The Critical Body logo

The best at home bicep workouts and exercises

You can easily do these bicep workouts at home with limited time and minimal equipment.
Written By  James Jackson
Last Updated on 9th August 2021
A man doing some bicep workouts at home

Figuring out how to work out your biceps at home can be challenging, especially if you don't have much equipment. So to give you some home bicep workout inspiration, we created a massive list of the 15 best at home bicep exercises that you can do to get those gains.

Related: Home forearm workouts

15 best at home bicep exercises

When you're doing your bicep workouts at home rather than at the gym, it's essential to be creative with your exercise selection. By thinking outside the box like we've done here, you'll be able to hit all the key muscles (including your brachialis and brachioradialis) so that you can achieve complete arm development.

1. Resistance band curls

Man performing resistance band bicep curls

Performing a bicep curl with a resistance band isn't just convenient; it can build surprising amounts of muscle mass, too. Make sure to stick to high reps so that you can give your biceps plenty of growth-stimulating time under tension.

Resistance bands and low reps don't really mix because bands get heavier the more that you stretch them; hence there isn't all that much tension during the first part of the lifting motion. So for best results, you need to do extra repetitions to compensate for this relatively poor (compared to cables) strength curve.

  1. Stand in the middle of a resistance band and then grab the handles with an underhand grip.
  2. Curl the handles toward your shoulders while keeping your elbows still.
  3. Keep curling until the undersides of your forearms press right up against your biceps.
  4. Hold the contraction for a second.
  5. Lower the handles under control until your elbows reach full extension.
  6. Repeat for 3-5 sets of 12-30 reps.

2. Dumbbell curls

A man showing how to do bicep curls with dumbbells in a standing position

When you perform a correct bicep curl, you can trigger massive amounts of muscle growth because dumbbells naturally let you supinate your wrists more than barbells. And supination, in case you didn't know, is one of the primary bicep functions.

So by forcefully twisting your wrists at the top of every dumbbell curl rep, you'll generate an intense peak contraction and thus create the ideal internal environment within your biceps for hypertrophy.

Check out our dumbbell bicep workout guide for more free weight exercise ideas.

  1. Hold a pair of dumbbells by your sides with a supinated (underhand) grip.
  2. While keeping your elbows still, curl the weights to your shoulders.
  3. Keep lifting until your biceps and forearms make firm contact.
  4. Pause at the top of the rep for a moment and flex your biceps forcefully.
  5. Lower the dumbbells under control until your arms are once again by your sides.
  6. Perform 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps.

3. Plate curls

A man performing the plate bicep curl exercise

When I do my bicep workouts at home, I always perform the plate bicep curl because it really pumps up my brachioradialis and brachialis muscles.

Most lifters neglect these two muscle groups in favor of the biceps. But by having good brachialis and brachioradialis development, you can set your physique apart from the sea of bicep-dominant upper bodies and thereby drastically enhance your aesthetics.

  1. Hold a moderately heavy weight plate by its sides so that it's resting on your thighs.
  2. Curl the plate to your chest by moving your forearms toward your biceps.
  3. Squeeze your arms at the top of the rep and then lower the plate under control until your elbows are locked out.
  4. Repeat for 3-5 sets of 12-20 reps.

4. Backpack bicep curls

A man performing backpack bicep curls

If you don't have access to traditional training tools like resistance bands and free weights, backpack curls will make an excellent addition to your at home bicep workouts.

By filling your bag with household objects like books, water bottles, ice packs, and groceries, you can create enough resistance to challenge and change your biceps. You'll also quickly become a pro at carrying the grocery bags from the store to your car; shopping carts will be a thing of the past you.

You can also see our guide to the most effective biceps workout at home without equipment if you don't have access to any weights at all.

  1. Fill your backpack with some heavy household objects. If you don't mind your bag getting dirty, you can also use sand.
  2. Grab the backpack handle with one hand using a supinated grip.
  3. Curl the bag toward your shoulder by flexing your biceps.
  4. Hold the contraction for a moment and then lower the backpack slowly until your elbow is fully extended.
  5. Repeat the motion with your other arm and do 3-5 sets of 12-30 reps per side.

5. Water bottle/milk jug bicep curls

A man performing water bottle bicep curls

If you don't have the money to pay for weights, then a big water bottle is your biceps' best friend. In fact, bottle curls are the best exercise for biceps at home that you can possibly do because the handles are practically made for curling!

Not to mention the resistance is on point; heavy enough for curls but not so heavy that you can't lift the bottles.

If you're a big guy that doubts he'll get a good bicep home workout from just curling milk jugs and water bottles, then you can actually empty the liquid out and fill your bottle with sand instead. After all, some weights are actually made with sand and concrete, so you really don't need to fork out for expensive equipment if you have some big bottles at your disposal.

