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10 Barbell Exercises For Bigger Biceps

Barbell workouts can offer you impressive benefits for many muscles but what are some barbell bicep exercises you can do at home or in the gym?

A barbell is a long bar that can hold weight plates. It is one of the most popular types of gym equipment, and for a good reason. Barbells can play a role in many exercises for a wide variety of muscles, including your bicep muscles.

Biceps are a popular muscle group because they have a big impact on how your arms look. By doing curls with small variations you can change what part of the bicep muscles you focus on.

Bicep exercises are often done with dumbbells and for a good reason. They offer more flexibility when it comes to your grip and movements. If you have dumbbells available you likely want to do dumbbell bicep exercises instead.

That being said, if for any reason you only want to use a barbell you can definitely also do the exercises below.

How heavy your barbell should be, varies from exercise to exercise and individual to individual. If you are not sure which weight would be right for you, you can start with just the bar or no barbell and slowly add weights from there.

Keep in mind that even though there are upsides, your injury risk is generally also higher when you do exercises with more weight/resistance. You may want to talk to your primary care provider before starting a new workout routine.

1. Standing barbell curls

Standing bicep curls are likely the first exercise that comes to mind if you think about barbell exercises to train your biceps. To do a standing bicep curl take the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your arms hanging beside you. Hold a barbell with your hands at about shoulder width with a supinated grip which means with your hand palms facing forward in starting position.
  2. Slowly fold your arms at the elbows as far as you can. Keep your upper arms in the same position throughout the exercise.
  3. Lower the barbell back into starting position in a controlled motion.

2. Reverse Curls

To do a reverse curl take the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your arms hanging beside you. Hold a barbell with your hands at about shoulder width with a pronated grip which means with your hand palms facing backward in starting position.
  2. Slowly fold your arms at the elbows as far as you can. Keep your upper arms in the same position throughout the exercise.
  3. Lower the barbell back into starting position in a controlled motion.

By changing your grip you target your brachialis muscle more.

3. Close-grip barbell bicep curls

To do a close-grip barbell bicep curl take the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your arms hanging beside you. Hold a barbell with your hands close to each other with a supinated grip which means with your hand palms facing forward in starting position.
  2. Slowly fold your arms at the elbows as far as you can. Keep your upper arms in the same position throughout the exercise.
  3. Lower the barbell back into starting position in a controlled motion.

By doing shifted the position of your hands you target the long head of the brachii bicep muscle, the outer of the two brachii muscle heads, more compared to regular bicep burls.

4. Wide-grip barbell bicep curls

To do a close-grip barbell bicep curl take the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your arms hanging beside you. Hold a barbell with your hands further away from each other than shoulder width with a supinated grip which means with your hand palms facing forward in starting position.
  2. Slowly fold your arms at the elbows as far as you can. Keep your upper arms in the same position throughout the exercise.
  3. Lower the barbell back into starting position in a controlled motion.

By doing shifted the position of your hands you target the short head of the brachii bicep muscle, the inner of the two brachii muscle heads, more compared to regular bicep burls.

5. Preacher bicep curls

For preacher bicep curls, you will also need a bench specifically made for this exercise or a regular incline bench. You basically want a slanted surface. To do a preacher bicep curl with the gym machine take the following steps:

  1. Take a seat behind the preacher bench with the back of your upper arm resting on the slanted surface. Hold a barbell with your hands at about shoulder width with your hand palms facing upward in starting position.
  2. Slowly fold your arms at the elbows as far as you can. Keep your upper arms in the same position throughout the exercise.
  3. Lower the barbell back into starting position in a controlled motion.

By doing bicep curls on a preacher bench you avoid using the rest of your body and momentum for the motion. This makes your bicep muscles work harder which in turn can lead to faster and more muscle gain.

6. Drag curls

To do a drag curl take the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your arms hanging beside you. Hold a barbell with your hands at about shoulder width with your hand palms facing forward in starting position.
  2. Slowly fold your arms at the elbows as far as you can. Throughout the movement, you move your elbows back. The barbell basically follows the same line as your body.
  3. Lower the barbell back into starting position in a controlled motion.

By moving your elbows back this exercise focuses more on the biceps brachii which are the muscles most people think of when hearing the word bicep.

7. Crossbody landmine curls

For this next exercise you need a landmine setup. This is an attachment that secures a barbell at the ground level. The landmine setup opens the door to exercises like the crossbody landmine curl. To do one take the following steps:

  1. Stand with your side to the landmine attachment. Stand up straight and hold the barbell with the arm furthest from the landmine setup. Keep your arm stretched and next to your body and grip the barbell with your hand palm facing forward.
  2. Slowly bring your hand with the barbell to the shoulder of the opposite side as far as possible by folding your arms at the elbow. Keep your upper arm as much in the same position as possible but it will inevitably have to move to be able to do the movement.
  3. Lower the barbell back into starting position in a controlled motion.
  4. Repeat the same number of repetitions with your other arm.

Crossbody curls change the upward angle compared to regular bicep curls. This leads to more focus on the long head of the brachii bicep muscle, the outer of the two brachii muscle heads.

8. Seated curls

For the next exercise, you will need a flat weight bench. Once you have that, to do a seated bicep curl take the following steps:

  1. Sit down on the weight bench so that you can let your arms hang beside you. Hold a barbell with your hands at about shoulder width with your hand palms facing forward in starting position.
  2. Slowly fold your arms at the elbows as far as you can. Keep your upper arms in the same position throughout the exercise.
  3. Lower the barbell back into starting position in a controlled motion.

By doing a regular barbell bicep curl sitting down you avoid using your legs to move the barbell. This leads to more focus on your bicep muscles.

9. Spider curls

For spider curls, you need an incline bench at about a 45-degree angle. You will also need something or a partner to hold the barbell in the right position since the weight bench makes this challenging to do by yourself. Once you have these, to do a spider curl take the following steps:

  1. Lie on the bench on your front, your chest should just reach the top of the bench. Hold a barbell with your hands at about shoulder width with your hand palms facing forward in starting position.
  2. Slowly fold your arms at the elbows as far as you can. Keep your upper arms in the same position throughout the exercise.
  3. Lower the barbell back into starting position in a controlled motion.

10. Hanging bicep curl

A regular bicep curl involves standing up straight and moving an external weight up and down. With this hanging bicep curl, you will move your body weight up and down with the help of a barbell in a way that targets similar muscles.

Make sure your barbell holder is sturdy and balanced enough for this exercise. If that is the case to do a hanging bicep curl take the following steps:

  1. Set the barbell rack at a low setting, about hip height, and place the barbell in the rack.
  2. Sit down under the barbell and grab it with a supinated grip.
  3. Move your body so your arms are stretched, your knees are at about a 90-degree angle or more, and the rest of your body is in a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
  4. Raise your body by bending your elbows until your body reaches the bar. Compared to an inverted row your back will be stiffer and your elbows will fold more with the bicep curl. Keep your arms close to your body, your body in a straight line, and your feet in the same position during the movement.
  5. Slowly lower yourself again until you are back in the position of the third step.

If you feel muscles other than your biceps fatiguing you are likely not doing the movement entirely right.