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The Best Compound Exercise for Biceps

author image Jeremy Hoefs
Based in Nebraska, Jeremy Hoefs began writing fitness, nutrition, outdoor and hunting articles in 2006. His articles have been published in "Star City Sports," "Hunting Fitness Magazine" and RutWear field journals, as well as on the Western Whitetail website. Hoefs graduated with a Bachelor of Science in exercise science from Nebraska Wesleyan University.
The Best Compound Exercise for Biceps
Close-grip chinups improve strength in the biceps, shoulders and back muscles. Photo Credit Alexey Klementiev/iStock/Getty Images

When someone asks to see your muscles, your natural reaction is to flex your arm to showcase your biceps muscle. To strengthen and define the biceps, isolation exercises such as dumbbell curls are commonly added to a workout program. However, using compound exercises to improve biceps strength also improves the strength and function of surrounding muscle groups. The close-grip chinup, for example, is a functional compound exercise that trains the biceps along with your back, shoulders and forearms.


To recruit the biceps muscle during the close-grip chinup exercise, you must use proper form and technique through a full range of motion. Keep your hands about 4 to 6 inches apart, with your palms facing you in an underhand grip. As you pull yourself up towards the bar, focus on keeping your elbows close together. A full range of motion close-grip chinup starts with your arms fully extended and ends with your chin above the bar.


Performing an unassisted close-grip chinup requires a significant amount of strength in the biceps and back. As a result, beginners should perform modified chinup exercises to improve strength. You can use assisted chinup machines or resistance bands to help you perform the chinup through a full range of motion. Start by performing two to three sets of 10 repetitions and gradually decrease the amount of assistance as your strength improves.


For an athlete, bodybuilder or experienced workout enthusiast, you can increase the intensity of the close-grip chinup by adding weight. You can add it by placing a dumbbell between your ankles or by wearing a weighted belt with weights hanging from the chain. If you are strong enough to complete a weighted close-grip chinup, focus on a full range of motion and complete three to seven repetitions per set for three to five sets.


Implement the close-grip chinup exercise into your training program during a full body, upper body or back workout. Start by performing the close-grip chinup and perform another three supplementary exercises for a complete workout. For example, start with three sets of 10 repetitions of close-grip chinups, followed with bent-over rows, dumbbell curls and hammer curls.

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