The biceps might not be the most important muscle for athletic performance, there’s nothing wrong with wanting bigger arms. As long as you complete your workout plan first, there’s no harm in throwing in some extra bicep exercises to close out your session.
Chris Carlisle, now the Seattle Seahawks strength and conditioning coach, has an interesting approach to biceps work. “My mom is a great cook. Everything she made was good, and I ate it all. But what I remember most is my mom’s great apple pie, because it was the last thing I ate. I couldn’t wait for her next dinner. That’s why I have my guys work arms last. They walk away with their arms all pumped up and bigger, and they want to get back in here and hit it again,” Carlisle says. Keeping his philosophy in mind, here are five Bicep Curl variations that’ll blow up your biceps for your next workout “dessert.”
WATCH: Patrick Willis’s Bicep Workout
21s are guaranteed to give your arms a massive pump, as they target both the upper and lower biceps. 21s are a high rep exercise, so be sure to use a manageable amount of weight.
- Hold the bar with an underhand grip and your arms hanging loose.
- Curl the bar to about 4 inches above your belly button, then slowly lower it back to the starting position.
- After knocking out 7 reps this way, hold the bar just below your pecs so your forearms are parallel to the ground. Curl the bar up to chin height, then slowly lower it back to the starting position (just below your pecs).
- Perform 7 reps this way, and then move on to full range of motion Curls.
- Knock out 7 full range of motion Curls to reach a total of 21 complete reps.
Knock out a couple of 21s to finish your workout and you’ll be looking like Ronnie Coleman in no time.
2. Incline Dumbbell Curls
This is an exercise where form is crucial, so don’t start off with too much weight. Incline Dumbbell Curls put you through an extreme range of motion, guaranteeing you a colossal pump. To do Incline Dumbbell Curls, you’ll need a bench (which can be inclined) and two dumbbells.
- Adjust the incline of the bench so that it is slightly above 45 degrees.
- Holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, lie with your back flat against the bench. Your palms should be facing toward you at the start of the movement.
- Keeping your back on the bench, perform a Curl with one arm. While you’re moving the dumbbell up, rotate your wrist so that your palm faces the sky at the top of the movement. You can even rotate your wrist to the point where your pinky is higher than your thumb. This is called supinating, and it’ll really help you get a great pump.
- Slowly lower your arm back to the starting position and a neutral grip.
- Alternate arms for 12-16 total reps.
3. Buddy Curls
For this Bicep Curl variation, you need a friend. This is another high rep exercise, so be sure to use a manageable amount of weight. Buddy Curls employ a normal curl bar and both wide- and close-grip form. No rest between sets!
- Beginning with a close grip, complete 1 Bicep Curl, and then pass the bar to a partner. The partner completes 1 rep and hands the bar back to you.
- Complete 2 reps, then hand the bar to your partner so he can do the same.
- Complete 3 reps, then hand the bar to your partner so he can do the same.
- Repeat this all the way up until 7 reps. By now you and your partner have done 28 reps each. But it’s not over! Time to climb down the ladder.
- Switching to a wide-grip, knock out 6 reps and hand the bar to your partner so he can do the same.
- Complete sets of 5, 4, 3 and 2, alternating with your partner each time.
- On the very last rep, lower the bar as slowly as possible. Your biceps are screaming, but this will give you an even bigger pump.
When it’s all said and done, you and your partner will have completed 49 reps each. If another friend wants to get in on the fun, Buddy Curls can also be done in a group of three.
4. Concentration Curls
While normal Bicep Curls are a fairly simple exercise, the form isn’t always easy to master. And without perfect form, your biceps aren’t going to blow up the way you want. Concentration Curls force you to practice good form and give you a gargantuan pump as a result.
- To perform Concentration Curls, you need somewhere to sit and a single dumbbell.
- Begin the lift by sitting with your knees wide and the elbow of the arm you’d like to work first firmly on the inside of your thigh. The dumbbell should be in your hand in an underhand-grip and you should lean slightly forward.
- Keeping your elbow against your thigh, curl the dumbbell up. To keep your wrist in the correct position, focus on keeping your pinky turned out throughout the movement. Here’s an example of good form.
- Maintain a slight forward lean throughout the movement.
- Hit 8-12 reps on each arm
5. Preacher Curls
They call them Preacher Curls because your biceps will be praying for mercy. Well, probably. Preacher Curls‘ effectiveness is largely due to the fact they keep your elbows in place, isolating the bicep. Preacher Curls can be done on a machine or on a Preacher Curl rack.
- Preacher Curls are done from a seated position. Using a manageable weight, begin with your elbows on the pad (about shoulder-width apart) and your palms under the bar.
- Maintaining a slight forward lean, curl the weight to the top of your range of motion.
- Hold at the position at the top for a second, before slowly lowering the weight.
- Focus on controlling the weight and lowering it slowly.
- Complete 8-12 reps.
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