Curls Workouts To Build Your Biceps

Man performing biceps curls with dumbbells
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The biceps curl is probably one of the first exercises you learned to do at the gym, and for good reason: it’s a simple and effective way to isolate the target muscle. The dumbbell curl is one of the best-known variations of this exercise, but you can use variations such as hammer curls to stimulate well-rounded muscle growth.

A variety of curls is all you really need to build big biceps, although we’re guessing that what you probably really want is bigger arms. That means you need to show your triceps some love and put muscle on all over – something this arms workout plan does very well. 

But when you’re not in the mood to commit to a four-workouts-a-week-for-four-weeks regime and just want a good old-fashioned biceps pump, crank out one of these excellent curls workouts at your gym.

Run The Rack Curls Workout

We were told about this simple but savage workout finisher by Emily Servante, global trainer education manager at Ultimate Performance. It uses an old-school bodybuilding technique called running the rack, and you’ll need a rack loaded with dumbbells to do it. Start with a light weight and perform five to eight biceps curls with both arms, rest for 60 seconds, then repeat with slightly heavier dumbbells. Increase the weight every set until you can curl no more.

Curls Workout To Failure

This is another simple workout that will fatigue your biceps in rapid fashion. The plan is to increase the reps you do while reducing the weight, taking minimal rest and working to failure. Start by performing five biceps curls with a heavy weight, then go on to eight reps with a lighter weight, then 12 reps, reducing the weight again. Then work to failure on your next set.

21s Curls Workout

If you’re not familiar with 21s workouts, they involve doing a mix of partial and full reps for a set of 21 reps. It’s a great way to ensure you’re working the biceps hard throughout every stage of a curl. Curl the dumbbell up halfway for the first seven reps, then do seven reps where you curl it from halfway to your shoulder, before finishing with seven full reps. Perform all 21 reps without any rest. Use a lighter weight than you would normally for a set of biceps curls.

Drop Set Workout

Drop sets are another great way to fully fatigue your biceps in a short space of time. Start by curling a fairly heavy set of dumbbells to failure. Then “drop” to a slightly lighter set of dumbbells and curl to failure again. And then do it again for a total of three drop sets. 

Hendrick Famutimi’s Curls Workout

Hendrick Famutimi, a London-based personal trainer and online coach, has put together a curls-based workout that will help you grow your biceps quickly. It’s made up of three simple dumbbell exercises that will not only target your upper-arm muscles but also strengthen your elbow flexion and improve grip strength, which will help with weightlifting and overall strength.

Take a look at Famutimi’s Instagram post below to see what the exercises are and how to complete them with the correct form.

In this workout you’ll be completing between three and five sets of each exercise at a fairly high rep range, so try to pick a weight that feels manageable at first but becomes challenging as you finish. 

Focus on your posture during these exercises, because one of the biggest mistakes people make during curl movements is rolling their shoulders forwards – a bad habit that can strain your upper back. The back-supported biceps curls should help you address this issue. If you can’t lift the dumbbell without compromising your form, it’s a good idea to reduce the weight you’re using in order to avoid injury.

Alice Porter

Alice Porter is a journalist who covers health, fitness and wellbeing, among other topics, for titles including Stylist, Fit & Well, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, VICE and Refinery29. When she’s not writing about these topics, you can probably find her at her local CrossFit box.