Bicep exercises

Bicep exercises can be divided into two different types: exercises for the central bicep muscle that covers the majority of your upper arm (caput longum) and exercises for the head of the bicep (caput breve) that is located close to the shoulder joint.

 

The central muscle is targeted via ‘normal’ curls and pull ups where as the head of the bicep is trained when performing hammer curls.

 

Caput longum: long central bicep muscle

Caput breve: head bicep muscle

 

In the overview below you see which exercise focuses on which part of the bicep muscle:

overview biceps exercises dumbbell curl pull up hammer curl incline

 

The exercises mentioned above can be divided into 3 different groups; exercises that are performed with dumbbells, exercises that are performed with barbells and exercises that are performed with a machine and pull ups. 

overview biceps exercises dumbbell curl pull up hammer curl incline

 

Each exercise contains a full description, an overview of the muscles that you target and the level of difficulty to perform the exercise. Difficulty is defined as the level of complexity regarding the performance and technique of the exercise:

  

Beginner

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Intermediate

●●●○○ & ●●●●○

Expert

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Exercises

1. Standing dumbbell curl

Stand up straight with your feet at shoulder width, your knees slightly bent and arms beside your body. Hold the dumbbells with your palms facing forward. Bend your arms and bring the dumbbell towards your shoulder. Your elbow and upper arm remain in the same place during the curl. The position of your hand remains the same during the exercise, don’t turn your hands in or out. When the dumbbell almost touches your shoulder slowly lower it back to starting position.

Target muscle(s): long central bicep muscle

Difficulty: ●●●○○


standing hammer curl

2. Standing hammer curl

Stand up straight with your feet at shoulder width, your knees slightly bent and arms beside your body. Hold the dumbbells with your palms facing each other, like you would hold a hammer. Bend your arms and bring the dumbbell towards your shoulder. Your elbow and upper arm remain in the same place during the curl. The position of your hand remains the same during the exercise, don’t turn your hands in or out. When the dumbbell almost touches your shoulder slowly lower it back to starting position.

Target muscle(s): head bicep muscle

Difficulty: ●●●○○


cross body hammer curl

3. Cross body hammer curl

Stand up straight with your feet at shoulder width, your knees slightly bent and arms beside your body. Hold the dumbbells with your palms facing each other, like you would hold a hammer. Move one dumbbell at the time across your body towards the opposite shoulder. When the dumbbell almost touches your shoulder slowly lower it back to starting position.

Target muscle(s): long central & head bicep muscle

Difficulty: ●●●○○


4. Seated dumbbell curl

Put the bench in an upright position. Hold the dumbbells with your palms facing forward. Bend your arms and bring the dumbbell towards your shoulder. Your elbow and upper arm remain in the same place during the curl. The position of your hand remains the same during the exercise, don’t turn your hands in or out. When the dumbbell almost touches your shoulder slowly lower it back to starting position.

Target muscle(s): long central bicep muscle

Difficulty: ●●●○○


5. Seated hammer curl

Put the bench in an upright position. Hold the dumbbells with your palms facing each other, like you would hold a hammer. Move one dumbbell at the time across your body towards the opposite shoulder. When the dumbbell almost touches your shoulder slowly lower it back to starting position.

Target muscle(s): head bicep muscle

Difficulty: ●●●○○


6. Seated incline dumbbell curl

Put the bench in a 45 degree angle so that you are leaning backwards. Hold the dumbbells with your palms facing forward. Bend your arms and bring the dumbbell towards your shoulder. Your elbow and upper arm remain in the same place during the curl. The position of your hand remains the same during the exercise, don’t turn your hands in or out. When the dumbbell almost touches your shoulder slowly lower it back to starting position.

Target muscle(s): long central bicep muscle

Difficulty: ●●●○○


7. Seated incline hammer curl

Put the bench in a 45 degree angle so that you are leaning backwards. Hold the dumbbells with your palms facing each other, like you would hold a hammer. Move one dumbbell at the time across your body towards the opposite shoulder. When the dumbbell almost touches your shoulder slowly lower it back to starting position.

Target muscle(s): long central & head bicep muscle

Difficulty: ●●●○○


barbell curl

8. Barbell curl

Stand up straight with your feet next to each other and hold the barbell with an underhand grip at shoulder width. Lower your hand so that the barbell is resting in front of your hips. Bring the barbell up by flexing your elbows. Your elbow and upper arm remain in the same place during the curl. Move the barbell towards your shoulders. When the barbell almost touches your shoulder slowly lower it back to starting position.

