Articles » Exercise » Strength Training » Best Biceps Exercise For Gaining Muscle Mass

Best Biceps Exercise For Gaining Muscle Mass

By Marc Perry / July 27, 2017

Located at the front of your upper arm, the biceps is the muscle that most people think of when they “flex” their arm muscles to show their strength. While it is obviously not the biceps alone that makes you strong, working out this muscle is definitely a big “to do” in terms of looking fit and keeping your body healthy.

Find out which exercises our experts recommend you do to build your biceps and get their tips on how to do them all properly to get progressively stronger.

Best Biceps Exercise #1: Barbell Biceps Curl

My favorite biceps exercise for adding muscle mass hands down is the barbell biceps curl. It allows you to lift a maximal amount of weight and it squarely hits your biceps and forearms if you are using good form. You can also make your handgrip wider, or narrower, to change the stimulus of the exercise. It’s key not to swing the weight up, but to lift it up under control. If you are progressively adding more weight and volume with the barbell biceps curl and you are eating ample calories and protein, your biceps will definitely get bigger!

Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT

Best Biceps Exercise #2: Neutral Grip Pull-Up

A neutral grip pull-up. In this pull-up variation, your hands are placed close together with your palms facing each other. Whereas in most pull-up variations the upper back muscles perform the majority of the work, in a narrow grip pull-up the biceps are primarily responsible for the action of pulling your bodyweight up. That’s what makes this an excellent exercise to do when you want to add mass to your arms.

Kristin Rooke

Best Biceps Exercise #3: Fat Bar Barbell Curls

Fat bar barbell curls might be the best way to add size to your biceps. In general, the fat bar should help stimulate the muscles the biceps most effectively, while the supine position (underhand grip) of the hands helps to target the biceps throughout the full range of motion. In addition to that, you should be able to handle the most overall weight when using the barbell. Combining both regular barbell and fat grip curls to your routine should help grow your biceps the best. If you don’t have access to a fat bar, you can always buy Fat Gripz for about $50. Also, if a regular barbell hurts your wrists, you can also use the EZ bar to help alleviate the wrist pain.

John Levya, CSCS, CPT

Best Biceps Exercise #4: Preacher Curls

Preacher curls are a great exercise to help in the process of building muscle mass for your biceps. Because the back of your arms are being stabilized by the pad, you are able to isolate the muscles responsible for flexing your elbow which include your bicep brachii, as well as your brachialis. This will allow you to be able to work your elbow extensors through the full range of motion without the additional involvement of your shoulder muscles

Kwesi Peters, CSCS, CPT

Best Biceps Exercise #5: Weighted Chins

Weighted chins, because similar to the triceps, the biceps aren’t an isolated muscle. By “chins,” I mean Pull-Ups with a supinated grip (palms facing you), and ideally a grip that is wider than shoulder width. A wider grip recruits more of the muscles on your back, and you need a strong back to make good use of strong arms – bicep strength is most useful during rowing and pulling movements, so it’s advantageous to select exercises that hit the whole system. Barbell rows are another good example. Use either a supinated grip (palms facing you), pronated grip, or alternate between them as they both recruit a slightly different set of muscle groups.

William Lagakos, Ph.D.


  • Mike G. says:

    I love pull-ups and chin-ups being on this list because it is so true. People put too much focus on bicep isolation exercises. While they have their time and place, the compound movements are what should make up the bulk of any good routine.

  • Abhijit says:

    Great article Mark, as usual but I think the main problem when it comes to biceps is the gap between bicep & elbow joint as I think that determines the shape & peak. Hence preacher curl could be THE exercise.

    • Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT says:

      I think the preacher curl is my least favorite on this list. As I said, my opinion is a good old fashioned barbell curl with good form is the best mass builder. Where your muscle inserts is genetic and should not affect what exercise you choose for overall size and strength.