The BEST Dumbbell Exercises – BICEPS EDITION!

The BEST Dumbbell Exercises – BICEPS EDITION!


What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.com. 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 all. 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 failure. 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 stress. 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. Why? 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 lift. 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 ATHLEANX.com. 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
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couple of days.