13 Most Popular Dumbbell Bicep Exercises for Building Muscle

Best Dumbbell Bicep Exercises

Dumbbells are a necessary part of biceps training because they help target the two-headed muscles from all angles and help grow strength and size.

In this article, I’ll show you the famous dumbbell exercises that most bodybuilders and fitness professionals use to build bigger and more proportional biceps.

Before I move forward, let’s take a look at all the dumbbell bicep exercises you’ll see below:

ExercisesFocus MuscleDifficulty
1. Concentration CurlShort HeadBeginner
2. Alternating Bicep CurlLong HeadBeginner
3. Preacher curlShort HeadBeginner
4. Seated Biceps CurlLong HeadBeginner
5. Incline Bicep CurlLong HeadIntermediate
6. Hammer CurlBrachialisBeginner
7. Spider CurlShort HeadIntermediate
8. Lying Bicep CurlLong HeadAdvanced
9. Zottoman CurlLong HeadAdvanced
10. Drag CurlLong HeadIntermediate
11. Close Grip CurlShort HeadIntermediate
12. Wall Supported CurlLong HeadBeginner
13. Inner Bicep CurlShort HeadIntermediate

These exercises target the long and short biceps heads and help build stronger, beefy, and aesthetic arms.

Whether you exercise at home or lift in the gym, you can do three to four exercises on each day you train your biceps.

Can You Grow Your Biceps with Dumbbells Only?

Biceps Dumbbell Workout for Beginners

Dumbbells are super effective when it comes to training the biceps brachii.

The biceps are made of long (lateral side) and short heads (medial side). These muscles are located between the deltoid and elbow and form the anterior part of the upper arm.

With dumbbells, you can hammer each head from every angle and help grow biceps size and strength.

Dumbbell training helps grow muscles through mechanical and metabolic overload.1 Krzysztofik M, Wilk M, Wojdała G, Gołaś A. Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019;16(24):4897. Published 2019 Dec 4. doi:10.3390/ijerph16244897, 25 Benefits of Dumbbell Training – Pete Call, MS, CSCS, is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer (American Council of Exercise)

Mechanical overload is triggered by muscle contractions, which stimulate the repair process and lead to hypertrophy.

Metabolic overload happens when you train your muscles until fatigue, leading to the adaptation of muscle cells to store more energy, which can increase muscle mass.

Heavy dumbbells can elicit mechanical overload, while moderate-weight dumbbells combined with high reps can produce metabolic overload.

Dumbbells also allow you to use one arm at a time so that you can focus more on the weak area, fix strength imbalances, and build symmetrical biceps.

13 Best Dumbbell Bicep Exercises to Build Size and Definition

1. Dumbbell Concentration Curl

Dumbbell Concentration Curl
  1. Sit on a bench, lean forward, and grab a dumbbell with your right hand with an underhand grip.
  2. Place your elbow on the inner part of your right thigh and hold your opposite arm on the left knee.
  3. Flex your arm until you feel a good contraction in your biceps.
  4. Hold for a second, and then uncurl your arm. That’s one rep.

The concentration curl involves keeping your torso slightly forward and looking at the biceps during each rep; this position keeps the biceps under constant tension, generates maximum activation, and helps create a rounded shape.3 ACE Study Reveals Best Biceps Exercises by Scott Young, M.S., John P. Porcari, Ph.D., Clayton Camic, Ph.D., Attila Kovacs, Ph.D., and Carl Foster, Ph.D. (2014) – American Council of Exercise

2. Alternating Dumbbell Curl

  1. Holding a pair of dumbbells, stand straight in the shoulder-width stance. Keep your arms straight and elbows tucked at your sides.
  2. Slightly rotate the wrist and curl your right arm to bring the dumbbell toward your shoulder until your bicep is engaged.
  3. Hold for a second and return to the beginning position.
  4. Switch to another side and follow the same steps to complete one rep.

The dumbbell alternating curl allows you to lift more weight using one arm at a time than bilateral dumbbell exercises, making it an excellent exercise for building biceps strength.

To achieve optimal results with this exercise, keep your elbows tucked at your sides and deliberately lower the dumbbell.

3. Dumbbell Preacher Curl

Dumbbell Preacher Curl Bicep Exercise
  1. Set a bench at a 60-degree incline and grab a dumbbell in your right hand.
  2. Slightly lean forward and place the back of the arm on the pad.
  3. Curl the dumbbell until your arm is aligned with your shoulder height.
  4. Hold for a second and return to the initial position. That’s one rep.
  5. Keep your arms firmly on the bench, and don’t let your elbow off from the pad.

