. Stretch the biceps at the bottom again.

  7. Repeat.


Check out the video by StrengthLog to see what this looks like!



Spider Curls


Since we gave you an exercise to tax the long head of the biceps, how could we forget to give you one for the short head?


The spider curl is a great exercise that allows you to reach a great contraction of the biceps, with a little emphasis on the short head of your biceps. This is going to improve the thickness of your biceps and help you reach that well rounded look of big, strong arms.


This can be done with a barbell or a pair of dumbbells.


To do the spider curl:


  1. Set your bench to approximately a 35-40 degree incline.

  2. Lie on the bench facing down. Your chest should be resting on the bench instead of your back.

  3. Ensure that you're lying in a position that's comfortable.

  4. Let your arms hang loose out in front of you.

  5. Grab the weight and feel the stretch in your biceps by letting the weight pull your arm straight.

  6. Curl the weight up by flexing at the elbow.

  7. Bring your elbows up a little and flex at the shoulder for a better contraction.

  8. Squeeze the biceps hard.

  9. Lower the weight back down with control.

  10. Repeat.


Check out Renaissance Periodization's awesome video below to see what this looks like!



Preacher Curls


Ideally this will be done on a machine for the most stability and isolation of the biceps. The preacher curl is a great exercise that you can utilize to grow your arms, with as little cheating as possible. You see, if you cheat, your arm will leave the bench, and it will be quite obvious that you're cheating. This is a great exercise to keep you honest and real about your form, and how much weight you're using.


To do the preacher curl:


  1. Sit on the preacher curl machine.

  2. Rest your upper arm on the pad.

  3. Grab onto the handle with a strong grip.

  4. Curl the weight up by flexing at the elbow, and do not cheat by generating any momentum at all.

  5. Bring the weight up as much as you can.

  6. Squeeze the biceps hard at the top of the movement.

  7. Lower the weight back down with full control over it.

  8. Repeat.


Check out the video below by JP_Movement to see what this looks like!



Drag Curls


The drag curl is one of my favorite bicep exercises to perform. It's a little different to the other movements on this list, as it sort of resembles a row. But it's extremely good at hitting the biceps. You can generally load pretty heavy on this exercise and can build a ton of strength and mass with it. You can either use a barbell or a smith machine to do this. This exercise is great for building up your bicep peaks.


How to perform the drag curl (barbell):


  1. Start in a normal standing position with the barbell in your hands.

  2. Curl the weight up whilst simultaneously bringing your elbows back past your torso.

  3. You should feel a great squeeze on the biceps at the top of the movement.

  4. You should think about curl the barbell up and towards your shoulders.

  5. Drag the elbows back (hence the name).

  6. Lower the weight back down with control.

  7. Allow your elbows to come forward again.

  8. Repeat.


See the video below by Origym Personal Trainer Courses to see what this should look like!



Face-Away Cable Curls


Last but definitely not least on this list, we've got the face-away cable curl. This is a great movement to use as a bicep finisher, as it heavily isolates the biceps and forces them to do a lot of work to keep the weight where you want it to be. This is great for stretching the biceps, as well as targeting the overall elbow flexors and building solid muscles there too.


How to perform the face-away cable curl:


  1. Set the cable stack to a light weight.

  2. Grab the handle and face away from the cable machine.

  3. Walk out a little until the weight causes a stretch in your biceps when your arm is full straight.

  4. Stand tall.

  5. Curl the weight up by flexing hard at the elbows.

  6. Squeeze the biceps hard at the top of the movement.

  7. Hold the contraction there for a second if you can.

  8. Lower the weight back down with full control.

  9. Allow the weight to stretch your biceps again.

  10. Repeat.


Check out the video below by T Nation to see a demonstration of this exercise!




There you have it! A list of the top 9 best bicep exercises that you can perform to build up the strength and size of your biceps, to achieve those strong looking arms that everyone craves. If you're serious about gaining muscle in your biceps, you shouldn't be sleeping on these 9 exercises.


You could look to do the compound exercise in slightly heavier set and rep ranges of 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps. This is going to build strength and muscle size in both your back and your biceps.


Then, for the isolation movements, look to lift in more moderate set and rep ranges, doing about 2-4 sets of 8-15 reps each set. Doing this will allow you to really isolate the biceps and build as much muscle as possible, which is probably why you're reading this in the first place.


I hope you've enjoyed reading through this post, and have found it useful! Hopefully you'll go on to apply some of this knowledge into your own training program.


If you found it interesting, consider sharing it with a friend so that we can reach more people! We're trying to help as many people as possible reach their goals!


Which bicep exercise was your favorite?

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