How To Get Bigger Biceps (Fast!): The Ultimate Guide

March 12, 2023

When you first hit the gym, what was the first muscle you trained? Biceps. Endless curls for the girls to get bigger biceps. If you're a female, you likely didn't experience this but still want "shaped and toned" arms.

While the biceps are the most commonly trained muscle group, it is done poorly.

Just look around your commercial gym to see guys slamming curls while shaking their bodies like a salmon out of water. Impressive biceps take a targeted approach. Not one of slangin' weights. So, I have a complete guide to sleeve-busting biceps below!

But first, we must understand the anatomy of the biceps to know which exercises are most effective.

Biceps Anatomy

The biceps brachii are made of two muscle heads:

  • Short head
  • Long head
Biceps Anatomy

Both heads originate at the shoulder and insert on the radius bone in the outer forearm [1]. The primary function of the biceps is to flex the elbow and supinate the forearm. They also help flex the shoulder. The biceps brachii elicit the greatest muscle activation when the forearm is supinated.

But the brachialis muscle is the strongest elbow flexor and is targeted with a neutral hand position. It originates on the bottom of the upper arm and inserts on the ulnar bone in the inner forearm. Its primary function is elbow flexion [2].

The brachioradialis contributes to elbow flexion and pronates and supinates the forearm. The most significant activation occurs when performing curls with a pronated hand position [3]. Therefore, maximizing biceps growth requires performing elbow flexion with various hand positions.

How To Get Bigger Biceps Fast

Here are 5 rules to follow to build bigger biceps fast!

Emphasize Long Muscle Lengths

More and more research confirms that training at long muscle lengths is superior for muscle hypertrophy compared to short muscle length training.

Specifically referencing the research on biceps, a 2021 study found that performing the bottom half of the dumbbell preacher curl led to more significant improvements in strength and muscle size than performing the top half [4].

The same authors in 2023 followed this up with female subjects. 

They found the bottom half reps resulted in more significant biceps growth at the bottom half of the biceps compared to performing the top of the rep [5].

1RM strength increase is also more significant in the bottom half rep group. This reinforces that long muscle-length training is essential for maximizing muscle growth. You can potentially target different parts of the muscle with different exercises.

There are three ways to attack this within your biceps training. Firstly, use a full range of motion. This stimulates the most hypertrophy as you create the most mechanical tension through stretch, a prerequisite for maximizing muscle growth [6].

Secondly, select exercises that place the biceps under greater stretch. For example, the incline dumbbell curl takes the biceps through a greater range of motion than the preacher curl [7].

And training biarticular muscles at extreme muscle lengths, as evidenced by the overhead triceps extension, leads to vast improvements in triceps growth [8].

Therefore, as the biceps brachii crosses the shoulder and elbow, training with extreme biceps length may result in similar findings.

Finally, you can take the original biceps research literally and use end-range partial reps as an intensity technique. For example, performing 10 full range of motion biceps curls and finishing the set with 6-10 bottom half partial reps.

Get Stronger On Compound Pulling Exercises

You have likely been told all you need are compound exercises to get bigger arms. Except this isn’t true. You need isolation exercises to overload the biceps through elbow flexion. However, that doesn’t make compound exercises useless.

Getting stronger on rows and chin-ups will impact your biceps growth positively. You'll get extra training volume for the biceps. As you get stronger, you can use heavier loads on your biceps isolation exercises.

Heavier loads and more reps equal bigger biceps.

Increase Your Biceps Training Volume

How To Get Bigger Biceps Fast

There’s a dose-response relationship between volume and gaining muscle [9]. Meaning the more volume you do (measured as sets per muscle group per week), the greater the muscle growth (to a certain extent).

The range is typically 10 to 25+ sets per week [10]. Very rarely would you exceed 25 sets per week for biceps, as this can quickly lead to burnout.

Use A Specialization Program

A simple way to increase training volume is to run a specialization program. In this instance, it may be a biceps or arm specialization program. The reason to use a specialization program instead of increasing biceps training volume in your current program is to reduce the training of other muscle groups.

This gives you more energy to attack the biceps with more effort and reduces your energy expenditure on other muscle groups. These muscle groups will still be trained but with minimum volume to maintain muscle mass.

The frequency of biceps training will increase from once to 2-3 times per week to allow the additional volume to be performed.

