Understanding how your biceps work is one thing; making them big and muscular is another task altogether. Sometimes sticking to the basic exercises doesn't cut it anymore as your biceps become stronger and more advanced in their development. So, it can be a good idea to perform unique bicep workouts in order to train your bis from different angles and shock your muscles into new growth.
In addition to creating a list of the most unique bicep exercises known to man, we crafted three routines that consist of unusual and quirky exercises—many of which you probably haven’t heard of before. So if you want to inject some life into your workouts, then you're going to love what we have in store for you.
Top 7 unique bicep exercises
After trying over 150 different movements for our top biceps workout guide, we selected the most unique bicep exercises that you can do to build muscle. And despite many of these drills being unusual, they're all very safe and effective, providing that you lift with the proper form, hence why we created a tutorial for each one.
1. Plate bicep curls
The plate curl is a versatile exercise that you can perform to either isolate your biceps completely or work your brachialis and brachioradialis as well.
To hone in on your biceps, you simply take two tri-grip weight plates and hold one in each hand as if you were gripping a dumbbell. This is the most unique option out of the two variations.
If you want to blast your brachialis and brachioradialis as well as your biceps, then hold a larger weight plate by its sides (which is to say with a neutral grip) and curl it up and down. This option is excellent for finishing off your biceps after a heavy workout, but it isn't exactly unique or unusual.
- Hold two weight plates by your sides with an underhand grip.
- Curl the plates toward your shoulders while keeping your elbows stationary.
- Keep curling until your biceps and forearms make firm contact.
- Hold the peak contraction for a moment.
- Lower the weight discs back down under control until your elbows reach full extension.
- Perform 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps.
2. Guillotine curls
Performing guillotine curls for your biceps produces an intense peak contraction and muscle pump that's quite unlike anything regular exercises can generate.
This is because guillotine curls have you lift the weight when your biceps are at a very short muscle length (i.e., with your shoulders in front of you and thus in flexion), and short muscle lengths are always more conducive to creating stronger contractions.
You can also do isometric bicep curls if you want to improve your mind-muscle connection by focusing on the contraction exclusively.
- Attach a straight bar to a high pulley.
- Wheel a bench to the cable station.
- Lie on the bench so that your forehead is directly underneath the high pulley and attached bar.
- Grab the bar and curl it toward your forehead while keeping your elbows still.
- Squeeze your biceps as hard as you can as they press up against the undersides of your forearms.
- Release the contraction and resist the bar as you allow it to return to the starting position (when your elbows reach full extension).
- Repeat for 3-5 sets of 12-15 reps.
3. Smith machine curl throws
Smith machine curl throws are the brainchild of Dr. Jim Stoppani. He created the exercise so that he and his fans could develop more bicep strength and power by training explosively.
The key is to perform curl throws at the start of your workout when you have the most strength. You don't need to keep them in your routine permanently, but performing them consistently for 6-8 weeks before your main bicep drills will help to increase the strength of your biceps so that you can lift heavier weights (and thereby build more muscle) during your regular training.
Just make sure to always use a thumbless grip so that you can actually throw the bar out of your hands. Similarly, don't do this exercise with free weights because you'll just end up dropping the bar and hurting your wrists.
- Set the Smith machine bar to knee height.
- Load a light weight onto the bar.
- Grab the barbell with a thumbless underhand grip.
- Curl the bar up, and as you do, throw it out of your hands as explosively as you can.
- Catch the bar at the top of the rep.
- Lower the bar until your arms are locked out.
- Repeat for 3-5 sets of 3-7 reps.
4. Bent over cable concentration curls
Bent over cable concentration curls are an excellent exercise because they take a proven movement (standing concentration curls) and make it even better by adding constant cable tension into the mix.
This means that your biceps have to work harder during each rep and thus have more incentive to grow bigger. After all, when you're using cables, it's not like you can really rest at the bottom of your reps because the pulley is always putting at least some tension on your biceps.
The exercise is also helpful for sculpting symmetrical biceps because by training each arm separately, you can ensure that each bicep is receiving roughly equal work and thus growing at the same rate.
- Attach a single handle to a low pulley.
- Stand side-on to the cable station.
- Bend over at the waist while keeping your back flat.
- Grab the cable handle with one hand and place the other hand on your knee for extra stability.
- Curl the cable handle across your body while keeping your elbow relatively (but not necessarily completely) still.
- Squeeze your bicep forcefully as it makes firm contact with your forearm.
- Release the handle slowly until your elbow is almost fully locked out.
- Do the same with your other arm and perform 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps per side.
5. Forehead curls
Since the biceps help to flex the shoulders, doing Dave Draper forehead curls makes a lot of sense because you're training all the main bicep functions at once, the other two being forearm supination and elbow flexion.
The only downside to this exercise (besides the funny looks that it might provoke) is the fact that your shoulders might give out before your biceps. So unless you have a solid mind-muscle connection, you might want to avoid this exercise because if your deltoids fatigue before your biceps, then it pretty much defeats the purpose of doing curls.
- Load a relatively light weight onto a barbell and then grab the bar with a shoulder-width underhand grip.
- Curl the bar toward your forehead by flexing your biceps and raising your shoulders simultaneously.
- Squeeze your biceps forcefully as the bar closes in on your forehead.
