Top Bicep Exercises (Build Big Arms Fast With These Must Do Exercises)

Although biceps are worked during all pulling movements, they are just working as a secondary muscle.  To fully overload the biceps you have to do specific movements that target them as the primary muscle.  Although these are classed as isolation exercises, if done correctly for maximum overload then other secondary muscles will be active.  Here are the top bicep exercises.

The 3 Top Bicep Exercises And 3 Worst

  1. Straight Bar Curls (Best)
  2. Alternating Standing Dumbbell Curls (Best)
  3. Straight Or EZ Bar Cable Curls (Best)
  4. Seated Dumbbell Curls (Avoid)
  5. Concentration And Preacher Curls (Avoid)
  6. Single-arm cable curls (Avoid)

Straight Bar Curls

Without a doubt, the best bicep exercises you can do.  No other movement will allow you to overload the biceps more than these.

straight bar bicep curl diagram

Primary muscles involved


Secondary muscles involved

Shoulders, traps and forearms

Most efficient technique 

All bicep exercises can be performed with a slightly looser form.  If you are overly strict and rigid then this will massively reduce the overload and turn a great exercise into an ineffective one.

However, there is a difference between a slightly looser form to help you lift heavier weights to downright cheating.  If you are having to vigorously swing the weight up and down then you are not doing it right and will not be achieving maximum overload.

Grip the bar slightly wider than shoulder-width.  From a totally stretched position curl the bar upwards, slightly bringing your elbows forwards at the top, but at the same time maintaining the biceps are fully contracted at the top.  This slightly loose technique will allow you to rapidly increase your weights creating more overload.

Lower the weight at a moderate speed back down and then repeat.

Alternate Bicep Curls (Dumbbells)diagram of a man doing dumbbell twist curls

Although normally I wouldn’t recommend doing alternate single-arm reps due to the extra energy expended, the increase in weight from doing these curls this way will massively outweigh the extra energy used.

This exercise is brilliant because like no other it allows you to really overload the muscle whilst being able to supinate your wrists.  This targets the muscle in a different way to straight bar curls

Primary muscles involved


Secondary muscles involved

Shoulders and forearms

Most efficient technique 

Starting with the weights by your side and palms facing each other, curl the first dumbbell up, rotating your wrist through the movement until your palm is facing up.  Now keeping your palm facing up until the very bottom of the movement, lower at a moderate speed. Now repeat with the other arm.

Important, do not start the next rep until your arm is fully back in the start position.

A little tip to help lift heavier weights on this exercise is to slightly lean and rotate your body in the opposite direction to which your hand is rotating.

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Straight Or EZ Bar Cable Curls

diagram of a man doing a straight bar bicep curl

This exercise will feel different to a straight barbell curl.  The reason being due to the constant tension placed on the muscle at all times.

Primary muscles involved


Secondary muscles involved

Shoulders, traps and forearms

Most efficient technique 

Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width and follow the exact same technique of a straight barbell curl.

Avoid These Bicep Exercises

Seated Dumbbell Curls

By doing this exercise seated, you will instantly limit the weight you can pick.  In turn, this will then limit the amount of overload you can put through your biceps.

Concentration Curls and Preacher Curls

This exercise really limits overload through the biceps.  The first thing anyone will do when doing this exercise is head straight for the lighter weights, and for good reason, as you really have no choice.

Alarms bells should instantly be going off in your head.  If an exercise limits overload to the extent concentration curls does, then it really isn’t a good muscle-building exercise.

Single Arm Cable Curls

Doing these involves putting twice as much effort in for less overload through the muscles.  Again alarm bells should be ringing.  This really is an inefficient ineffective exercise to do.

Top Bicep Exercises – Final Words

These are the only 3 bicep exercises you should need.  Any other will not provide the same amount of overload as the ones listed above.

If you really do have a variation you like that I have not listed, then all I urge you to do is to stay well away from concentration curls. Due to the strict and rigid nature of this exercise, there will be very limited overload on the biceps.

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top 3 bicep exercises you must do for huge gains.

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