Best Bicep Exercises & Workout – Barbell Curls, Dumbbell & Preacher Curl

Bicep exercises are classified as elbow flexion movements. Why? Because they are all typically done by flexing at the elbow joint to lift a weight upwards in the direction of your head.

Common examples of some of the best bicep exercises include:

  • Barbell Curls
  • Dumbbell Curls (seated or standing)
  • Preacher Curls (barbell or dumbbell)
  • Incline Dumbbell Curls
  • Hammer Curls
  • Cable Curls

Figuring out which are the best bicep exercises for your specific workout routine and incorporating them all properly isn’t quite as simple and easy as just randomly picking your favorites and doing them all on “bicep day.”

There’s a lot more to the exercise selection and implementation process, and my articles about different types of weight lifting exercises, how to figure out which are truly the best exercises for your body and goal, my favorite workout plans, and my guide to workout routines will help you figure it all out.

Either way, no matter which you end up using in your workout routine, proper form MUST always be used. This is not only to avoid injury, but to ensure the biceps are actually going through the full range of motion and doing all of the work.

To help you understand the basics of proper form, here is a brief description of how some of the best (and most popular) bicep exercises should be performed…

Standing Barbell Curl

The most simple (and likely most common) exercise for the biceps is the basic barbell curl. It can be performed using a typical straight bar or an EZ curl bar. The only real difference between the two is that the EZ curl bar is usually a lot more comfortable and a lot less stressful on the wrists than the straight bar is.

Here’s how it should be done…

  • Stand holding a barbell with both hands shoulder width apart (underhand grip) and knees slightly bent.
  • With the bar at arms length almost touching your upper thighs, curl it up in a semi-circular motion until forearms touch biceps.
  • Keep your elbows close to your sides at all times.
  • Lower to starting position using the same path.

The barbell curl is also one of the exercises I often see people screwing up the most with terrible form. In addition to what I just described, your back should remain fairly straight and upright at all times. For the most part, the only part of the body that should be moving during this exercise is the lower half of your arms.

If you need to swing and use momentum to basically jerk the weight up, it’s a sure sign that you’re using WAY too much weight. Use a weight that allows you to focus on squeezing and contracting your biceps as hard as you can throughout each rep, and then focus on progression from there.

Alternating Dumbbell Curls

Here we have what is pretty much a dumbbell version of the barbell curl. I’m going to describe the form for the alternating dumbbell curl, but these could also be done by curling both dumbbells simultaneously. In addition, dumbbell curls can be done seated (straight up or at a slight incline) or standing.

Here’s how it should be done…

  • Stand with your knees slightly bent holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  • With the dumbbells at arms length to the outer side of each thigh, curl one dumbbell up in a semi-circular motion until the forearm touches the bicep.
  • As you begin to lower the dumbbell to the starting position, alternately curl the other dumbbell up in a semi-circular motion until the forearm touches the bicep.
  • Keep your elbows close to your sides at all times.

And just like I mentioned before, if you need to swing and jerk the weight up, then the dumbbells are too heavy. Go lighter and fix your form.

Dumbbell Preacher Curl

Finally, we have one of the only free weight bicep exercises that require anything beyond a barbell, dumbbells or a normal bench. Meaning, preacher curls are like any other curl, except they are done on a special preacher bench.

A preacher bench has a special pad at the top that you lay your arm over while curling the weight. I’m going to describe the dumbbell version, but these can also be done with a straight or EZ curl barbell just the same (usually seated, but standing is possible too).

Here’s how it should be done…

  • Find a comfortable position seated/standing behind a preacher bench holding a dumbbell.
  • Use an underhand grip, one arm at a time.
  • Lean into the preacher stand firmly pressing your chest against the pad with one armpit resting on the top of the pad.
  • Curl the dumbbell slowly upward in an arc until your forearm touches your bicep.
  • Make sure to keep the back of your arm on the pad.
  • Finish the set and then repeat using the other arm.

Unlike the other bicep exercises mentioned, preacher curls might be the best as preventing you from using stupid swinging/jerking type movements to curl the weight. However, what you’ll often see instead is people barely lowering the weight half way, which again is usually a sign that the weight is too heavy.

Now Use Them Correctly

So, those are a few of the best bicep exercises, and that’s a basic break down of how they should be performed. Like I mentioned before, the key now is to actually use them correctly in your workout routine. Those articles I mentioned earlier will show you exactly how to do that.

In addition to those, my article about How To Get Big Arms should be pretty useful too.

However, if you would rather just have it all put together for you in the way that is proven to work best for your exact goal, then I now offer the ultimate solution.

I call it The Ultimate Fat Loss & Muscle Building Guide, and in it I provide all of the answers, details and facts that make up the highly proven workout and diet system I’ve used to help countless men and women completely transform their bodies. Now it’s your turn. Learn more here.

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