15 Best Barbell Exercises For Strong Arms

Published by Roshan S Pillai on

Barbell Arm Exercises

People photo created by senivpetro – www.freepik.com

Many men desire to have big and strong-looking arms. For that, it is very important to perform exercises with free weights like a barbell. Also, many bodybuilders have been doing heavy barbell curls and bench presses for years to build a bigger physique. Therefore barbell exercises play a significant role in building muscles.

Here, I will share some of the top arm exercises which you must know before starting any arm workout. All these exercises are the most effective ones in building round and thick arms. The best barbell exercises for your arms are bicep barbell curls, close grip bench press, skull crushers, and preacher curls. You will find some more amazing exercises here.

As arms are made up of two muscles – biceps and triceps, I will share exercises for each of these muscle groups alternatively. So without wasting any time, let’s begin!

Barbell Exercises for Arms

1. Straight-bar Bicep Curls

This is the most popular exercise for the biceps. Here, you will be able to develop a good amount of strength and size. Most bodybuilders do this exercise to add some size to their biceps. You can do this with a barbell or a small size bar.

Targeted Muscles- biceps brachii

How to do

1. Hold a bar with both hands placed at about shoulder-width apart.

2. Stand straight while keeping your shoulders retracted and start curling the bar up. Breath out on the way up.

3. Fully contract your biceps at the top and slowly bring the bar down while breathing in.

Make sure that your form is perfect and you are not swinging too much. Your biceps will work the best when other muscles are not involved during the movement. For that, you should try to completely focus on your biceps and do not swing as it will involve more of your front delts. So try to do the exercise with the proper form and technique.

2. Close-Grip Bench Press

This is an awesome compound exercise for your triceps. You can start your workout with this exercise. This will help you increase the size of your triceps.

Targeted muscles– triceps brachii ( all the head)

How to do

1. Lay down on a flat bench with your feet placed on the floor. Your feet should be under the knees.

2. Grab the barbell with both hands at about 1-2 feet away from each other. Have a spotter behind you to lift the weights for you.

3. Lift the barbell up and hold it at the top. The barbell should be in line with your chest. This will be your starting position.

4. Bring the barbell down towards the lower part of your chest. Breath in as you go down.

5. Pause at the bottom and then push the weights up, back to the starting position.

3. Barbell Drag Curls

This is a great exercise to work on your biceps without involving a lot of shoulder muscles. Drag curls are a great way to add some size to your biceps. So try it out.

Targeted Muscles- biceps brachii

How to do

1. Hold a bar with both hands placed at about shoulder-width apart.

2. Stand straight while keeping your shoulders retracted and this will be your starting position.

3. Start curling up by dragging the barbell towards your body such that the bar is in contact with your torso.

4. Fully contract your biceps at the top and then slowly bring the bar back to the starting position. Breath in on the way down.

Make sure that while you lift the barbell, your elbows should be in and going back. Also, remember not to shrug the weights up or lift the shoulder during the movement.

4. Seated Barbell Tricep Extension

Another great way to target the long head of the triceps. Here, your triceps will get that extra stretch at the bottom which allows the long head to activate the most.

Targeted Muscles– long head of triceps

How to do

1. Sit on a seat and grab the bar with a close grip. Keep your back resting on the seat. You can also take the help of your workout partner to hand over the bar to you.

2. Keep your hands up with your elbows extended and this will be your starting position.

3. Slowly lower the barbell and stretch your triceps at the bottom. Breath in on the way down while keeping your back straight.

4. Stop at the bottom and then use your triceps to bring the weights up. Bring it back to the starting position and extend the elbows at the top.

You can use the EZ bar for this exercise as it is more wrist-friendly as compared to the straight bar. Also, it is advisable to have a spotter at the back who can always support you whenever you need help.

5. Barbell Spider Curls

This is a killer bicep move that will completely pump up your biceps. This works mostly the long head and will help you develop that amazing peak of the bicep. So definitely try this exercise.

Targeted Muscles- biceps brachii

How to do

1. Set up a bench at about 45° angle and place a weighted barbell in front of the bench.

2. Lay down on a bench with your chest hanging above the bench and let your training partner lift the weights to hand over to you.

3. While keeping your elbow perpendicular to the floor, curl up the barbell and fully squeeze your biceps at the top.

4. Stop when your biceps are fully contracted and then control the weights and bring the bar back to the starting position.

