If you’re reading this article, it’s safe to assume that you either don’t have the biceps you want yet or are looking for some new exercises to add to your routine. The biceps, while they may not be the strongest muscle group in the body, they are arguably the best “show” muscles. And like everyone else in the gym, while yes, we are there for our health, we are also there to improve our physique and appearance—and there is nothing wrong with that.
When most people talk about biceps, they are referring to a muscle group known as the biceps brachii. Biceps brachii, Latin for "two-headed muscle of the arm”, is a large muscle that lies on the front of the upper arm between the shoulder and the elbow.
This is the muscle group that most bicep workouts target; however, if you really want to develop some serious guns, there are other bicep related muscles you should know about.
Like the biceps brachialis; the two muscles which lie underneath the biceps brachii. Exercising the biceps brachialis muscles helps to separate the area between your biceps and triceps and also pushes up the bicep brachii, adding to its size, making your bicep look even bigger than if you were to only train your bicep brachii.
There are multiple kinds of exercises and grip variations that can help you target these muscle groups. For the sake of this article, were going to talk about both.
Now that we’ve got the anatomy behind your biceps down, let the real fun begin.
EXERCISE #1: The Barbell Curl
The classic barbell curl has been around for long over a century, and it remains one of the best all-around bicep exercises you can do. You can use various methods and grips for this exercise: regular bar or EZ bar, wide grip or narrow grip; making these small changes to your grip or equipment can make all the difference to your training by emphasizing different parts of the muscle. A narrower grip will emphasize the long head of the muscle, while a wider grip will emphasize the short head of the muscle.
How to do it: Standing upright, grab a barbell using an underhanded grip. Hold the bar in the arms down position, keeping your grip slightly wider than shoulder width. Keep your feet close together with your back straight and head level. Keep your arms close to your body. The bar should be resting across the thighs. Curl the weight up in a controlled fashion until the bar is under your chin. Pause for a second and slowly lower the bar until your arms are fully extended in the arms down position. Repeat the movement.
EXERCISE #2: Incline Inner Bicep Curls
These bad boys are great for isolating your bicep muscles because you begin by working at a deficit—meaning you’re starting at a movement point where you have less leverage than usual. Incline curls stretch the long head of the bicep and the more horizontal the bench during your workout, the more the long head of the muscle will be stretched during reps.
How to do it: Set your bench to a 45 degree angle. Lie down on the bench gripping your dumbbells. Keep your palms facing forward and your arms turned outward away from your body. Curl one arm up, squeeze at the top, slowly lower the weight and then repeat with your other arm. Use a weight that allows you to perform 4-8 repetitions per arm.
EXERCISE #3: The Zottman Curl
These curls—named after the famous American strongman George Zottman— target the three major muscles that make up the biceps—the biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis, by rotating your grip halfway through the movement.
How to do it: Hold a set of dumbbells in front of you with your arms extended and palms facing forward. Bend your elbows and curl the weights up toward your shoulders, squeezing hard at the top. Then flip your palms downward and lower the weights slowly to the start to complete one rep. Rotate the dumbbells back to the starting position and repeat.
EXERCISE #4: 21’s
It’s all about R.O.M for this one (range of motion). The 21 consists of the different positions of a curl, emphasizing each muscle of your biceps, helping you to carve out an impressive set of guns .
How to do it: Stand upright and grab a barbell with an underhand grip. Place your hands shoulders-width apart and allow your arms to hang toward the floor. Tuck your elbows tight to the sides of your body. Curl upward until you make a 90-degree angle at your elbow. Relax your arms back to full extension and repeat six more curls reaching the 90-degree angle at your elbow. Now, from the 90-degree at your elbow position, curl the weight up until the barbell is one to two inches away from your shoulder. Lower the weight back to the 90-degree elbow position and repeat six more times.
Now, allow your arms to return to full extension. This time, curl your arms from full extension all the way to full extension. Keep curling until the bar is about one to two inches away from your shoulder.
Repeat six more curls through this full range of motion to complete a total of 21 curls.
EXERCISE #5: Chin Up’s
While chin ups don’t isolate your biceps, they sure do train them hard. Along with your other muscles in your arms, back, and shoulders, chin ups allow you to pull yourself up from a dead hang, seriously packing on the upper body strength.
How to do it: Grab a chin-up bar using a shoulder-width underhand grip and hang at arm’s length. Squeeze your shoulder blades down and back, bend your elbows, and pull the top of your chest to the bar. Pause, and slowly lower your body back to the starting position.
And there you have it, 5 bicep exercises that are sure to give you the guns you want.
The key isn’t just doing exercises though, you have to progress on them. To get the chiseled biceps you desire, you’ll need to ‘overload’, or increase the amount of weight over time.
If you do that, and eat enough food, your muscles will grow.