Vary Your Hand Position

How To Increase Biceps Size Fast

As mentioned in the biceps anatomy section, different hand positions stimulate different muscles in the upper arm.

Supinated or palms up position targets the main biceps muscles, the biceps brachii. A neutral or semi-pronated position targets the brachialis. And pronated or palms down position targets the brachioradialis.

Therefore you must use these different hand positions to maximize biceps development. So which exercises fit into each category?

7 Best Exercises For Bigger Biceps

In my experience, these are the best exercises for bigger biceps. The biceps are a small muscle group mainly responsible for a single joint action. Therefore, there isn’t a huge variation of exercises to choose from that are truly effective.

But these are my go-to biceps exercises to blow up your arms.

Incline DB Curls

This is the first extreme biceps stretch exercise. As the biceps flex the elbow and are a synergist muscle for shoulder flexion, placing the shoulder into extension with an extended elbow increases the stretch.

Theoretically, this will enhance the hypertrophic response. Further, it’s a reprieve from the bent arm postures we spend our lives in at desks. Here’s how to do it:

  • Set the bench to a 60° incline. This is usually one hole past 45°. Sit on the bench leaning back with dumbbells in your hands and arms hanging by your side. Pinch your shoulder blades like a bench press setup to allow your shoulders to retract and stretch the biceps instead of the shoulders.
  • Curl the dumbbells squeezing your biceps until your arms are perpendicular to the floor. You can keep your elbows in place to focus on elbow flexion, or you can move your elbows forward to add a small amount of shoulder flexion.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells to the starting position, emphasizing the bottom stretch.

Bayesian Curls

The Bayesian curl is another extreme stretch variation but uses a cable. It has become popular recently because of the research on long muscle length training. Here’s how to do it:

  • Set a cable with a single handle attachment at the bottom of the pole. Face away from the cable stack holding the handle. Stagger your legs, so the leg on the side of the working arm is behind.
  • Allow the cable to pull your shoulder into extension, creating a biceps stretch. Curl the cable and bring the elbow forward to flex the shoulder.
  • Slowly return to the starting position emphasizing the stretch.

Barbell Biceps Curl

The barbell biceps curl is considered the king of biceps exercises. It allows the heaviest loads and smokes your biceps and forearms. While it doesn’t provide the same stretch as the above exercises, it’s been a staple biceps builder for decades. Here’s how to do it:

  • Hold the barbell with a narrow grip, with your palms facing up. Make sure your arms are extended in this position.
  • Curl the barbell to approximately chest height squeezing your biceps. You can add a slight shoulder flexion at the end for further biceps shortening.
  • Slowly extend the elbow returning to the starting position.

DB Hammer Curls

This is my go-to exercise for hammering (no pun intended) the brachialis, the strongest elbow flexor. You’ll notice the hammer curl is the exercise you can use the most weight because of this. That doesn't mean the biceps brachii aren't hit; they also help with elbow flexion.

But you’re emphasizing the strong brachialis muscle with a semi-pronated hand position. Here’s how to do it:

  • Standing with dumbbells by your side and palms facing your body, curl the dumbbells while maintaining your shoulder position.
  • Squeeze your biceps in the shortened position and slowly return to the starting position.

Band Reverse Curls

You can do reverse curls with various equipment. Barbells and EZ bars are the typical prescriptions. But I’ve recently been using the band or cable reverse curl. It creates a brachioradialis and forearm pump you won't get using barbells.

The tension created in the shortened position with the bands is at another level. Because the shoulder position doesn't matter since the brachioradialis isn’t involved in shoulder flexion like the biceps brachii, you can perform the reverse curl effectively with bands. Here’s how to do it:

  • Attach two bands at approximately chest height. Step back to create band tension with your arms extended in front. Hold the handles with a palms-down grip.
  • Keeping the same elbow position, curl the handles toward your head. Band tension will increase with peak tension occurring approximately with your forearm perpendicular to the floor.

If you’re looking for the perfect set of bands for smashing biceps, skip the strength bands on Amazon. I use the Iron Neck Resistance Bands, which include handles and are far more comfortable.

The link above gives you 10% OFF automatically applied at checkout.

