Bored of Classic Bicep Curls? Try our Fitness Editor's 5 Alternative Arm-Bulking Exercises

Annie Hayes
·3-min read
Photo credit: Srdjanns74 - Getty Images
Photo credit: Srdjanns74 - Getty Images

Keen to fill out your t-shirt sleeves ahead of beer garden season? There's no shame in training for aesthetics, but if you're going to work your biceps, you might as well do it right. After all, the traditional bicep curl can only take you so far, which is why our fitness editor, Andrew Tracey, has pulled together these technical exercises to elevate your gains.

By hitting maximum muscle fibres, these targeted moves stimulate the growth you need to build bigger, thicker upper arms. In the video above, you'll find old-school variations like the incline curl – the full range of motion will make your arms pop – and smart movement patterns like the kettlebell rope curl, which provides an unprecedented bicep pump.

"You might've been doing endless curls and getting nowhere, so here's five more movements you can add into your arsenal for some new stimulus," says Tracey. "Some of them you might not have even tried before, which is always a recipe for success."

Most of the moves in the video above – and detailed below – require dumbbells, but there are a few with weight plates and kettlebells, so you've got options if the weights rack is preoccupied (or, alternatively, if you're short on kit at home). Add these bicep curl variations to your repertoire and work smarter, not harder. Let's go.

1) Incline Curls

  • Sit down on a bench set to a 45-degree angle holding two dumbbells at your sides with an underhand grip.

  • Curl the weights up to shoulder height, squeeze your bicep then return under control to the start position.

2) Waiter Curls

  • Hold the top of a dumbbell with both hands in line with your thighs, palms facing upwards.

  • Curl the weight up as far as possible, squeeze your bicep then return under control to the start position.

3) Plate Curls

  • Stand upright and grip a weight plate with your hands at the 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock positions respectively. For the start position hold the weight by your waist.

  • Slowly curl the plate up towards your face, squeeze your bicep then lower to the start position.

4) Hinged Curls

  • Grab a barbell with a shoulder-width grip, hinge forward slightly and let it hang free in front of your thighs.

  • Brace your core as you curl the bar up to your nose, keeping your upper arms stationary. Return under control to the start position.

5) Kettlebell Rope Curls

  • Pass a thick battle rope through the handle of a kettlebell. Grip the battle rope in both hands with your arms fully extended.

  • As you curl the weight up, stretch the rope apart, reaching your hands towards your shoulders. Then return under control to the start position.

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