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5 Best Dumbbell Exercises For a Powerful Biceps

Best Dumbbell Exercises For Biceps

 

Every man who comes to the gym is dreaming about powerful arm muscles.

And first of all, he draws attention to the development of the biceps of the flexor arm – biceps.

Guys love to pump up biceps, simply because a big and powerful hand could be easily observed from afar, unlike legs that hide in pants

How to train biceps and what are the most effective biceps exercises?

In today’s post, I will cover 5 best dumbbell exercises for a powerful biceps that could be performed with ease in the gym as well as at home!

All you need for that is a good pair of dumbbells, eventually a bench and a good share of motivation!  

The Anatomy of Biceps

Before going any further into considering exercises for pumping biceps, let’s refresh some anatomical knowledge about biceps.

So, the bicep is a small muscle group that is involved in the flexion of the arm in the elbow joint.

Due to its lever structure, you will want to stronger strain in order to pump it as you hold the weight closer to the wrist.

Another important aspect is that biceps is not just one muscle, but a complex of closely interwoven muscle groups, such as:

Biceps brachii (short head). Responsible for the most natural weight lift for the body with hands turned toward the athlete (with supination).

Best Dumbbell Exercises For Biceps

Biceps brachii (long head). The main muscle head giving the biceps mass and strength. The functions are the same. The emphasis on the head depends on the grip width (narrow – long, wide – short).

Brachialis. Another name is the humeral muscle, located under the biceps, is responsible for weight lifting with a neutral and reverse grip.

Note: In fact, brachialis does not belong to the biceps, but it perfectly increases the volume of the arm, as if pushing out the biceps.

Principles of Biceps Workout 

To properly make up the complex of exercises for biceps workout, here are some simple principles of its training:

#1. Do Not Lift Heavier Dumbbells Than Is Needed

Dumbbells are designed to develop endurance, they contribute to muscle growth, but once you overestimate your abilities, you will unwillingly have to stay away from sports for a long time.

It usually takes a very long time for stretched tendons to restore, tore tendons – even longer.

And therefore, standing in front of the dumbbells, making a choice in favor of weight much heavier than you need and can lift, you take three steps back, having one forward!

#2. Combine it With Back or Chest Training

Despite the fact that there are little to no compound exercises for working out the biceps flexor muscle, it works great in all back and chest exercises.

That is why it is usually done in combination with back and chest training, finishing it in 2-3 isolation exercises for biceps.

The only compound exercise for biceps is considered to be pulling on the horizontal bar with a narrow back grip.

 

Best Dumbbell Exercises For Biceps

 

Despite the fact that the back is also involved in this movement, the emphasis could be shifted to the biceps of the shoulder without flexing the elbows to the end and concentrating on the lifts due to the bending of the arms.

Various traction in the slope and on the blocks are also compound exercises, but these are specifically for the muscles of the back.

The biceps work here to a lesser extent. Therefore, almost the entire training of this muscle group (biceps) consists of isolation exercises.

#3. Use One or More Pieces of Equipment

To properly pump the biceps, it is enough to use one piece of equipment (like a dumbbell or a barbell).

 

Best Dumbbell Exercises For Biceps

 

But you can also alternate for a better result, muscles like new exercises and unusual angles of movement.

#3. Do One Biceps Workout Per Week

Biceps is a small muscle group, not intended to perform intensive and prolonged work.

Therefore, just one biceps workout per week in 2-4 exercises will be enough to develop powerful and good-looking arms.

This is due to the fact that biceps work very good when you do your back or chest workout and performing more biceps workouts per week will overload your biceps muscles which you don’t want.

#4. Make a Little Break Between Biceps Workout and Chest/Back Workouts

When doing biceps exercises, you should give up performing hard exercises for other parts of your body, at least for a few days.

This is not a prank, not selfishness, but really, the wise advice of athletes. Give all the energy to the biceps and you will notice the difference.

What actually happens is biceps become overloaded when you do biceps workout right after the day you have done your back/chest workout. 

For example, let’s admit that you have performed your back and chest workout in one single training session and the day after, you went out to the gym to pump your biceps.

But they already did a good job in all traction and pushing exercises during your back and chest workout yesterday, especially if you have reached significant working weights comparable to your body weight.

 

Best Dumbbell Exercises For Biceps

 

It makes sense to either perform a day of legs workout between the days when you are training back/chest and arms or change the exercises in the split.

For example, after chest training, add 1-2 biceps exercises to finish it off after working out in the bench exercises.

Do the same with the back training, during which the biceps also work very well. 1-2 biceps exercises are enough to make your biceps feel crazy by the end of your workout.

That is, the program is drawn up with a focus on the work of assistant muscles (triceps also work in the bench press, and biceps in the thrust of the block to the stomach and chest).