  1. Hold two large water bottles or milk jugs by your side with an underhand grip.
  2. Curl the bottles/jugs toward your front delts.
  3. Keep curling until your forearms make forceful contact with your biceps.
  4. Hold the contraction for a moment, and then lower the bottles under control until your elbows reach full extension.
  5. Perform 3-5 sets of 12-30 reps.

6. Hammer curls

A man showing how to do hammer curls with dumbbells to work the biceps

If you're wondering how to work out your biceps at home optimally, just start with heavy hammer curls. Unlike regular curls, hammer curls place significant amounts of tension on the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles. Of course, they still train the biceps as well, which is why you can lift heavier on hammer curls than normal curls (your brachialis and brachioradialis are in a stronger position to help your biceps out).

Since you can lift a lot of weight on this exercise, your best bet is to do them at the start of your home bicep workouts when you're naturally at your strongest. This way, you'll be able to overload your biceps and co with the most amount of resistance possible to trigger optimal growth of the fast-twitch muscle fibers.

  1. Hold a pair of dumbbells by your sides with a neutral grip.
  2. Curl the weights toward your shoulders until your forearms press up against your biceps.
  3. Squeeze your arm muscles at the top of the rep.
  4. Lower the weights under control (don't just let them drop) until your arms are locked out and back by your sides.
  5. Perform 3-5 sets of 6-12 reps in total.

7. Concentration curls

A man performing seated concentration curls with dumbbells

Concentration curls, also called isolated curls, make an excellent addition to any bicep workout at home because they require nothing more than a single dumbbell. That's right, you don't even need a bench; you can sit on your sofa or desk chair instead.

You might already know how to get bigger biceps at home (lift heavy, perform sufficient training volume, and eat in a small to moderate calorie surplus). But what about building symmetrical biceps?

That's where concentration curls come in. By training each arm separately, you can ensure that both biceps are getting equal work and are thus growing roughly in proportion. Therefore, by doing concentration curls, you'll naturally develop a more aesthetic physique by minimizing your risk of developing unsightly muscle imbalances (which can be really visible on a body part like the arms).

  1. Sit on the edge of your sofa with a dumbbell in your hand.
  2. Brace your elbow against the inside of your leg and let your arm extend.
  3. Curl the weight toward your chest/shoulder area by flexing your biceps.
  4. Keep lifting until your forearms press up against your biceps.
  5. Squeeze your biceps as hard as you can at the top of the rep.
  6. Lower the dumbbell under control until your elbow reaches full extension.
  7. Repeat the movement with your other arm and do 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps per side.

8. Suspension trainer curls

A man performing a TRX biceps curl

TRX curls make a great addition to any biceps home workout because they train your core as well as your arms. As such, the exercise has more carryover to compound movements and bodyweight bicep exercises like chin-ups than traditional free-weight curls.

Also, since TRX biceps curls are a closed chain exercise, they naturally put less pressure on your joints and connective tissue than free weight movements. This helps you to stay healthy and avoid injuries that could potentially keep you away from resistance training.

  1. Connect your suspension trainer to a secure attachment point above head height.
  2. Grab the handles with an underhand grip and take a few steps backward so that your arms are extended.
  3. Brace your core and lean your torso back to create some resistance (leaning back further = harder on the biceps).
  4. Curl your face toward the handles by flexing your biceps.
  5. Keep curling until your forearms and biceps make firm contact.
  6. Hold the contraction for 1-3 seconds.
  7. Slowly lower your body until your arms are once again extended.
  8. Repeat the motion for 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps.

9. Towel curls

A man performing towel curls for his biceps

As you might have guessed, towel bicep curls are highly convenient. But because they create such a strong peak contraction, towel curls also pump up your biceps after just a few sets. The trick is to wrap the towel around your leg and then lift it as high as you can to generate the strongest possible contraction.

Unlike some of the other home exercises for biceps that you saw earlier, towel curls require very minimal space. You could even do them in the shower if you really wanted to.

  1. Grab each end of a towel, and then place the back of your leg in the middle of the towel.
  2. Lift your leg as high as you can while keeping your shoulders and elbows relatively still.
  3. Once you can't go any higher, lower your leg under control until your arms are extended.
  4. Repeat for 3-5 sets of 20-50 reps (it really depends how heavy your legs are!).

10. Door curls

A man doing door curls for his biceps

Doorway curls will help you to get bigger biceps at home because they're naturally a very versatile exercise. So once you can already do 50 reps with your body weight, you can do a single-arm version or wear a backpack with some household objects inside to increase the resistance.

You can also grip the doorframe with a pinch grip (between your thumb and fingers) rather than grabbing onto it with your palms if you want to better activate the key gripping muscles in your forearms (great idea for pull-up carryover).

