These 7 exercises will get those biceps into shape in no time

a man doing a bicep curl
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Our arms carry us through life, literally. We use them to lift children, pets and boxes. They can help us power up a cardio workout (pump those arms), do yard work, and throw together the ingredients for a noteworthy meal.

When it comes to arm strength, the first images that come to mind are often bulky bodybuilders. However, arm strength is essential for more than aesthetics. It allows us to carry out daily activities with reduced strain and pain. Arm muscles aren’t just trendy, they’re functional.

Your knowledge of arm muscles may vary. However, the bicep is one that most people have heard of, at least in passing. The biceps are a large, vital muscle group that you use often throughout the day without a second thought (unless the task is a challenge).

Gaining and maintaining strength in your biceps is essential. Read on to find out why, along with seven bicep exercises to boost your arm day.

man lifting weights in the mirror.
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Biceps 4-1-1

Understanding the basics of these muscles, such as their function and where they are located, can provide the motivation to design your own biceps workout.

Where are the biceps and what do they do?

The biceps are a large, thick muscle at the front of the arm. They are located between the shoulder and the elbow.

The primary functions of the biceps are:

  • Forearm supination: Also known as outward rotation, forearm supination lets you say hello to your friends.
  • Elbow Flexion: Elbow flexion lets you curl your arms to do everything from a bicep curl to picking up your phone off the table to text a friend.
  • Shoulder Flexion: This feature lets you move your arms up and down, which is essential for lifting objects.

Why is it important to strengthen biceps?

A bicep workout isn’t simply about achieving and maintaining a particular look. It’s about building functional strength to lift, pull, and push.

As you age, functional strength may decrease. While you can’t turn back the clock completely, you can slow the aging process and live with less pain by building and maintaining bicep strength. More generally, strength training of one or all muscles can improve cardiovascular health, reduce the chance of falls, stabilize blood sugar levels, and improve mobility and flexibility.

a bearded man doing a biceps curl
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7 biceps exercises for your next workout

Ready to amp up gun day? From numerous variations of bicep curls to pushups, these moves are a total bicep workout. Most require free weights or gym equipment.

Biceps curl with dumbbells

  1. Grab a set of dumbbells.
  2. Hold the dumbbells at your sides in your hands, palms facing the ceiling.
  3. Curl the weights slowly, bending your elbows as you go keeping them close to your body.
  4. Stop when you hit the shoulder and hold for a second.
  5. Do the opposite, lowering the weight to your hips.
  6. Repeat 10-15 times.

Hammer curl

  1. Take two dumbbells.
  2. Hold the weights at your sides with palms facing your thighs.
  3. Similar to the bicep curl, curl the weight slowly. Bend your elbows as you go keeping them beside you, brushing your hips as you lift the weights. Keep your palms facing your sides: This factor differentiates the hammer curl from the standard biceps curl.
  4. Stop at the shoulder and hold for a count of one.
  5. Slowly lower your arms until they are straight.
  6. Repeat 10-15 times.

Push ups

  1. Get into a plank position with your legs and arms straight. Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
  2. Bend your elbows to lower your body towards the floor.
  3. Stop when your chest is almost on the floor and hold.
  4. Push yourself high.
  5. Repeat 15-20 times (or more).

Note: You can modify this move by standing in the all fours position with knees bent.

Reverse curl

  1. Stand straight with a set of dumbbells.
  2. Place the weights on your thighs, palms down.
  3. Bend your elbows, lifting the weights and squeezing your biceps as you go.
  4. Feel the biceps contract.
  5. Stop when you can no longer lift without moving your upper arms.
  6. Lower the weights slowly.
  7. Repeat 10-15 times.

Biceps curl with a resistance band

  1. Get a resistance band.
  2. Stand with both legs on the resistance band shoulder-width apart.
  3. With palms facing in, slowly bend your elbows and curl them towards your shoulders as you did with the dumbbell curl.
  4. Slowly extend your arms until they are straight and back at your sides.
  5. Repeat 10-15 times.

I chin up

  1. Grab the pull-up bar with hands shoulder-width apart. Your palms should be facing you.
  2. Engage your abs by pulling your belly button into your spine.
  3. Use your upper body to pull yourself towards the bar.
  4. Stop when your chin reaches the bar.
  5. Repeat 5-10 times (or more).

Inclined curl

  1. Sit on an exercise bench with a straight back.
  2. Place the weights at your sides with palms facing up.
  3. Engage your abs by pulling your belly button into your spine.
  4. Lift the dumbbell towards your shoulders.
  5. Slowly lower the dumbbells to your sides.
  6. Repeat 10-15 times.
man doing a pushup, white background
Keifit, Pixabay Keiji Yoshiki/Pexel

3 mistakes to avoid when considering a bicep workout

Recording a biceps workout has many benefits and can give a feeling of mental boost. However, some mistakes can derail your progress and are easily overlooked.

  1. Do arm day every day: Focusing on your arms and only your arms every single day is a recipe for overuse injuries. You also need muscles like your legs and abs to perform bicep exercises. For example, core can help you maintain balance and reduce back pain when using heavy weights.
  2. Working only on the biceps: On arm day, be sure to work other muscles, namely your triceps, chest and back, to avoid injury. You can focus on just your biceps one day and your triceps and shoulders another, but make sure everything gets the same amount of time.
  3. Getting over an apparent injury: Bicep exercises are supposed to feel like resistance training because, well, they are. However, if you feel you may have pushed or pulled at something, stop and get checked. You want to be able to bench press, not bench press longer than necessary. Your primary care physician can refer you to a specialist for further evaluation if needed.

If none of the exercises here impress you, remember that a personal trainer can help you customize biceps exercises, including choosing the right weight and moves for your goals and abilities. Also, some gyms offer free trial services.

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