Many women shy away from bicep work for fear of bulking up. But unless you are training for a body building competition, there’s very little chance of that happening. Most women lack the testosterone necessary to support massive muscle gains. But they can develop strong, shapely arms — and the confidence to rock sleeveless styles at any age.
When it comes to bicep exercises, you really can’t beat variations on the curl. All you need is a bench or chair, some light- to medium-heavy weights, and about 15 minutes per day, two or three days per week.
Standard (Supinated) Bicep Curls
Just because it’s the most obvious way to build your biceps doesn’t mean the standard curl is basic. In fact, there’s a reason it’s a go-to in any upper-body workout: It works! There are several variations, including seated, standing, incline, and alternating that all work the biceps a little differently. I like the seated version because it forces you to actively engage the biceps with little to no help from other muscles.
Sit on a bench with arms down by your sides, palms facing up, and a dumbbell in each hand. Sitting up straight and with your core engaged, slowly bend your elbows and lift the dumbbells to your shoulders. Pause at the top and contract bicep muscles before slowly lowering to the starting position. For best results, do three sets of 10 to 15 reps, depending on your fitness level.
What makes this exercise different from the traditional bicep curl is the way that you hold the dumbbells. This slight variation targets the smaller biceps brachialis muscle that runs underneath the long and short bicep heads. Just like the standard curl, there are several variations.
Stand with feet shoulder width apart, arms by your sides, palms facing in, and a dumbbell in each hand. Without swinging your body, slowly bend your elbows and raise the weights to your shoulders, keeping your palms facing each other. Pause at the top and contract the bicep muscles before slowly lowering to the starting position. For best results, do three sets of 10 to 15 reps, depending on your fitness level.
Isometric exercises create more time under tension for the muscle, which is key for improving size and strength. You can perform this exercise with dumbbells in either hammer or standard bicep curl position.
Stand with feet shoulder width apart and a dumbbell in each hand. Keep one arm bent at a 90-degree angle, and raise and lower the other weight, curling toward your shoulder and pausing at the top before returning to the starting position. For best results, do three sets of 10 to 15 reps on each side, depending on your fitness level.
As the name suggests, concentration curls keep the weight concentrated in the bicep by stabilizing the upper arm against the back of the inner thigh.
Sit on a flat bench with legs spread and knees bent. Hold a dumbbell in one hand, arm extended, and palm facing away from you. Press your arm into your inner thigh, keeping it stationary as you bend your elbow and curl the weight to your shoulder. Pause at the top before lowering arm back into full extension. For best results, do three sets of 10 to 15 reps on each side, depending on your fitness level.