2 Best Bicep Workouts

Out of all the muscle groups in the body, the biceps are the ones that are most frequently on display. If you know someone who has been spending time at the gym, they will often show you their upper arms to display their progress. Rarely will they bring out their thighs as evidence.

Providing the biceps with an effective workout can improve appearance, give you that ‘ripped’ look and lead to health benefits too. Massive muscle does not have to be the endgame. Workouts will also improve tone and strength if the correct exercise regime is followed.

This best bicep workout article will explain what the biceps are and the benefits of following a bicep workout. In addition, it includes two effective programs, one with weights and one without, to ensure that the biceps are operating at optimum levels.

What Are the Biceps?

best bicep workout - man showing off his biceps

The biceps (or more correctly the biceps brachii) are muscles in the upper arms, reaching from the scapula (shoulder) down to the elbow. They are versatile muscles which have two main functions – supination and flexion of the arm.


best bicep workout - man opening a can

This movement is a ‘turning’ process. Many of us have been in situations where we have been unable, for example, to unscrew the top off a jar of pickles. In these circumstances we often pass the jar on to someone with more strength. This unscrewing action is supination.


best bicep workout - push up

A flexion movement is one which decreases the angle of the limb at the joint. Imagine opening a door by pulling it towards you. As you do this, the arm bends at the elbow, that’s flexion.

The biceps are not alone in the upper arm, they share the same space with the brachialis and coracobrachialis muscles. When completing any bicep workout, it also puts these other two muscles under pressure.

What Are the Benefits of Bicep Workouts?

best bicep workout - man lifting weight

Following a bicep workout will improve the strength, health and size of the muscle. If you are looking for distinctive gains, use heavy weights with low repetitions. Alternatively, lighter weights and high repetitions will provide a tight and toned appearance.

Here are some further benefits of working out the biceps:

Improves Bone Strength

Resistance training, whether by the use of weights or the body as the antagonist, does not only strengthen muscles. Studies have shown that regularly putting the bones under stress improves their density. Furthermore, the same studies have indicated that it can reduce the chance of developing osteoporosis.

Enhances Appearance

Since the biceps are the muscles most often on display, providing them with a workout means their definition and shape is improved. Whether wearing a t-shirt or close-fitting clothes, developed bicep muscles create a positive impression of health and fitness.

Can Reduce Fat Mass

Not only do bicep workouts improve appearance by building muscle, they can also trim down the figure. Studies have shown that following a resistance training program leads to a loss in fat mass.

Improves Sporting Ability

If you play sports that use the arms, undergoing bicep workouts will increase strength power and flexibility.

Many different disciplines, such as tennis, baseball, football and basketball, all involve supination and flexion of the biceps.

What Is the Best Bicep Workout Without Weights?

best bicep workout- man with muscles

If you are looking for tight and toned upper arms, but don’t want to gain large muscle mass, here is a complete workout that does not involve weights.

Try to complete this in its entirety at least twice a week, with a minimum of one day off between sessions. On average, including resting time, it should take around one hour.


The push-up is probably the most well-known of all weight-free exercises. It is a great workout for the biceps, but also works the deltoids, pectorals and triceps.

  • Lie face down, palms flat on the ground beneath your shoulders.
  • Raise your body off the floor so that your arms are locked. The only       points of contact should be the palms of your hands and your toes.
  • Ensure that your back, legs and buttocks are in a straight line.
  • This is the starting position.
  • Bend your arms to lower yourself towards the floor.
  • Stop when the arms reach 90 degrees.
  • Return to the starting position by pushing with your arms until they      are fully extended.
  • This is one repetition.
  • Complete 10 repetitions, rest for three minutes and then do two more    sets, with a three minute break in-between.
  • Try to increase the number of repetitions by one extra push-up every session.


    The chin-up requires a horizontal surface to grip onto. You may be lucky enough to have large door frames which will suffice. Alternatively, you can purchase relatively inexpensive chin-up bars that fit across doorways, or use playground equipment.

    The chin-up is completed with palms facing inwards to exercise the bicep. If they face outwards (the pull-up) the exercise works the back muscles.

  • Grasp the bar, palms facing towards you. They should be slightly          narrower than shoulder-width apart.
  • Hang from the bar.
  • If your feet are still touching the ground, bend your knees and bring      them up behind you.
  • At all times keep the body straight.
  • This is the starting position.
  • Breathe out and pull yourself up to the bar, concentrating on using        your biceps.
  • When your chin is just above the bar, stop.
  • Hold for one second.
  • Breathe in and slowly lower yourself down, again ensuring you are        using your biceps. Do not ‘drop’.
  • Continue until 10 repetitions are completed. Rest for three minutes,      then do two more sets with a three minute break in-between.
  • As you improve, you can increase difficulty by wearing a weighted backpack during this exercise.

    Inverted Row

    Although this exercise is best done with a low horizontal bar, a table can also be used. However, always ensure that the table can be reached when lying flat beneath it, and that it is heavy and sturdy enough not to be broken or move during the exercise.

  • Lie on the ground, below a table. Your shoulders and head should be      the only part of the body not underneath.
  • Stretch your arms upwards and grab the edge of the table, palms          facing away from you.
  • This is the starting position.
  • Breathe out and pull yourself upwards towards the table using your        biceps.
  • Keep the torso, abdomen and legs in one straight line.
  • Stop when your chest touches the table.
  • Hold for one second.
  • Breathe in and lower yourself slowly to the starting position again.
  • This is one repetition.
  • Repeat until 10 reps have been achieved. Rest for three minutes.
  • Complete two more sets with a three minute rest in-between.
  • This exercise also provides a good workout for the abdominal muscles and back.

