Bicep muscles, while one of the smaller muscles in the body is one of the most popular to train. There are three muscles located in the arm: the forearms (lower arm), triceps (back of upper arm) and biceps (front of upper arm). The triceps and biceps muscles work opposite of one another, where the triceps push and the biceps pull. This article will show you the basics how to train the bicep muscles and give you some good exercises to begin adding to your routine.

The bicep muscles are utilized when the arms engage in pulling motions which occur not only in bicep curling movements but also in pulling and rowing motions that directly work the back. Back exercises such as wide grip pull-ups, barbell and cable rows, and dead lift movements do primarily involve upper and lower back and rear deltoid muscles but they also utilize the bicep and forearms muscles in an indirect yet intense manner.

If you are a beginner to weight training, you should incorporate bicep exercises as part of an overall full body weight training program. Start with 4 – 5 total bicep exercise sets to perform weekly (this is of course is in addition to back exercise sets). If you having been training for some time and are at a moderate to advanced level of weight training, perform 8 – 12 sets weekly for bicep muscles. In general, you can build strength through lower repetition, higher weight sets (6 – 8 repetitions) or higher repetition, lower weight sets (12 – 20 repetitions). To build muscular endurance, lean towards using lower weight and higher repetitions, whereas to build muscle size, lean towards using higher weight and lower repetitions. Over time muscles will get used to exercises, weights, repetition ranges, number of sets and intensity level, so never hesitate to change something up to shock the muscles if your workouts begin to become stale and unproductive.

Standing barbell and dumbell curls are a great exercise to build bicep strength and size. Grasping the barbell or dumbells in a manner that your palms face forward, you then curl the weight upward (this is the positive movement) up until the point where you feel the maximum tightness in the muscles and then allow the weight to go back down (this is the negative movement) to where your arms hang just less than completely straight down. Repeat this movement to achieve the desired number of repetitions. This movement can be changed up (to shock the muscles and keep them guessing) by alternating the curls with dumbells (curl one arm at a time instead of both at the same time). Also reversing the grip you use in barbell curls, where in the downward position your palms are facing towards you will really change up what your biceps are feeling and more heavily work the forearm muscles.

Preacher curls are another very effective exercise that not only strengthens but also adds peak to your bicep muscles. Preacher curls can be performed with barbells or dumbells. Preacher curls are performed on a special bench that has a sloped surface at about a 45°. You grasp the dumbell or barbell and place your arms on this sloped bench to perform the curls. This may be an awkward movement at first so when starting out use very light weight. Lower the weight down (negative movement) to the point that your arms (lower and upper) bent create roughly a 150° (never straight as this could injure the elbow joint and bicep muscle) and curl upward (positive movement) to the point that the forearms are vertical. If you curl more than vertical (closer to your body), you will move past the point where the muscles are actually working and you get a rest at each repetition which gives you no benefit. Repeat this process for the desired number of repetitions.

Before performing these or any other exercise movements consult a physician to ensure that you healthy enough for weight training and exercise. This is especially important if you have health issues like high blood pressure. To ensure safety, consult with a physical trainer available at your local gym to discuss your weight training program and exercise movements.