Next to a nice set of abs, the second most desired aesthetic feature is toned biceps. Most women find muscularity sexy and bulging biceps that look great in a sweater or t-shirt is no exception. There is just something captivating about the way the material stretches or the way the sleeves mold to the arms. Whether you agree or not, it’s a good indication that one takes good care of his body.
In this article, we’re going to briefly go over the anatomy of biceps. Knowing the anatomical structure of the biceps helps you target the outer biceps effectively and increase power output.
Understanding Your Basic Biceps Anatomy
The largest muscle group in the upper arm is called biceps. Its short head (inner bicep) and long head (outer bicep) work as a single muscle when you flex your arms at the shoulder and elbow joints. The short head is the one you see as you lift your arm and flex, facing inward on each arm and toward the rest of your body. On the other hand, the long head faces outward the things that aren’t your body. You can recognize these heads by placing your hand on one of your biceps. Your palms will touch the short head while your fingertips will touch the long head.
One of the most effective techniques in targeting the outer biceps muscle is through curling. Doing a basic curling motion is probably a constant in most outer biceps training. As an accessory movement, curling helps strengthen the muscles that engage every time you flex your elbows or turn your palms up.
The first type of bicep curls in our list is called Concentration Curls. This move doesn’t allow your upper arm to swing and gain momentum, making your biceps more activated. Compared to other curl variations, the concentration curls isolates and targets your outer bicep muscles more. This is because this exercise seems to concentrate all your energy right into your biceps muscles. Below, we’ll discuss two versions of the concentration curls.
How to do the Dumbbell Concentration Curl:
- Find a bench that’s set at a height where your knees are bent at 90 degrees with your feet flat on the floor.
- Hold a dumbbell in one hand and prop the back of your arm against the inside of your thigh. Make sure to extend your arms, holding the weight off the floor.
- Slowly curl the dumbbell forward and upward without moving your elbow. The position of your arm on your thigh will help keep the dumbbell still during curling.
- At the peak position, hold the dumbbell for a couple of seconds and squeeze your biceps.
- Slowly lower all the way down.
- Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-12 reps before you switch arms.
Most trainers who want to really get the blood of their muscles perform the concentration curls using an alternate version- the Barbell Concentration Curl. This version adds even more intensity as you are bent over position, thus, shortening the range of motion and requiring your abs and back to work harder in keeping you stable. Since the range of motion is short, you’ll get the most feel of the exercise.
How to do the Barbell Concentration-Curl:
- Sit on a bench and hold a barbell with hands about shoulder-width apart. The barbell should be medium-weight and short-length.
- Bend over to keep your back flat and abs engaged.
- Prop your elbows against the inside of your thighs.
- Begin the motion with your arms straight and barbell hanging down to mid-shin.
- Lower you back down and keep a slight bend in your elbows at the bottom of the motion.
- Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-12 reps before you switch to the other arm.
- Keep your core strong and your back straight throughout the exercise.
INCLINE BICEP CURLS
Another excellent exercise for maximizing the biceps peak is the Incline Bicep Curls. This exercise stretches your outer biceps as your arms move behind your body. The stretch then goes all the way to your shoulders. However, you may want to use a lighter weight since the incline makes you work a bit harder against gravity.
How to do the Incline Dumbbell Biceps Curl:
- Sit back on an incline bench that’s set at an angle of 30-45 degrees.
- Hold the dumbbell at arm’s length. Do this using an underhand grip, with your palms facing up.
- Keep your elbows fixed and close to your torso. Then, slowly curl the weights up until the dumbbell is at your shoulder level.
- Pause, squeezing your biceps at the top, then gradually lower the dumbbells back to the initial position.
- Repeat the steps for 1-3 sets of 10-12 reps.
There aren’t many ways to change the incline dumbbell biceps curl, but one way to make such exercise more challenging is to do it with an exercise ball.
How to do the Incline Biceps Curl on the Ball:
- Sit on the ball with the weights resting on your thighs.
- Slowly walk your feet forward until you’re at an incline with the ball supporting your back. Do this with the weights hanging down and your palms facing out.
- Bend your elbows and slowly bring the weights towards your shoulder. Do this without swinging your arms.
- Lower back down, just enough to keep a slight bend in your elbow at the bottom of the movement. Make sure not to lock your joints.
- Repeat the steps for 1-3 sets of 10-12 reps.
Like the previous curling exercises, the hammer curls put more stress and stretching action on your outer bicep muscles. Read on to find out how to execute this exercise using a dumbbell.
How to do the Hammer Dumbbell Curl:
- Position your feet at around hip-width apart.
- Hold the medium-heavy dumbbells in front of your thighs. Keep your hands apart (palms facing each other.