The preacher curls involve placing your upper arms on the bench and flexing your elbows. They allow you to perform controlled and focused reps and help develop your biceps’ size and appearance.

You can perform preacher curls in various ways, such as unilateral, bilateral, underhand, and neutral grip, to strike your biceps from multiple angles.

4. Dumbbell Seated Biceps Curl

Seated Biceps Curl Dumbbell Workout
  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip and sit on the edge of a flat bench.
  2. Hold the dumbbells at your sides with your arms straight.
  3. Curl the dumbbells until they reach the shoulder height.
  4. As you raise a dumbbell, slightly rotate your wrist so your palm is facing your body.
  5. Hold for a second at the top, and then bring the dumbbell to the start. That’s one rep.
  6. Avoid flexion and extension of your wrists. Do not shrug your shoulders during the lift.

The seated dumbbell curl is suitable for beginners as it doesn’t require core involvement. It involves sitting on the edge of a bench and contracting your biceps by flexing your elbows.

This exercise works the same way as the alternating biceps curl, so you can substitute with that one.

5. Incline Dumbbell Curl

  1. Grab one dumbbell with an underhand grip in each hand and lie on a 45 to 60-degree incline bench on your back. Hold the dumbbells at your sides with your arms straight. That’s the start.
  2. Brace your core and curl your right arm until you feel a good contraction in your bicep muscle.
  3. As you raise a dumbbell, slightly rotate the wrist so your palm is facing your body.
  4. Hold for a second, and then return your arm to the start.

The incline dumbbell curl works on the long head, short head, and brachialis together, making it an excellent exercise to incorporate into your dumbbell bicep routine to develop big guns.

6. Dumbbell Hammer Curl

Dumbbell Hammer Bicep Curl
  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip and stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold your arms straight at your sides with your palms facing each other inward.
  3. Curl one arm until it reaches the shoulder level of the same hand.
  4. Hold for a second and then return to the initial position.
  5. Follow the same with the opposite arm to complete one rep.
  6. Keep your body straight and allow only your arms to move during the movement.

The hammer curl targets the brachialis, brachioradialis, and long head and helps build thick and muscular arms. It also makes the wrist flexible and the forearms sturdy.

7. Incline Prone Dumbbell Curl

  1. Lay down on a 45-degree incline bench on your chest.
  2. Grab a pair of dumbbells with an underhand grip and keep your arms straight below your shoulders.
  3. Curl your arms to bring the dumbbells toward the shoulder until your biceps are fully engaged.
  4. Hold for a second and then slowly return to the start.

The facedown incline bicep curl, also known as spider curl, isolates the biceps muscles at a verticle angle, limits the shoulder muscle involvement, and helps build jacked biceps.

8. Lying Supine Bicep Curl

  1. Holding a pair of dumbbells, lay down on a flat bench with your feet firmly on the floor.
  2. Brace your abdominal muscles and bring your arms down to your sides, hanging off the bench. That’s the start.
  3. Curl your arms until the dumbbells reach shoulder height.
  4. Hold for a second and then slowly return to the start.

The lying supine biceps curl is an advanced dumbbell exercise that isolates the biceps muscles by providing appropriate stretch during the lowering phase and muscle contraction while flexing your elbows.

This exercise also engages the abdominal muscles and anterior deltoid and helps develop an overall muscular upper body.

However, this exercise isn’t about building strength, so use light dumbbells and make sure you have control during both the lowering and lifting phases.

9. Dumbbell Zottoman Curl

  1. Grab one dumbbell in each hand and stand upright, arms straight at your sides and palms facing in.
  2. Twist your wrist and curl your arms to bring the dumbbell toward your shoulder.
  3. Twist your wrist so the palms are facing forward, and then reverse the movement to complete one rep.

The Zottoman curl not only targets your biceps in a different position but also strengthens your forearm muscles, improves wrist mobility, and helps you perform other bicep dumbbell exercises effectively.

10. Dumbbell Drag Curl

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold your arms straight at your sides, palms facing forward.
  2. Curl the dumbbells directly up the front of your body and drive your elbows backward simultaneously until you feel the good contraction in the biceps.
  3. Slowly extend your arms to the start.

The drag curl involves lifting dumbbells by driving your elbows back. It isolates the short head, ensures the biceps muscles are usually under stress, and helps build attractive upper arms.

11. Dumbbell Narrow Grip Curl

  • Hold one dumbbell in each hand and stand upright. Your arms should be straight and together in front of your hips, palms facing forward. You should hold the dumbbells close to each other.
  • Slowly curl your arms until your biceps are fully engaged.
  • Pause for a moment and then return your arms to the start and repeat for the desired repetitions.

