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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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