The 11 Best Bicep Exercises With Barbell

Published by Roshan S Pillai on

Bicep exercises with barbell

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Most men want to have big and strong-looking biceps which can be visible from the half T-shirts they wear. For that, barbells are one of the best modalities to build and strengthen the biceps. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger once said that he used to train his biceps by doing heavy barbell curls till failure.

In this article, we will discuss the best barbell exercises for the biceps, from foundational exercises to the more advanced and unique exercises. After reading this blog, you will learn a variety of bicep exercises and will be able to add some new exercises into your workout program. So let’s talk about those exercises.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. Close-grip Curls

If you want to target your outer biceps, then this is a great exercise for you. Here, you can focus on the long head as your hands are close to each other during the movement.

Targeted Muscles- biceps brachii (long head)

How to do

1. Hold the close grip curve of the EZ bar and stand straight with your chest up and shoulders retracted.

2. Keep your elbows in front of the hips and arms straight down. This will be your starting position.

3. Now start lifting the bar while breathing out and bring it at about shoulder height.

4. Squeeze your biceps at the top and then slowly bring the bar back to the starting position.

You can also perform this exercise with a straight barbell if you have good wrist mobility. Most people have less wrist mobility and can’t balance the barbell during curls. So that’s why it is advisable to start with the EZ bar and then move to the straight barbell close grip curls.

4. 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.

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. 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.

7. Wide-grip Barbell Curl

Another great exercise to increase the strength and size of the biceps. Here, you will be able to target the inner head of the biceps more because of the grip width.

Targeted Muscles- biceps brachii ( short head of the bicep)

How to do

1. Hold a bar with both hands placed slightly wider than the shoulder width.

2. Stand straight while keeping your shoulders retracted and elbows extended. This will be your starting position.

3. Start curling the bar up while keeping your shoulders tight and elbows tucked inward.

4. Fully contract your biceps at the top until the bar reaches the shoulder height and then slowly bring the bar down while breathing in.

8. 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.

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. 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.

11. Rack Landmine Reverse Curls

This is a unique way to perform a reverse curl. This is a unilateral movement where you can focus on each part of your biceps separately.

Targeted Muscles- brachialis and brachioradialis

How to do

1. Place a barbell on a squat rack and hold the barbell with an overhand grip.

2. Stand at the side of the rack with your hands facing down and this will be your starting position.

3. With one end of the barbell resting on the rack, lift the other side of the barbell and bring it towards shoulder height.

4. Contract your biceps and forearms fully at the top and then slowly bring the barbell back to the starting position.

To get continuous gains and to avoid a plateau, you must have some variations in your workout program. This is a different way to hit the brachialis and is a good way to shock the muscle from the new stimulus you provide with this kind of exercise.

Final Words

So these were some great bicep exercises you can do with a barbell. But you should not just perform barbell exercises alone. There are many dumbbell and cable exercises that should also be included while designing your workout program.

The perfect workout program means having all different kinds of exercise which are designed specifically to the goals of each person. So don’t just do all the exercises with a barbell but rather add some dumbbell and cable bicep exercises as well for overall muscular development.

Try all the above exercises and let us know which exercise you like the most. If you know some more exercises like these, then please share them down in the comment section below.


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.

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