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What's up, guys?
Jeff Cavaliere,
Today I'm going to show you the best exercises for your biceps.
As we've been doing in this entire series, I'm going to restrict my selections of these
exercises to the use of just dumbbells.
That doesn't mean that I have to sacrifice anything.
As a matter of fact, as you're going to see in this video, I'm going to show you
some superior selections.
Provided I get the opportunity to provide context to my selections.
As we've been doing all along here, we've been taking exercises that fit different purposes
and categories.
We're going to do the same thing here as well.
I'm going to show you the best options if you're training for power; for strength;
for hypertrophy with an eccentric overload as your focus or method, or a metabolic stress
as your method of hypertrophy.
I'm going to cover them both.
I'm going to show you a corrective exercise you can do.
I'm even going to show you a total body exercise.
Yes, they do exist when it comes to biceps.
Finally, that miscellaneous category, we're going to cover an exercise that hits, not
just the biceps, but more importantly, the muscle underneath the biceps, the brachialis.
That will help you get more rips on your upper arm.
The fact is, the selections are based on science and the selections are based around that context.
Most of all, you're going to be armed with the best exercise selections, no matter the
purpose or goal you have in your training.
So, let's get started.
So, we kick it all off here with strength and if you haven't already done so, you're
definitely going to want to watch the chest edition in this series because the selection
process of how we got to these strength exercises was very similar.
It's based on the lack of stability when we move from a fixed hand position on a barbell
to separate hands controlling dumbbells.
Now, how does that play into this?
Guys, again, if I had options for a barbell, I'd go right to the barbell curl, as you
see me doing here.
Whether I'm using a straight bar or an easy bar I love this variation of a curl.
I think it allows us to add the most weight to the bar to get the most strength benefits.
But I've also covered, in great depth, many times on this channel, how much I like the
weighted chin-up.
You can see me doing those here.
I know I can overload the biceps, once again, because I not only have the additional weight
around my waist, but I've got the weight of my own body that I'm using to overload
those biceps.
But that's not the name of the game because we're using just dumbbells here.
So, I have to make my selection.
But what I do here is I use that same criteria as I did with the bench-press, moving to the
dumbbell bench-press.
We know that 300lb bench-pressers don't automatically become 150lb dumbbell bench-pressers.
That's because the stability required at the shoulder becomes compromised and winds
up undercutting your strength performance on the exercise.
So, the dumbbell variation is not always the best choice.
In the similar case of the dumbbell curl, when I go to move that weight up, I have to
be able to counteract that weight coming up.
I have to be able to stabilize that with my core because of the posterior driven force
of the dumbbells coming up and back, requiring my core to be engaged to do that.
So what happens is, if you're a 130lb barbell curler, you may not be a 65lb dumbbell curler
for that very same reason.
But you can do something different.
You can lift one dumbbell at a time.
What we've done is halved the requirements of our core for having to stabilize that much
weight coming up and backward.
Only 65lbs at a time.
You'll notice you can maximize your strength using a dumbbell one at a time.
Again, if I have my overall choice from athleticism, trying to integrate as many areas as possible,
I would go with the double handed version of this.
The simultaneous curl.
But we're looking for just strength here, guys.
That's what leads me in the direction of the unilateral curl.
But I'm not going to abandon the weighted chin-up.
I don't have to.
I have two winners here, guys.
The beauty of this exercise is that I don't have to sacrifice the weight that I use.
Instead of using plates as my form of resistance, all I have to do is take, in this case like
I do here, wrap a dog leash around a single dumbbell, and then wrap it around my waist.
I jump up on that bar and I'm good to go.
I haven't had to sacrifice the load that I've been using if I've been using plates
in its place.
The fact is, when we're looking for strength overload is the key.
And these two exercises give you the best opportunity to do just that.
Next up, we move onto power.
What that should automatically trigger in your head by now is if you want to develop
power you not only want to be able to move some weight, but you want to be able to move
that weight rather quickly.
You want to have a speed component, or velocity component, to the weight that you're lifting.
When it comes to developing your biceps there's one exercise I still choose.
It's going to look very similar to one we just covered.
That is the weighted plyometric chin.
Again, we don't have to weight it as heavy as we did before because we know that velocity
is still key.
We need to be able to explode through the concentric portion of the rep.
Not only that, as I covered in our chest edition, you want to be able to find an exercise that
optimally does not restrict you, in terms of your ability to explode through that concentric.
You don't want to be slowing down dumbbells in the case of a dumbbell bench-press in order
to come back down to the bottom and repeat the rep.