The narrow grip curl involves keeping the dumbbells together and flexing your elbows until your bicep’s long heads are fully contracted.

12. Wall Supported Curl

  1. Grab a dumbbell in your right hand and stand upright against the wall with your back and right arm resting on it.
  2. Take a step forward, brace your abdominal muscles, and flex your elbow until the dumbbell points against the shoulder.
  3. Feel the squeeze for a moment, then return to the start.
  4. Perform the desired number of repetitions, switch your arm, and repeat on the opposite side.

The wall-supported biceps curl is for those who want to strengthen their arms. The wall provides support, reduces core muscle involvement, and helps you lift more.

I recommend doing this exercise if your goal is to lift big while growing your biceps.

13. Incline Inner Bicep Curl

  1. Grasp one dumbbell in each hand and lie on a 45-60 degree incline bench.
  2. Keep your feet grounded and hold your arms diagonally, slightly wider than the standard incline curl.
  3. Perform as many reps as possible in a slow and deliberate manner, feeling contraction during each rep.

The outward incline curls reinforce the inner biceps and help build defined and burly arms.

You can alternatively perform the outward and standard incline curl to sculpt your biceps.

How to Design a Dumbbell Bicep Workout Routine

You’ve got plenty of dumbbell exercises to train your biceps brachii. Now, it’s time to see how to use them to create an optimal workout routine.

Below, I’ve shared two examples that will help you design your customized routine.

Biceps Workout A

  • Alternating Dumbbell Curl: 3 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Curl: 3 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Concentration Curl: 3 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Hammer Curl: 3 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Spider Curl: 3 sets x 8-12 reps

Biceps Workout B

  • Drag Curl: 3 x 8-12 reps
  • Preacher Curl: 3 x 8-12 reps
  • Inner Bicep Curl: 3 x 8-12 reps
  • Wall Supported Curl: 3 x 8-12 reps
  • Dumbbell Zottoman Curl: 3 x 8-12 reps

You can follow this schedule alternatively to train your biceps in the most practical way.

It is also up to you to make some changes to the reps, sets, and volume according to your needs.

The Fitness Phantom Tips to Build Bigger Biceps

  • Progressive Overload: Increasing load over time is crucial for muscle growth. So, if you also want to grow biceps mass, increase 10 to 15 percent of your 1RM constantly, typically after every three to four weeks.
  • Start your workout with heavy dumbbells: Always start your workout with an exercise where you can lift the maximum weight.
  • Focus on each head: If you want to stimulate the biceps muscle, you need to train each head. Holding the dumbbells far away from each other works on your short head, while keeping them close reinforces your long head. You can use the table list that I’ve outlined above to pick exercises.
  • Variations: Incorporate varieties of the best dumbbell bicep exercises, such as normal curl, incline curl, concentration curl, hammer curl, and crossover body curls, to target bicep muscles from each angle. Moreover, you can incorporate resistance band bicep exercises to add more options.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can You Train Your Biceps Every Day?

Doing biceps exercises every day won’t make them bigger. And if that is so, everyone probably has massive guns by now. An excellent muscle-building workout program doesn’t include biceps exercises twice a week because doing more than that won’t make any difference.

If you want bigger biceps, you’ll equally need to focus on each muscle, especially the chest, back, and legs. Because gaining overall muscles also helps you grow biceps.

What are The 4 Best Dumbbell Biceps Workouts?

All curls are effective for bicep growth. However, if you have to do only three exercises, you can do a standing dumbbell curl, incline curl, concentration curl, and hammer curl.

These four exercises target the short head, long head, brachialis, and brachioradialis and make your biceps strong and attractive.

How Heavy Dumbbells Should You Use?

Use dumbbells that are heavy enough for at least six reps and a maximum of twelve with proper form. But make sure you feel the contraction during each rep.

What Muscles Can You Train With Biceps?

You can train any muscles with biceps, such as the back, triceps, shoulder, legs, and chest.

However, working out your biceps on a back day can be more effective, as they both work during the pull exercises. But make sure to always train your large muscles first.

References

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Murshid Akram

I’m a personal trainer, fitness blogger, and founder of thefitnessphantom.com. For the last six years, I’ve been working and training with people who use all sorts of equipment and follow multiple types of workouts, from calisthenics to powerlifting. I primarily design workout plans and share science-based, practical, and logical information that can help you become stronger, flexible, and healthier.

About Me

I’m a personal trainer, fitness blogger, and founder of thefitnessphantom.com. For the last six years, I’ve been working and training with people who use all sorts of equipment and follow multiple types of workouts, from calisthenics to powerlifting. I primarily design workout plans and share science-based, practical, and logical information that can help you become stronger, flexible, and healthier.

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