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Bodyweight exercises can be great up to a certain point. Likely soon you need equipment to keep gaining a lot of bicep muscle with your workouts.
The way you build muscle in places like your biceps is by straining and damaging your muscles. This may seem counterintuitive but this makes it so your body starts processes to repair them and build a little extra to be better prepared for similar efforts in the future.
Generally the more weight you have to move, the easier it becomes to strain your muscles enough for muscle growth in a short amount of time. On top of that, your biceps are generally hard to work out without equipment.
In short, you will likely benefit from implementing some of the equipment on this list in your bicep exercises. 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. One-handed free weights
One-handed free weights are basically the free weights category excluding the barbell and the EZ curl bar. This distinction is important when talking about bicep exercises. By being able to hold the weight in one hand it becomes easier to do bicep exercises like hammer curls, spider curls, incline curls, and the zottman curl.
Some examples of one-handed free weights are dumbbells, kettlebells, the right types of weight plates, certain sandbags, wrist weights, etc. These types of equipment are convenient for many exercises for a wide variety of body parts, including your bicep muscles.
Another benefit of free weights is that they generally last an extremely long time. One dumbbell can potentially improve your workouts for many years and potentially even decades. On top of that, many free weights do not really lose their value.
This means that if you decide to stop using dumbbells or other free weights you can likely sell them for a very similar price as what you put into them.
The disadvantage is that free weights often require a slightly bigger investment compared to more short-term fitness equipment like resistance bands. That being said, they are still relatively low in price compared to for example an exercise bike.
Even a heavy backpack or grocery backs could be used for bicep exercises although these are not optimal for a training program.
2. Resistance bands
Resistance bands are an inexpensive type of fitness equipment that are basically elastic cords. They can be used for a variety of resistance band bicep exercises.
Some of the benefits of resistance bands are that they are relatively inexpensive, easy to store, and very portable. They can also be used in other exercises to train your arms, abs, back, and chest muscles.
One downside is that resistance bands are not the type of gym equipment you can use for the rest of your life. At least every few years you will need to replace the last set with new resistance bands.
A few bicep exercises will also benefit from anchoring your resistance bands somewhere. Sometimes you can attach them to objects that are already around the house.
Even so, it is likely safer to get an inexpensive resistance band anchor to avoid any problems.
3. Two-handed free weights
Two-handed free weights that can be used for bicep exercises are basically the barbell, a workout sandbag, and an EZ curl bar. If needed you can load the bars with extra weight plates.
As mentioned before, this type of equipment does not allow you to do certain bicep exercises. That being said, there are still plenty of bicep exercise options for a great workout.
An advantage of these two-handed free weights is that you can use them in a wide variety of exercises for a wide variety of other body parts. Another thing is that similar to one-handed free weights, two-handed free weights generally last a very long time without much reduction in value.
A downside is that the barbell, EZ curl bar, and weight plates often require a slightly bigger investment.
4. Weight bench
A weight bench is a type of padded bench without back support that is a very standard piece of equipment at most gyms. Some people may be surprised to find a weight bench on a list of bicep exercise equipment but this fitness tool can definitely benefit your bicep workouts.
There is a bicep exercise called the preacher curl where you put your upper arm on a slanted surface to do a bicep curl. This makes it so you have to lift the weight with only your biceps without help from the rest of your arm or body. In turn, this bicep isolation can lead to more and faster muscle gain.
There is a specific bench for the preacher curl but a benefit of an adjustable weight bench is that it can be used in a variety of other exercises too.
Doing different types of curls seated can offer similar benefits. You will also need an adjustable weight bench for exercises like a spider curl and incline bicep curl.
Another benefit of a weight bench as an at-home workout equipment option is that it lasts a long time. A downside is that it requires a good amount of storage room.
5. Preacher curl bench
When talking about bicep exercises you will almost always hear the preacher curl exercise come up. This is no surprise, this is a popular version of the bicep curl because it is so effective at isolating bicep muscles. To do the preacher curl you need an adjustable weight bench or a specialized bench.
This preacher curl bench is basically a slanted surface. You put your upper arm on this bicep curl accessory so that your biceps are the only muscles you can use to curl a weight up and down.
This bicep exercise equipment option is more for if your local gym has one if you have a limited budget. For home gyms, an adjustable weight bench is often the more budget-friendly alternative.
6. Bicep curl machine
At first sight, bicep curl machines may look a lot like a preacher bench but there is a small difference that does influence your bicep workouts.
With a preacher bench you are still lifting a free weight. On the flip side, a bicep curl machine makes it so the movement of your lower arm is fixed. In turn, this leads to more focus on your bicep muscles alone and less on other balance muscles.
For most people, this difference will not matter that much but in some situations, it can make sense to only go for the bicep curl machine.
7. Pull-up bar
Because pull-ups mostly focus on back muscles, many people forget the pull-up bar when talking about bicep workouts. However, by changing your grip, with your hand palms towards you, you do chin-ups. This exercise is a compound bicep exercise.
Even if you currently don’t have a pull-up bar or gym subscription, doorway pull-up bars are relatively inexpensive. On top of that, they can be used in many exercises for a variety of body parts.
8. Cable machine
The cable machine is a type of gym machine where a steel frame holds weights and pulleys. Thanks to the cable going through these pulleys and attached to these weights you can do many types of strength training exercises for a wide variety of muscles.
Most cable bicep exercises are a form of curl with different types of grips, angles, and upward movements.
The benefit of this machine is that it is extremely versatile. The main downside if you plan to get one for your home gym is that it can be a relatively big investment.
9. Smith machine
The smith machine looks similar to a squat rack but there are a few differences which make the smith machine more of a machine.
First of all, the barbell is attached to a rail system. This makes it so it can only move up or down alongside these rails and not forward or backward. Secondly, it has a system where you can rack the barbell at any height.
The main bicep exercise for the smith machine is the drag curl. This is where you curl a weight up in a straight line which requires you to move back your elbow during the upward movement.
The smith machine makes it so the movement of your exercise is fixed. In turn, this leads to more focus on your bicep muscles alone and less on other balance muscles.
10. Dip bars
Dip bars are essentially two horizontal bars with enough room below them to do the dip exercise. This is a tricep exercise but you can also use dip bars to do a bicep exercise.
To do so hold one dip bar with an underhanded grip, hang down from it with stretched arms, and your face looking up. After that curl your arms as far as you comfortably can. Try to use your biceps as much as possible. Lastly, lower yourself again in a controlled motion.
A benefit of dip bars is that there are also other dip bar exercises for other body parts. This piece of arm workout equipment can also last a very long time.
One downside when it comes to bicep exercises is that it is not as easy to adjust the weight for the dip bar curl. Dip bars can also require a slightly bigger investment compared to more short-term fitness equipment like resistance bands.