Combining the dumbbell, machines, and barbell exercises helps build huge biceps and burly arms.
The dumbbells help isolate the long and short head specifically; machines allow you to lift the weight more safely, while barbells enable you to lift more weight and generate higher muscle activation. 1Differences in electromyographic activity of biceps brachii and brachioradialis while performing three variants of curl – Peer Journal
I’ve already shared machines and dumbbell biceps exercises in my previous articles. And here, I’ll hand out the 10 best barbell biceps exercises that you can integrate into your mass-building training program to achieve rounded and bigger biceps.
10 Best Barbell Bicep Exercises for Maximum Muscle Growth
- Standing Barbell Curl
- Prone Incline Biceps Curl
- Landmine Concentration Curl
- EZ Bar Biceps Curl
- Reverse Bicep Curl
- Preacher Curl
- Drag Curl
- Underhand Grip Bent-over Row
- Barbell High Pull
- Barbell T Bar Row
1. Standing Barbell Biceps Curl
The standing barbell curl is a basic exercise that engages the long head and short head and helps build bigger biceps.
Steps to do a straight-bar biceps curl:
- Put the appropriate weight into the bar and grab it with an underhand grip with your hands just outside your hips in the standing position. That’s the start.
- Keeping your chest up, elbows tucked at your sides, core tight, and back straight, curl your arms until your biceps are squeezed.
- Pause for a second or two, then straighten your arms to complete your first rep.
- Do three to four sets of 8 to 12 reps each.
2. Prone Incline Barbell Biceps Curl
The incline prone curl, also known as spider curl, keeps your biceps under constant tension, engages forearm muscles, and helps build solid arms.
It doesn’t put any stress on the lower back, so people with low back pain can perform this exercise instead of standing biceps curls.
Steps to do a spider curl:
- Set the bench to a 30 to 45-degree incline and place a bar underneath the head of the bench.
- Lie on your stomach with your face down and your chest on the edge of it.
- Extend your arms and grab the bar firmly with an underhand grip.
- Curl your arms until your palms are in front of your shoulders.
- Squeeze your biceps for a second, then uncurl your arms to complete your first rep.
3. Landmine Concentration Curl
The concentration curl is a unilateral exercise that allows you to train each arm specifically. It is great for those who want to focus more on an underdeveloped arm and helps improve strength imbalance and muscle symmetry.
Steps to do a concentration curl:
- Place one end of the bar in an appropriate position so that it won’t move or shake.
- Insert the desired weight into another end and sit on your feet.
- Grab the weighted end with your right hand and place the back of your arms inside your right thigh. That’s the start.
- Flex your working arm until you feel the contraction in your bicep muscles.
- Straight your arm to the start. That’s one rep.
4. EZ Bar Biceps Curl
The EZ bar biceps curl recruits the biceps brachii and brachialis muscles more effectively and helps build more defined biceps.
It is also easy on the wrist muscles, making it the best option for those who may experience discomfort with other biceps barbell exercises.
Steps to do an EZ bar curl:
- Holding the EZ bar with an underhand grip, stand straight in the normal stance with your hands just outside your hips and elbows tucked at your sides. That’s your starting position.
- Brace your core, inhale, and flex your arms until your biceps are fully contracted.
- Pause for a couple of seconds and then return the weight to the starting position. That’s your first repetition. Repeat for the required number of sets and reps.
5. Reverse Bicep Curl
The reverse grip biceps curl allows you to hit the biceps from a different angle. And targeting the biceps heads using various grips can lead to more well-rounded biceps development.
A study has also shown that doing bicep curls with reverse handgrip resulted in an increase in brachioradialis activation that promotes muscular hypertrophy of the elbow flexors and helps you develop muscular arms.2 Marcolin G, Panizzolo FA, Petrone N, et al. Differences in electromyographic activity of biceps brachii and brachioradialis while performing three variants of curl. PeerJ. 2018;6:e5165. Published 2018 Jul 13. doi:10.7717/peerj.5165
Steps to do a reverse biceps curl:
- Insert weight plates into an EZ bar,
- Grab the bar firmly with an overhand grip, with your palms facing in.
- Stand upright with your back straight and chest up.
- Curl your arms until you feel the work in your biceps.
- Hold briefly, then lower the bar until your arms are straight. It is your first rep.
6. Barbell Preacher Curl
The preacher curl allows you to isolate the two-headed biceps more specifically and helps increase strength and size over time.
Steps to do a preacher curl:
- Sit on the table of the preacher’s curl bench and grab a loaded EZ bar with your hands hip-width apart and palms facing up.
