The bicep curl sits at the forefront of popular resistance training exercises. It’s the essence of bodybuilding. As one of the most commonly known strength training movements, bicep curls can help you develop an aesthetically defined set of arms and physique. But with so many variations, which dumbbell bicep exercises should you include in your bicep workout and training plan? We’re going to talk about the best bicep dumbbell exercises, biceps anatomy, and more, to help you stack gains and build bigger stronger biceps.
Your biceps are a relatively small muscle group when compared to the entirety of your human anatomy. The biceps brachii or (biceps) for short, are composed of two muscles the short and the long head.
The short head originates at the distal end, furthest from your shoulder, which connects to the forearm. Your biceps assist in elbow flexion (bending your arm at the elbow), supination (moving from palm down to palm up), and with shoulder flexion (raising your arm in front of you).
Your biceps brachialis, a muscle that lies beneath the brachii assists in flexion of the elbow.
Best Dumbbell Bicep Exercises
1. Dumbbell Preacher Curl
The dumbbell preacher curl can effectively isolate your biceps, inducing more stimulation directly to the muscle tissue, increasing muscle hypertrophy. More isolation, with better contraction, flexion, and full range of motion, will help produce bigger gains.
How To Do A Dumbbell Preacher Curl
- Grab a dumbbell and place your elbow flush on a preacher curl, or incline bench at 55 degrees.
- Slowly lower your arm, and contract your muscles, effectively isolating your bicep.
- Raise back up squeezing your bicep as you curl the dumbbell
2. Incline Dumbbell Curl
The incline dumbbell curl can be a great addition to your arm day workout split. While performing an incline dumbbell curl, your arms tend to move behind your body, increasing the range of motion and creating a deeper stretch, which is why it's one of the best dumbbell bicep exercises.
How To Do An Incline Dumbbell Curl
- Position the incline bench at 55-65 degrees.
- grab two dumbbells are let your arms hang at your sides, slightly behind your shoulder.
- Using a supinated grip, curl the dumbbells towards the shoulders.
- Once your biceps are contracted, lower the weights back down, and repeat.
3. Dumbbell Elevator Curl
Unconventional but extremely effective, one of the best dumbbell bicep exercises is the w or elevator curl. The w curl positions your elbows into your sides, and turns out your arms, to effectively target and isolate your biceps. The elevator curl is done in progressions of movement, with three seperate pauses for one second holds.
How To Do A Dumbbell Elevator Curl
- While seated on a bench, grab two dumbbells, and set your elbows into your sides, and turn your palms away from you.
- Curl both dumbbells simultaneously with three pauses on the way up and slowly lower the weight back to starting position, and repeat for a set of 10-15 reps.
4. Twisting Dumbbell Curl
One of the best and most popular dumbbell bicep exercises, is the twisting dumbbell curl. The twist activates your forearms, and the head of the bicep, for a more effective arm workout.
How To Do A Twisting Dumbbell Curl
- Grab two dumbbells at a comfortable weight.
- Positioned at your sides with your palms faced in, begin to curl one arm towards your shoulder
- Twist the dumbbell, so that your palms face your chest, as you contract your bicep.
- Once you get to the top of the curl, keep twisting slightly to isolate the bicep and contract your muscle for 1-2 seconds
- Release, lower the weight back to your side, and repeat.
5. Chest Supported Dumbbell Curl aka Spider Curl
Similar to a concentration curl, the spider curl requires a slow controlled movement. With full isolation of both biceps, the spider curl is one of the best dumbbell bicep exercises to build bigger, stronger arms.
How To Do A Spider Dumbbell Curl
- Adjust a flat bench to a 45-degree angle.
- Place your chest against the bench and rest your feet on the floor. Your legs should be long with a slight bend in your knees. Your weight should be on the balls of your feet.
- Grab the dumbbells with your palms facing away from your body and arms hanging towards the floor.
- With your arms fully extended and neutral, contract your biceps, and bend your elbows until your lower arms fully curl the weight straight up as high as possible.
- At the top of the rep squeeze your biceps hard, pause at the top of the movement.
- Slowly deload and contract weight on the eccentric phase of the lift lowering your elbows with control. Come to a complete stop at the bottom before beginning another repetition.
6. Zottman Curl
The Zottman curl is a very effective bicep dumbbell exercise that combines a conventional bicep curl with a reverse curl.
This strength training movement is an exceptional exercise to add to your training day split to help fully contract your bicep while also progressively overloading your forearms on the eccentric phase of the lift.
How To Do A Zottman Curl
- Standing holding a dumbbell in each hand
- Rotate your wrists into a supinated position (palms facing upwards). Arms fully extended and resting by your sides
- Place your feet shoulder width apart to establish a solid base
- Contract and isolate your biceps as hard as you can and curl the dumbbells upwards as you bend your elbows
- Pause at the top of the movement.
- Rotate your wrists into a pronated position (palms facing the floor)
- Slowly lower and deload down until your arms are extended
- Twist the dumbbells back into the starting position as described at above (palms facing upwards) for the next rep
- Repeat for the desired number of reps
7. Seated Concentration Curl
A study conducted by the American Council On Exercise (ACE) found that the seated concentration curl, preacher curl, and incline curl were 3 of the most effective dumbbell bicep exercises to for activating the biceps brachii.
The concentration curl effectively isolates the biceps while ensuring maximum range of motion, for full contraction. The study found that the concentration curl was the best at stimulating the biceps out of eight different bicep exercises [R].
How To Do A Seated Dumbbell Concentration Curl
- Sit on the edge of a bench with your chest at a 45-degree angle toward the ground
- Hang one arm and rest your elbow on the inside of your thigh
- Grab the dumbbell with your palm facing forward
- With your chest up, curl the dumbbell to your chest
- Slowly release come back down on the eccentric motion with control
- Repeat for the prescribed number of reps
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