- Hold the contraction for a brief moment, and then lower the bar under control until your elbows are locked out.
- Repeat for 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps.
6. Supine bicep curls
The supine bicep curl is a very unique exercise that few people have ever heard of, let alone considered performing. Since you do the supine curl while laying flat on a bench, the movement naturally places your biceps under a skin-splitting stretch that's guaranteed to leave you with DOMS for days to come.
Unlike other exercises, the supine bicep curl actually gets harder the closer that your elbows get the full extension. So by hitting your biceps from a completely new angle like this, you can break through plateaus and get your bis growing again—especially because of the intense weighted stretch.
- Grab a pair of dumbbells with an underhand grip and then lie back on a flat weight bench.
- Let your arms hang over either side of the bench so that your elbows are locked out.
- Curl the weights toward your shoulders.
- Keep curling until your biceps and forearms make contact.
- Slowly lower the weights until your elbows reach full extension.
- Repeat for 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps.
7. One arm barbell curls
The one arm barbell curl is one of the most unique bicep exercises that you can do because virtually nobody does the movement—despite its many benefits.
First off, one arm barbell curls enable you to progress beyond the heaviest dumbbells at your gym. Of course, maxing out the biggest dumbbells on bicep curls is a luxury problem that most of us won't have to deal with, but having virtually infinite room to progress is never a bad thing, either.
Single-arm barbell curls also force you to supinate harder in order to keep the bar straight. This creates a more intense bicep peak contraction (and thereby a better pump) since forearm supination is one of the primary functions of the biceps brachii.
- Load some weight onto a barbell and then grab the bar in the middle with an underhand grip.
- With the bar slightly in front of you, curl it toward your chest while keeping your shoulder still.
- Keep curling the bar until the undersides of your forearms press right up against your biceps.
- Squeeze your biceps forcefully at the top of the rep.
- Lower the bar back down until your arm is fully locked out.
- Repeat the motion with your other arm and do 3-5 sets of 6-12 reps per side.
3 unique bicep workouts
These unique bicep workouts will train your arms from different angles to get your bis growing. They're also a fun way to add variety to your routine if you easily get bored of doing the same basic exercises week in, week out.
You can also check out this high repetition bicep workout if you just want to get a good pump without learning any new and unusual exercises.
A quirky bicep workout
1: Plate curls — 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps
2: Forehead curls — 3-5 sets of 10-12 reps
3: Supine bicep curls — 3-5 sets of 12-15 reps
This quirky workout hits your biceps from all angles to stimulate robust muscle hypertrophy.
Although there are only three exercises in this routine, there's still plenty of training volume (between 9 and 15 sets) for most lifters to get great results.
Plate curls focus on building overall mass; hence you'll be doing lower reps on them.
By having you curl with the weight in front of you, forehead curls focus on the short head of the biceps and create an intense muscle pump.
On the other hand, supine curls emphasize the long head of the biceps by having you curl with your elbows slightly behind your torso. So you're ticking off all the bicep boxes by training with this muscle-building routine.
An unusual bicep workout
1: Smith machine curl throws — 4-5 sets of 4-6 reps
2: Guillotine curls — 3-5 sets of 12-15 reps
3: Bent-over cable concentration curls — 3-5 sets of 12-15 reps
If you want to increase the power and size of your biceps without doing too much volume, then this unique bicep workout is for you.
Smith machine curl throws encourage you to lift explosively and thus develop that raw bicep power that helps you to lift heavier weights in order to overload your biceps and make them grow.
Guillotine curls pump up your biceps and help you to improve your mind-muscle connection because they naturally provide a strong peak contraction.
Bent over cable concentration curls also create an intense muscle pump. However, by training each arm separately, you can ensure that each bicep is getting roughly equal stimulation and thus growing in proportion with the other.
A very unique bicep workout
1: Smith machine curl throws — 4-5 sets of 4-6 reps
2: Single arm barbell curls — 3-5 sets of 6-8 reps
3A: Guillotine curls — 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps
3B: Supine curls — 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps
The last of our unique bicep workouts is the most challenging of the lot. It's a great routine for shocking your biceps into new growth if you're an advanced lifter. Yet, you could also perform it later in the week in addition to your usual workout (but on a separate day) to hit your biceps from different angles and add more variety to your training.
Once again, the session begins with low rep curl throws to develop bicep power, something that you can never have too much of.
Then it's onto single-arm barbell curls to hone in on each bicep and improve your supination strength. This is also a great exercise to do if you're into arm-wrestling because it's unilateral and highly conducive to lifting heavy weights.
This short but intense advanced biceps workout ends with a superset—guillotine curls and supine curls—to work your biceps at both short and long muscle lengths while ensuring that any remaining muscle fibers get thoroughly stimulated.
The verdict: What's the most unique bicep exercise?
Now that you've seen the most unique bicep exercises that you can do to build muscle, it's time to get in the gym and build those bis. You can use our list of exercises to create your own custom workout, or you can select from one of our own unique bicep workouts if you just want to get on with lifting.
Overall, the one-arm barbell curl is probably the most unique exercise because, as mentioned, virtually nobody thinks to curl a barbell one arm at a time. So by thinking outside the box like we've done here, you can get ahead of the pack and build your biceps faster by doing unusual (but no less effective) exercises.