The Best Bicep Workout for Beginners
Want biceps you’re proud to show off? Well, you’re in luck. These six exercises make up one of the best bicep workouts around.
They are the perfect combination for all fitness levels because the techniques are simple, and you can adjust the weight to modify the intensity based on your experience and desired level of difficulty.
And if you have the right equipment, you can do these exercises just as easily at home as at the gym.
Either way, buckle in for a powerfully productive workout as you efficiently and effectively sculpt those arms.
Anatomy of the Arm
To give you an idea about which muscles this workout works, let’s talk about what’s going on beneath the skin. Your biceps aren’t only that muscle peak featured when you flex. There’s a whole group running the entire length of your forearm, and we’ll work each one. From your biceps to your deltoids, your arm is a powerhouse and we’ve got just the workout to help tone yours up!
And because they work together, we want to build the strength of the entire muscle group within the bicep family for optimal results. As the saying goes, you’re only as strong as your weakest link!
So, whether your goal is looking super cut at the gym or you don’t want to think twice about going sleeveless, this workout checks those boxes and each one in between.
Okay, it’s time to raise the bar on building those beautiful biceps!
We’ll start with 1 set of 10 reps for each of the following six exercises using a challenging weight that allows you to complete all reps and also reach your fatigue point. If the weight is too light, slightly increase it. If it is too heavy, slightly decrease it.
Once you’re finished with your warmup, it’s time to move on to the main event. You’ll perform 3 sets of 12 reps for each exercise, taking a pause after the exhale on each rep, and resting 60 seconds between sets. Remember to focus on your biceps, ensuring those are the main muscles making the moves, because the more you isolate that group, the more targeted your workout will be.
A challenge: If, and only if, you are in the proper condition for a superset, aka, moving directly from one exercise to the next, you can skip the resting period between sets and keep on truckin’. This results in a longer period of time for your muscles to remain under tension, triggering the physiological response for gaining muscle.
No bicep workout would be complete without this signature move. Bicep curls are one of the most popular free weight bicep exercises around. If you stand in front of a mirror for this one, which we encourage to assess form and function, you can see how every muscle in the bicep family moves.
In the starting position you will hold your barbell with your arms straight, palms facing out, and your feet shoulder-width apart to evenly distribute your weight.
Raise the bar up to shoulder height using a controlled movement and keeping your elbows at your sides. Pause at the top and take one breath before lowering the bar back down.
Slowly lower the bar back to a straight arm position being careful not to lock out your elbows.
Keep your pelvis tucked under and your knees slightly bent at all times to support your lower back.
Keep your upper body stable and tall to avoid jerking or swaying each time you lift and lower the barbell for the perfect biceps curl.
- In the starting position you will lie on an incline bench holding the dumbbells by your side with your arms straight, palms facing the bench.
- Exhale as you raise the dumbbells up to your shoulders, bending at the elbows and turning at the wrists to finish with your palms facing your chest. Pause at the end of your exhale.
- Take care to lower the weights back down with control as you inhale and turn your palms back toward the bench slowly.
- Keep your lower back secure to the bench. If you are arching your back or find that your upper body or chest moves during any rep, your weights may be too heavy, or the bench may need to be lowered to allow your feet to stay firmly planted.
An oldie but a goodie, this biceps exercise has stood the test of time, BUT time and time again, people have gotten it wrong. First, a little background, it’s called a concentration curl because it directly targets a concentrated area of your bicep…the part most people like to show off…and we’d like to show you just how it’s done.
- Sit on a bench holding a dumbbell with your elbow resting on your inner thigh at or below knee height, your arm hanging straight, and your palm facing out.
- Tighten your bicep and hold that tension as you raise the dumbbell up to your shoulder, bending at the elbow. When you reach the top of the curl, turn your bent pinky upward and your thumb downward. This will exaggerate the concentration and build that bicep even more.
- Keep your elbow on your inner thigh for each rep.
- Complete all reps on one side before switching to the other side.
- Exhale as you curl, pause, then inhale as you straighten.
Preacher curls get their name from the appearance of the person in the stance resembling a preacher leaning over a pulpit. There are many ways to do a preacher curl from machines to gym benches to a chair, but for this version we’ll use a stability ball. And fair warning, this requires the most focus of all six exercises, bar none, to make sure that nothing below your chest moves.
- Your starting position is key on this one so that you remain stationary. Kneel on the floor with your chest and elbows resting on the ball and grip the dumbbells with your palms facing outward.
- You may want to place a yoga mat or towel under each knee for comfort and support.
- Raise the weights up to shoulder height, exhaling as you lift.
- Your hand shouldn’t make contact with your shoulder. In fact, the larger your muscles are, the wider the distance will be between your hand and upper body at the top of the curl.
- Inhale as you release your arms back down with control. Take care not to hyperextend your elbows.
This is one of the bicep exercises that targets the long head brachialis, or the muscle in your upper arm most commonly associated with the biceps. The cross body motion of this movement can easily turn into an uncontrolled swing rather than a mindful cross over if you’re not careful or if you become fatigued, so pay close attention to your technique.
- Begin in a standing position, legs straight and strong, with the weights at your sides, palms facing in, similar to the beginning stance when doing hammer curls.
- Slowly and with control, raise one dumbbell up and across to your opposite shoulder bending at the elbow, exhaling as you lift. Pause briefly at the top of each rep.
- Inhale as you slowly lower that same dumbbell back down to the starting position.
- Alternate sides with each rep.
This exercise uses a resistance band which you will secure to a door on the hinge side. Note: It might be tricky at first to make sure nothing from your chest down moves, but you’ll get the hang of it after a few sets. (Bonus, these bands are also great for working your triceps, but that’s another post!)
- Stand with your feet directly beneath your shoulders, hip-width apart to evenly distribute your weight, pelvis tucked under and curled slightly forward.
- Hold the band handles with your palms facing up at shoulder height.
- Exhale as you pull the handles toward your shoulders, bending at the elbows. Pause after each curl.
- Inhale as you release your arms back to a straight, shoulder-height position, taking care not to hyper extend your elbows.
Once you’ve completed these final sets, you’ve also completed your bicep workout. Well done!