6 best free weight exercises for bigger biceps (full routine)

bicep exercises biceps routine hammer curl

If you ask 100 men what their personal fitness goal is then 99 of them will say building bigger biceps. Somehow it’s perceived as very important to have big and toned biceps.

 

And it makes sense, well trained biceps are an indication of strength and being in shape. Therefore, in this article I’m providing a full workout routine consisting of the 6 best bicep exercises! The exercises included are all free weight exercises.

Free weight exercises are exercises performed not with a machine but with dumbbells, a kettlebell or a barbell. The good thing about free weight exercises is that you can’t ´'cheat´  while performing them. You need all your focus and energy to perform them right.

 

And not only are you working out the focus muscle (in this case the bicep) but you are also working out the adjacent muscles! Because you constantly have to correct and find your balance, it increases the effectiveness of the exercise. Free weight exercises are therefore the ideal exercises when you want to develop bigger muscles.

 


Anatomy

Your biceps (biceps brachii) consists of two muscles: the central bicep muscle (caput longum) and the head of the bicep muscle (caput breve). Biceps literally means ‘two-headed’. Both heads attach to the shoulder blade and at the bottom the bicep attaches to the radius near the elbow joint.

 

biceps anatomy

Both muscles have to be targeted in their own special way when you work out. The central bicep muscle is being trained when you perform ‘normal’ curls with your palms in a horizontal position:

normal bicep curls exercises

The head of the bicep muscle is targeted via so called ‘hammer curls’. By rotating your hands inwards so your palms face each other, the focus shifts from the central part to the top part of the bicep. It is the same position as you would hold a hammer, hence the name hammer curls:

Workout routine

The exercises below focus on the complete bicep muscle. All you need are dumbbells and a barbell. Hammer curls and normal curls are being alternated.

 

Focus on performing around 10 reps per set. And try to make at least 3 sets per exercise. Select a weight that allows you to make at least 8 reps, if you can’t do 8 decrease the weight.

 

If you perform 12 reps and you feel like you still have energy left then increase the weight.

 

Exercise 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: central bicep muscle

 


Exercise 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: head bicep muscle

 


Exercise 3: 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: central bicep muscle

 


Exercise 4: 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: head bicep muscle

 


Exercise 5: 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: central bicep muscle

 


Exercise 6: 21

This is a normal curl but the range of motion differs from the other exercises. This exercise is called 21 because you will perform a set concisting of 3 different movements of 7 reps. 

Movement 1 starts at your shoulders (starting position) and lowering the barbell until your arms are horizontal. This is half the movement of a normal rep. Repeat 7 times.

Movement 2 is lowering the barbell from a horizontal postition all the way down. Repeat 7 times.

Movement 3 is a full rep.

Target muscles: central bicep muscle