Bicep Brachii Exercises

Author: Rod Ferris B.A., CPT (YMCA, ACE), CFC, CPAFLA


Biceps are made up of two (bi) muscles. These muscles are the long head and the short head. The primary function of the bicep brachii muscle is to move the forearm towards the shoulder (elbow flexion). The secondary function of the bicep brachii is supination of the forearm. The origin of the bicep muscle attaches onto the capula at two places (supraglenoid tuberosity and the coracoid process). The insertion points are onto the radius (tubercle) and the fascia of the forearm (bicipital aponeurosis).

Training and Notes

  • To increase your bicep size be sure to keep your train at different intensities and focus on a full range of exercises.
  • Since biceps are a small muscle group, do not perform more exercises and sets than larger muscle groups.
  • Remember that for sports biceps are not a very important muscle and isolation exercises should be kept to a minimum.
  • One theory for training the two heads is to use palm up and palm down grip to vary training. Another variation would be to use a short and a wide grip.
  • Click for an FAQ


The V in the bicep is a result of a good variation of bicep training. Varying your angles and types of exercises while reducing your bodyfat below twelve percent will drastically help you notice it and will also help with vascularity (showing your veins).

It all depends on your goal. The following recommendations are broken down by your goal:

1. Muscle mass workouts focus on 3-4 exercises for major muscles and 1-3 for smaller ones. Since biceps are considered a smaller supporting muscle we would suggest 2-3 exercises and doing 3-4 sets for each one.

2. Strength workouts usually do high sets for each muscle but very low reps. Try to do 5-6 sets keeping your reps low and increasing your rest time to two-four minutes between sets.

3. Sports workouts shouldn't be doing any isolated bicep exercises as it's really not important at all. Instead you could do more functional exercises that mimic the sporting action. If you must do a bicep exercise we would recommend the straight bar (olympic) bicep curls and try to time your exercise to the duration that your sport would require.

Since you are using your back and biceps any time you are pulling something you can switch the bicep exercises up on Chest and Back days. This will prevent overtraining and also give your biceps a chance to recover and use all available ATP (energy) during the Chest/Bicep days. Here is an example bicep mass building routine:

  • Preacher Curls (8-12 reps) JUMP TO ->
  • Incline Seated DB Curls (To Failure) JUMP TO ->
  • REST for 2 minutes and then start over for three sets.
  • When you have completed the above you can focus on doing sets of concentration curls until failure (but aim for 8-12 reps) with 2 minutes between each set.

Tracking Your Weights

There are lots of easy ways to track your sets and reps. One easy way is through a little book that you can take with you to the gym. This book has progress charts, workouts and lots of tools you can use to always make sure you are improving.

Bicep Exercises By Muscle Activation | Read More

Preacher Curls 90%
Incline Seated DB Curls (Alternating) 88%
Standing Bicep Curls 86%
Standing DB Curls 84%
Concentration Curls 80%
Standing Curls (Olympic Bar) Wide Grip 63%
Standing E-Z Curls (Wide Grip) 61%