5 Ways to Build Biceps Without Curls

Can you get big arms by bailing on curls? Absolutely.
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Can you get big arms by bailing on curls? Absolutely.
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Biceps are the best. They are the hero’s muscle. Girls wrap their hands around an arm with a big-ass bicep. Forget that they’re also the “cops that ride horses” of muscle groups: Useful sometimes, but really all about appearance.

The question is, can you get grope-worthy biceps without spending an entire day at the gym looking in the mirror and hitting curl after curl? Avoid that by weaving in a few exercises to break up the monotony and look less self-obsessed.

Start with close-grip chin-ups. Chin-ups put your biceps to work in ways pull-ups don’t, and snuggling your hands closer together will put even more focus on your arms. Start with your with arms straight out, get a good grip, pull your shoulder blades down, then lead with your chest as you ascend toward the bar.

You can also do isometric Zercher holds. Rest a barbell in the crooks of your elbows, tuck your ribs toward your pelvis, lace your fingers together, and hold on tight. Try keeping your upper arms close to parallel with the floor. A few 30-second sets of isometric Zercher holds will have your biceps burning.

Then there are seated cable rows. Use a neutral grip on a low-pulley cable machine, with your palms facing each other, and you’ll get a serious forearm and bicep workout while you’re building your back. Grab a chinning triangle attachment (the one that looks like a mini pyramid), hook it up to the cable, and then row like you normally would. Remember to keep your elbows tucked in, your knees slightly bent, and your back straight.

These three exercises can help you avoid a daylong curlfest while still building the best (and most egocentric) muscle in the body—the bicep.

Photos by Hybrid Images / Getty Images