13 Best Exercises for Big Biceps Ranked: Growth and Mass

(Last Updated On: July 7, 2022)

Big biceps flex
Big Biceps that stretch the arms of your shirts and turn heads, it’s something that is desired by many men. Heck, some guys at the gym seem to do nothing but curls trying to get those big guns.

If you want to get serious biceps, it would probably be smart to use the top exercises for building big biceps. Otherwise, you are wasting your time and energy doing exercises that are not going to pay off the way they should.

That is why we are writing this article, to give you the best mass building biceps exercises ranked from top to bottom. If you want big biceps then this is the information you are looking for.

The Anatomy of the Biceps

Biceps anatomy

There are really three things to look at when it comes to the biceps. First is the long head of the bicep. This is the one that you work if you want a nice peek.

The muscle you should not forget about though, is the Brachialis which you can see on the side of the biceps when the arm is flexed. Working this muscle can make your biceps bigger because the Brachialis will actually push the biceps up, making it taller, not to mention the Brachialis itself growing and adding arm size.

Brachialis muscle

Best Exercises for Big Biceps Ranked

These are the exercises you want to focus on. Of course, the exercises that are top-ranked will give you more bang for your buck.

 

13. Concentration Curls

Best Bicep exercises

Concentration curls are a great exercise and they were one of Arnold’s favorites. While he preferred to do them standing you can also do them seated as most people do. One nice thing about concentration curls is you can spot yourself with your free hand and help yourself pump out a few extra reps or even do negatives. Concentration curls are great for building up the peak of the biceps and make the biceps look more aesthetic. That said, they are not the best exercise for building muscle mass. They are a good exercise but we have them at the bottom of the list for mass building.

 How to do a Concentration Curl:

  • Sit with a weight in each hand, palms facing your thighs.
  • Bend forward at your hips and bring the weights to your biceps, keeping your elbows and upper arms stationary.
  • Curl the weights as close to your shoulder as you can.
  • Reverse the motion and lower the weights back to the starting position.

 

Related: 11 Best Exercises for Building Chest Muscle

 

12. High Cable Curl

High cable curl

Let’s be honest; this one is a favorite for guys who like to show off their guns, especially if there are ladies around. These are another good shaping exercises and are also great for a change of pace, but if you are looking to build muscle mass you should use these sparingly.

How to perform the High Cable Curl:

  •  Stand up between two high pulleys and grab a handle with each hand. Your upper arms should be positioned so that they are parallel to the floor with the palms of your hands facing you. This is the starting position for the exercise.
  • Curl the handles toward you until they are positioned next to your ears. Make sure you flex your biceps at the top and squeeze.
  • Slowly bring your arms back to the starting position.
  •  Repeat until you perform the desired number of reps

 

11. Standing Cable Curls

standing cable curl

Standing cable curls are another nice change of pace and while they might look a lot like standing barbell curls just using a cable but there is more to it than that. When you perform these curls with a cable, it is a lot more difficult to keep the bar stable than with a barbell and it works the muscle differently than a barbell would. Give these a try and you will be happy with the results.

How to Perform the Standing Cable Curl

  • Stand upright, holding a cable grip attached to a low pulley in each hand.
  • Keep your elbows close to your sides and grip the bar with your palms facing up.
  • Keep your stationary, breathe out and curl up to your chest.
  • Your elbows should remain stationary and only your forearms should move’
  • Perform the desired number of reps

 

Related: Best Cable Machine Exercises for Muscle Building

 

 



10. Lying Cable Curl

Lying cable curl

Lying bicep cable curls are a nice bicep exercise that can add some size to your biceps. The good thing about this exercise is you can’t cheat as much as you can if you could if you were standing because the ground will prevent you from swaying and arching back. We have all seen the guy doing curls using nothing but momentum, this takes that out of play and makes you work the muscle.

How to Perform the Lying Cable Curl

    The lying cable curl is performed in the same manner as the standing curl with one main difference, you are lying down.

