Gym woes: A complete bicep workout

Shoaib Siddiq Oct 13 2015
biceps

After joining the gym, most of us lust for bigger arms.

Learn about them, the anatomy and exercises of a bicep workout, so you can reach your goal sooner.

GENERAL ANATOMY

Biceps muscles located at upper anterior compartment of arm are band of muscles that flex the arm at elbow joint. It consists of mainly three muscles:

Biceps Brachii long-head: The band of muscle when viewed from side and muscle at elbow when arms are straight. It is located on the outer side of arm.

Bicep Brachii short-head: The band of muscle when viewed from front. It is located on the inner side of the arm.

Brachialis: The muscle that makes peak of biceps. It is located between biceps and triceps.

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EXERCISES

STANDING BARBELL CURL

Target Muscle: Entire biceps (Mostly short head)

Grab a straight barbell and put on handle-able weights.Hold shoulder width supinated (neutral) grip. With elbows locked by your side, curl the bar upwards towards your chest, at peak contraction hold for a few seconds then slowly lower the bar till your arms are almost straight (but not exactly straight, let elbows be a little bent at the end position to keep tension in biceps throughout the set).

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Variation:

  • Close grip to target long head of the biceps and brachialis muscle (Note: Use less weight than usual grip)
  • Wide grip to target short head of the biceps (Note: Use more weight than usual grip)
  • Cheat curl: Using your lower body to lift more weight

HAMMER CURL

Target muscle: Brachialis and long head of biceps

Grab dumbbells in both hand, rotate the wrist so that your palms are facing each other. Keeping your elbows locked in and by your side; curl the dumbbells up, towards your shoulder, hold and squeeze at peak contraction. Then slowly lower till your arms are almost straight. Perform rep alternatively, first left then right hand.

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Variation:

  • Preacher hammer curl: Lean on a preacher bench.With the peak of the bench in your armpit, extend one arm down the bench (again not fully straight). Hold a dumbbell in one hand and place the other hand on the bicep of the first. Now curl as described above.

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  • Inclined hammer curl: Lie on an inclined bench (30⁰-45⁰) and with your arms lying straight on your sides, curl as described above.

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  • Pronated hammer curl: Lie pronated (on stomach) on an inclined bench (30⁰-45⁰) and with your arms lying straight in front of you, curl as described above.

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  • Cross body hammer curl: Curl sideways (right hand towards left shoulder) and hold at peak contraction for about 3 seconds.

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DUMBBELL BICEP CURL

Target muscle: This exercise takes the biceps through its full range of motion and is good for symmetry in each arm. Mostly targets short head of biceps.

Seated on a bench, hold the dumbbells on your sides, in hammer curl. Curl upwards while rotating your wrist upwards so your palm faces the ceiling at top position at end of contraction as shown in the picture. At the top of contraction, rotate the dumbbell inwards to fully flex and squeeze biceps.

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Variation:

  • Incline dumbbell curl: Lie on an inclined bench (30⁰-45⁰) and with your arms lying straight on your sides, curl as described above without moving your elbow. This targets long head of biceps brachi.

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  • Lying supine dumbbell curl: Lie on a flat bench with your face facing the ceiling (supinated), grab dumbbells in both hand and curl straight up (Note: Use less weight and avoid stretch at shoulders)

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  • One arm dumbbell preachers curl: Lean on a preacher bench. With the peak of the bench in your armpit, extend one arm down the bench. Hold a dumbbell in one hand and place the other hand on the bicep of the first. Now curl as described above. Hold for 2-3 seconds at peak contraction and squeeze hard.

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  • Zottman Curl: Curl with palms-up (supinated) grip on the way up and a palms-down grip (pronated) as you lower the weight. All of your elbow flexors get hit in one swoop (Note: Rotate the wrist as you come up instead of just doing it at the bottom before the rep starts).

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PREACHERS CURL

Target muscle: Long head of bicep and brachialis

Use an E-Z bar with supinated grip. With the peak of the bench in your armpit, extend your arm down the bench, but do not fully straighten the arm (to keep stretch on the biceps for the entire set), powerfully curl the bar and hold for 3 seconds at top contraction and squeeze hard, slowly lower to start position and repeat. (Note: keep elbows locked inwards in a V shape during the entire set).

bi

Variation:

  • Use dumbbells instead of barbell.
  • Use less weight, more reps and longer contraction.
  • Use reverse grip to target brachialis (Note: Use less weight)
  • Use machine preacher curl

CONCENTRATION CURL

Target muscle: Brachialis and Long head of bicep

Sitting on a bench, lean forward, put your elbow on the side of your thigh (midway) and hang your arm straight down (shoulder and wrist in-line with the elbow). Curl upwards without moving your elbow or thigh. Squeeze on top position.

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OVERHEAD CABLE CURL

Target muscle: Short head of bicep brachii

Stand, with legsshoulder width apart, between the two pulleys and grab the handle firmly with palms facing upwards (underhand grip). At the bottom of the curl, both arms should be parallel to the ground at shoulder level. Slowly curl your forearm towards your head, keeping the elbows locked at its initial position. Squeeze the biceps and hold for a few seconds before returning to the start position.

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Variation:

  • Go unilateral. Using one pulley at one side at a time.
  • Use pronated grip to isolate and target long head of biceps

SPIDER CURL

Target muscle: Short head of bicep brachii

Using the flat side of preacher bench or lying pronated (on your stomach) on a normal bench, grab a barbell and perform a curl like you normally do in standing barbell curl. As always, pause at the top of the motion and squeeze then slowly lower the weight back to the start position where your arms are literally hanging straight down. Remember not to arch your back as you lift.

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Variation:

  • Pronated grip instead of supinated
  • Alternate dumbbells instead of barbell
  • Going slightly inclined instead of flat

 

 

Shoaib Siddiq

Shoaib Siddiq:

Shoaib is currently a 3rd year MBBS student. Apart from studying, you can often find him in gym either resistance training or practising mixed martial arts. With his love for fitness training and knowledge that comes along with it, he writes various fitness related articles for HTV.