Big biceps are the pinnacle of strength for many people. Nothing says better that you are working out than big, round biceps. The biceps are one of those focal points of your body that stand out and really make you look bigger and stronger. Ask somebody to show off their body and the chances are high that biceps are flexed. To get those big biceps, you will need to know the right exercises. So today we talk about the best 5 exercises for bigger biceps at home.
As many gyms are closed (depending on where you live) due to the coronavirus, you might think it is difficult to work out properly. Nothing can be further from the truth though, especially when it comes to training your biceps. Your biceps are one of the easiest muscles to train at home and – when done correctly – show a nice result relatively quick.
All you will need for these exercises is a pair of dumbbells, preferably with adjustable weights. If you have an adjustable bench, you add some variations, but this is not necessary. Kettlebells or resistance bands are also an option and can be used for several exercises. Furthermore you will need to eat healthy and get a good nights’ rest to optimize the effect of your efforts.
About the Biceps
The biceps are, as the name suggests (bi means 2), 2 muscles in your upper arm. The Latin name for the biceps is Musculus biceps brachii and they take care of several movements:
- Moving your arm to the front,
- Moving your arm to the side of your body,
- Bending your arm inwards,
- Bend your elbow,
- Turning your hand outwards.
The two muscles are a long head, on the outside of the arm and a short head, on the inside of the arm.
The biceps are quite useful and show your strength and fitness. All the more reason to make sure they pop. So let’s dive into the exercises and how to optimize your performance and results!
Warming up Your Biceps
It is actually not needed to specifically warm up your biceps alone, but it is always recommended to do a proper warmup of your entire body before starting any workout.
You can jog for 5 minutes on a treadmill, or outdoors. Using a jumping robe for 5 minutes is also a great start and will warm you up quickly.
After this, you can do a bicep specific warmup if you want, by doing a few bicep curls with a very low weight. Again, this is not needed but I always do so anyways as this makes your biceps less susceptible to injury.
Performing Biceps Exercises The Right Way
As we go through the exercises, it is important to know a few basic things about the way you hold your dumbbell or barbell. The effect of the curl can be changed by using different hand positions.
Close grip is used for targeting the long head, or the outside of the biceps. A wide grip is better for targeting the short head of the biceps and thus the inside of the biceps. Standard grip will target both the long- and short head of the biceps equally. Reverse grip is great for targeting the brachioradialis in your forearm and give you more grip strength.
Always keep the hand with which you hold the weight, in a straight extension of your forearm to reduce tension on the joints of your wrist.
Another important note for all the exercises below is the angle of your forearm when performing the exercise. We will mention that for all exercises, the highest part of the movement should create an angle of about 90-120 degrees between your forearm and upper arm, measured from your hand. Do not go any higher. You might see a lot of people on Youtube moving the weights close to their shoulder. This is contra productive and useless. You will feel quickly that your biceps will be fully squeezed and pumped at the angle mentioned. Going higher actually reduces the tension and thereby the optimal point of focus.
The number of sets per exercise is important if you really want to maximize the effect of your effort. Science proves that 5 sets per exercise show a bigger increase in muscle growth than 1 or 3 sets. It is up to you what suits your way of training best. We recommend 5 sets, where the last rep should be hard to execute.
A final note before we start explaining the exercises. Please make sure you perform the exercise to the best of your ability. It is not a competition of who can curl or lift the heaviest weight. It’s all about how you perform the exercise. So keep your shoulders back, keep your upper arms close and straight next to your torso and don’t allow your elbows to shift behind your body while doing the exercise. Keep your back straight and don’t swing the weight up. Let your biceps do the work.
After this, you are ready to start putting the pump in your arms!
Best 5 Exercises for Bigger Biceps at Home
The dumbbell curl is the mother of all bicep exercises and thus we have to start by mentioning this great way to increase the strength and size of your biceps. Most of the other exercises for your biceps are based on this one, which shows it’s pretty great. And the good thing is, even though it is a classic exercise, it still is one of the most effective ways to train your biceps.
The dumbbell curl can be done either standing or seated. Execution is important to optimize the exercise and minimize the risk of injuries. You can do this exercise with alternating movements, or lift both weights at the same time. Most people are able to lift slightly more weight while alternating, so this is probably the best way to get bigger biceps.
By keeping your arms straight next to your body, you minimize pressure on your shoulders and thus let your biceps do the heavy lifting. Keep your shoulders pulled back and keep your shoulder muscles tightened.