You're decelerating at the moment you want to accelerate.
Here, if you can get your body moving through the bar on a weighted chin, you're doing
exactly what you need to do.
Again, you don't have to use that much weight here.
As a matter of fact, guys might find this so challenging that they use no weight at
But guess what?
The dumbbell still comes in handy because all you've got to do is turn it on its end
and use it as a stepping stool to get up to the bar and do these for bodyweight only.
The fact is, the plyo-chin-up is one of the most explosive and best ways to train for
power when you're trying to focus on your biceps.
Moving onto hypertrophy, we know there's more than one way to skin a cat.
Progressive overload is an option, but we also understand – if we have any training
experience – that we wind up drying up on that route because we know we can't continually
add weight to the exercise.
Even the great ones that we've selected before.
The fact is, we need more options.
That comes in the form of the eccentric overload.
Eccentric muscle damage.
It's a great stimulator for protein synthesis.
But what we do is select the right exercise.
Here, dumbbells come in handy.
We do the dumbbell incline curl.
But we're not just doing the dumbbell incline curl because you've probably done a lot
of them in your lifetime.
The fact is, we're really trying to accentuate the stretch on the biceps.
The eccentric overload of the biceps.
To achieve what we're trying to achieve here.
We can do that in a better way by actively contracting the muscle on the opposite side
of the elbow and the biceps.
That is the triceps.
You can see me doing that in the bottom of every rep.
It accentuates the strength of contraction that I'm going to get from the biceps to
rebound from that bottomed out position.
That's great, but we also know something else here.
When I reach concentric failure I'm not done because we know our muscles are setup
in such a way that eccentrically we are stronger than we are concentrically.
So, even when we reach concentric failure we've got some more to go.
If you're really trying to build muscle, if you're trying to create hypertrophy,
one of the best ways to do that is not just to take your exercises to failure, but through
I can do that with this drop set.
I sit up, I'm mechanically changing the position of my body to an upright position,
I curl it, to cheat it up is going to be easier from this position.
Then what I do is sink my body back to the bench, slowly lower back down again to accentuate
that stretch, once again.
That eccentric contraction of the biceps.
This is a great combination, guys.
It employs a couple additional techniques to the exercise you've probably already
done, and it will amplify the results you see from this dramatically.
Let's continue that theme we just built on here because we're now focused on a metabolic
Reveling in the burn, is what I say.
When we get to the burn, that's when the exercise starts.
We can do that here.
We can utilize something called a mechanical drop set to keep that burn going long after
we thought we'd have to quit.
You've probably seen this before as it's appeared in our Sore in Six Bicep workout.
It's so damn effective.
You will not perform this and not burn like hell by the time you're done.
I promise you that.
So, what we do is start in the inclined position here.
We do our curls to failure.
Then what we do is sit up.
We don't have to drop the weight or change the weight.
We simply sit up.
By changing our position of the dumbbells relative to gravity, we've changed the strength
curve a bit.
Now we can complete a few more repetitions.
What we do is take it to failure once again.
With biceps, trust me, you'll be burning like hell at this point.
Again, this is where you test yourself.
How far can I go with the burn?
Now I can lean forward and perform a drag curl.
The moment arm of the dumbbells is no longer so long away from my shoulder.
Now I can get my elbows way back and keep those dumbbells in close, which is going to
make the exercise easier.
Now, it's not going to be easy because it's still in line here, and that burn has already
been set in a long time ago, but it's still going to allow you to crank out a few more
reps, with the goal being to get every, single rep you can with that burn firmly in place.
This is such a great option for doing that.
Now it gets a little bit fun here because we're now going to cover a total body option
for your biceps.
Yeah, we're going to use dumbbells and I promise, it's going to be more than just
the single joint focused bicep exercises that you're probably used to.
Here we do a dumbbell underhand dead row.
The exercise starts from the floor, it's ground based, it's covering multiple joints,
it's demanding a synchronization of those joints from the ankles, to the knees, to the
hips, even to the elbows, and the shoulders.
You can see as we wrap around here it's obviously working the back as we go into the
row portion of it, and as we come back around there's no doubt the biceps are doing the
heavy workload here.
Especially because of the supinated grip.
Sometimes you're short on time.
Sometimes you're just doing a pull workout.
Sometimes you're looking for one of those big 'bang-for-your-buck' exercises.
This is the one you want to select.
I promise you; your biceps are not going to sacrifice here.
They're still going to benefit because this is a great exercise selection.
