Bicep Exercises Ranked Worst to Best

by | Jan 16, 2023 | 0 comments |

Are you looking to build bigger and stronger biceps? There are so many biceps exercises, but which ones should you be focusing your efforts on if you want to build bigger biceps?  In this article, we will be breaking down the best exercises and techniques for targeting the biceps and giving you the tools you need to sculpt the arms you’ve always wanted. From classic exercises like the bicep curl to more advanced techniques like the inverted chin curls and cable curls, we will be covering it all. Jeff Cavaliere was the head physical therapist of the New York Mets for 3 years and is now a YouTube sensation. He delivers clear information without noise on his ATHLEAN-X YouTube channel. With that said, we have to lay out the criteria for the biceps exercise selection, which you will find laid out in the video. Now, let’s break down the ranking categories and see where each bicep exercise sits on the list.


1. Concentration Curls

2. Reverse Curls

3. Biceps Pushup

The concentration curl kicks off this list in the worst category. Why? Well, the concentration curl is non-athletic version of the curl where you are completely seated and off your feet.

The reverse curl is a great curling movement, but not a great biceps exercise. It comes down to the simple anatomy and bio-mechanics; the reverse curl does not target the biceps, but instead the brachioradialis.

The biceps pushup will always remain at the bottom of the list for me for one simple reason… it doesn’t hit your biceps. At all. You’re better off skipping this one entirely if you want bigger arms.

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4. Inverted Chin Curls

5. Zottman Curls

6. Preacher Curls

7. Cable Curls

Inverted chin curls are a solid bodyweight option to train your biceps, but can be hard to overload. This can be an issue because the movement will become too easy unless you can start adding weight via a weighted vest.

Zottman curls allow for the biceps to achieve their main function of elbow flexion, but the limiter of this exercise is the lack of eccentric overload on the biceps with eccentric portion being the strongest function of the biceps. By pronating the hands, the eccentric focus goes to the brachioradialis instead.

Preacher curls often give a false sense of security because you are bracing your elbows against the pad, giving the impression that you can handle more weight. Unfortunately, this line of thinking is risky.

Cable curls are great for achieving a good contraction on the biceps at the top of the movement. Unfortunately, at the bottom of the movement, you lose tension on the biceps due to the line force being in direct line with the muscles.


8. Spider Curls

9. Drag Curls

10. Cable Flex Curls / Lip Buster Curls

11. Waiter Curls

Spider curls are awesome for developing mind-muscle-connection with the biceps in their peak contracted state. Not only that, but there is a freedom of movement that you don’t find in some other bicep exercises.

Drag curls are the first option on this list to target the long head of the biceps. This is done by getting the elbows back behind the body, which allows for more stretch on the long head of the biceps.

Cable flex curls (also known as the lip buster curl), using a higher anchor point elaborates on the cable curl by getting the shoulder into flexion, an important secondary component of biceps function.

The waiter curl is an awesome option for getting peak contraction of the biceps that is achievable by keeping the wrists back into extension based on the way you have to hold to dumbbell throughout the exercise.


12. Incline DB Curls

13. Chinups

14. Barbell Curls

The incline db curl is an exercise that I consider to be the best for getting the biceps into that all-important stretch position that is not possible with other biceps exercises outside of the drag curl.

Chinups are probably the best bang for your buck bodyweight bicep builders. Another great benefit is the ease of accessibility since it’s just a reliance on a simple pullup bar.

The barbell curl is a versatile biceps movement in that you can load this exercise well, progressively overload it, and perform it strict or in cheat fashion. Both options, strict or cheat, have different benefits but will get you big biceps.


15. Alternating Standing DB Curls

The alternating standing db curl is ranked number one on this list due to its effectiveness and versatility. You can offset the dumbbell to achieve maximum load under supination, add external rotation to benefit the shoulders at the same time, and even adding bands to accommodate overlapping strength curves.

VIDEO – 15 Biceps Exercises Ranked Worst to Best

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