Some people do not believe that there are many bicep exercises that isolate the muscle. But, in reality, there are hundreds of ways to train this muscle.
It is important to be varied and innovative in your workouts. If your training varies, it will be more fun, more challenging, more effective, and healthier. The variety and mixture are achieved with different ranges of exercises and load.
Below you can see a list of biceps exercises to gain volume. Some of the exercises require some type of equipment while others do not require anything. Therefore, there will be bicep exercises that you will exercise freely, but also bicep exercises with machine and barbell.
1. Classic bicep curl
The biceps curl is the best-known exercise in bicep strength training. Everyone has done it on occasion, even if it was only with the shopping bags.
As I said before, it is good to vary your training. This applies not only to strength training but also to other types of training. Some studies show that if you vary the training, it gives better results.
When your bicep strength training varies with other exercises in addition to the curls, it also allows you to play with different loads. The exercises are shown here to focus on different areas of the muscle. This means that you can choose the exercise depending on which part of the biceps you want to isolate.
For example, you will focus on the Brachial (muscle name) when doing hammer curls since this muscle is slightly below the biceps.
Stand up straight with your weights. Keep your weights like when holding a tote bag. Perform the exercise by lifting the weights to shoulder height, and then lowering them to a resting position. The fists should be facing the ceiling, and the thumbs outwards.
Performing the dumbbell exercise with one arm forces both arms to bear the same workload, when you use the bar, one arm ends up being stronger than the other, since one arm is always stronger than the other. At least, this is my experience.
2. Hammer curl
The hammer curl is an incredibly easy isolation exercise. Hammer curls train the biceps, but mainly the brachial muscle, which is located just below the biceps. It is an effective exercise if you want to concentrate and train the long bicep joints.
Stand up straight with your weights. Keep your weights like when holding a tote bag. Perform the exercise by lifting the weights to shoulder height and then lowering them to a resting position. It is important that you do not move the upper arm when performing the exercise.
The fists look inward, the thumbs look upward. Basically, it is the same as the classic curl but with another hand position. This exercise is done with dumbbells and one arm at a time.
3. Reverse bicep curl
The reverse curl focuses on both the biceps and the brachial muscle. It is a good, easy, and effective exercise for beginners since is a very easy isolation exercise.
This exercise is exactly the same as the other curls with the only difference that you should have your fists pointing directly to the ground. Then it is about raising your arms to your shoulders and returning to the resting position. Always remember to squeeze the muscle up and down. You can do it with both dumbbells and a barbell.
4. Bicep curl on inclined bench
The inclined bench bicep curl is an isolation exercise recommended for beginners. The inclined bicep curl is an incredibly effective bicep exercise, and several well-known athletes use this exercise.
It is also widely used by personal trainers, but why? This is the most effective bicep exercise in strength training with free weights. We definitely recommend including it in your training program.
Sit on a sloping bench and hold the weights as if you were holding a shopping bag. Now start lifting the weights to shoulder height and then lower them to a resting position. There is not much technique in this exercise, so it should not cause any problems.
5. Preacher curl with dumbbell
The preacher curl is a widely used exercise in strength centers since it is a highly effective bicep exercise. A very easy isolation exercise that is clearly recommended for everyone.
Place an arm on a slope (preacher machine or inclined bench) and support the arm so that the armpit hits the bench. Then start the exercise by raising your arm to shoulder height.
Finish the exercise by slowly lowering your arm to the resting position. This exercise can also be done with both dumbbells and a barbell.
6. Dumbbell concentrated curl
The concentrated curl is the last isolation exercise I show here. However, this exercise trains your biceps with good and solid insulation and is a more effective exercise compared to other bicep exercises. A good alternative to train your biceps.
Sit on a bench with your legs ajar. You should support the elbow of the arm that you will exercise on the inner part of the thigh. Stretch the arm with the weight until you almost touch the ankle and raise it again until the muscle is contracted when it reaches the chest. This is a very effective exercise.
Back exercises that affect the biceps
The classic bicep exercises are really good. However, if you do not want to end up doing the same exercises over and over again, you can add some back exercises to your exercise program.
There are many back exercises that also work your biceps very well.
7. Rowing in T-bar
The T-bar row is a mainly back exercise, but it also works the biceps. It is often said that there is grace in the variety, so we suggest this exercise as an alternative to exercise the biceps.
As we have said, this exercise mainly trains the back muscles, but also the biceps. Therefore, it is a very effective exercise since it works multiple muscles at the same time.
8. Barbell row
The barbell row is an exercise that focuses primarily on the back but also helps exercise the biceps. Use a narrow grip to help focus on the biceps.
9. Inclined bench row
Inclined bench row is another exercise that trains several muscle groups. It is a basic exercise that is relatively easy to perform. Rowing with a bar is also a well-known exercise among professionals and fitness instructors.
The exercise focuses on both the biceps and the back, and through the elbows, in the exercise, you can decide for yourself if you want to exercise the wide back muscle, the upper back muscle, or the biceps. The wider the grip the more the focus on the back.
Pull-ups are one of the most popular exercises among fitness professionals. If you want to train your biceps through this exercise, it is important that you exercise with a tight grip. The narrower, the more it focuses on the biceps. The wider the grip you apply, the more it will focus on the back and shoulders, which will provide greater efficiency if you apply a wide upper grip.
Which is better: isolation exercises or basic exercises?
First, let’s determine what is the difference between isolation exercises and basic exercises.
- Isolation exercises only affect one muscle. An example of an isolation exercise is the bicep curl.
- Basic exercises hit multiple muscles and joints. An example of a basic exercise is a deadlift.
You cannot say that one is better than the other. It depends on your purpose. In principle, a strength training program with basic exercises will produce much better results than a program with isolation exercises. You can exercise heavier and thus increase muscle mass and strength.
But most optimally, you also add some isolation exercises that focus on your weaknesses. Remember also that it is better to start with basic exercises and end with isolation exercises.
What weights are best for home?
The weights you usually use for these exercises at home are neoprene/vinyl weights because they fit very well at home and are soft on the floor. They are silent and if you lose the grip of a neoprene/vinyl dumbbell, it will not break the floor as other dumbbells do.
Nor do they slide easily because they have neoprene or vinyl around them, and at the same time they are comfortable to use. Although neoprene/vinyl weights are for home use, we also recommend looking at chrome weights. However, chrome weights are not as smooth with the environment.
Chrome weights are available in several kilos (up to 20 kilos) compared to neoprene/vinyl weights, where you only get up to 5 kilos.