Here, you will be able to feel a hardcore burn on your biceps. After performing 3 sets of this, your biceps will look bigger and harder. You can add this exercise into your workout program if you want to focus more on bicep peak.

6. Reverse Grip Lying Tricep Extension

This is a different way to perform skull crushers. Here you will grip the bar with an underhand grip which makes this exercise more challenging. Also, your arms will be in a unique position which makes it a more difficult but effective exercise.

Targeted Muscles- triceps brachii

How to do

1. Hold a bar or an EZ bar and lay down flat on a bench while holding the bar with an underhand grip. You can take the help of a workout partner who can hand over the bar to you.

2. Keep your arms straight up and keep your elbows at about 90° from the floor. This will be your starting position.

3. Lower the bar while taking your elbows slightly back and stretch your triceps at the bottom.

4. Bring the bar back to the starting position and then repeat the movement.

Reverse grip might not be suitable for a beginner or a person who has just started working out. This exercise is difficult so you should try with a plain rod at first and then add plates according to your strength.

7. Band Resisted Barbell Curl

Band resisted curls will make your biceps work more as you take the barbell up. As the band is stretched more, it creates more resistance which will allow the biceps to work more at the top.

Targeted Muscles- biceps brachii

How to do

1 Take a band and lower it down to the floor while holding it. Step over the band to create resistance.

2. Now bend down and grab a barbell while holding the band and then stand straight with your shoulders retracted. This will be your starting position.

3. Start curling the bar up and bring it up towards the shoulder level. Fully contract your biceps at the top.

4. Slowly bring the bar back to the starting position and then repeat the movement.

8. Barbell Skull Crushers

Skull crusher is one of the best exercises for building strong and big triceps. Most bodybuilders do this exercise almost in every tricep workout. It puts the tricep in constant tension which makes it more effective.

Targeted Muscles- triceps brachii (long head)

How to do

1. Hold a barbell or an EZ bar and lay down on a bench. Hook your feet under the pegs of a bench for balance.

2. Tight your abs and keep your arms up with your elbows extended. This will be your starting position.

3. Start by bringing the bar down without dropping your elbows and fully stretch your triceps at the bottom.

4. Stop at the bottom and then bring the bar up with the help of your triceps and extend your elbows at the top.

You can go heavy on this exercise as it is a strength-building exercise. But don’t mess your form too much for the sake of lifting heavyweights. You can also do the same exercise with dumbbells.

9. Landmine Concentration Curls

You might be familiar with the concentration curls done with dumbbells. This exercise is similar to concentration curls done with a barbell. Here, you can work on the biceps peak.

Targeted Muscles- biceps brachii

How to do

1 Place one end of the barbell at the side corner of the wall to create a landmine setup.

2. Now sit with one leg on the floor facing the barbell and the other on the ground.

3. Hold the barbell and keep your elbows on your thighs for support. This will be your starting position.

4. Start curling the bar up and squeeze your biceps at the top. Remember to breathe out on the way up.

5. Slowly bring the barbell back to the starting position where your arms are fully stretched. Do the same with the other arm.

This is a great barbell variation of concentration curls. You can increase the weights by adding plates but don’t compromise your form. Your back should be straight especially your lower back as it gets injured quickly

10. Landmine Tricep Extension

This is a unique way to train your triceps! You can try this exercise and add it to your workout routine once in a while to shock the muscles.

Targeted Muscles– triceps brachii (long and short head)

How to do

1. Place one end of the barbell at the corner of the wall or attach it to a machine.

2. Then lay down on the floor next to the barbell such that the other end of the bar is close to the chest.

3. Hold the barbell and press it up and extend the elbows at the top. This will be your starting position.

4. Now start moving the bar down and bring it back behind the head. Stop until the bar is almost touching the floor.

5. Push the barbell up and bring it back to the starting position. Perform the same movement from the other side.

As this is a unilateral exercise, therefore you can focus on each side of your triceps separately. So if you have muscular imbalances or if your one side is weaker than the other, do unilateral exercise and train your weak side with proper mind and muscle connection.

11. Preacher Curls

Another best way to build a solid peak. This is a very popular exercise which most people in the gym perform on a preacher machine. Try this exercise with an EZ bar or with a small barbell which will make it more challenging than machine curls.

