Few things scream “I’m a fit guy” quite like a pair of strong, jacked biceps. And the key to building a set of sleeve-busters is an arm routine that gives you a great muscle pump.
To score that essential pump, you have to be sure to keep the weight moderate and reps high, says Marfred Suazo, C.S.C.S., co-owner of Superiior Fitness in New York City. If you pick a weight that’s too heavy for your biceps exercises, your forearms take over the bulk of the work. “Your wrist flexors and forearms get a lot more contraction because you’re gripping the weight harder,” Suazo says.
Ready to boost your biceps? Try Suazo’s four-move, muscle-building routine. Complete all the sets of each exercise before moving on to the next.
Bonus tip: Turn your pinky toward your thumb at the top of every curl. “It hits the brachial head and inside head of your bicep a lot better,” Suazo explains.
1. Single-arm incline bench preacher curl
3-4 sets of 10-12 reps; rest 15-20 seconds between sets
- Set up a bench at a 45-degree incline. While standing, grip a dumbbell and extend your arm flat against the back of the bench so your palm faces upward.
- Keeping your upper arm glued in place, curl the dumbbell toward your shoulder.
- Squeeze your biceps at the top, then lower the weight back down with control.
- Repeat all reps on one side before switching to the other.
2. Standing resistance band curls
3-4 sets of 25-30 reps; rest 15-20 seconds between sets
- While standing, step one or both feet on the center of a resistance band.
- Gripping one end of the band with each hand, curl your hands toward your shoulders with palms facing up.
- Squeeze your biceps at the top before lowering your hands back down, maintaining constant tension on the band.
- Keep your elbows glued to your sides throughout the movement.
3. Incline dumbbell curls
4 sets of 10 reps; rest 15-20 seconds between sets
- Begin seated with your back flat against a bench set at a 45-degree incline. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and let your arms hang toward the floor.
- Keeping your elbows tight against your sides, curl both weights toward your shoulders.
- Squeeze your biceps at the top, then lower the weights back down with control.
4. Standing hammer curls.
4 sets total with the “Run the rack” method: grab a set of dumbbells you can easily curl for 10-12 reps and perform 7, then increase the weight by 5 lbs and do another 7 reps. Continue moving up in 5-lb. increments until you get to a weight that’s challenging but still allows you to complete 7 reps with proper form. Take no rest in between weight increments, but rest 60 seconds after your last set.
Start your second set with the weight you left off at and perform 7 reps. Then work your way back down to the lightest weight, taking no rest in between increments. Rest 60 seconds after your last set and repeat your actions to complete sets 3 and 4.
- Stand tall holding one dumbbell in each hand down by your sides; your palms should be facing toward each other.
- Keeping your elbows locked in at your sides, curl both weights toward your shoulders.
- Squeeze your biceps at the top, then lower the weights back down to starting position.