  1. Stand in the middle of a doorway and then turn your body so that you're facing one side of the doorframe.
  2. Grab the frame with both hands and lean your torso back.
  3. Pull your body toward the doorframe by flexing your biceps. Avoid letting your elbows travel behind your torso so that your biceps, rather than your back, do most of the work.
  4. Lower your torso under control until your elbows are extended.
  5. Perform 3-5 sets of 30-50 reps.

11. Dumbbell reverse curls

Man performing a standing reverse dumbbell curl

When you're doing a big biceps workout at home, it's imperative to include some kind of reverse curl if you want to achieve optimal arm development (who doesn't?). The dumbbell reverse curl prioritizes your brachialis and brachioradialis muscles by putting your biceps in a position of mechanical disadvantage in which they can't produce much force.

Building your brachialis can actually make your arms appear wider because the brachialis, as a deep muscle of the arm, helps to push your biceps out.

Similarly, adding mass to your brachioradialis with reverse curls helps to make your arms look thicker when they're just hanging by your sides (i.e., most of the time).

  1. Hold a pair of dumbbells by your sides with an overhand grip.
  2. Curl the weights toward your shoulders.
  3. Keep lifting until the tops of your forearms press up against your biceps.
  4. Lower the dumbbells under control until your elbows reach full extension.
  5. Repeat for 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps.

12. Waiter curls

A man performing waiter curls

Want to know how to get big biceps at home with just one dumbbell?

Simple. Do lots of waiter curls.

This unconventional exercise is the brainchild of Jeff Cavaliere, and it works like gangbusters for building your biceps at home. The peak contraction that you get from this drill is satisfyingly intense to the point where the likes of preacher curls suddenly seem like a bad idea.

Few people do this movement during their at home bicep workouts. So by performing it on a regular basis, you can get ahead of the game and build your biceps faster because you'll be working your muscles from different angles.

  1. Cup one end of a dumbbell in the palms of both hands.
  2. Raise the weight up while keeping the top of the dumbbell pointing straight up toward the ceiling. Also, keep your elbows still.
  3. Lift the dumbbell as high as you can. You know that you've gone far enough when you feel the unmistakably intense bicep contraction.
  4. Lower the weight under control and repeat for 3-5 sets of 12-20 reps.

13. Inverted curls

A man performing inverted bicep curls at the gym

Okay. So not everyone has a barbell and a squat rack to do an inverted curl. But that doesn't discount the effectiveness of this mass-building exercise. And besides, you can perform it on any sturdy object that you can hang from underneath, so feel free to get inventive.

  1. Position yourself under a barbell so that the bar is centered over your mid-chest.
  2. Place your legs out in front of you and plant your feet firmly on the floor.
  3. Grab the bar with a shoulder-width underhand grip.
  4. Pull your chest toward the bar by flexing your biceps. Avoid driving your elbows behind your torso so that your back doesn't take over the movement.
  5. Extend the set (optional) by pulling your head in front of the bar.
  6. Lower your torso back to the starting position so that your arms are completely extended.
  7. Repeat for 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps.

14. Zottman curls

A man showing how to do a Zottman curl with the proper form

If you're doing a biceps workout at home, one of the best ways to end the session is with Zottman dumbbell curls because they work three of the major upper arm muscles—biceps, brachialis, brachioradialis.

The great thing about Zottman curls is that you're using the strength of your biceps during the concentric to overload your brachialis and brachioradialis during the eccentric. In other words, because you're making the best use of your biceps, you get to overload the latter two muscles with more resistance than they could otherwise handle alone. Now that's what I call a recipe for muscle hypertrophy!

  1. Hold two dumbbells by your sides with a thumbless underhand grip.
  2. Curls the weights toward your shoulders.
  3. Rotate your hands into a pronated, palms-down position once your forearms and biceps make forceful contact.
  4. Lower the dumbbells back to your sides with this overhand grip.
  5. Switch back to the original underhand grip and repeat the motion for 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps.

15. Kettlebell curls

A man performing kettlebell curls for his biceps

Standing kettlebell curls are a great exercise for any at home biceps workout because they enable you to train each arm individually and thus minimize the development of annoying muscular imbalances.

So if you don't have access to dumbbells or just fancy a change, then definitely consider doing bicep curls at home with kettlebells. They're easy to grip and offer unrivaled versatility. A better question would be, what exercise can't you do with kettlebells?

  1. Hold two kettlebells by your sides with an underhand grip.
  2. Curl the weights toward your front delts.
  3. Keep curling until you feel an intense biceps contraction (just after your lower arms break 90 degrees).
  4. Lower the kettlebells under control until your arms are back at your sides and completely extended.
  5. Perform 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps in total.