    Backpack Curls

    This is an exercise that uses a backpack and towel for resistance. Start with just a couple of pounds in the backpack (for example, a bag of sugar), and then increase every session.

  • Prepare the backpack by placing some weighted object of your choice inside. If the backpack has a carrying handle on top, pass a towel through this. If it does not, slip a towel through both arm straps.
  • Stand with feet slightly apart.
  • Grasp the towel with both hands on either side, allowing the backpack to hang in front of you. The backpack should be as far off the ground as possible. Adjust by either passing the towel through a few more times, or wrapping round your hands.
  • This is the starting position.
  • Breathe out and raise the backpack upwards, only by bending your arms at the elbow.
  • Stop when your arms cannot raise the backpack any higher.
  • At the uppermost point, your palms should be facing your shoulders.
  • Breathe in as you slowly lower the backpack to the starting position     again.
  • This completes one repetition.
  • Repeat until 10 repetitions are completed. Rest. Then do two more       sets with a three minute break in-between.
  • Try to keep the back straight and avoid a ‘swinging’ motion to raise the backpack. This will not help your biceps.

    What Is the Best Bicep Workout with Weights?

    best bicep workout - man in gym

    If achieving large upper arm muscles is the aim, weights are invaluable. The following workout is designed to increase strength, power and definition in the biceps.

    Repetitions should be completed as indicated below, with weights that provide fatigue at this number. The whole workout should take 45-60 minutes including rest breaks. Complete twice a week, with two to three days’ rest between sessions.

    Barbell Curl

    A good exercise to start the workout that pushes the biceps hard. Equipment required – a barbell with weights.

  • Stand with feet together and your back straight.
  • Hold a barbell with arms extended at around waist height, palms          outwards and shoulder-width apart.
  • This is the starting position.
  • Breathe out and curl the barbell upwards until it reaches your                shoulders. Only move your forearms.
  • Hold this position for two seconds.
  • Breathe out, and slowly lower the bar back down to the starting            position again.
  • That completes one repetition.
  • Continue until eight repetitions are completed. Rest for three minutes.
  • Complete three more sets. Eight repetitions, then 10 and then a final    10.
  • Ensure a three minute break between sets.
  • During this exercise, the only movement should come from your forearms, nowhere else.

    Seated Close Grip Curl

    Sometimes called the ‘concentration’ curl, this exercise strengthens the biceps along with the brachialis and coracobrachialis. Equipment required – a barbell and bench.

  • Sit on the edge of a bench, feet flat, with the barbell on the floor in      front of you.
  • Open your legs so that the knees are shoulder-width apart.
  • Reach down between your legs and grasp the barbell with palms          facing outwards. They should both be close together, around two           inches either side of the middle of the bar.
  • Raise the bar around four inches off the floor.
  • Your back should be at around a 45-degree angle.
  • This is the starting position.
  • Breathe out and curl the bar upwards to your shoulders. Only move      your forearms, not the upper arms or back.
  • When the bar reaches the shoulders, stop.
  • Hold for one second.
  • Slowly lower to the starting position again.
  • This completes one repetition.
  • Repeat until 10 repetitions have been completed. Rest for three            minutes.
  • Complete two more sets of 10 repetitions, always taking a three            minute break.
  • Hammer Curls

    A variation on traditional curls, that works both the biceps and triceps. Equipment required – two dumbbells.

  • Stand feet slightly apart with a dumbbell in each hand. Arms fully          extended by your sides.
  • Palms should be facing inwards towards each other. They remain in        this position for the entirety of the exercise.
  • This is the starting position.
  • Starting with the right arm, exhale and curl the dumbbell upwards        towards the shoulder. At all times, the only movement should come        from the forearm.
  • When the dumbbell reaches the shoulder, stop.
  • Hold for one second.
  • Breathe in and slowly lower the dumbbell to the starting position.
  • Complete the same movement with the left arm.
  • That is one repetition.
  • Continue for 12 repetitions. Rest for three minutes.
  • Compete two further sets of 12 repetitions with a three minute break in-between.
  • If you wish, this exercise can be completed while sitting on the side of a bench.

    Barbell Bench Curl

    This exercise is made slightly easier by using a bench for support. This means that it is not as difficult as other curls and therefore perfect as the final exercise. For safety, get a ‘spotter’ to give you the barbell once in position. Equipment required – bench and barbell.

  • Kneel at the side of a bench, so your body is facing it.
  • Place forearms on the bench, wrists should be over the edge. The          elbows should constantly be in contact with the bench throughout the    exercise.
  • Receive the barbell from the ‘spotter’ with palms facing up.
  • The grip should be shoulder-width apart.
  • This is the starting position.
  • Breathe out and curl the bar upwards, only move the forearms.
  • When the bar reaches the shoulders, stop.
  • Hold for one second.
  • Breathe in and lower the bar to the starting position.
  • That is one repetition.
  •  Continue for 12 repetitions. Rest.
  • Complete two further sets of 12 repetitions, with a three minute break   in between.
  • Conclusion

    best bicep workout - lifting weights

    Of all the muscles, the biceps are the ones that can show to the world that you are looking after your body. Furthermore, they promote the appearance of strength and power.

    But the benefits of improved daily function, strengthened bones, sporting enhancement and fat loss, probably outweigh the aesthetic benefits.

    Completing the above workouts can leave you looking and feeling at your absolute best.