The 10 Best Upper Arm Exercises - Part 2

In Part 1 of The 10 Best Upper Arm Exercises, we looked at the anatomy of both biceps and triceps. We also looked at the brachialis. Finally, we dove into nutrition and 5% supplements. In Part 2 we will look at the top 5 biceps exercises. We’ll also include a few Intensity Tips to help you get more out of your workout. Let’s grab that bar and start training!

Biceps Exercise # 1 - EZ Bar Drag Curls

This exercise was commonly used and promoted by Vince Gironda back in the 60s and 70s. Regular curls lose tension at the top. Drag Curls are a way around that problem. You can do these by themselves, or as a way to extend your set after regular curls. The EZ bar is great for this exercise, but you can do it using any bar.

Muscles Worked

This exercise directly works the biceps and forearms. It also involves the front deltoids and the traps. 

Here’s How To Do It

This exercise eliminates cheating and momentum. Begin by grabbing an EZ bar as if you were going to do regular curls. Instead, pull your elbows back and pull the bar close to your body. Now “drag” the bar up towards your shoulders. Slowly lower and repeat. It has a limited range of motion, but you’ll feel it. 

Biceps Exercise # 2 - Reverse Bent Rows

Here’s an exercise you probably don’t immediately think of when you think about biceps exercises. Yet it’s a great exercise. You’ll need to use moderate weight on these. While you might be doing these with a 7-ft straight bar in a power rack, you could also use an EZ bar. 

Muscles Worked

This is a back thickness exercise first and foremost. When you reverse your grip, you bring the biceps more into play.

Here’s How To Do It

Use an underhand grip and perform like a regular bent row. Here’s an Intensity Tip: Once you’ve reached failure, stand up straight and do drag curls for as many reps as possible. 

Biceps Exercise # 3 - ¾ EZ Curls With Static Holds

Many of the exercises listed here are using an EZ bar instead of a straight bar. There are a couple of reasons for that. As noted, the EZ bar takes unnecessary pressure off your wrists. Next, they allow different grips and hand placement. Now, the inherent problem with curls is that the tension drops off dramatically in the final 3rd of the movement. This exercise is a way around that. 

Muscles Worked

This exercise directly targets your biceps. The EZ bar puts your hands in a partially supinated position. Depending on the specific EZ bar, you can also use a close hammer-style grip to emphasize the brachialis more.

Here’s How To Do It

This is a regular EZ curl, but as you approach the point where tension drops off, you will stop and hold the bar for a 6 count. Lower from this point and repeat. If you want to really up the intensity, stop near the bottom of the movement and hold for another 6 count. That’s 2 points of static holds along the exercise’s range of motion.

Biceps Exercise # 4 - Dumbbell Curls (Supinating)

You can do this standing or seated. Supination, or twisting the wrists, is the key to this exercise. As you perform the exercise, limit cheating and momentum. Let your biceps do all the work. 

Muscles Worked

This is a functional exercise that directly targets the biceps. It’s functional because it’s a movement you will use in daily life.

Here’s How To Do It

Supination simply means twisting your wrist in towards your body. This exercise mimics this movement. Start this exercise with your palms facing forward. Slowly curl the dumbbells and, as you curl, twist your hands in and up. At the top of the movement, your palms should be facing up like a regular curl. You can add a little more intensity to the rep by twisting your hands out at the top and squeezing, then slowly returning to the start position. It might take some practice to time the twisting motion to the full range of this exercise. 

Biceps Exercise # 5 - Close Grip Chins

This is a great bodyweight exercise that will really target your biceps. If you have a tough time performing more than 1-2 chins, you can do band-assisted chins, or you can propel yourself off of a step or footstool. This approach acts like a training partner to help you get your reps. Have a training partner? Use that person to help you get your reps. Conversely, if you have no problem knocking out your reps, you can use a weight belt to add weight. 

Muscles Worked

This exercise targets the biceps, lats, and shoulders. 

Here’s How To Do It

This is a pull-up that uses a close underhand grip. As you pull yourself up, use the strength of your biceps. 


In Part 2 of The 10 Best Upper Arm Exercises, we looked at the top 5 exercises for the biceps. We included some Intensity Tips to help you push those bi’s to new growth. Coming up in Part 3, we’ll tackle the triceps!


  1. Delavier, Frâedâeric. Strength Training Anatomy. Human Kinetics, 2010. 
  2. Exercise Directory
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