5 Best Bicep Exercises with Dumbbells (20-Minute Bicep Workout At Home)

The BEST Bicep Workout you can do at home! Standing dumbbell curls, hammer curls, crossbody concentration curls — the 5 best bicep exercises with dumbbells in a 20-minute biceps workout at home. A complete bicep burnout to build strong, defined biceps.

Click here to learn more about building bigger biceps at home — Bicep Workout FAQs

Want to build bigger biceps at home?

Add these five bicep exercises to your at home arm workouts.

Or dedicate one training day a week to just biceps with this 20-minute biceps workout at home.

An efficient dumbbell bicep workout to BUILD STRONG, defined arms and biceps!

Cross body concentration curl with dumbbells

20-Minute Bicep Workout At Home

Equipment:

Medium set of dumbbells. 

I suggest anywhere from 8-25 lbs. I used 15-20 lb dumbbells for this bicep workout.

Instructions:

Follow along with the guided Dumbbell Bicep Workout video at the top of this post. I’ll provide form cues and modifications for all fitness levels.

Alternatively, work through these five bicep exercises with dumbbells at your own pace.

This is a timed interval workout. Perform moves 1-4 for 40 seconds of work, followed by 20 seconds of rest. Move 5 is a 20 second burnout.

Repeat all five bicep exercises x 3 sets with short warm up and cool down.

The 5 Best Bicep Exercises

  1. Standing Dumbbell Curl (supine grip)
  2. Alternating Hammer Curl + Double Hammer Curl
  3. Alternating Crossbody Concentration Curl
  4. Alternating ½ Curls
  5. Isometric Bicep Hold + Pulse (20 second burnout)

1. Standing Dumbbell Curl (supine grip, palms out)

Targets: The long (outer) head of the biceps, and the short (inner) head of the biceps. One of the best bicep exercises to make the bicep muscles pop.

standard bicep curls with dumbbells (supine grip curl)

How to do a Standard Bicep Curl with Dumbbells:

  1. Start with feet under hips, core engaged, hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, palms facing outward (underhand grip or supine curl).
  2. Keeping your elbows locked by your sides, and shoulders out for your ears with shoulder blades pulled down; squeeze your bicep muscle to curl the weights up to shoulder-height as you exhale.
  3. With control, slowly lower the dumbbells down to your sides. Return to the starting position and repeat this movement for 40 seconds.

2. Alternating Hammer Curl + Double Hammer Curl (palms in facing one another)

Targets: The long head of the bicep as well as the brachialis (another muscle in the upper arm located at the elbow joint) and the brachioradialis (a forearm muscles).

alternating hammer curls

How to do Hammer Curls:

  1. Start with feet under hips, core engaged, hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, palms facing in towards each other (hammer curl).
  2. Keeping your elbows locked by your sides, alternate single hammer curls on each side, squeezing your bicep muscle to curl the weights up to shoulder-height as you exhale. So perform a single arm hammer curl on the right arm, then the left arm, then a double arm hammer curl; curling both weights towards your shoulders, in a double hammer curl.
  3. Repeat this pattern for 40 seconds.

3. Alternating Crossbody Concentration Curl (palms facing body)

Targets: The biceps brachii, as the name implies this move concentrates on the biceps muscles.

alternating crossbody concentration curls

How to do Crossbody Concentration Curls:

  1. Start with feet under hips, core engaged, hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, palms facing in towards your body (knuckles out).
  2. Starting with your right arm, curl the dumbbell across your chest towards your left shoulder in an arch formation, keeping it close to your body. Think of drawing a half circle with the dumbbell.
  3. Repeat this same crossbody curl motion on the left arm.
  4. Continue alternating crossbody curls for 40 seconds.

Note, these concentration curls are done standing, but you could always perform true concentration curls from a seated position with the upper arm pressed against the leg to better isolate the bicep muscle. This bicep exercise was found to be the best bicep exercise to increase bicep muscles; outperforming cable curls, barbell curls, chin-ups, preacher curls, incline dumbbell curl and more (American Council on Exercise).

