Sculpt This, Not That: Build Breathtaking Biceps

These two workouts will get you great arms.

Photo: Getty Images

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When it comes to men, no body part is more overtrained (and over-coveted) than the biceps. But don’t let that chronic masculine obsession with bigger biceps fool you: Well-developed biceps give shape and structure to your arms, can improve strength in exercises such as rows and chin-ups, and can help prevent injury by strengthening your elbow and shoulder joints.

The following three-move workouts can help you accomplish two aims: Under Construction helps build muscle tissue to give you the shape you want and can be done in combination with another body part or as part of a total-body workout. And the 9-Minute EMOM trains muscular endurance and can be used as a finisher to just about any training session. Both are especially effective when combined with our “Sculpt This, Not That” advice to squeeze the most out of every rep.

The Build Breathtaking Biceps Workouts

Under Construction

Complete all sets and reps of one exercise before moving on to the next, resting as needed. Start by using a lighter weight for fewer reps, and increase the weight and decrease the reps as you move through the sets.

Exercise Sets Reps
EZ-Bar Preacher Curl 4 15, 12, 10, 8
Standing Alternating Dumbbell Curl 3 12, 10, 8 (each arm)
Incline Dumbbell Hammer Curl 3 10-15

9-Minute EMOM

Every minute on the minute, perform the indicated task. Rest any remaining time, then begin the next move at the top of the next minute. Complete three rounds.

Minute Exercise Reps
1 Standing Alternating Dumbbell Curl 20 (each arm)
2 Incline Dumbbell Hammer Curl 15 (each arm)
3 EZ-Bar Preacher Curl* 10

*Use a heavy weight for this move; these 10 reps should be hard.

EZ-Bar Preacher Curl

Adjust a preacher bench so the pad fits snugly under your armpits. Take an underhand grasp on the innermost bend of an EZ-curl bar. Align your arms so they are parallel to one another, and flex your wrists slightly. Keep your arms steady on the pad as you curl the bar up toward your head. Pause briefly at peak contraction, then slowly lower to the start.

Sculpt This, Not That: To maximize each repetition, stop just short of parallel at the top and just short of full extension at the bottom: At the top, the weight is stacked and balanced over your wrists and elbows, which removes the tension from the biceps, and at the bottom, extending your arms completely also releases the biceps from their contraction.

Standing Alternating Dumbbell Curl

Hold a set of dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing forward and stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Shift your arms slightly in front of your body, and hold your upper arms steady as you alternately curl one weight at a time up toward your shoulder. Pause briefly at the top, then lower back to the start.

Sculpt This, Not That: Lock your wrists into place before you begin a repetition so they are straight and solid, and avoid the temptation to flex them excessively as you raise the weight, which brings the forearms into play.

Incline Dumbbell Hammer Curl

Sit on an incline bench and hold a set of dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing inward. Lie back and allow your arms to hang straight down from your shoulders, perpendicular to the floor. Keep your elbows firmly in place as you bend your elbows and raise the weights. Pause at the peak contraction, then slowly lower to the start.

Sculpt This, Not That: With your palms facing inward, you’re directly targeting the brachialis — the muscle that runs underneath the biceps — but to maximize each rep, turn your palms so they face upward at the top, which brings the main biceps muscles, the biceps brachii, into play.

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