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The Best Weight Lifting Exercise to Build Biceps

by
author image Peter Chou
Peter Chou is a journalist with more than 15 years experience. He has coached track and field for 20-plus years and competed as a runner himself. Chou has won several championships during his athletic career.
The Best Weight Lifting Exercise to Build Biceps
A woman is doing bicep curls. Photo Credit luckyraccoon/iStock/Getty Images

The best weightlifting exercise to build your biceps is the biceps curl. When you do this exercise, you are moving a single joint -- your elbows -- and the joint action is called flexion, or the bending of your elbows. This is the primary function of your biceps, so when you are doing curls, you are isolating the muscle. Learning how to correctly execute the biceps curl and how to vary the exercise will allow you to make the largest gains in your biceps.

Barbell for Mass

The best exercise equipment for building your biceps muscle mass is the barbell. This is because when you use a barbell, it is easy for your muscles to balance the weights, thus allowing you to ramp up the amount of resistance you use. Using heavier weights is better for building muscle mass, as long as your rep range is between six to 12 reps. To do barbell curls, hold a barbell with both hands palms up, stand up straight with the bar hanging in front of your body and then bend your elbows as much as possible. Contract your biceps for two seconds at the top of the exercise and then lower the bar down in front of your thighs. Inhale on the way up and exhale as you lower the bar. Never swing the barbell up to your shoulders; try to solely use your elbows to raise the weights to keep the workload strictly on your biceps.

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Dumbbells are Superb Too

Dumbbells are a close second to barbells in terms of top muscle-building equipment. It is more difficult to stabilize dumbbells than it is a barbell, so you won't be able to use as much resistance. Aim for a slightly higher rep count with dumbbells, in the range of 12 to 15, and focus on your biceps contracting with each repetition. While barbells have the advantage in terms of maximum resistance you can use, dumbbells provide a safety advantage. This is especially true if you suffer from lower back problems, as dumbbells may decrease back stress from curls if you do the exercise seated or while lying face-up on an incline bench. These are more favorable positions for your spine, opposed to standing up straight holding weights in front of your body.

Machines and Cables for Beginners

If you are new to working out, then you may want to begin doing biceps curls using machines and/or cables. These are the safest pieces of weight training equipment for beginners because the exercise motions are more restricted than free weights. After one or two months on machine or cable biceps training, you can then move on to using barbells and dumbbells.

Safety for All

Whether you are a beginner or advanced exerciser, you must start off your workouts with an adequate warmup lasting 10 to 15 minutes. During this warmup, you could perform any light-to-moderate physical activity, such as jogging, pull-ups and pushups. The goal is to increase muscle blood circulation and to prime your body for the ensuing workout. And, just as important for your safety, is the cool-down. Finish your workouts with a light 10- to 15-minute jog or walk, to lower your body's temperature before you exit your training facility.

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