Your biceps play a big role in performing daily tasks, as well as upper body and back exercises – if you want to increase your strength, training your biceps is the way to go. Between: this bicep workout with weights.
our biceps are often the centerpiece of having strong arms, and that is because they are the main muscle involved in many daily movements, including carrying heavy groceries and lifting the baby and holding them. Strong biceps can also help you perform certain upper body exercises more effectively.
“Having strong biceps will lead to more than just having a solid weapon display picture,” says Rafique “Coach Flex” Cabral, a NASM certified personal trainer and Isopure athlete. “They assist in movements such as lines, bars and flexions as well.”
That’s right – if you want to perfect your push-up or barbell game, you’ll have to strengthen your biceps, which really helps in the pulling movement. So, how can you build bigger and stronger biceps? Some of the best exercises for biceps are those that isolate your muscles and make them do most of the work.
Here, we look at your bicep muscles, how often to train them and the most effective exercises to target your biceps. In addition, Cabral shares a quick bicep workout with dumbbells that you can do at home.
Biceps Muscles 101
The biceps muscles, also known as brachial biceps, are in the front of your arms. Its main action is to flex the elbow, bringing the forearm towards the shoulder.
As the name suggests (“bi” means “two”), the biceps consists of two parts: the long head and the short head. (Note: the head of a muscle is its point of origin, or where it is inserted.) The long head of the biceps extends a little higher up the arm (towards the shoulder) than the short head of the biceps. They work in conjunction with the brachial and brachioradialis muscles, which are also important elbow flexors and are crucial for isolating and working the biceps.
Depending on how you grab the dumbbells during a weight training bicep workout, you will be targeting the long or short head of the biceps more. “Having a grip that is off the shoulders, like a wide grip bar and curls, and having your elbows in front of your body will focus on the short head of your biceps,” explains Cabral. “On the other hand, having a narrower grip and having the elbows starting behind the body, like a standing cable thread and an inclined hammer thread, will build the long head.” To make your biceps bigger and stronger, you need to work both heads, so it’s important to vary your exercises.
What are the best biceps exercises?
What are the most effective exercises to activate the biceps? In a study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), researchers evaluated the eight most popular bicep exercises with weights: barbell curl, barbell curl, concentration barbell, upward curl, EZ barbell, inclined barbell curl and threaded preacher. The results showed that, from this selection, the concentration donut was the most effective exercise for activating the biceps. For your information, the concentration wave is usually performed in a sitting position with your knees apart and a dumbbell in one hand; you anchor the elbow of the active arm to the thigh (so that the arm does not move) and roll the weight up to the shoulder from there. This is an especially effective exercise to include in your weight training biceps, because you are forcing your arm to stand still and move only your forearm – with less muscle at play, it makes your biceps work harder.
He’s also a fan of a bicep curl – sitting in a squat position with his elbows pressed against his knees. It’s a great way to simulate a donut when you’re doing a bicep workout with weights at home or don’t have access to the gym. “The crouched donut places emphasis on the short bicep head and simulates a preacher donut, which supports behind the elbow for full bicep extension. Being able to carry a muscle across its full range of motion is a great way to build strength functional ”, explains Cabral.
In a traditional bicep curl, the lack of support behind the elbow allows the arms to move more freely. “This allows you to fool yourself into even more advantageous positions for lifting the weight, taking the tension off the biceps,” he says. By stabilizing the upper arm, the squat curls, the concentration curls and the preacher curls help prevent this.
While training biceps with weights, Cabral also recommends doing a 90-degree static lift while rotating your palms towards the floor and the sky (continue reading for instructions). This 90-degree static lift maintains constant tension in the biceps and performs another function of the biceps, which is the rotation of the forearms.
Simple biceps exercise with dumbbells
To help you follow a consistent training routine for your biceps, Cabral recommends doing exercises focused on biceps one to three times a week. “Choose a frequency depending on what your goals are. I recommend training them in conjunction with shoulder and back exercises. Training the biceps alone can lead to dysfunction, so having an integrated approach to training is essential ”, says Cabral.
Here, Cabral shares a dumbbell bicep workout that you can do at home or at the gym with just one set of weights. Complete three to four rounds of this weight training bicep workout or add these bicep workouts to your upper body strength routine. As a general rule, when you use heavier weights and a lower repetition range, you are developing muscle strength and hypertrophy. But when you use a higher repetition range and lighter weights, you are training for muscle endurance.
How it works: Do each of the bicep exercises below for the number of repetitions indicated. Repeat 3 to 4 rounds in total.
You will need: a set of medium weight dumbbells
Inclined Iso Alternating Dumbbell Line
A. Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand by the sides.
B. With a slight flexion of the knees, bend forward at the hips until the torso is between 45 degrees and parallel to the floor.
C. Keeping your back straight and shoulders straight, row dumbbells up to your ribs, joining your shoulder blades and pulling your elbows back.
D. Keep one arm attached to your side while lowering the other weight to get back to the start. Then, paddle the dumbbell back to the ribs and lower the other weight.
Continue alternating for 10 to 20 repetitions.
Incline Hammer Curl
A. Sit on a bench and adjust the seat tilt to about 45 degrees. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, beside your body, with your palms facing inward. Keep your shoulders back and down and your elbows close to your torso.
B. Keeping your arms, back and shoulders still, lift the dumbbells towards your shoulders, squeezing your biceps at the top.
C. Slowly lower the weights to get back to the beginning.
Do 8 to 15 repetitions.
90 degree standing support with rotation
A. Begin standing with your shoulders on your hips and hold a dumbbell in each hand at your side with your palms facing inward. Rotate your shoulders back and down and avoid bending them throughout the movement.
B. Raise the dumbbells until your arms are at 90 degree angles and keep 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 towards the ceiling.
Continue rotating your forearms for 30 to 45 seconds.