So there’s this quote called ‘curl for the girls’…
How about we girls start curling ourselves?
Although biceps are 30% of your arm, their importance is supreme. Simple tasks like lifting or pulling fall on the biceps and you should definitely start working on them as they’re not one of the strong muscles of your body. Bicep exercises increase your stamina and are a stress buster. They’re also the most ‘visible’ (they’re the front part of your upper arm) and toning them will certainly improve your body aesthetic (oo la la).
However, you can’t just work on your biceps. You need a holistic workout regime of which correct bicep exercises are an important part. A good diet is just as essential. If you get over-enthusiastic and start straining them, you’re bound to get injured. Wrong workouts might also ruin your body symmetry and give you a strange disproportionate look. So do everything in moderation.
You need to know certain terms before we dive into the exercises to understand them better.
Hypertrophy: Muscle hypertrophy is the process by which your muscle cells grow in size when you exercise (generally weightlift).
Supercompensation: This is the period post-exercise where your muscle recovers but after 40 hours and gets stronger. So basically, take a break.
Overreaching: This is what happens when you think you’re Dwayne Johnson. Excessive working out reduces your overall capacity due to strain.
Great! Now let’s get down to business.
18 Best Bicep Exercises For Women:
1. Bicep Curls
The basics are the most effective. This one is the foundation for all the rest to come.
Stand up straight with your legs slightly apart and hold the dumbbells. Bring your elbows close to your body. Your palms should be facing forward. Keep your spine erect. Take a deep breath. As you exhale, keep your upper arms in place, flex, and bring the dumbbells to your shoulders. Your wrists should also not move. Breathe in again and bring the dumbbells down. This is one rep. 3 sets of 10 reps (with weights that you’re comfortable with) are ideal.
Do not hurry the alternative up and down. Slow and steady wins the race. The reason bicep curls are the cornerstone to fitter arms is that they also improve core and shoulder stability.
2. Seated Dumbbell Curls
Bicep curls, but sitting. This strength exercise isolates your bicep muscles. While doing sitting curls, make sure your back is straight. While sitting against a backrest, your bum and shoulders should be touching it.
The American Council on Exercise also thinks that a backrest is a wise choice. Keep breathing evenly with each up or down maneuver. Avoid any other body movements while doing these curls. 1-2 sets of 10 reps are a good target.
3. Incline Dumbbell Curls
A progression on the sitting bicep curls. This is also an isolation exercise. Take a dumbbell in each hand (at length) and sit on an incline bench. The palms should be in an underhand grip and your elbows close to your body. Curl the dumbbells and squeeze the biceps while exhaling. Once the weights reach your shoulders, hold for 3-4 seconds.
Then inhale and lower the weights slowly. When you curl up, concentric contraction engages your biceps and as you go down, eccentric contraction stretches them. The bicep peak is torched in these curls due to the change in arm position and movement. However, use lighter weights to maintain your form. You’ll know you’re going wrong if your wrists hurt.
4. Decline Dumbbell Curls
No, I’m not making this up.
Sit backwards with your chest in contact with the incline bench at an angle of 45°. Put your feet on either side and extend your hands down and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Your palms should be facing each other. You already know the curl up and curl down routine.
The stretching your biceps will get is the next level, so use lighter weights. At advanced fitness levels, take your legs off the floor so your lower body can’t help you out. 2-3 sets of 10 reps are great to sculpt the biceps.
5. Bicep Concentration Curls
Let’s get isolating. Your biceps are on their own for this one because the rest of your body sure won’t help. Sit with knees spread out. We begin with the right hand. Lean forward and lock your right elbow on the inside of the right thigh. The right palm will face (inwards) the left knee.
Curl up and contract your bicep without moving your torso, hold, squeeze, and return. Avoid swinging the movement. Repeat the same with your left arm. 2-3 sets of 10 reps will get you bigger muscles.
6. Curtsy Lunge Bicep Curls
This sounds so European, no? Pretend you’re meeting the queen while working out with each lunge.
Stand upright with a dumbbell in each hand, elbows close to the body. Now your right leg goes backwards to the left, your knees bend. The thighs should be crossed. Now as you lunge/curtsy, the weights go up to your shoulders. All this while, your chest and shoulders should be straight. As you return, they go down. One rep is a lunge on both sides.
Focus on quality over quantity. 3 reps done in good form slowly is far better than 10 in a compromised form.
7. Frogger Bicep Curls
Take a dumbbell in each hand (palms facing each other) and get into a high plank position. Jump in your legs to the dumbbells to almost look like a frog (it’s actually a squat position) and then curl up the weights. Your core will stabilize this move. Lower the weights and jump back out. Yay, one rep over.
8. 21s Bicep Curls
The boss of all curls is here!
Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand upright with your feet slightly apart. Bend your elbows at a 90° angle. Now curl up the weights without moving your upper arms. Lower them back to 90°. Repeat the move 7 times.
