What is the best exercise for the biceps. Well, that is debatable as it depends on what your goal is. But we’re not here to talk about the best of the best, but rather for you to stop doing what you normally do and choose from this list of 10 biceps exercises better than traditional curls.
If you want to target your biceps, a very small muscle that stands on top of your arms, you have to choose the right exercises. It is difficult for a compound movement to be effective on bicep growth if it does not primarily target the biceps.
The traditional curl is good at targeting your biceps, but biology rules that you need to keep changing and adding variety to your training to keep making gains, otherwise your body will adapt and you will not see the same improvement as before.
And this is where this list of 10 biceps exercises better than traditional curls comes in handy. Check it out.
Note: We are excluding the barbell curl as it is just like a traditional curl but with a barbell.
10 Biceps Exercises Better Than Traditional Curls
1. Concentration Curl
The concentration curl was the winner when it comes to bicep activation in three different studies. You can check them out here, here and here.
You can either choose the normal grip or the hammer grip (thumbs up) as it will be equally effective for biceps stimulation.
2. Overhead Cable Curl – Herculean Curls
In the same three studies, the Herculean curls, or curls utilising a cable machine while bringing the handles close to your head, ranked very high.
Utilising the cable machine ensures that you will have tension throughout the movement, something that free weights simply cannot replicate (it gets harder against gravity). You may choose to do one arm at a time with the cable curl, or both at the same time as the photo suggests.
3. Resistance Band Curls
Resistance band curls are another great exercise for your biceps if you are always travelling and cannot fill your luggage with fitness gear. The exercise band will act similar to the cable machine, but the more you push away, the more tension it creates and the more it demands of your biceps.
This simple mechanic makes resistance bands great for targeting many muscle groups in the body and it couldn’t be different for the biceps.
The chin-up is perhaps the best bodyweight exercise to target your biceps. Also, it is one of the rare occasions where a compound movement emphasizes your biceps.
No wonder why this is on our list of biceps exercises better than traditional curls
5. Incline Curls
The incline curl, typically done with dumbbells but you can also use a cable machine for extra tension, puts your biceps into a complete stretched position that other exercises hardly do. This adds some shoulder flexion as you come to the top and targets the long head of the biceps.
6. Hammer Curl
Typically, the hammer curl will be the bicep variation in which you can load the heaviest weight because all your elbow flexors are actively involved during the movement. So take advantage of it and curl as much as you can to increase your biceps size.
7. Zottman Curl
Zottman curls is an exercise that combines the conventional curl and the reverse curl. Two-for-one that will grow your biceps and forearms, giving a bigger arm look.
8. Drag Curl
Not many people do drag curls, which is a shame and another reason to be on our list of biceps exercises better than traditional curls.
This curl variation will target the long head which is difficult (we mentioned only the incline curl that does that so far), but pay attention to learn properly how to perform the exercise. You can do this exercise with a barbell or with dumbbells.
9. Spider Curls
After targeting your long head, maybe you want to switch up to the shorter head of your biceps and that is what the spider curl can do for you.
You will also have your arms stretched during the exercise, which creates more tension and possibly bicep growth if you perform the movement correctly.
10. Cross-Body Dumbbell Curl
Lastly is the cross-body dumbbell curl, a combination of the hammer curl with a supinated grip. You should move the dumbbell up the chest to the opposite shoulder and it will hit the brachialis, the muscle beneath the bicep that will push it up making your biceps peak even higher.
And that is our list of 10 biceps exercises better than traditional curls.
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- Machine cable curl: Sabel Blanco on Pexels
- Dumbbel bicep curl: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels