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Best Exercises for the Biceps

written by: Dr. Kristie Leong • edited by: Angela Atkinson • updated: 4/16/2011

Would you like to build stronger, firmer biceps that look great in a tank top? Find out what the best bicep exercise is - and some variations that will have your biceps in shape in no time.

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    Your biceps are a hard body part to hide, especially in the summer when you wear short-sleeves. That’s why it’s important to get them in shape before the weather turns warm. What are the best bicep exercises for getting the job done?

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    Best Bicep Exercise: Biceps Curls

    If you want beautiful biceps, you can’t ignore bicep curls. They’re one of the best exercises for firming and strengthening this region. There are lots of variations on the basic bicep curl that allow you to target different areas of the biceps to get maximal toning and strengthening.

    First, learn how to do a basic bicep curl using dumbbells for resistance, and then try variations such as hammer curls, a different twist on the exercise where you keep your palms facing inwards as you lift the weight. Isolation curls are a variation where you curl one arm at a time while seated on a bench. Isolation exercises help you concentrate more fully on each biceps muscle.

    Another way to work different areas of the biceps muscle is to use a barbell instead of dumbbells to do bicep curls. Using a barbell, you can vary the grip by placing your hands at varying locations on the bar to work the biceps in different ways. You can do narrow or wide-grip bicep curls in this manner.

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    Other Bicep Exercises

    Bicep curls aren’t the only effective exercise for building biceps strength and definition. There are two other exercises that challenge the biceps muscles in a different way. One is bent-over rows. To do this exercise, hold the barbell with your palms facing outwards in order to better isolate the biceps. Bend over to a 45 degree angle with knees bent, and slowly raise the barbell up to the level of the abdomen, then let it down in a slow, controlled manner.

    The final best bicep exercise is an old-fashioned chip-up with your hands close together in a narrow grip on the bar. If you don’t belong to a gym where you have access to a chin-up bar, you can purchase one at a sporting goods store that you can install in any doorway. This exercise is challenging. Most gyms have an assisted pull-up machine that partially supports your weight when you do chin-ups. This is a good way for beginners to get started. Be patient, and you’ll soon be able to do chin-ups without the assistance of a machine – and you’ll be on your way to firmer biceps.

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    Best Bicep Exercise: The Bottom Line?

    If you do a combination of these three exercises on a consistent basis, and challenge yourself by increasing the resistance over time - you’ll firm and strengthen your biceps. To see the definition, you also have to reduce the layer of fat that covers the muscle, so don’t forget to do regular cardiovascular exercise to burn fat. In six to eight weeks, you’ll be well on your way to looking great in a tank top.

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    References

    Exercise Physiology. Fifth edition. 2001. McArdle, Katch and Katch.

    Men’s Health. “Bigger Biceps in Minutes”