  • Keep your elbows close to your sides and grip the bar with your palms facing up.
  • Keep your upper arms stationary, breathe out and curl up to your chest.
  • Your elbows should remain stationary and only your forearms should move’
  • Perform the desired number of reps

 

9. Reverse Curls

Reverse curls

Reverse curls may be a bit of an old-school exercise but they are a pretty decent mass builder. The reverse curl hits the forearms, biceps and the biceps brachii, which many people miss when it comes to training biceps. These are an exercise you really shouldn’t overlook for the look and size of your entire arm.



How to Perform Reverse Curls

  • To begin the reverse curl, hold the dumbbell or barbell with a pronated grip (palms facing down). Keep your hands and feet about shoulder apart and body straight with chest out.
  • Curl the dumbbell and let the biceps contract while you breathe out. Make sure only your forearms move, not cheating
  • Continue to curl till your biceps fully contract and the dumbbell or barbellis at your shoulder level.
  • Bring back the dumbbell of barbell down in the same motion to the starting point.
  • Repeat until you have completed the needed reps

 

8. Preacher Curls

Best Pre Workout Supplements

These are another good exercise that really isolates the bicep and can help limit cheating on the exercise, although I am sure we have all seen some guys cheating on this one too. This exercise is another one that is good for building that biceps peak guys like.

How to Perform the Preacher Curl

  • Start by sitting on a preacher bench with a light dumbbell each hand (or use a cambered bar like the photo above)
  • Rest your elbows on the padded armrests and position the dumbbells so that they are hanging down at arm’s length.
  • From this starting position, slowly curl the dumbbells up towards your shoulders, contracting your biceps as you do so.
  • Once the dumbbells have reached shoulder level, pause for a count of one before slowly lowering them back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

 

7. Underhand Grip Barbell Rows

Underhand grip rpws

I know what you are thinking, this is a back exercise, and that is true, but they really hit the biceps as well. In this article on T-Nation, they used an electromyography to measure muscle stimulation during both biceps and back exercises. What they found was that some back exercises work the biceps as much as traditional bicep exercises do.

That makes this one a nice double whammy hitting both the back and biceps hard.

How to Perform Underhand Grip Barbell Rows

  •  Start by placing your feet shoulder-width apart and gripping the barbell with an overhand grip.
  •  Bend at the knees and hips to lower your torso down to the bar.
  •  Once your torso is parallel with the ground, retract your shoulder blades and row the bar up to your chest.
  •  Lower the bar back down to the starting position and repeat for desired reps.

 

6. Seated Incline Dumbbell Curls

Seated incline curls

Seated incline dumbbell curls are a nice alternative to regular seated curls. Doing them on an incline like this hits the biceps a bit differently and really hits the long head of the biceps.

How to Perform the Seated Incline Dumbbell Curl

  • Sit on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand
  • Keeping your back and shoulders pressed against the bench, curl the weights up to your shoulder, contracting your biceps as you go.
  • Lower the weights back to the starting position and repeat.

 

5. Zottman Curl

Zottman curl
These are another good “old school” exercise. This one is a bit like a reverse curl and a dumbbell and it is a really nice muscle builder for the biceps, forearms, and brachialis. This one is a nice muscle builder that is underused and is one for you to think about adding to your routine.

How to Perform the Zottman Curl

  • The exercise is performed by holding a dumbbell in each hand with the palms facing away from the body. The arms are extended straight and the feet are shoulder-width apart.
  • To begin the curl, slowly lift one dumbbell up to the shoulder (or both simultaneously) while keeping the other arm extended. At the same time, rotate the palm of the hand that is lifting the weight so that it faces inward toward your body.
  • Continue curling until both dumbbells are at shoulder level, then reverse the motion by lowering one dumbbell while keeping the other arm extended. Rotate the palms back to the starting position so that they face away from your body.
  • Repeat this exercise for the desired number of repetitions.