4. Alternating ½ Curls (supine grip, palms out)

Targets: The biceps muscles while increasing time under tension. As a result, the increased time under tension strengthens the biceps muscle and increase biceps hypertrophy (muscle growth).

alternating half bicep curls

How to do Alternating ½ Curls:

  1. Start with feet under hips, core engaged, hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, palms facing outward (underhand grip or supine curl).
  2. Keeping your elbows locked by your sides, perform a half bicep curl; holding both arms at a 90 degree angle.
  3. Then alternate lowering the right arm, return to half curl isometric hold, then lower the left arm and return to a half curl isometric hold. Squeezing your bicep muscle to curl the weight back to 90 degrees with each rep.
  4. Repeat this alternating half curl for 40 seconds.

Note, with isometric holds the shoulders tend to creep up into the ears. It’s important to keep the shoulder blades pulled down. 

5. Isometric Bicep Hold + Pulse (supine grip, palms out)

Targets: The biceps in a contracted position. This isometric hold is meant to burnout or fatigue the bicep muscles.

bicep workout with dumbbells bicep hold

How to do Isometric Bicep Hold + Pulse:

  1. Start with feet under hips, core engaged, hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, palms facing outward (underhand grip or supine curl).
  2. Keeping your elbows locked by your sides, perform a half bicep curl; holding both arms at a 90 degree angle.
  3. Continue to hold dumbbells at 90 degrees while squeezing your bicep muscles to pulse the dumbbells up one inch and down one inch.
  4. Hold this bicep burnout exercise for 20 seconds.

Note, with isometric holds the shoulders tend to creep up into the ears. It’s important to keep the shoulder blades pulled down. 

If you like this bicep workout with dumbbells you might also like this 30-Minute Tricep Workout.

Bicep Workouts FAQs

Standard Bicep Curl with Dumbbells

1. Bicep workouts for women — will it make me ‘bulk up’? 

NO. Lifting weights will make you strong, not bulky.

Women getting ‘bulky’ from strength training is a fitness myth. Lifting weights will NOT make you bulky — just stronger.

If you want toned, defined arms and biceps, lift weights.

2. How do you build bicep muscles at home with dumbbells?

I believe in the progressive overload principle to build muscle.

Progressive overload is when you gradually increase the:

  • Weight (lift heavier)
  • Frequency (days per week)
  • Number of Repetitions (note you can also increase weights and decrease number of repetitions)

These changes in your strength training routine challenge your muscles in different ways to build strength.

Cross Body Curl for biceps

3. What are the best bicep exercises?

The best bicep exercises hit both heads of the bicep (there’s a short head AND a long head) from all angles.

In my opinion, the most effective bicep exercises are:

  • Concentration Curls
  • Hammer Curls
  • Supine Grip Curls

4. Which is better hammer curls or supinated curls?

Hammer curls work more arm muscles than standard bicep curls.

Thus, hammer curls have been known to build bicep muscles faster.

5. Is this biceps workout pregnancy-friendly?

Yes, with the caveat that every body (and every pregnancy) is different. Slow down the movements as needed to perform each exercise with proper form.

You could also perform these bicep exercises from a seated position; sitting on a bench, incline bench or stability ball.

Note, you might need to modify bicep exercise #3 — Crossbody Concentration Curls. Substitute a Seated Concentration Curl:

  1. Sit on a chair or bench, take a wide stance with your legs, and hold a dumbbell in your right hand, palm facing towards your opposite knee.
  2. Press your right elbow into your right thigh, then curl the dumbbell up towards your right shoulder. Focus on keeping your upper arm and shoulder in place.
  3. Complete desired number of reps on the right arm, then repeat on the left arm.

Pin this Biceps Workout At Home

at home bicep workouts with dumbbells pin for pinterest

More Upper Body, Muscle Group Specific Workouts:

4 comments
  1. Thank you so much for another fabulous session of blessed bananas! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the workouts and schedules you post, it takes the indecisiveness out of the equation. Please keep up the awesome work!

    • Way to go Kate! So glad you liked this Bicep Workout! Yes, I’m a big fan of having a plan (helps take the guesswork and easy option to bypass a workout out of the equation)! Keep up the great work! -Lindsey