In today’s video we look at the best dumbbell exercises for biceps. We’re going to focus on several areas of training: from strength, to power as well as hypertrophy and a few others you’d expect along with the best way to train the brachialis muscle of the upper arm, which supports the size and appearance of the biceps.
First we cover strength. The key, just like in our chest video, is that there are two non dumbbell exercises that fit perfectly here and that is the barbell curl and the weighted chinup. As we know from the dumbbell bench press however, there is a drop off in the amount of weight you can lift when you move from a barbell curl to individual dumbbells. That is, unless you split them up into alternating arms. Here your core doesn’t have to work as hard to stabilize the upward motion of the dumbbells and you can handle more weight for an easier progressive overload.
That said, I don’t believe this is the only option when it comes to building the strength of the biceps. I would suggest you also do the weighted chinup. Unlike the barbell bench to dumbbell bench however, you don’t have to experience a drop off in the weight you use just because you switch from weight plates to a dumbbell. Just hook the dumbbell up the way I show you and you are all set and ready to perform the weighted chinup and load up the biceps for growth.
Next we focus on power. The element of speed is critical to maximizing the effect of power training for our biceps. Here as well, you want to try and find a way that you can release the load during the repetition to realize true power development. The best way to do this is with the weighted plyometric chinup. The goal is to explode your body up and over the bar with a quick catch and release of the cross bar. If you cannot handle the additional weight around your waist, use the dumbbell as a step up to the bar.
The goal, as with any power development training, is to stay sub maximal in your effort and focus on moving as much weight as you can control with an increased rep velocity. If you find that the weight you select is so heavy that you have to either cheat the form too much or you cannot maintain proper speed, lower the weight used and start again.
For hypertrophy you want to explore eccentric muscle damage. The best way to do this is with the seated incline curl. Pick up a pair of dumbbells and curl them but don’t forget to actively contract the triceps at the bottom of every rep to enhance the stretch reflex and strength of contraction on the biceps. You can see me do this on every rep in the video demonstration. Once you reach failure, one of the most effective things you can do is take the reps beyond. You can do this with an eccentric only rep performed by sitting up at the end of the bench and then slowly lowering your body and the dumbbells back down.
A slight variation on this is shown to achieve a metabolic stress as well. Here you want to establish a burn in the working muscle and try to keep it there for as long as possible. I use an additional position that allows me to get some drag curls in at the end of the combination to do this really well.
We always want to keep an eye on the correctives on this channel as well. In the case of the biceps, we focus on maintaining health of the elbow. As anyone who has had issues with medial elbow pain while curling or doing any pull movements for that matter can tell you, it can hamper your ability to get results. Remember to load the dumbbell deep in the palm of your hand to avoid overstressing of the distal finger tendons. This can be achieved through either a dumbbell wrist curl if you can handle lighter weights only or a carry if you are up to the task of heavier weights.
Included are a few other exercises to emphasize the brachialis. This muscle lies underneath the biceps and can be trained with some modifications of the curl to lessen the contribution of the biceps slightly. Here I show you a cross body variation of a hammer curl that will help to add width to the upper arm and can be performed with just some dumbbells.
Give these exercises a shot whenever you don’t have access to the standard barbell moves or just want to an extra challenge. If you are looking for a complete program that will help you to not only build strong, muscular shoulders but also develop a complete athletic body, be sure to hit the link below and grab one of the ATHLEAN-X Training Systems.
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