- Lift the weight as far as you can without moving your elbows.
- Slowly lift the dumbbells and pause at the top level to squeeze your biceps. Make sure not to lock your joints and keep the tension on your muscle.
- Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-12 reps.
By curling your dumbbells with a neutral grip, you can switch the main muscle worked from the inner biceps to the outer biceps. To give your outer biceps more shape and strength, you can opt for a Seated Alternating Hammer Curl.
How to do the Seated Alternating Hammer Curl:
- Sit on a 90-degree bench and hold a dumbbell in each of your hands. Remember that your hands should be facing in towards your body while your arms should extend straight toward the floor.
- Keep your shoulders pulled back and slowly lift one dumbbell to the front of your shoulder. Do this while also keeping your back pressed firmly against the bench.
- At the top, pause to squeeze your bicep.
- Slowly reverse the movement to return to the starting position.
- Repeat for 1-3 sets of 12 reps.
If you want to take your hammer curls to the next level and lift heavier weight, do it using a hammer. However, you will need a tri-bar to complete this exercise. A tri-bar allows a neutral grip as it’s designed with handles running at 90 degrees to the bar.
How to do the Hammer Barbell Curl:
- Set up the tri-bar by loading on some weights. Place the tri-bar in front of you.
- Stand tall with your chest up and keep your feet apart around shoulder width.
- Bend down and slowly curl the bar up as high as possible.
- At the top level, pause to squeeze your biceps.
- Gradually lower the bar back to the initial position, keeping your elbows stationary at all times.
- Repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps.
The diagonal curl is also a great way to get the most of your bicep curl. If you want to build your muscles mass in no time, follow the steps below.
How to do the Diagonal Dumbbell Curl:
- Position your feet around shoulder width and slightly bend your knees.
- Keep your arms against your ribcage. Also, position your right elbow against the side of your hips and ribs.
- To perform diagonal curls, stretch your elbows with your arms out toward the right side of your body.
- Bend your elbow concurrently as you twist your arm inward. This allows the dumbbell to pass in your direction.
- Turn your arm bone back out in the direction of your right side.
- Repeat for 3 sets of 16 reps before you change arms.
BICEP CURLS WITHOUT WEIGHTS
With the financial restrictions caused by the covid pandemic, getting a dumbbell and a barbell (even the cheapest ones) may still break the bank. Luckily, you can engage in home fitness training without these equipment and still achieve the best possible results. The most basic lifting exercise, curling, is not limited to using dumbbells, barbells, and balls. You can also grow your outer biceps by just using the heavy items in your home or the weight of your body as resistance.
One excellent makeshift weight is a pair of empty 100-oz laundry detergent jars with caps that screw on securely. If you don’t have empty jars at home, you have a smart excuse to start doing your laundry. Once you’ve emptied the jars, fill each one with water. Alternatively, you can fill each jar with sand if you want to lift heavier weights.
How to do the Bicep Curls using Jars:
- With your right hand, lift the jar in front of you and bring it to your right shoulder.
- Once your right hand is in front of your right shoulder, hold that position to squeeze your biceps.
- Lower the jar all the way back down to the initial position as you inhale.
- Repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps before you switch arms.
You can also do a variation of this exercise using only one jar and a sofa. Here’s how you should do it:
- Sit down on the sofa with your feet wide apart on the floor.
- Take the jar in your right hand. Lean forward and prop your right against the inside of your right thigh. Keep your right arm fully extended downward and your wrists straight.
- Position the jar near your right ankle and rest your left hand on your left knee.
- Lift the jar until it meets with your chest. Hold that position for a second to squeeze your biceps.
- Slowly lower the jar back to the initial position as you inhale.
- After 3 sets of 12 reps, switch the jar to your left hand and work your left bicep by repeating the steps.
For bicep curls using your leg as resistance, you still need a sofa. Here’s how to do it:
- Reach under your left thigh using your right hand and position your thigh just above the back of your knee.
- Lift that leg as high as you can without using any leg muscles to help with the lift.
- As the exercise gets more manageable for you, force your leg muscle to push your hand down during lifts.
- After 2 sets of 12 repetitions, switch sides and lift the other leg with your left hand.
Note: The standard repetition range is 10-12. This is not too low to risk injury and not too high to make it an endurance training. You can go more than 12 reps, provided that you build some techniques beforehand.
Curling is supposed to be good for your biceps so don’t overdo it. It is also worth noting that you stick to the maximum weight your body can handle.
After doing these outer bicep exercises, you’ll become more comfortable flexing your muscles. People might also be tempted to see you squeezing your biceps.
So don’t be surprised when you receive some flex requests!