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15 Dumbbell Exercises For Bigger Bicep Muscles

Dumbbell workouts can offer you impressive benefits but what are some bicep exercises you can do with dumbbells at home or in the gym?

Dumbbells are handles with weights attached to them, they are one of the most popular types of gym equipment, and for a good reason. You can use dumbells 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 on what part of the bicep muscles you focus.

How heavy your dumbbells 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 light dumbbells and slowly build up 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. That being said, here are 15 dumbbell exercises to build bigger biceps.

1. Standing bicep curls

Standing bicep curls are likely the first exercise that comes to mind if you think about dumbbell 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. Each hand holds a dumbbell 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 dumbbells back into starting position in a controlled motion.

2. Hammer curls

To do a hammer curl take the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your arms hanging beside you. Each hand holds a dumbbell with a neutral grip which means with your hand palms facing each other 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 dumbbells back into starting position in a controlled motion.

By changing your grip compared to the regular curl you target your brachialis muscle more. This muscle helps your arms achieve more power and look bigger.

3. 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. Each of your hands holds a dumbbell 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 dumbbells 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 more muscle gain.

4. Spider curls

For spider curls, you need an incline bench at about a 45-degree angle. Once you have that, 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. Let your arms hang down with a dumbbell in each hand 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 dumbbells back into starting position in a controlled motion.

5. Reverse curls

To do a reverse curl take the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your arms hanging beside you. Each hand holds a dumbbell 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 dumbbells back into starting position in a controlled motion.

By changing your grip even more compared to the hammer curl you target your brachialis muscle even more.

6. Drag curls

To do a drag curl take the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your arms hanging beside you. Each hand holds a dumbbell 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 dumbbells basically follow the same line as your body.
  3. Lower the dumbbells 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. Incline curls

For incline curls, you need an incline bench at about a 45-degree angle. Once you have that, to do an incline curl take the following steps:

  1. Lie on the bench on your back. Let your arms hang down with a dumbbell in each hand 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 dumbbells back into starting position in a controlled motion.

Incline curls are basically an easier way to do drag curls. Because of the gravity working on your arms, your elbows will automatically stay behind your body.

8. Zottman curls

To do a zottman curl take the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your arms hanging beside you. Each hand holds a dumbbell 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. At the top of the movement twist your hands 180 degrees inward so that your hand palms face forward.
  4. Lower the dumbbells until your arms are stretched in a controlled motion.
  5. If you want to do another repetition twist the dumbbells back into starting position.

Zottman curls are more of an all around bicep exercise due to the different hand grips throughout the exercise.

9. Concentration curls

For concentration curls, you need something to sit on at about knee height. A regular weight lifting bench is great. Once you have that, to do a concentration curl take the following steps:

  1. Sit on the object with your upper legs making about a 90-degree angle. Hold a dumbbell in one hand, slightly tilt your upper body forward while keeping a good posture, and place the lower back of your upper arm on the inside of your leg on the same side.
  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 dumbbell back into starting position in a controlled motion.

Similar to preacher curls you make your biceps work harder by avoiding momentum and using the rest of your body with concentration curls.

10. Supine bicep curls

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

  1. Lie down on your back on the weight bench. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, let your stretched arms hanging down slightly more than a horizontal line.
  2. Slowly fold your arms at the elbows until your forearms are pointing straight up. Keep your upper arms in the same position throughout the exercise. Twist your hands 90 degrees throughout the movement so that at the top of the movement your hand palms are facing backward.
  3. Lower the dumbbells back into starting position in a controlled motion.

Supine bicep curls work your biceps similar to incline bicep curls but with a smaller range of motion.

11. Crossbody curls

To do a crossbody curl take the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your arms hanging beside you. Each hand holds a dumbbell with your hand palms facing forward in starting position.
  2. Slowly bring the dumbbell of one side 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 dumbbell back into starting position in a controlled motion.
  4. Repeat with the dumbbell on the other side.

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.

12. Waiter curls

To do a waiter curl take the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your arms hanging beside you. Hold one dumbbell with both hands. The dumbbell starts vertical and your hands hold it right under the upper of the two weights with hand palms facing upward. Keep the dumbbell as low as possible.
  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 dumbbell back into starting position in a controlled motion.

Waiter curls shift the upward angle slightly more inward which leads to more focus on the the outer of the two brachii muscle heads.

13. 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. Each hand holds a dumbbell 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 dumbbells back into starting position in a controlled motion.

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

14. Renegade rows

To do a renegade row take the following steps:

  1. Place the dumbbells on the ground at about shoulder-width and at horizontal lines with each other.
  2. Get into the position where your face is facing the floor with your hands on the dumbbell grips. Your arms stretched, and your knees on the ground.
  3. Move your feet back until your body is in a straight line. If you notice you need more stability during the exercise you can put your feet slightly more apart.
  4. Raise one dumbbell upward until it is at the height of your upper body. Make sure you also use your arms muscles and not just your back muscles.
  5. Lower the dumbbell back into the position of step 3 and raise the dumbbell on the other side in the same way.

The renegade row isolates your bicep muscles less than the other dumbbell exercises on this list. In turn, this exercise works more muscles to a lesser extent.

15. Racked farmer’s walk

The regular farmer’s walk is an exercise where you walk with a weight in each hand. Instead of your arms hanging down, for the racked farmer’s walk, each of your hands holds a dumbbell. Your upper arms make a horizontal line and your lower arms point upward.

You then move a certain distance or amount of time in this position.

The racked farmer’s walk is more of a type of isometric exercise. In simpler words, this means that you engage your muscles in a more static way, without moving a lot. On the other hand, you have isotonic exercises where you engage your muscles in a dynamic way, by moving.

Isotonic exercises are generally more useful for building muscle. That means that the other isotonic exercises on this list are generally better exercises for building bigger bicep muscles.