In this article, I am talking about the importance of alternating weeks with hard and light exercises.

Applying this method, you can also easily introduce biceps workout into your light exercises week, without having to break your whole training program for the sake of biceps workout. 


Best Dumbbell Exercises for Biceps Workout

Due to the small volume of this muscle group, it is easiest to develop biceps with a complex with predominantly isolation exercises.

They all have similar techniques and differ only in the position of the hand and body. Therefore, we will consider them in groups.

Important Note: Before you start the workout, a warm-up and stretching are required! When working with dumbbells, you can pre-warm the muscles with active swings with lightweight, and then stretch significantly.

#1. Standing Dumbbell Curls

Only, at first sight, it seems that this is the same exercise as with the barbell.

Dumbbell lifts in a standing position sufficiently form the biceps and give it clarity. Loads the external head of the biceps (biceps brachii long head).

Best Dumbbell Exercises For Biceps

Let’s see what is the right execution technique of this exercise:

Step #1. In the initial position, legs are apart on shoulder-width, dumbbells in the hands along the body. The elbows are pressed to the sides.

Step #2. The palms are turned to the sides, and when lifting the dumbbell, you need to deploy the wrist with the palm up.

Step #3. At the upper point, you need to fix the position of the hand for a second, do not fold it immediately down.

Stretch your biceps as much as possible when the dumbbell is at its highest point. It is extremely important to exhale at the time of bending.

Step #4. The downward movement should be controlled, not inertial! Here you will want to exhale again for the better result.

Step #5. You want your body to be as static as possible. Do not swing, and do not make the body jolting and jerking. Lifting should be done only due to biceps.

Step #6. When lifting, follow the maximum rotation of the wrist, turn the palm up.

Step #7. Watch out your elbows, if they come forward, the deltoid muscle will take the burden on itself. Remember, your goal is to pump biceps!

Step #8. Take the optimal weight. That’s right – if you can do 8 to 10 repetitions, and get significantly tired to the last one.

Step #9. Do simultaneous lifts or alternate each hand, this is not that important and it depends only on you.

The main thing is to do it right and follow the correct execution technique. It all depends on personal preference and weight.

#2. Seated Dumbbells Curls

This exercise will be the best for execution in the middle of a workout, after more difficult exercises, such as lifting a barbell to the biceps while standing.

Lifting dumbbells while sitting on a bench makes work biceps as well as forearms.

Best Dumbbell Exercises For Biceps

Let’s see what is the right execution technique of this exercise:

Step #1. Sit on a bench, put your legs as comfortable as possible for you.

The back is straight, shoulders are deployed, elbows are pressed to the sides. Palms with dumbbells along the body, looking inward.

Step #2. When lifting the dumbbell, turn the wrist outward so that it is maximally facing upward.

Step #3. Do not jerk, concentrate on working out biceps.

Step #4. Lower, controlling movement, as much as possible. 

Step #5. At the top point, strain your biceps as much as you can. Hold there for a second. Inhale.

Step #6. The body is straight throughout the exercise, do not swing it, do not round the back.

Step #7. This exercise also can be done both simultaneously with both hands, and alternately. You can alternate a simultaneous lift with an alternate one.

Step #8. If you do the lifts alternately, be careful to not allow the moment when you will incline the working shoulder. This happens initially, you need to follow the technique!

Note: Ideally to perform 3-4 approaches (sets) by 10-12 repetitions. 

#3. Concentrated Dumbbell Curls While Sitting

This exercise makes your biceps work hard. It will give sharpness to the biceps, and significant relief. 

Best Dumbbell Exercises For Biceps

Let’s see what is the right execution technique of this exercise:

Step #1. Sitting on the edge of the bench, spread your legs, rest your feet on the floor, press the heels to the floor.

Step #2. Take a dumbbell in your hand, lower it between your legs, forearm rest against the inside of the thigh.

Step #3. Raise the dumbbell to the shoulder, while turning the hand outward until the wrist is fully turned up.

Step #4. Lock at the top for seconds.

Step #5. Controlling the arm, slowly lower the dumbbell.

Step #6. Further – do the same with the other hand. If you feel you can do it, try to perform this exercise alternating the right and left hand.

Important Note: Do not start with large weights! Take those weights that will let you perform 8 to 10 reps.

#4. Incline Bench Dumbbell Curls

This exercise will make you to strictly follow the execution technique since a pressed back to the bench will not allow you to swing.

In this exercise, biceps work also on their maximum capacity. This exercise works on the biceps muscle from all sides.

In addition to the biceps, the brachial muscle, brachioradialis, and round pronator work.

The exercise is quite complicated, and you need to seriously approach it. If you do it for the first time, it is best to ask somebody to assist you.

