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

The best bicep exercises to build stronger and bigger biceps! Five of the best bicep exercises with dumbbells, including standing dumbbell curls, hammer curls and eccentric curls. This workout is a complete bicep burnout to build strong, defined biceps and upper arms.

Want to build more defined biceps at home?

The key to building bicep muscles is lifting heavy weights, and performing reps close to failure.

The drop set format found in today’s workout is particularly helpful if your goal is muscular hypertrophy, or muscle growth.

Repeatedly challenging the same muscle causes the muscle to adapt by growing in strength and size.

two women flexing biceps as part of bicep workout for women

5 Best Bicep Exercises

Standing Dumbbell Curl

Targets: The biceps brachii (the front of your arms). This move hits both heads of the biceps muscle.

The standard bicep curl is a classic for a reason and can be performed with a variety of equipment. Whether you choose to add cable curls, barbell curls or dumbbell curls to your routine, this is a staple exercise for the front of the arms.

two women performing standing bicep curls with dumbbells as example of exercise to build mass in arms

How To Do A Standard Bicep Curl With Dumbbells

  1. Start standing, feet shoulder-width apart and core engaged. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, palms facing outward (underhand grip or supinated grip).
  2. Exhale as you squeeze your bicep muscle to curl the weights up to shoulder-height. Think about keeping elbows tucked into your sides and shoulder blades pulled down.
  3. With control, slowly lower the dumbbells down to your sides. Return to the starting position and repeat.

Alternating Hammer Curl

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).

two women performing hammer curls as example of bicep exercise

How To Do Hammer Curls

  1. Start standing, feet shoulder-width apart, core engaged. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, palms facing in towards each other (hammer curl grip, or neutral grip).
  2. Squeeze your bicep muscle to curl the weight in your right hand up to your right shoulder, before lowering it with control, performing a single arm hammer curl. Keep the upper arms stationary as you curl.
  3. Then repeat on the left side, curling the dumbbell in your left hand up to your left shoulder before lowering with control and returning to starting position.

Top-Half Bicep Curl and Wide Curl

Targets: The muscles of the forearms, the biceps muscles and rotator cuff. This top half curl variation specifically focuses on the inner or short head of the biceps.

The external rotation through the shoulder joint also strengthens the rotator cuff muscles and increases shoulder stability.

two women demonstrating how to perform a half curl and wide curl bicep exercises variations

How To Do Top-Half Curls and Wide Curls

  1. Start with feet under hips, core engaged. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of you, elbows bent at 90 degrees, elbows by your waist, and palms facing up towards the ceiling.
  2. Curl the dumbbells up to shoulder height, keeping your elbows in place.
  3. With control, lower the dumbbells, stopping when your elbows form a 90-degree angle (performing a top half bicep curl).
  4. Then, keeping elbows bent, open through the chest as you rotate the dumbbells out towards the corners of the room, each palm about 45 degrees away from your body.
  5. Hold this external rotation as you curl the dumbbells up towards your shoulders, before lowering to 90 degrees (performing a wide bicep curl).
  6. Rotate through the shoulders to pull the dumbbells back in front of your body, returning to starting position.

Eccentric Curl

Targets: The long (outer) head of the biceps, and the short (inner) head of the biceps.

Eccentric curls focus specifically on the “lowering” part of the curl motion – which is where the true muscle growth happens.

two women demonstrating how to perform eccentric bicep curls as part of bicep workout for women

How To Do Eccentric 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, curl the dumbbells up to shoulder height.
  3. With control, slowly lower the dumbbells down on a four-count through the full range of motion, returning to starting position. Think “up fast, down slow”.

Bottom-Half Bicep Curl

Targets: The long (or outer) head of the biceps.

Partial reps, like this bottom half curl, are effective at overloading the muscle by increasing time under tension, or the amount of time the muscle is loaded.

two women demonstrating bottom half bicep curls as part of best bicep exercises workout

How To Do Bottom-Half Bicep 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 tucked by your sides, exhale to slowly curl the dumbbells up halfway, pausing to hold both arms at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Then, inhale as you lower the dumbbells down towards your thighs with control, returning to starting position.

20-Minute Bicep Workout with Dumbbells

The five best bicep exercises to build muscle at home. This isolation-style biceps routine requires just a set of dumbbells.

Add upper body workouts like this one to your home training program 1-2 times a week to build muscle mass and increase endurance.

Workout Equipment:

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

Workout Instructions:

Follow along with the guided Biceps Workout video on YouTube, led by certified personal trainer, Lindsey Bomgren. 

Your Workout Looks Like This:

  • 5 Bicep Exercises
  • Drop Sets (perform each bicep exercise for 15 reps, then 12 reps, then 10 reps)
  • Repeat All 5 Bicep Exercises x3 Sets (drop reps with each set, but try to maintain the same weight)

Note: we re-filmed this biceps workout to improve video and sound quality (and changed up some of the moves). You can find the original best bicep exercises workout video here if you’d like to compare them.

woman curling dumbbells as part of bicep workouts for women

Prefer to Watch On YouTube?

youtube icon Bicep Workout

Workout Outline

  1. Standing Dumbbell Curl
  2. Alternating Hammer Curl
  3. Top-Half Bicep Curl and Wide Curl
  4. Eccentric Curl
  5. Bottom-Half Bicep Curl

Bicep Workouts FAQs

How Do You Build Bicep Muscles At Home With Dumbbells?

Progressive overload is the key to building muscle. Progressive overload is when you gradually increase the: weight (lift heavier), frequency (days per week) or number of repetitions performed. These changes in your strength training routine challenge your muscles in different ways to build strength.

What Are The Best Bicep Exercises?

The best bicep exercises hit both heads of the bicep from all angles. The most effective biceps exercises are curl variations, such as a concentration curl, hammer curl, barbell curl, preacher curl or cable curl.

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. That said, there are several bicep curl variations: hammer curl, reverse curl, Zottman curls. Each variation requires a slight grip change to work a slightly different head of the bicep muscle. The best way to train biceps is to include a variety of these curl variations into your overall training routine.

Is It OK to Train Biceps Every Day?

Muscle fibers need 48 hours to recover after resistance training to prevent overtraining and injury. Alternate bicep workouts with other upper body workouts, such as this tricep workout or back workout. Follow a well-rounded workout routine for the best results.

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  1. AMAZING. Unbelievably compact workout. I was able to get in a very necessary sweat in such a short amount of time. Very simple moves but so effective.

  2. 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