Targeted Muscles- biceps brachii

How to do

1. Hold the bar placed in front of the preacher machine and sit down on a seat.

2. Keep your elbows in and your arms resting on the platform. This will be your starting position.

3. Start lifting the bar and bring it towards the shoulder height. Remember to breath out on the way up.

4. Slowly lower the bar down while breathing in, back towards the starting position, and then repeat the movement.

12. Bodyweight Tricep Extension

This is a bodyweight version of skull crushers. This will make your triceps strong and will help you in adding some size. You can very easily do this on a squat rack.

Targeted Muscles- triceps brachii

How to do

1. Place a barbell on a squat rack and hold the bar with both hands placed slightly under shoulder-width apart.

2. Place both feet back and be in a push-up position with your back straight and core tight. This will be your starting position.

3. Now start bringing your head towards the barbell while keeping your elbows in and bring your body down.

4. Stop until your triceps are fully stretched and then push the bar to bring the body back to the starting position.

You can also do this exercise on a bench but it can hurt your wrist. Therefore barbell would be the best option. You can do this at the beginning of the exercise to charge up your triceps.

13. Seated Barbell Curl Superset

If you don’t have enough time and want to hit your biceps within a short period, then this exercise is for you. You can do 3 exercises together with one barbell. This will be a great finisher exercise to end the bicep workout with an amazing pump.

Targeted Muscles- biceps brachii

How to do

1. Grab a barbell with a wide underhand grip and sit down on a bench.

2. Place the barbell on your quads and sit straight with your back tight and shoulders retracted. This will be your starting position.

3. Now start curling the bar up, bring it towards the shoulder height, and contract your bi es at the top.

4. Bring the barbell down slowly and stop at a point where the bar is just above your thighs. Don’t let the bar touch your thighs.

5. Perform the same exercise with a shoulder-width grip for a prescribed number of reps ( 8-10) and then switch it to a narrow grip.

This is a superset that is better done with moderate to light weights so that you can perform 3 exercises at one go. You can use it as a finisher or on those days where you don’t have enough time to perform single exercises one by one.

14. Floor Barbell Skull Crushers

This is another great exercise for your triceps. Here you perform the skull crusher without any bench. You just need a floor to perform the exercise.

Here, you will fully lower the bar down on the floor, relax the triceps, and then squeeze your triceps from the relaxed position. This gives a different stimulus to your muscles which will avoid you from the plateau.

Targeted Muscles- triceps brachii ( long head)

How to do

1. Lay down on the floor while keeping the bar behind your head. Grab the bar with a close grip and bring it up.

2. Tight your abs and keep your arms up with your elbows extended. This will be your starting position.

3. Start by bringing the bar down while controlling the weight and stop until it reaches the floor.

4. Pause at the bottom when the bar is on the floor and then bring the bar up by pressing with your triceps and extend the elbows at the top.

One of the advantages of floor skull crushers is that you don’t need a spotter to hand over the bar to your hands. You can easily lift from the floor without any trouble. Also, you won’t require anyone to spot you because if you fail any rep, then you can drop the bar down easily on the floor without any fear.

15. Barbell Reverse Grip Curls

If you want a fully developed arm, then you must train the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles. These muscles will make your arms look bigger and stronger. For that, reverse grip curls are a great way to hit these muscles.

Targeted Muscles- brachialis and brachioradialis

How to do

1. Hold a barbell with an overhand grip at shoulder-width apart.

2. Stand straight while keeping your shoulders retracted and start curling the bar up. Breath out on the way up.

3. Stop until the bar reaches the neck level and then slowly bring the bar down, back towards the starting position.

4. Repeat the movement at a prescribed number of reps.

Here, your back should be stable and tight. Make sure that you are not overarching your lower back as it can create some lower back problems. Your core should be engaged throughout the movement to keep your body stable and upright.

Final Words

So these were some amazing barbell exercises for building big and strong arms. You can add any of these exercises into your workout program along with some other arm exercises with cables and dumbbells to make it a perfect arm workout.

All these exercises which we discussed above should be done with a proper form and technique. It is always recommended to consult a physician or fitness professionals before starting any workout.

If you found this blog helpful, then do share it with your friends or share it on social media so that more people can read it. Also, if you know any other barbell arm exercises, you can share that in the comment section below.

Also Read-


Roshan S Pillai

Roshan Pillai is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer with more than 6 years of experience in lifting weights and guiding people to get fit. He is the owner and editor of fitnessproworkout.com, and has worked as a fitness coach in gyms and is passionate about fitness and helping people to get in shape.

0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hey there! Some links on this page are affiliate links which means that, if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I greatly appreciate your support!