Your biceps are often the heart of strong arms, and that’s because they’re the main muscle in many everyday movements, including carrying heavy groceries and lifting and holding your baby. Strong biceps can also help you perform certain upper body exercises more effectively.
“Having strong biceps leads to more than just a solid gun-show picture,” says Rafique “Coach Flex” Cabral, a NASM-certified personal trainer and isopure athlete. “They also help with movements like rows, pull-ups, and pull-ups.”
That’s right – if you want to perfect your pull-up or chin-up game, you need to strengthen your biceps, which actually helps with the pull movement. So how can you build bigger and stronger biceps? Some of the best bicep exercises are the ones that isolate the muscles and let them do the brunt of the work.
Here we break down the biceps muscles, how often to work them and the most effective exercises to target your biceps. Plus, Cabral shares a quick dumbbell biceps workout that you can do at home.
The biceps muscles, also known as the biceps brachii, are located on the front of your upper arms. Your main action is to bend your elbow and raise your forearm towards your shoulder.
As the name suggests (“bi” means “two”), the biceps consists of two parts: the long and the short head. (Note: the head of a muscle is its starting point or where it is attached.) The long head of the biceps extends a little further across the arm (toward the shoulder) than the short head of the biceps. They work in conjunction with the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles, which are also important elbow flexors and are critical to the isolation and work of the biceps.
Depending on how you hold onto weights, you will aim more at either the long or short head of the biceps. “When you have a grip outside your shoulders, e.g. For example, if you have wide grip curls and preacher curls, and with your elbows in front of your body, the short head of the biceps will focus on the short head, ”explains Cabral. “Conversely, when you have a closer grip and your elbows start behind your body, the long head builds up like a standing lock of cables and a sloping lock of hammer.” To get bigger and stronger biceps you need to train both heads, so varying your exercises is important.
What are the best biceps exercises?
What are the most effective exercises for activating the biceps brachii? In a study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), researchers rated the eight most popular bicep exercises: cable curl, barbell curl, concentration curl, pull-up, EZ curl, incline curl, and preacher curl. The results showed that of this selection, the concentration lock was the most effective exercise for activating the biceps. For your information, the concentration lock is typically performed while sitting with knees wide and a dumbbell in one hand; You anchor the elbow of the working arm on your thigh (so the upper arm shouldn’t move at all) and roll the weight from there to your shoulder. This is a particularly effective bicep exercise as it forces your upper arm to stay still and only move your forearm. When fewer muscles are involved, your biceps work harder.
He’s also a fan of a squat curl of biceps – he’s sitting in a squat position with his elbows against his knees. It’s a great way to simulate a preacher’s curl when you work out at home or don’t have access to the gym. “The stocky curl emphasizes the short head of the biceps and simulates a preacher’s curl that provides support behind the elbow for full extension of the biceps. The ability to train a muscle for its full range of motion is a great way to build functional strength, ”explains Cabral.
A traditional bicep curl allows the arms to move more freely due to the lack of support behind the elbow. “This allows you to cheat yourself into more beneficial positions to add weight and decrease the tension designed for the biceps,” he says. By stabilizing the top of the arm, stocky curls, concentration curls, and preacher curls prevent this.
Cabral also recommends a 90-degree static hold while rotating your palms to look at the ground and sky (read on for instructions). This static 90-degree hold keeps the tension on the biceps constant and affects another function of the biceps, namely the rotation of the forearms.
Easy dumbbell biceps workout
To help you maintain a consistent exercise routine for your biceps, Cabral recommends doing bicep-oriented exercises one to three times a week. “Choose a frequency that depends on your goals. I recommend doing them in conjunction with shoulder and back exercises. Exercising the biceps alone can cause dysfunction. So an integrated approach to training is key, ”says Cabral. (You can also structure your workout push-pull style.)
Here, Cabral shares a dumbbell biceps workout that you can do at home or at the gym with just one set of weights. Do three to four rounds of this workout or add these biceps exercises to your upper body strength routine. Typically, when you use heavier weights and a lower rep range, you build on strength and muscle hypertrophy. However, when you use higher rep ranges and lighter weights, you are training for muscle endurance.
How it works: Do each of the following bicep exercises for the specified number of repetitions. Repeat a total of 3 to 4 rounds.
You need: a set of medium weight dumbbells
Curved ISO interchangeable dumbbell row
ONE. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand by your sides.
BB Pivot forward with a slight knee bend at the hips until the upper body is between 45 degrees and parallel to the floor.
C. Keeping a flat back upright and shoulders straight, row the dumbbells up to your ribs, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and pull your elbows straight back.
DD Keep one arm to one side while lowering the other weight to return to start. Then row the barbell up to your ribs again and lower the other weight.
Alternate 10 to 20 repetitions.
Incline hammer curl
ONE. Sit on a bench and adjust the incline of the bench to about 45 degrees. Hold a dumbbell in each hand by your sides with your palms facing in. Keep your shoulders back and down and your elbows close to your torso.
BB Keeping your upper arms, back, and shoulders still, raise the dumbbells to your shoulders and press the top of your biceps.
C. Slowly lower the weights to return to the start.
Standing 90 degree hold with rotation
ONE. Begin standing with your shoulders above your hips, holding a dumbbell in each hand by your sides with your palms facing in. Roll your shoulders back and down, avoiding arching them as you move.
BB Raise the dumbbells until your arms form a 90 degree angle, keeping your elbows close to your sides.
C. Keeping your arms in this fixed position, rotate your forearms so that your palms are facing the floor and then the ceiling.
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