Women doing curls

If you were asked to name a characteristic of a beautifully toned body, which possibilities would make the list? If you’re like most people, you’d probably mention six-pack abs or perfectly sculpted biceps. After all, a bulging bicep is the go-to emoji for fitness for a reason!

Any action that involves throwing, tossing, or swinging calls on this muscle. If you’re dreaming of sculpted arms, now is the time to make a plan for perfection. Add these simple but effective curls to your strength training routine, and your biceps will be the stuff of legend before you know it.

1. Biceps Curl with Dumbbells

When you picture a classic biceps curl, this is probably the move that comes to mind, and with good reason. Classic biceps curls get results, plain and simple, so they deserve a place in anyone’s strength training regimen. Get into the start position by standing up straight with a dumbbell in each hand. Your elbows should be held close to the torso, and your palms should be facing forward as they clutch the dumbbells with an overhead grip.

Taking care to keep your upper arms stationary, exhale while contracting your biceps and curling the dumbbells upward until they’ve reached shoulder level. Hold the weights in position for a second or two. Then inhale as you lower the weights back to starting position using a slow, even, controlled motion. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Dumbbell

2. Hammer Curls

Not only does the hammer curl help sculpt your biceps, but it makes your entire arm stronger. It activates all of your elbow flexors, especially the brachialis. Get into your start position by standing upright with a dumbbell held in each hand. Your palms should be facing in toward your torso and your elbows should be held close to your body.

Taking care to keep the upper portion of your arm stationary, slowly exhale while contracting your biceps to bring the weights toward your shoulders. Do not twist or supinate your wrists as you do this. Once the dumbbells reach your shoulders, hold them in place for a second or two before inhaling and lowering them back to starting position. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

3. EZ Bar Curls

Although you can definitely do a bar curl with a classic straight barbell, quite a few bodybuilders find the EZ bar to be a better fit if you’re specifically looking to build your biceps. Using this type of curl bar helps ensure enough of the load is placed on your elbow flexors, so it’s a great tool for building strong, toned arms. Get into your start position by holding an EZ barbell at the wide outer handle with your palms facing forward.

Taking care to keep your upper arm muscles stationary, exhale and use your forearms to bring the bar in toward your chest. Keep raising the weight until you can feel that your biceps are fully contracted. Hold for a few seconds and consciously squeeze your biceps as you do so. Then inhale as you lower the bar back to start. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

man doing curl

4. Zottman Curls

Not sure which biceps move to start with? Give a few Zottman curls a try. They work your brachialis and brachioradialis muscles on the negative and activate your elbow flexors on the positive. Plus, your biceps brachii bears the bulk of the load throughout the move. Get into your start position by standing upright with a dumbbell held in either hand. As with the other moves listed above, your elbows should be held in toward your sides.

While keeping your upper arms stationary, curl the dumbbells upward by contracting your biceps as you exhale. You’ll also want to rotate your wrists until your palms are facing upward as you do this. Continue until your dumbbells have reached shoulder level and your biceps are fully contracted. Hold for a second or two while consciously squeezing your biceps. Then rotate your wrists again until your palms face down as you lower the weights back to start position. Repeat for the desired number of reps. You’ll be noticing the difference in those biceps before you know it!