Whether you're doing bicep workouts for mass in some of your most displayable muscles or for extra strength so that luggage doesn't feel quite as heavy next time you travel, you'll want to know how to work out the different parts of the biceps.
Work different parts of the biceps with bicep-targeting exercises and a regimented workout schedule.
Parts of the Bicep
The biceps muscle is composed of two distinct parts: the long head and the short head. Both are located in front of the upper arm bone, known as the humerus. The Hospital for Special Surgery explains that the two heads are attached at the shoulder, or the proximal end of the humerus. Each head tendon is attached to a different part of the shoulder socket.
Then you have the other end of the biceps muscle, near your elbow. The biceps join here as well to form the distal biceps tendon, which inserts into the radius bone in the forearm. Through this attachment at the elbow, you can bend the arm and turn the forearm, switching from a down-facing palm to an up-facing palm.
According to the American Council on Exercise, the biceps can have quite a bit of utility when it comes to everyday physical movement, such as picking up, pulling and carrying objects. Lugging the groceries to the car? You may very well be working the biceps. At the gym, the biceps can be worked in a number of ways: lifting your own body weight with chin-ups or curling a weight with bicep curls.
10-Minute Bicep Workouts
In order to make your workout as effective as possible, fitness experts and resources, such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Move! program, recommend varying the types of exercise you do and making sure not to work the same muscle group any two days in a row. With that in mind, you'll want to vary your workouts, which means less time per exercise. ACE recommends five workouts that are doable in 10 minutes:
Move 1: Incline Bar Chin-Up
- Grip the barbell on the squat rack with your palms face up.
- With your body at a 45-degree angle to the ground and feet on the floor, do chin-ups by pulling your chest up to meet the bar.
- Do 10 to 15 repetitions of this exercise.
Move 2: Bar Curl
- Hold the barbell with an underhanded grip and curl the bar toward the shoulders, while keeping the rest of the body rigid.
- Keep elbows close to the torso, knees slightly bent, feet beneath the hips.
- ACE recommends doing 10 to 15 repetitions.
Move 3: Alternating Bicep Curl
- Begin with a dumbbell in each hand. Your arms should be by your sides with your palms facing toward the sides of your hips.
- Curl one dumbbell at a time, allowing your wrist to rotate so that your palms face your chest on the way upward.
- Make sure the knees are slightly bent, feet beneath the hips and elbows glued to your sides.
- Do 10 to 15 repetitions.
Move 4: Plank Hammer
- Get into plank position on hands and toes or hands and knees. Have a dumbbell next to each hand, within reach.
- With your arms directly below your shoulders, lift one weight at a time. Your hands should be facing inward.
- Make sure to keep your body still during this exercise and avoid shifting the hips.
- Do 10 to 15 repetitions.
Move 5: Reverse Curl
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing upward.
- Keeping the body stiff and firmly planted, curl the dumbbells upward, hinging at the elbow.
- Repeat this movement for 10 to 15 repetitions.
Bicep Exercises for Muscle Growth
Whether you're a strength training newbie or a fitness veteran, ACE proves to be a helpful resource for coming up with ways to work out the different parts of the bicep. Bicep exercises they suggest include:
Move 1: Zottman Curl
- Begin with a dumbbell in each of your hands, palms facing forward.
- Curl your arms upward and once you reach shoulder level, rotate the wrists so that your palms are facing downward.
- Then lower them back down.
- Repeat at starting position.
Move 2: Drag Curl
- With a dumbbell in each hand and palms facing upward, pull the elbows back until the dumbbells reach chest height.
- Bring the elbows back to starting position and repeat.
Move 3: Concentration Curl
- Sitting on a chair or bench, hold a dumbbell in your right hand, allowing it to hang between your legs.
- Place the back of the right arm against the inner right thigh.
- Curl your right arm upward, then back down to starting position.
- Repeat on the other side.
Move 4: Biceps Curl Switches
- Place both feet on the center of a resistance band.
- Hold each handle with an underhanded grip. Bring the right handle up to the shoulder, keeping your elbows unmoving at your sides.
- Repeat this motion on the left side and switch back and forth.
Move 5: Cross-Body Curl
- As in the bicep curl switches, step on the center of the resistance band, feet hip-width apart and hold the hands in each hand with an underhanded grip.
- Curl the right hand toward the left shoulder and the left hand toward the right shoulder.
The “Best” Bicep Exercise
Not all bicep exercises are created equal. According to an August 2014 study by ACE, the concentration curl was found to be the most effective exercise in working the biceps. Why? Researchers believe that the concentration curl isolates the biceps more than the other exercises that were tested.
Moreover, researchers found that when other muscles such as the anterior deltoid and the brachioradialis were involved in a certain exercise, they took a portion of the load away from the biceps and in doing so lessened the effectiveness in working the bicep muscles.
Maximize Your Bicep Workouts
Looking for an effective upper bicep workout? What about a lower bicep workout for that matter? Promoting muscle growth and effectively working out all parts of the bicep requires more than performing the aforementioned exercises.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Move! program suggests exercising your major muscle groups at least twice a week and no more than three times a week. They also recommend starting with minimum weight in the first week, then gradually adding weight. Strength exercises are generally composed of eight to 12 repetitions per set.