Got 15 Minutes And A Pair Of Dumbbells? You're Ready For This Biceps-Sculpting Arm Workout

·7 min read
Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

When you think about working on your biceps strength, you probably default to cranking out biceps curls. But there are so many other incredible moves to target the biceps...you just haven't learned 'em yet! (That's what we're here for.)

What are the biceps, exactly? The biceps, simply put, are the muscles on the front of your upper arm between your elbows and shoulders. (Think: the muscles that you see move and pop when you flex.) The biceps—note: bi, or two—are made up of two sections: a long head and short head.

A few of the important functions of the biceps muscles:

  • Bending your forearm toward your upper arm

  • Lifting and pulling movements

  • Turning your palms upward or forward

  • Supporting the scapula (or shoulder blade) when you're carrying or lifting heavy loads

Meet the expert: Tatiana Lampa is an ACSM-certified trainer, a corrective exercise specialist, and the creator of the Training with T app.

When you work on strengthening the biceps, you want to make sure you do moves that hit the different parts of the biceps. The moves ahead are a versatile list that you can mix and match to get in a holistic biceps workout.

16 Best Biceps Exercises

Time: 15 minutes

Equipment: 5-10 pound dumbbells for beginner/intermediate, 12 pound for advanced

Good for: Biceps

Instructions: Choose six moves below. For each move, do three to four sets of 12 reps. Then continue to the next move.

1. Biceps Curl

How to: Hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides, palms facing forward, and keep your back straight and chest up. Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and curl the weights toward your shoulders. Slowly lower the weights back to the starting position, straightening your arms completely. That's one rep.

2. Hammer Curl

How to: Hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides, palms facing toward the side of your body, and keep your back straight and chest up. Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and curl the weights toward your shoulders. Slowly lower the weights back to the starting position, straightening your arms completely. That's one rep.

3. Write Your Name

How to: Start standing holding a single dumbbell in both hands. Extend arms out in front at chest height. Slowly and with control, write your name in the air. Each letter is a rep.

4. Curtsy Lunge With Biceps Curl

How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, with a dumbbell in each hand. Take a big step back with your left leg, crossing it behind your right. Bend your knees and lower your hips until your right thigh is nearly parallel to the floor. At the same time, bend your elbows and bring the weights toward your shoulders. Return to start. That's one rep. Complete all reps on one side before switching to the other.

5. Plié Squat With Biceps Curl

How to: Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed out at 45 degrees, torso leaned slightly forward. Hold a set of dumbbells in your hands. Inhale as you bend your knees and sink your hips down until your thighs are parallel to the floor, and lower the dumbbells at the same time. Exhale and drive through your heels back to starting position as you bend your elbows and bring the dumbbells toward your shoulders. That’s one rep.

6. Eccentric Biceps Curl

How to: Hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides, palms facing forward, and keep your back straight and chest up. Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and curl the weights toward your shoulders. Then, very slowly (think: half-speed) lower the weights back to the starting position, straightening your arms completely. That's one rep.

7. Concentric Biceps Curl

How to: Hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides, palms facing forward, and keep your back straight and chest up. Without moving your upper arms, very slowly (think: half-speed) bend your elbows and curl the weights toward your shoulders. Then, lower the weights back to the starting position at a regular pace, straightening your arms completely. That's one rep.

8. Zottman Curl

How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding weights in front of you, palms facing forward. Without moving your upper arms, slowly curl the weights toward your shoulders. At the top of the curl, rotate your wrists inward so your palms face forward. Slowly lower them in that position. Rotate your wrists and dumbbells back to the starting position. That's one rep.

9. 21s Biceps Curl

How to: Hold a pair of dumbbells in your hands, and bend your elbows so they're 90 degrees. Without moving your upper arms, curl the weights toward your shoulders, then lower back down to the starting point. Repeat this 21 times. Then, from 90 degrees, lower your weights all the way down, until your arms are fully extended. Bring them back up to the starting point. Repeat this 21 times. Then, complete a full biceps curl. Repeat this 21 times. Next, do all three moves for 20 reps, then 19, etc. until you've reached one rep.

10. 21s Hammer Curl

How to: Hold a pair of dumbbells in your hands, with the weights facing toward the side of your body, and bend your elbows so they're 90 degrees. Without moving your upper arms, curl the weights toward your shoulders, then lower back down to the starting point. Repeat this 21 times. Then, from 90 degrees, lower your weights all the way down, until your arms are fully extended. Bring them back up to the starting point. Repeat this 21 times. Then, complete a full hammer curl. Repeat this 21 times. Next, do all three moves for 20 reps, then 19, etc. until you've reached one rep.

11. Wide Biceps Curl

How to: Hold a pair of dumbbells in each hand. Glue your elbows to your sides, but hold your forearms out at a 45-degree angle away from your body. Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and curl the weights toward your shoulders. Slowly lower the weights back to the starting position, straightening your arms completely. That's one rep.

12. Frogger With Biceps Curl

How to: With a dumbbell in each hand, get into a plank position, with your arms extended and positioned below your shoulders. Using your core to stabilize your body, jump forward until your feet are next to the dumbbells. Get into a squat position, with your elbows inside of your inner thighs. Slowly bend your elbows and bring the dumbbells toward your shoulders. Lower back down to the ground, and jump your feet back to the starting point. That's one rep.

13. Plank With Biceps Curl

How to: With a dumbbell in each hand, get into a plank position, with your arms extended and positioned below your shoulders. Keeping your body in position, slowly bend one elbow and bring the dumbbell toward your shoulder. Lower it back down. Repeat on the other side. That's one rep.

14. Triceps Kickback With Biceps Curl

How to: Stand with your knees bent and lean forward slightly, with a dumbbell in each hand. Bend both elbows to bring the dumbbells to your side, making your upper arm parallel with the floor. Press the dumbbells back, and as you straighten your arm, squeeze your triceps. Return to start. Then, bend your elbows and bring your weights toward your shoulders. That's one rep.

15. Crossbody Alternating Biceps Curl

How to: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with a dumbbell in each hand. Your palms should be resting against the front of your thighs. Keeping your elbow glued to your side, raise one dumbbell toward your shoulder. Return to start. Repeat on the other side. That's one rep.

16. Isometric Biceps Hold

How to: Hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides, palms facing forward, and keep your back straight and chest up. Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and curl the weights until your arms form a 90-degree angle. Hold here for 30 seconds, then lower back down. That's one set. This is a great way to end your workout.

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