When it comes to picking the best biceps exercises, we need to look at which ones compliment the functions of the biceps best. In this video, I am going to pick what I feel are the 6 best exercises to grow bigger biceps and as always, I am going to provide the science behind why these 6 exercises should be included in your biceps training,
1. BARBELL CHEAT CURL (ECCENTRIC OVERLOAD)
First up, we have the Barbell Cheat Curl, which I have said in the past, is great for growing big biceps. We know that our biceps are stronger eccentrically than they are concentrically which means we utilize more weight than the standard Barbell Curl. So to take advantage of this, we cheat the barbell up and slowly lower the bar back down. It is worth noting, however, that I’m not just heaving the bar up; I’m still in control of the weight on its way up. Imagine a vertical line behind your body – when you bring the bar up, you do not want your body moving past that imaginary line.
2. CHIN-UP (ECCENTRIC & PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD)
Next, we have a biceps exercise that I consider one of the best for growing bigger arms: the Chin-up. Like the cheat curl, the chin-up provides an opportunity to take advantage of the eccentric portion of the lift and the addition of progressive overload. In the eccentric portion of the lift, I like to lean back from the bar a bit in order to accentuate the stretch on the biceps. The scalability of this incredible biceps exercise allows us to start off using nothing but our own bodyweight, but as our biceps get stronger, we can start adding weight as well.
3. CROSS BODY HAMMER CURL (BRACHIALIS)
To get bigger biceps, we can’t ignore the brachialis. What I feel is the best biceps exercise to train this muscle is the Cross-Body Hammer Curl. We know that one of the functions of the biceps is supination of the forearms; to take minimize biceps activation and preferentially target the brachialis, we pronate the forearms and bring the dumbbell up and across the body. Remember to keep the movement slow in order to best active the more predominately slow-twitch muscle fibers of the brachialis. Targeting the brachialis will create wider biceps to help fill out those shirt sleeves.
4. DUMBBELL BANDED CURL (OVERLAPPING STRENGTH CURVES)
I can’t make a list of the best biceps exercises without mentioning the DB Banded Curl. This variation of the classic DB Curl takes advantage of overlapping strength curves that come from the DB Curl as well as a Banded Curl. The classic overload of the concentric portion of the curl has a strength curve of being easiest at the bottom, hardest in the middle, and easier again at the top. With the band, the curve starts easy and becomes most difficult at the top. By combining the two, we can fill in the gap that allows for continued tension from the middle and all the way to the top. The complimenting strength curves is why I consider this one of the best exercises for the biceps.
5. INCLINE STRETCH CURL (PEAK STRETCH)
To maximize biceps growth, we need to focus not only on the midrange (hardest portion) of the curl, but both the stretched and contracted positions of the movement. This is where the Incline Stretch Curl comes in. This biceps exercise utilizes the incline setup to take the arm and put it behind your body into extension, creating stretch. By pronating the forearms at the bottom, we gain further stretch. By consciously contracting the triceps at the bottom portion as well, we get a reflexive relaxation of the biceps to enhance the stretch even further.
6. INCLINE WAITER CURL (PEAK CONTRACTION)
As I mentioned previously, to maximize biceps development, we need to focus on the extreme ends of the range of motion of the curl. The Incline Waiter Curl (a combination of a Waiter Curl and a Spider Curl) allows us place tension in the contracted portion of the biceps in a way that isn’t matched by the other exercises mentioned in this list. The Waiter Curl allows us to reach peak contraction, but the Spider Curl position allows for a greater range of motion as the dumbbell isn’t obstructed by our legs. This is one of the best biceps exercises that you definitely do not want to overlook.
There you have it, the 6 best biceps exercises to get bigger biceps. Remember, everyone has different strengths and weaknesses in their training and I am providing you with, what I feel, are the best biceps exercises to cover them all.
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Jeff Cavaliere M.S.P.T, CSCS
Jeff Cavaliere is a Physical Therapist, Strength Coach and creator of the ATHLEAN-X Training Programs and ATHLEAN-Rx Supplements. He has a Masters in Physical Therapy (MSPT) and has worked as Head Physical Therapist for the New York Mets, as well as training many elite professional athletes in Major League Baseball, NFL, MMA and professional wrestling. His programs produce “next level” achievements in muscle size, strength and performance for professional athletes and anyone looking to build a muscular athletic physique.