Preacher Curls

The favorite biceps exercise of the golden era of bodybuilding goes to the preacher curl. Think of it as the purest biceps isolation exercise since your arms are rested against a pad. Your shoulders cannot move to help with the curl.

Instead, everything is powered by elbow flexion. If you've done these before, you know the sick pumps from this exercise. I prefer an EZ bar as it's easier on the wrists, but you can also use 1-arm dumbbell variations with the preacher curl. Here’s how to do it:

  • Grab the EZ bar first and lean against the preacher bench with your arms against the pad. Start with an extended arm position.
  • Curl the bar until your arms are perpendicular to the floor, squeezing your biceps. Slowly lower the bar to the extended position.

Weighted Chin-Ups

And we finish with a compound exercise for the biceps. Weighted chin-ups are often forgotten in the realm of biceps exercises because they are seen as a back exercise, which is true. But the supinated chin-up position elicits greater biceps activation than lat activation [11].

Add weight to that, and it's like doing an extremely heavy barbell cheat curl. Here’s how to do it:

  • Hold a pull-up bar with an underhand grip. Your hand position should be narrow, not wide. Drive your elbows to your ribs as you pull your chest to the bar.
  • Slowly lower yourself until your arms are extended.

Best Biceps Workout For Mass




A1) Weighted Chin-Ups

3 x 6


B1) DB Hammer Curl

4 x 10


C1) Band Reverse Curl

3 x 15


D1) Incline DB Curl

3 x 12

10 RPE


To get bigger biceps, you must focus on elbow flexion with varying hand positions emphasizing long muscle lengths through full ranges of motion. Biceps are a simple muscle group to grow as there are limited options for training them.

Go hard on the basics of biceps curls while getting stronger on your pulling compound lifts, and you have a recipe for success.


1. Tiwana, M. S., Charlick, M., & Varacallo, M. (2018). Anatomy, shoulder and upper limb, biceps muscle.

2. Plantz, M. A., Bordoni, B. (2022). Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Brachialis Muscle.

3. Kleiber, T., Kunz, L., & Disselhorst-Klug, C. (2015). Muscular coordination of biceps brachii and brachioradialis in elbow flexion with respect to hand position. Frontiers in physiology, 6, 215.

4. Sato, S., Yoshida, R., Kiyono, R., Yahata, K., Yasaka, K., Nunes, J. P., ... & Nakamura, M. (2021). Elbow joint angles in elbow flexor unilateral resistance exercise training determine its effects on muscle strength and thickness of trained and non-trained arms. Frontiers in Physiology, 12, 734509.

5. Pedrosa, G. F., Simões, M. G., Figueiredo, M. O., Lacerda, L. T., Schoenfeld, B. J., Lima, F. V., ... & Diniz, R. C. (2023). Training in the Initial Range of Motion Promotes Greater Muscle Adaptations Than at Final in the Arm Curl. Sports, 11(2), 39.

6. Schoenfeld, B. J. (2010). The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 24(10), 2857-2872.

7. Oliveira, L. F., Matta, T. T., Alves, D. S., Garcia, M. A., & Vieira, T. M. (2009). Effect of the shoulder position on the biceps brachii EMG in different dumbbell curls. Journal of sports science & medicine, 8(1), 24.

8. Maeo, S., Wu, Y., Huang, M., Sakurai, H., Kusagawa, Y., Sugiyama, T., ... & Isaka, T. (2022). Triceps brachii hypertrophy is substantially greater after elbow extension training performed in the overhead versus neutral arm position. European journal of sport science, 1-11.

9. Schoenfeld, B. J., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J. W. (2017). Dose-response relationship between weekly resistance training volume and increases in muscle mass: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of sports sciences, 35(11), 1073-1082.

10. Schoenfeld, B., & Grgic, J. (2018). Evidence-based guidelines for resistance training volume to maximize muscle hypertrophy. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 40(4), 107-112.

11. Raizada, S., & Bagchi, A. (2019). A comparative electromyographical investigation of Latissimus dorsi and Biceps brachii using Various hand positions in pull ups. Indian J Public Health, 10, 1625.

About the Author

I am a professional strength & conditioning coach that works with professional and international teams and athletes. I am a published scientific researcher and have completed my Masters in Sport & Exercise Science. I've combined my knowledge of research and experience to bring you the most practical bites to be applied to your training.

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