What are the best biceps exercises?

Posted in Fitness by quadriceps on January 1, 2011

There are a ton of biceps exercises available for you to choose from. Here are some of the issues involved in picking the best biceps exercises.

Compound versus isolation exercises

Some exercises are compound exercises. That is, they work more than one muscle group and involve several joints. An example of a compound exercise that works the biceps is a pull up. It involves your biceps muscles, but it also works the back and the grip. There are many, many chin-up variations for you to choose from.

Isolation exercises work a single muscle, and only one joint is involved in the movement. Biceps curls are isolation exercises. The biceps muscle is isolated as much as possible, and the elbow joint is the only joint in motion.

Stretched, contracted, or mid-way

Some bodybuilders like to work the biceps 3 different ways.

  • Concentrating on the stretched part of the movement
  • The weight at its heaviest mid-way through the movement
  • Focusing on the contracted part of the movement

Here are some examples:


Preacher curls using an ez-curl bar and a preacher bench. The maximum weight is ‘felt’ when the biceps muscle is at a fully extended — stretched — position.


Regular standing dumbbell or barbell curls put the most weight on the biceps when the muscle is about halfway between fully stretched and fully contracted.


Something like a concentration curl will put the majority of the stress on the biceps when the muscle is fully contracted at the top of the movement.

Don’t overwork your biceps

Until your arms get big — like 16 inches or more — there’s not much reason to concentrate on your biceps to the exclusion of other areas of your body. It’s best to work on your back rather than you biceps (if you are pressed for time). Once you get big, then you can begin to specialize and prioritize the upper arms.


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