Best bicep workouts at home

When you're doing bicep exercises at home, it's vital to select a workout that's appropriate for your goals, ability level, and equipment availability. That's why we created three different routines.

You can also do our back and bicep workout at home or perform our chest and biceps workout at home if you want to pair muscle groups together.

Workout 1: Beginner

A man doing various bicep exercises at home

1: Resistance band curls — 3-4 sets of 15-30 reps

2: Backpack reverse curls — 3-4 sets of 15-30 reps

3: Water bottle curls — 3-4 sets of 15-30 reps

This short yet intense bicep at home workout is ideal for those who are relatively new to resistance training. A small muscle group like the biceps doesn't need much training volume (reps x sets x weight) to grow and develop, so don't be alarmed that there are only three exercises.

In fact, a couple of sets per week is enough for many people. So by doing between 9 and 12 sets here, you won't be leaving an ounce of muscle growth on the table—that's for sure.

Aim to rest 1-3 minutes between sets. While it might be tempting to rush into more curls to pump up your arms, you'll be able to perform more total training volume when you take longer breaks. [1] And sufficient training volume, as has been well established in recent years, is one of the critical requirements for producing hypertrophy, that sweet adaptation that every lifter craves.

You can see our other bicep workouts for beginners if you want a routine that you can do with free weights.

Workout 2: Maximum mass

A man doing an at home bicep workout

1: Zottman curls — 3-5 sets of 8-10 reps

2: Concentration curls — 3-5 sets of 10-12 reps

3: Water bottle curls — 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps

4: Reverse curls — 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps

5: Band curls — 2 sets of 30 reps

This is one of the best at home bicep workouts that you can do if gaining mass and size is your primary training goal. The routine attacks your arms from multiple angles and with a variety of rep ranges so that no muscle fibers are left understimulated.

You'll want to rest 2-3 minutes between most sets (apart from during the final, high-rep exercise) so that you can accumulate enough training volume and time under tension to grow your bis.

Of course, if there's any exercise that you don't particularly like, then you can switch it out for a movement that you find more enjoyable. Likewise, if you have good biceps but comparatively weaker brachioradialis development, for example, then you may actually want to start with reverse curls and do regular curls after.

Workout 3: Dumbbells only

A man doing his bicep workout at home with dumbbells

1: Hammer curls — 3-5 sets of 6-10 reps

2: Dumbbell curls — 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps

3: Concentration curls — 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps

4: Reverse curls — 3-5 sets of 12-20 reps

Performing this biceps workout at home with dumbbells will make the best of your upper arm genetics by training all the key muscles groups—not just your biceps.

By training with a variety of rep ranges, you'll also be recruiting the broadest possible range of muscle fibers because heavy weights and low reps target the fast-twitch fibers, whereas light weights and higher reps focus on the slow-twitch fibers. [2] [3]

Doing bicep dumbbell exercises at home is also incredibly convenient because you literally need a pair of weights and nothing else. That's right, to complete this particular home gym bicep workout, you don't even need a weight bench or a bar!

Conclusion: How to have a great at home bicep workout

Doing bicep workouts at home is a fun and convenient way to make your upper arms more muscular. With some bands and a basic set of dumbbells, you’ll have the tools to achieve an intense muscle-building workout from the comforts of your own home or apartment.

You can choose from our huge list of exercises to create your own custom at home bicep workout. Or, if you want to take the guesswork out of programming a routine and just get on with lifting, then you can follow one of our pre-made workouts instead.

For beginners and intermediates, it's recommended to train your biceps 1-2 times a week until you become an advanced lifter, in which case training frequencies of 3+ times per week can help you to break through plateaus.

References

  1. Buresh, R., Berg, K., & French, J. (2009). The Effect of Resistive Exercise Rest Interval on Hormonal Response, Strength, and Hypertrophy With Training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 23(1), 62–71. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0b013e318185f14a
  2. Netreba, A. I., Popov, D. V., Bravyi, Y. R., Misina, S. S., & Vinogradova, O. L. (2009). Physiological effects of low-intensity strength training without relaxation. Human Physiology, 35(4), 479–483. https://doi.org/10.1134/s0362119709040136
  3. Campos, G., Luecke, T., Wendeln, H., Toma, K., Hagerman, F., Murray, T., Ragg, K., Ratamess, N., Kraemer, W., & Staron, R. (2002). Muscular adaptations in response to three different resistance-training regimens: specificity of repetition maximum training zones. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 88(1–2), 50–60. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-002-0681-6
James Jackson
James Jackson is a personal trainer who uses his expertise in strength and conditioning to create helpful workout tutorials that show fitness enthusiasts how to build muscle while staying safe in the gym. He draws on the latest sports science data as well as tried and tested training techniques to get the best results for his clients without them having to live in the gym.
chevron-upmenu-circlecross-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram