Get Armed for Battle

The very best biceps exercises for towering peaks.

Chris Lund

BEST BRACHIALIS BUILDER:

DUMBBELL HAMMER CURL

KNEE-JERK REACTION

“Doing hammers looks cool, so I’m in.”

OUR EXPERTS’ TAKE

“Hammer curls should be in every man’s repertoire, as they’re great overall arm-mass builders,” says Dan Roberts, C.S.C.S., founder of the Dan Roberts Group in London. “They put great emphasis on the brachialis muscles that run under the biceps brachii—particularly when doing them cross-body at a 45-degree angle.”

HOW TO DO IT

  • Stand with feet at shoulder width, holding a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip, palms facing your sides.
  • Bend the elbow of one arm to curl the dumbbell up and across your body while keeping wrist in the neutral position.
  • Squeeze hard when you reach full elbow flexion, then lower under control and repeat with the other arm.

KEY POINTERS

“The trick to having perfect technique is to always ‘squeeze’ up, not swing up,” Roberts says. “Also, don’t let the hips and shoulders turn into the move. As with all biceps moves, the biggest mistake is lifting too heavy and doing reps too quickly. A 2-1-2 tempo is best.” That means two seconds up, a one-second pause, and another two seconds for the downward motion.

INTENSIFY IT

Introduce an isometric element by holding the nonworking hand in the “up” instead of the “down” position— so as you alternate, each rep begins with an eccentric action before the positive contraction. 

BEST BICEPS ISOLATION MOVE:

LYING CABLE CURL

KNEE-JERK REACTION

“You know the dumbbell concentration curl exists, right?”

OUR EXPERTS’ TAKE

“The cable curl is similar to a concentration curl in that momentum can be eliminated, so no other muscle group can assist other than for stabilization,” says Gerren Liles, a Reebok One ambassador and Equinox Master Instructor based in New York City. The slight edge goes to the cable, however, because the resistance remains steadfast throughout the movement—unlike with a dumbbell, where the stimulus can dissipate at the bottom or even the top of a movement without careful attention to positioning.

HOW TO DO IT

  • Attach a short straight bar to a seated cable row station and lie down, feet placed firmly on the platforms with the cable going between your knees. Hold the bar with a supinated (underhand) grip just inside shoulder width.
  • Keeping your elbows at your sides, bend your arms to curl the bar all the way toward your chin, holding the peak contraction for a moment.
  • Lower the bar back along the same path under control.

KEY POINTERS

“Press your midback and lower back into the bench and brace your abs,” Liles instructs. “Also make sure you have a wide enough handle where your hands are in line with your elbows—and work through a full range of motion. Your legs should be positioned so that they leave room to straighten your arms out completely.”

INTENSIFY IT

Dropsets are a killer pairing with cable movements because it’s so simple to lower the weight each time you hit failure.

 

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