Target muscle(s): long central bicep muscle

Difficulty: ●●●○○


9. EZ-bar curl

Stand up straight with your feet next to each other and hold the EZ-bar with an underhand grip at shoulder width. Lower your hand so that the EZ-bar resting in front of your hips. Bring the EZ-bar up by flexing your elbows. Your elbow and upper arm remain in the same place during the curl. Move the EZ-bar towards your shoulders. When the EZ-bar almost touches your shoulder slowly lower it back to starting position.

Target muscle(s): long central bicep muscle

Difficulty: ●●●○○


10. EZ-bar cable curl

You perform this exercise at a cable station. Attach the EZ-bar to the cable. Stand up straight with your feet next to each other and hold the EZ-bar with an underhand grip at shoulder width. Lower your hand so that the EZ-bar resting in front of your hips. Bring the EZ-bar up by flexing your elbows. Your elbow and upper arm remain in the same place during the curl. Move the EZ-bar towards your shoulders. When the EZ-bar almost touches your shoulder slowly lower it back to starting position.

Target muscle(s): long central bicep muscle

Difficulty: ●●●○○


11. Preacher curl

Take a seat on the machine. Place your upper arms on the support in front of you. Grab the handles with an underhand grip. Your elbows and upper arms are at shoulder width. Perform the curl by flexing your arms and bringing your hands towards your shoulders. Don’t move your elbows and upper arm, they remain in the same position. Bring your arms up as far as possible and then lower back to starting position.

Target muscle(s): long central bicep muscle

Difficulty: ●●●●○


12. 1 arm preacher curl

For this exercise you need a bench. Put the bench in a 90 degree angle and stand behind it holding a dumbbell. Let your upper arm rest on the bench while performing the curl. Your palm faces up. Slowly lower the dumbbell and just before it touches the bench bring it back up again towards your shoulder.  

Target muscle(s): long central bicep muscle

Difficulty: ●●●●○


13. Hammer rope cable curl

You perform this exercise at a cable station. Place your feet at hip width and attach a rope to the cable. Select the lowest level for the cable, you start with the rope all the way down. Grab the rope via a hammer grip, your palms facing each other. Position your elbows next to your body and keep them in that position during the exercise. Perform a curl by moving your hands up towards your shoulders. Then slowly bring it back to starting position.

Target muscle(s): head bicep muscle

Difficulty: ●●●○○


14. Bar cable curl

You perform this exercise at a cable station. Place your feet at hip width and attach a bar to the cable. Select the lowest level for the cable, you start with the bar all the way down. Grab the bar with both hands via an underhand grip. Position your elbows next to your body and try to keep them in that position during the exercise. Perform a curl by moving your hands up towards your shoulders. Then slowly bring it back to starting position.

Target muscle(s): long central bicep muscle

Difficulty: ●●●○○


15. 1 arm cable curl

You perform this exercise at a cable station. Place your feet at hip width and stand next to the cable. Attach the handle to the end of the cable. Select the lowest level for the cable, you start with the handle all the way down. Grab the handle with one hand via an underhand grip. Position your elbow next to your body and try to keep it in that position during the exercise. You can use your other hand for balance or to hold on to the station. Perform a curl by moving your hand up towards your shoulder. Then slowly bring it back to starting position.

Target muscle(s): long central bicep muscle

Difficulty: ●●●○○


16. Close grip pull up

You perform this exercise at a high bar. Grab the bar and place your hands next to each other. Your palms face towards your body. Pull yourself up until your chin is at the same height as the bar. Keep your elbows close to your body, don’t let them move to the side while performing the exercise. Slowly let yourself lower back to starting position but always keep tension on the biceps, don’t let your arms stretch completely when you move down.

Target muscle(s): long central bicep muscle

Difficulty: ●●●○○


17.  Machine bicep curl

Take a seat on the machine. Grab both handgrips and perform a curl. Your upper arms remain in the same position while you perform this exercise. Bring your hands towards your shoulders. This exercise really isolates the central bicep muscle.

Target muscle(s): long central bicep muscle

Difficulty: ●●●○○

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