- Ensure your triceps are rested on the bench and your feet are firmly on the ground.
- Curl your arms until you feel the full contraction in your biceps muscles.
- Pause for a moment and then return to the start
7. Barbell Drag Curl
The barbell drag curl involves dragging your elbows behind as you lift the bar, unlike the traditional curl where you keep your elbows fixed and tucked to your sides.
Because of its unique movement, it places decent stress on the biceps while minimizing the involvement of the shoulders.
Along with the biceps, it also engages the back muscles and helps improve upper body composition.
Steps to do a drag curl:
- Holding a bar with an underhand grip, stand upright in a shoulder-width stance with your arms straight in front of you.
- Brace your core, inhale, and curl your arms toward your shoulders. And as you curl, your elbows will move slightly backward at the same time.
- Once your arms are fully flexed, return to the starting position. That’s one rep!
8. Underhand Grip Bent-over Row
The reverse grip bent-over row is a compound movement that works on the back and biceps simultaneously and helps develop a firm torso.
Steps to do a bent-over barbell row:
- Load the desired weight into the bar, grab it with an underhand grip with your hands just outside your hips, and assume a shoulder-width stance.
- Brace your abdominal muscles, bend your hips, and bring your torso forward. And keep your arms straight below your chest. That’s the start.
- Pull the bar toward your stomach so your elbows raise upward.
- You’ll feel your back and biceps engaged at the top of the row.
- Pause for a moment, then lower your arms and return to the start. That is one repetition.
9. Barbell High Pull
The barbell high pull bolsters multiple muscles at once, from the upper and lower body, especially the back, arms, and shoulders.
It doesn’t primarily work on the biceps heads, but when you can do it when you want to target more muscles in less time.
Steps to do a barbell high pull:
- Pick a loaded barbell with an overhand grip with your hands hip-width apart.
- Stand upright and assume a shoulder-width stance.
- Bend at your hips with your arms straight just outside your knees.
- Pull the bar rapidly toward your neck as high as possible. You’ll feel the work in your biceps, upper trap, and shoulders during the movement.
- Pause at the top for a moment, then reverse the movement to complete your first repetition.
10. Barbell T Bar Row
T-bar is a barbell pull exercise that activates the lats, traps, rhomboids, and biceps. It engages the two-headed muscle from a different angle (because of the neutral grip) and helps build a sturdy torso.
Steps to do a T-bar row:
- Place one end of a bar in a corner so it stays intact.
- Put the weight plates into the bar (second end) depending on your strength.
- Stand between the weights with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Bend your knees, lean forward, and grab the bar using the “V” handle with your arms straight below you’re your trunk.
- Pull the weight toward your stomach as high as possible so the biceps and back muscles can engage.
How to Include Barbell Biceps Exercises in Your Workout Routine
Whether you train your biceps with multiple pieces of equipment or use barbells only, I’ve got a workout routine for each of you.
First, let’s see an example of a 30-minute barbell only bicep workout routine:
|EZ Bar Biceps Curl||10 x 3||Straight Bar Curl|
|Spider Curl||10 x 3||Reverse Bicep Curl|
|Concentration Curl||10 x 3||Preacher Curl|
|Barbell T-Row||10 x 3||Drag Curl|
Here’s how you can pair dumbbell, machine, and barbell exercises to reinforce biceps and build burly arms.
|EZ Bar Biceps Curl||10 x 3||Chin-ups|
|Incline DB Curl||10 x 3||EZ Bar Cable Curl|
|Preacher Curl||10 x 3||Spider Curl|
|DB Hammer Curl||10 x 3||Concentration Curl|
Whether you train your back, legs, chest, or biceps, your workout will be incomplete without barbell exercises.
Barbell is a great piece of equipment that allows you to lift more weight, engage multiple muscles at once, and stimulate higher muscle activation.
You can also use the above barbell exercises to bolster your bicep muscles and build sizeable arms.
However, you shouldn’t only rely on exercises to grow your strength and mass. You should equally focus on nutrition. Consuming high-protein foods, vegetables, and fruits and supplementing with whey protein and creatine will help you achieve the best results over time.
Related barbell exercises:
- 20 Best Barbell Leg Exercises
- Top 6 Barbell Triceps Exercises
- Top 10 Barbell Shoulder Exercises
- Top 5 Barbell Chest Exercises
- 6 Best Barbell Lat Exercises
- 2Marcolin G, Panizzolo FA, Petrone N, et al. Differences in electromyographic activity of biceps brachii and brachioradialis while performing three variants of curl. PeerJ. 2018;6:e5165. Published 2018 Jul 13. doi:10.7717/peerj.5165