For beginners: optimally, do 2 – 3 sets of 8-10 reps with 5-8 kg. In this way, you can assess your training, and increase weight depending on your success.

 

Best Dumbbell Exercises For Biceps

 

Let’s see what is the right execution technique of this exercise:

Step #1. Sit on an inclined bench, firmly press the feet to the floor. Press your shoulders to the bench. Do not bend your back.

Step #2. Hands with dumbbells along the body in a lowered position, palms facing each other. Press your elbows to your sides.

Step #3. When lifting, use your biceps to flex. Turn the palms up while lifting. Turn the wrist, and rise it as much as possible upwards.

Step #4. Do not tear your back from the bench. Watch out your elbows.

Step #5. Do not spread your arms to the sides, they should be parallel to the body.

Step #6. If you spread your arms when lifting, the load will move to the inside of the biceps.

Step #7. Make sure you breathe properly. Thanks to proper breathing, shortness of breath will not let you down. When you bend – exhale, when you lower the dumbbell – inhale.

Step #8. In order to stretch your biceps more – press your head to the bench.

Step #9. The exercise is quite complicated, and the weight of the dumbbells should be 70-80% of those with which you are engaged while standing.

Step #10. Do not incline the bench relative to the floor below 50 degrees. This will overstretch your biceps. Injuries under such conditions grow with progression!

#5. Dumbbell Scott Curls

This is a physically challenging exercise. It will not let you cheat with the help of your back rolls, or shoulder tilts.

In the beginning, it is worth asking someone to be near to assist you.

This exercise makes work biceps and forearms at their full potential. 

Best Dumbbell Exercises For Biceps

Dumbbell Scott Curls can be done with both hands at the same time, and alternately.

It is possible to do the exercise by rotating and raising the wrist, and statically holding the wrist up, as in lifting the barbell.

The emphasis should not be above the middle of the chest, the shoulder should not bulge up. When lifting up, concentrate tension in the biceps.

When lowering the dumbbells, keep your hand in tension, in no case do not lower them underweight. This moment is the most traumatic. Watch out your breath.


No More Excuses

Regular exercise, proper nutrition, the power of your mind, and perseverance are your friends.

Remember, those who are willing to make it will find a thousand possibilities, and those who are not willing will find a thousand excuses.

If you want to succeed in this sport, look for opportunities, and your body will respond within the first three months! Take it and do it!

You are today in a much more advantageous position than I have been 25 years ago, and I still made it!

The exercises given in this article are, in my opinion, the most effective, but this is not the ultimate truth.

Each of us has its own leverage, muscle attachments, and dominant groups of muscles, respectively, what works well for me, not necessarily will have the same impact on you or somebody else.

But there is still such a thing as anatomy and biomechanics of movements, research and experience. Based on all this, I have selected the exercises.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and now, you know what are the best dumbbell exercises for biceps.

If you have any questions or thoughts about the above aspects, or you have something to add or share your story, please leave them in the comments section below and I will get back to you asap.

If you liked this article and think it might be useful for someone else too, please share it with your friends and family through social media channels.

All the best,

Ionut Voicu

Best Dumbbell Exercises For Biceps

Voicu

Natural Bodybuilder, Fitness Blogger, Father, and Husband, Founder of TrainYourBodyWithVoicu.com

4 Comments

  1. Hi, Voicu,

    I’m glad I bumped into your site. I’m trying to get back to the gym and I always have a hard time looking for routines or ideas to work out. You provided some excellent recommendations above.

    As you said, we can find a million excuses to not work out. I’m not a fan, but I know we have to do some physical activity for our health.
    I hope to read more from you. Good stuff. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi, Enrique,

      I am so glad I could be of help to you with this post!

      I hope to also hear from you about your progress, as well as to see you here again reading more of my content!

      Have a blessed time,

      BR,
      Ionut

  2. Great advice on biceps workout and how to perform them properly.

    I didn’t know that doing bicep curls sitting or standing made any difference?!

    I was also surprised that one of your advice is to do just one biceps workout per week. Good to know!

    Thank you, this is very helpful and informative.

    • Hi, Anne,

      It is good to see that a woman is reading my blog 🙂

      Indeed, there is a difference between doing biceps curls in sitting position vs. standing and this is mainly in the result you get from your workouts.

      For example, according to my observations, incline bench dumbbell curls loads the biceps muscle more qualitatively than the classical lifting of dumbbells standing with supination.

      This may happen due to the fact that when you sit on an incline bench, your back is pressed to the bench and there is no room for you to swing, as there might be when doing standing dumbbell curls.

      Moreover, there are different angles from which exercises are performed while standing or sitting and this also affects the extent of muscle involvement in the exercise.

      Thank you, Anne-Caroline, for dropping in!

      BR,
      Ionut

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