Now lower your hands straight down from the 90° angle. Your hands should be fully extended. Then bring the weights back to the 90°. Repeat 7 times.
We now do a proper, regular bicep curl 7 times.
9. Plank Bicep Curls
The plank sneaks its way into every fitness routine ever. Hold the dumbbells and get into a high plank position. Engage your core. Your hands should be directly below your shoulders. Now slowly bend the right elbow and bring the dumbbell to your shoulder. Lower it and repeat the same with the left arm. This is one rep.
10. Hammer Curls
Hahahaha you’re not hammering anything, these curls will hammer you.
Hammer curls resemble bicep curls quite a bit. But don’t be fooled, hammer curls increase your bicep size and length.
Stand straight and hold your dumbbells perpendicular to the floor. Your palms should be facing each other and elbows should be 90° to the floor. Extend your arms down all the way and then curl them up, hold, squeeze your biceps. Keep your elbows tucked. Down again, and then up. 3 sets of 10 reps are the way to go
11. Seated Hammer Curls
Sit on a workout bench and simply repeat the process given above. But why repeat the same exercise seated? This seated exercise is great at isolation. Your forearms are engaged like never before. Since the rest of your body can’t help out, your biceps are worked well.
However, make sure you’re in control of the movement throughout the exercise. Don’t swing your back.
12. Dumbbell Side Raise
A very fit, yet awkward, standing snow Angel movement. Or a weird butterfly maybe.
Stand upright with your legs hip-width apart, shoulders pulled back and palms facing the body. Lift your weights till they’re in line with your shoulders, hold for a second and lower back. You exhale when your hands go up and inhale when they go down. 2-3 sets of 10 reps are a decent target.
Don’t get worked up and choose weights that are too heavy to handle. Don’t bounce your shoulders either. If your shoulders hurt, it generally means that you’re raising the weights too high.
13. Preacher Bicep Curl——
You’ll need a preacher bench to do these to make sure that your shoulders don’t cheat your workout. You can use a dumbbell, barbell or an E-Z curl bar.
Your upper arms should be against the padded bench and the chest should be against it. Your grip on the weights will be underhanded. Hold the weight at length, exhale and curl up. Your forearms should be perpendicular to the floor. Inhale and lower the arm. That’s one rep.
3 sets of 10 reps and you’re good to go.
14. Zottman Curls
So basically, do a regular bicep curl and then rotate your wrists 180° so your palms face down. Your curl up motion should be swift but the downside move should be slow and controlled. Always keep your elbows in check- they should be close to your body. Exhale when you curl up and inhale when you go down.
The perk of this move is that it improves bicep contraction.
Your objective is 2 sets of 10 reps.
15. Kneeling Single Arm Curls
Down on your knees!
Your toes behind should point outwards, your back ought to be straight and palms must face inwards. Now bend the left knee forward so one knee is down while the other is up.
Do a bicep curl with your right hand (opposite hand). Ensure that your elbows are tucked close to the body. Then lower the arm. That’s one rep and you have to do 10. Switch sides and do 10 more.
5-pound dumbbells are a good choice for this exercise.
16. Squat Concentration Curls
Why are you squatting in a bicep routine?
Well, squats have nothing to do with biceps directly and everything indirectly. Adding squats to your lifts makes your body produce more repair hormones. This is good news for your biceps.
Stand with your elbows close to your body, palms facing inwards and legs shoulder width apart. The dumbbells should be light in this one.
Squat so your thighs are parallel to the floor and simultaneously press your elbows to your inner thighs with your weights to your shoulders. Hold this pose for 10 seconds and then return to the standing position. This is one rep. 2 sets of 5 reps are your goal.
17. TRX Curl
Aka total body resistance exercise.
You will need a TRX suspension cable for this one. Using cables rather than weights improves body stability. You’re not only working on your bicep but also your core, balance, and strength. It’s best to have a qualified TRX trainer to oversee your workout because s/he will.adjust the equipment and check your form too.
Adjust the straps after connecting your cables to the anchor point. Grab the handles and then walk to the anchor point (your body will be slightly leaned back). Your elbows will be bent and above your shoulders. Keep your core engaged. Then lower your body back until your arms are extended straight. Curl your body up and then down again.
18. Split Jack Curls
Um let me try and put this in a formula. Lunges + Curls = Split Jack Curls.
Stand upright and hold your dumbbells, palms facing inwards. Now lunge with your right leg forward, your left knee going down. Simultaneously, bring both your weights to your shoulders (bicep curl).
Now breathe in and return to the standing position while lowering the arms. Now lunge with your left leg. Keep alternating the legs and keep curling.
Complete 2 sets of 8-10 reps.
All these curls ought to get your arm fitness straight.
You can work your biceps 3-4 times a week with rest days in the middle. (Don’t listen to me, but mind the National Strength and Conditioning Association). Do NOT overdo it.
Avoid sugary and fatty foods.
Focus on your core and legs as well.
Check your form always!
Now go lift or something.