4. Weighted Chin-up

best biceps exercises

Chin-ups on their own are a good mass builder for biceps, but when you make them weighted they are even better. In the T-Nation article, we mentioned earlier that weighted chin-ups were actually the best-rated exercise by the electromyography. It was not only the best of all the back exercises it also got the higher peak activation on the biceps than any of the biceps exercises did.

This is great news for guys who like quick workouts since you can hit your back and biceps together with this great exercise It also backs up our article on why it is pointless to do biceps curls.

How to Perform Weighted Chin-Ups

  • Choose the right weight. When it comes to weighted chin-ups, more is not necessarily better. Start with a weight that you can comfortably lift for 5-8 repetitions. Once you’ve mastered that, you can gradually increase the weight until you find your sweet spot.
  • Attach the weight securely. Whether you’re using a dumbbell or kettlebell, make sure that the weight is securely attached before proceeding. The last thing you want is for the weight to come loose and fall on your head!
  • Get into position. Grab the bar with an overhand grip, making sure that your hands are shoulder-width apart. From there, hang from the bar and let your body relax. This is the starting position.
  • Perform the chin-up. Use your back and arm muscles to pull your body up until your chin clears the bar. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement for added benefit.
  • Lower under control. Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position, making sure not to drop too quickly or let your body swing. When done correctly, weighted chin-ups are a great way to build strength and muscle mass. Give them a try and see for yourself!

 

3. Hammer curls

hammer curl guy

If you’re looking to add some serious size and strength to your biceps, you’ll want to try hammer curls. This exercise is named after the shape your arms will be in when holding the weight – like that of a hammer.

Hammer curls are a great way to target the biceps muscles, particularly the biceps brachii, and produce impressive results. If you’re new to this exercise, follow these simple steps and curl like a pro in no time.

How to Perform the Hammer Curl

  • Start by standing tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and your core engaged.
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand at arm’s length by your sides, with your palms facing your thighs.
  • Bend your elbows and curl the weights as close to your shoulder as you can.
  • Pause for a moment at the top of the curl, then slowly lower the weights back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for reps

When performing the hammer curl, it’s important to keep your upper arm stationary and only move your forearms. This will help you isolate the biceps muscles and get the most out of the exercise. If you find that your upper arms are moving, then try using lighter weights until you get the hang of it.

 

2. Dumbbell Curls

Matt Ferro Arms

Dumbbell curls are probably the favorite exercise for most guys at the gym and for good reason. They build big guns, end of story. They are also easy to do, just head to the dumbbell rack, grab a couple of dumbbells, and start curling. No racking weights; just grab em and go. Seated or standing,  these bad boys can build some serious pipes.

How to Perform

  • Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing each other
  • Curl the weights forward and rotate your palms, so they are facing you.
  • Squeeze your biceps at the top of the curl for a count of two before slowly lowering the weights back to the starting position
  • Repeat

 

1. Barbell Bicep Curls

Best bicep exercisesHere we have the big daddy. Barbell bicep curls, a favorite of Lee Haney, Arnold Schwarzenegger and many others. That is because they know that barbell bicep curls are the best mass builder for biceps on the planet.

The barbell curl hits both the short and long head of the biceps, but you can focus on one of the heads by adjusting your grip. A closer grip will work the long head of the biceps while a wider grip hits the shorter head. You should vary your grip while training to hit both heads.

The thing about these is you have to use good form. This is true with all exercises, but it is really easy to cheat and use bad form with these. Be sure you aren’t swaying like a tree in the wind when you do these and that you are using all biceps instead of back, and you can virtually watch your biceps grow.

How to Perform Barbell Curls

  • Start by standing up straight, feet shoulder-width apart. If you are using a weight bench, place your feet on the floor and position yourself so that your thighs are parallel to the seat of the bench.
  • Grasp the barbell with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Keeping your elbows close to your sides and your back straight, slowly lift the barbell until your biceps are fully contracted.
  • Hold for a count of one, then slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position.

 

Exercise Selection

Choosing the right biceps training exercises for the goal is like picking out the right tool for the job — it’s vital to your success.

