If you’re looking to perform the best bicep workouts with your shiny new dumbbells, try your hand at this four-part session…

Grab your favourite adjustable dumbbells and get ready to zoom in on those bicep muscles with this at-home or in-the-gym dumbbell workout, created by personal trainer and Men’s Fitness cover model Diego Carrete. You can do this as a standalone session or at the end of an upper-body or full-body workout.

How to do bicep workouts with dumbbells:

  • Perform the designated number of reps for each exercise.
  • Note the maximum rest between exercises.
  • Complete the designated number of sets, with minimal rest between sets.

Dumbbell biceps workout: the exercises

  1. Seated hammer curl 
  2. Preacher curl
  3. 21s
  4. Inverted forearm curl

Keep reading for full instructions on how to perform each exercise in this dumbbell biceps workout…

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Man sitting performing start of dumbbell hammer curl in biceps workoutMan seated performing end of dumbbell hammer curl
1. Seated dumbbell hammer curl

Reps: 10
Rest: 60 secs
Sets: 4 

How to do a seated dumbbell hammer curl:

  1. Take a seat on a bench, holding the dumbbells in arms extended towards the floor, palms facing inwards. 
  2. Bend your elbows and elevate your lower arms to draw the weights toward your shoulders. Your upper arms should be still, and your wrists aligned with your forearms. 
  3. At the height of the movement, hold for one second. Your thumbs should be near your shoulders, and your palms facing the middle of your body. 
  4. Return to the beginning position by lowering the weights. 

Man using bench to perform start of dumbbell preacher curl in biceps workoutMan using a seat to perform end of dumbbell preacher curl
2. Dumbbell preacher curl

Reps: 8-10
Rest: 60 secs
Sets: 3

How to do a dumbbell preacher curl:

  1. Grab a dumbbell and place your upper arm on top of the preacher bench or incline bench. Hold the dumbbell at shoulder height.
  2. As you inhale, slowly drop the dumbbell until your upper arm is fully extended and your biceps are fully stretched. 
  3. As you exhale, curl the weight up with your biceps until they are fully clenched and the dumbbell is at shoulder height. Remember to bring that little finger higher than the thumb to guarantee full contraction. 
  4. Squeeze the biceps firmly for a second in the contracted position, then repeat for the number of reps and sets prescribed.
  5. Repeat with your other arm.

Man standing performing beginning of dumbbell 21 curl in biceps workoutMan standing performing middle of dumbbell 21 curlMan standing performing end of dumbbell 21 curl in biceps workout3. Dumbbell 21s 

Reps: 21
Rest: 90 secs
Sets: 3 

How to do dumbbell 21s:

These are called ‘21s’ because you’re going to perform 7 reps in 3 different positions, all in one set. (Choose a fairly light pair from your best dumbbell set for this one – you’ll need it.) 

  1. Stand holding a pair of dumbbells, palm facing forwards. 
  2. Now curl them up, but stop once your forearms are parallel with the floor. 
  3. Lower back down, then repeat that movement for a total of 7 reps. 
  4. At the end of the last rep, curl the dumbbells all the way up. 
  5. This time, instead of lowering straight down, you’re going to lower until your forearms are parallel again. 
  6. Now curl the weights up to your shoulders once more and repeat for 7 reps in total. 
  7. The final position is a full curl, so lower the weights all the way down, then curl them all the way up for a total of 7 reps. 

Man seated performing start of dumbbell inverted forearm curlMan seated performing end of dumbbell inverted forearm curl in biceps workout
4. Dumbbell inverted forearm curl

Reps: 15-20
Rest: 60 secs
Sets: 3 

How to do a dumbbell inverted forearm curl:

  1. Light weight, high reps is the aim here. 
  2. Sit on the end of a bench, with a light dumbbell in one hand. Hold the dumbbell with knuckles facing upwards.
  3. Rest the arm with the dumbbell over the corresponding knee. 
  4. From this position, let the weight bring your wrist down towards the ground. 
  5. Now use your forearm muscle to raise the weight back up. 

What is the biceps muscle?

Your biceps muscle – formally known as the biceps brachii – is found on the front of your upper arm. It is made of two parts: the long head and the short head.

The main action of this muscle is to flex the elbow joint, which happens every time bend your arm to bring your hands towards you body, such as during a biceps curl. Below the biceps is the brachialis, which helps in this movement.

The biceps is an antagonistic muscle, which means it works with another muscle – in this case, the triceps. As the biceps contracts, the triceps relaxes to allow the elbow to bend. When the reverse happens, the arm straightens. Just as it’s important to perform regular bicep workouts with dumbbells, you should also make time to focus on dumbbell triceps exercises, too. Or, hit your arms from all angles with a range of dumbbell exercises for arms and shoulders.

Workout created by personal trainer and Men’s Fitness cover model Diego Carrete