Grab yourself a dumbbell in each hand, with your palms facing upwards. Lift one of the dumbbells to the front to an angle of about 90-120 degrees. Then squeeze your biceps and lower that arm. Repeat with your other arm to complete one rep. Start with 3-5 sets of 10 reps with a weight that makes the last reps hard, but not impossible.
Make sure to not go too heavy or do the exercise too fast if you are just starting this. Furthermore, like we mentioned earlier: keep your shoulders back and your upper arms close and straight next to your body. Do not start swinging the weights up and down and keep your back straight and under tension.
Lastly, keep your hands in one line with your forearms. By letting them “hang” to much, you put too much pressure on your joints and risk injury.
Hammer curls are pretty much the same as dumbbell curls, but they focus more on biceps brachialis, which lies deeper into your upper arm, close to the elbow. The main difference is the way you hold the dumbbell as hammer curls are done with your palms facing each other. You hold the dumbbell as it were a hammer. Keep your hand in a straight line from your forearm.
Again, keep your (upper) arms close and straight next to your body and move your forearm upwards, slightly more than a 90 degree angle and more inwards to your chest. At the height of the movement, squeeze your biceps and then slowly and fully controlled, lower the dumbbell again. Repeat with your other arm to complete one rep. Start with 3 sets of 10 reps with a weight that makes the last reps hard, but not impossible.
Make sure your shoulders are tight and perform the whole exercise just by using your biceps. Your back is straight and you are not swinging your whole torso to perform the exercise. If you need to move your upper body, you are using too much weight.
Close Grip Biceps Curls
Again a variation on the regular dumbbell curls. This exercise however is done while keeping your hands close to each other. To be honest, this exercise is best done by using a barbell, or even better; an EZ bar, but not everybody has one of those lying around. To a slightly lesser extent, it is also doable by keeping the dumbbells against each other and thus keeping your hands as close to each other as possible. Normally you should aim to keep your hands abou 4 inches (10cm) apart. Trying to keep them as close to eachother as possible while performing the curl is perfect for targeting the outside of the biceps.
Perform 3-5 sets of 10 reps, where the last rep is hard to do.
As the name suggests, this exercise is one that concentrates on isolation of your biceps as much as possible.
This exercise requires a low seat, or a workout bench and a single dumbbell.
Sit on the bench, while leaning forward with a straight back and keeping your legs bend to the sides. Grip the dumbbell with your right hand and place your right elbow against the inside of your right thigh. Place your left hand on your left knee. At this point, the dumbbell is close to the ground and your whole arm is straight.
Lift the weight by just using your biceps to an angle that is slightly more than 90 degrees. Squeeze your biceps when the dumbbell is at its highest. Then slowly and in full control, lower the weight while keeping your biceps under tension. This is one rep for one arm. Do 3-5 sets of 10 reps for each arm.
Make sure your upper arm is pressed against your thigh at all times during the movement. This is called concentration curl for a reason and the only part of your body that is supposed to move, is your forearm with the weight. Also, keep your hand and forearm in a straight line, like with the other exercises.
Reverse Dumbbell Curls
This is yet another variation of the regular dumbbell curl. This time, we grip the dumbbell the other way around, with your palms facing downwards instead of upwards. This is an interesting variation, which also heavily targets the forearms.
As you will soon encounter, this is way heavier than the regular dumbbell curl and we recommend using a much lower weight to start with.
Performing this exercise is basically the same as the regular dumbbell curl, with the big difference that you are holding the weights upside down compared to the other exercise. The movement is exactly the same.
As mentioned for the other biceps exercises, keep your hands and forearms in a straight line to optimize the movement. Try to aim for 3-5 sets of 10 reps, where the last rep should be difficult to perform.
Extra: Cheat Curls
We have been hammering on keeping your upper body straight and performing the exercises with just your biceps. The cheat curl is the exception to this rule. It is not a new exercise in itself, but basically the final couple of reps for one of the exercises mentioned above. A cheat curl is performed by using your back, to swing the weight up when you actually lack the strength in your biceps to perform one more rep. By swinging up the weight with your back, you can perform one or two more reps of controlled lowering of the weight, where you wouldn’t be able to do so otherwise. Hence the name Cheat curl.
We have talked about the best 5 exercises for bigger biceps at home. All of the exercises can be done at home with little more than a few dumbbells. This makes them perfect for training during the lockdowns. As dumbbells can be used for a wide range of exercises for every muscle in your body, they are one of the best home workout equipment you can buy. Make sure you get some adjustable ones, with some extra weights. This will create a lot of options for different exercises and room for improvement of your own capabilities.
Enjoy the exercises and as always: if you have any questions, please feel free to ask by writing down a reaction below, or contact us via the contact page. You can also subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to know when we post a new article.