To figure out how many exercises to train per session, multiply the number of days you’re going to be in training by 14. That will give you your max set recommendation for that particular workout or exercise style–in this case, seven sets total on bicep curls and three different movements, including concentration curl-ups (which should generally revolve around higher reps).

So if I wanted stronger arms after two sessions with weights each week, then all year long…I might do four separate workouts utilizing these same types but rotating through various grip widths and leverage positions.

 

Sets and Reps

The number of sets and reps performed is generally based on your goal. If you are looking to build muscle, then you will want to perform 3-5 sets of 6-12 reps. If you are looking to tone your arms, then you will want to perform 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps. And if you are looking to build strength, then you will want to perform 4-6 sets of 1-5 reps.

Remember, the key is to challenge your muscles and push yourself outside of your comfort zone in order to see results.

How to Get Veiny Biceps

vascular biceps

Want to take it a step further and get veiny vascular biceps? We’ve got you covered for that too. Veiny

If you really want to take your biceps to the next level, then it’s time to start working on your veins. Veins are not only aesthetically pleasing, but they also indicate that you have a low level of body fat. To get veiny biceps, you’ll need to do a few things: let’s outline them below.

Reduce Body Fat

The first step to getting veiny biceps is reducing your overall body fat percentage. This can be done by eating a clean diet and performing regular cardiovascular exercise. You’ll need to get your body fat percentage down to around 10% to really see results. Is it easy? No, but it’s worth it.

Remove Body Hair

Not that many people have a lot of biceps hair but if you have hair on the top of your arms and even in your armpit, you could benefit from shaving it off so people can get a better look at your vascularity.

Stay Hydrated

Yep, that’s right. The last tip to be more vascular is remembering to drink water and stay hydrated.

Water retention is one of the main things that can make someone look less vascular so if you’re not drinking enough water, you could be sabotaging your own efforts.

Build More Muscle

If you’re not already lifting weights to build muscle, then that’s the next step. You need to have a decent amount of muscle mass before your veins will start to pop out.

We recommend starting with a full-body workout routine 3 times per week. Once you’ve built up some muscle, you can start focusing on more specific biceps exercises.

Use a Pre-Workout Supplement

Using a pre-workout supplement can also help increase vascularity. A pre-workout will give you a boost of energy and help increase blood flow to your muscles. This can be especially helpful when doing biceps exercises.

One of our favorite pre-workouts for vascularity is Super Mandro by Iron Legion. It contains ingredients like L-Citrulline, Agmatine, and Nitrosigine, which are all great for increasing blood flow.

Don’t Restrict Sodium

One of the worst things you can do if you want to be more vascular is restricting sodium.

Sodium helps with water retention, so if you’re not getting enough of it, your body will start to hold onto water, and you’ll look bloated and puffy instead of ripped and veins.

Get a Good Muscle Pump

Another way to bring out your veins is by getting a good muscle pump.

A muscle pump is when blood vessels constrict and increase the blood flow to your muscles. This makes them look fuller, larger, and more vascular.

When doing biceps exercises, aim for higher reps in the 12-20 range. This will help increase blood flow to the area and make your veins more visible. Also, try using glycerol supplements and even just drinking caffeine before your workout.

Use Tanning Lotion

Lastly, using a tanning lotion can also help bring out your veins.

The darker your skin is, the more contrast there will be between your skin and your veins. This makes them much easier to see.

Just make sure to use a good quality tanning lotion, so you don’t end up looking like a carrot.

So there you have it, those are our tips for getting veiny biceps. Give them a try, and let us know how it goes!



Time to Get Big Guns

There you have the 13 best biceps exercises for big guns. The ones that don’t rank as high are still very useful for shaping as well as a change of pace. Unlike some exercises in our article that ranks the best ab exercises, all of these exercises definitely have their place in your biceps workouts.

When it comes to building muscle mass in the biceps the basics are still the way to go. This is true for most body parts, the tried and true exercises are generally the best. Stick with those, and they will take your arms and body further.