Moving on now, we go to one of my favorite areas of these videos, and that is the corrective
exercise selection because you can't ignore the correctives.
Just because they seem to be the more rehab-based exercises, it doesn't make them less important.
As a pre-habilitative exercise selection they're going to be super beneficial for you.
The fact is, when it comes to the elbow and the biceps, what are you really trying to
focus on?
While we have the option to target the shoulder because of its attachment up here, what I
find more beneficial to those that are training their biceps is to target the strength of
the forearms and the proper integration of the muscles in the forearms when you're
doing your gripping and bicep exercises.
Why is that?
I've covered it before in great detail how the medial elbow starts to take the brunt
of the load when you improperly load or grab a dumbbell or barbell in your hand because
you grab it too far down.
What winds up happening is it puts a whole hell of a lot of stress on the medial elbow
and makes it almost impossible for you to do bicep exercises.
You might not even be able to do any pulling exercises at all.
That can't be.
So, what we do here is – I have two choices.
If you can't handle a heavy load, then what I would have you do is this wrist curl variation.
This is the medial elbow wrist curl because that's what we're trying to focus on.
All you have to do is do a normal forearm wrist curl, but you have to grab the dumbbell
deep in your hand.
Not distally in your fingers because the main root of that problem that's causing all
this overload here at the medial elbow is this overload of these distal finger tendons.
When the dumbbell is held too far out in the fingers it creates a hell of a lot of stress
on a tendon that's way too weak to handle that.
So, what you want to do is slide that dumbbell back into the palm of your hand, grip there,
and then perform those repetitions.
But then we can do something even better.
We can take the load and make it substantially heavier, which will probably have a better
carryover when you go back to your strength exercises.
That is to do this variation of a carry.
Again, what you're trying to do is, not just walk around the gym with the heaviest
dumbbells you possibly can hold until they drop out of your hands.
Instead, you want to grip that dumbbell deep in your hand.
You want to work on that forearm strength in the proper position without letting it
start to fall.
As you see here, when I get around the gym, if I'm fatiguing and I have to put the dumbbells
down, so be it.
Remember, this is a corrective exercise.
What I don't want to happen is this: I don't want to be walking and have the dumbbell start
drifting down into those distal fingers because that's just going to create that stress
and load on the inner elbow that you're not going to like.
But either one of these things, depending upon which one you can load heavier, will
be great options and things you definitely want to integrate and not overlook because,
overall, they're going to help you with the longevity of your bicep training.
Finally, we saved this miscellaneous category to address an exercise that doesn't necessarily
fit into any of the others.
In this case we're going to target a different muscle.
But it's no less important.
That is the brachialis.
Because it's situated beneath the bicep and contributing to the overall upper arm
size, but more importantly, the width of the arm; we know there's something we can do
especially with dumbbells to target this are better.
That is the crossbody hammer curl done with a pronate forearm.
Because we know one of the functions of the bicep is to supinate the forearm.
We know that we can take some of that away by pronating the forearm.
If we pronate the forearm and let it ride up our body we're going to get more of the
activation of the brachialis, or the brachial radialis that runs down here in the forearm.
But if we want to shift it a little higher into that brachialis, research has shown that
there's a rate dependency on how fast you move through the concentric portion of the
When we go slower, the brachialis has more activation.
It's more likely to contribute to the concentric portion of that lift.
Of course, you still want to load this as heavy as you can to try and get more of that
size and development.
But don't allow the load to start allowing you to swing the weight up because you're
going to defeat the purpose of what we're trying to do here.
So, there you have it, guys.
My best exercise selections for your biceps, regardless of whatever goal it is you're
training for.
The fact is, you don't have to make sacrifices in the results that you want to see from your
training just because you might have to make some sacrifices in the equipment that you
have at your disposal.
Guys, I will take you step by step through any workout and help you get the most out
of it.
We call it 'putting the science back in strength'.
I do that in all my programs.
They're all available for you over at
In the meantime, if you liked this video leave your comments and thumbs up below.
Let me know what else you want me to cover and I'll do my best to do that for you.
And if you haven't already done so, make sure you click 'subscribe' and turn on
your notifications, so you never miss any of the videos that we put out.
Not only in this series, but all the videos we put up on this channel for you guys.
Again, I say it all the time, I make these videos for you and I really appreciate you
guys watching.
All right, guys.
I'll be back here again soon, in just a couple of days.
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The BEST Dumbbell Exercises - BICEPS EDITION!

178 Folder Collection
dnwsaa58 published on September 29, 2019
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