The Best Biceps Dumbbell Workout

Bicep Dumbbell Curl

Are you a rule-breaker? If so, this workout will hit all your sweet spots. More the type to walk the straight and narrow? You might think cheating on an exercise is only cheating your muscles of the best possible stimulus, but there are times when cheating can do a man good. How else do you explain all the guys with mountainous biceps slinging dumbbells to their shoulders on curls?

Related: The Best Adjustable Dumbbells

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While we don’t recommend making bad form a staple in your workouts, we’ll admit that sometimes it helps to break the rules, and with this dumbbell-only routine, we’ll teach you how to cheat to win.

How It Works

The workout starts with strict dumbbell curls. Since you’ll be fresh, youshould have no trouble giving each set your utmost focus, using only the strength in your biceps to complete your reps. The drag curl follows—another movement that relies on precise form and prevents your shoulders or back from assisting. Later, you can loosen up, doing curls again but this time with intentional cheating. At this point, you’ll be tired and unable to execute reps with perfect technique anyway, so you’ll get a little help from your hips to power through your sticking point. Your biceps will still be working hard, and with most of your workout accomplished, all you need do now is top them off with blood to ensure the greatest growth.


Complete all the prescribed sets for one exercise before moving on to the next.

The Workout

1. Curl
Sets: 4 Reps: 15, 12, 8, 8 Rest: 60 sec.
Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing your sides. Keep your weight on your heels and lean forward slightly. Without letting your upper arms drift forward, curl the weights, rotating your wrists outward so that your palms face you in the top position Hold the top for a moment and squeeze your biceps. Lower the weights back down and flex your triceps hard in the bottom position (your arms should end up slightly behind your body). Increase the weight gradually each set.

2. Drag Curl
Sets: 4 Reps: 12–15 Rest: 60 sec.
Perform as you would the conventional dumbbell curl, but stand tall and drive your elbows back as you curl so the head of each dumbbell touches the front of your body throughout the rep. (Keep your palms facing up the whole time.) It should look as though you’re dragging the weights up along your torso.

3. Hammer Curl
Sets: 4 Reps: 15–20 Rest: 60 sec.
Perform as you did the conventional dumbbell curl but keep your palms facing your sides throughout.

4. Cheat Curl
Sets: 3 Reps: see below Rest: 60 sec.
Choose the heaviest dumbbells you think you can curl, and perform as you did the conventional dumbbell curl, but use momentum from your hips to power through the sticking point (halfway up, when the weights are most difficult to lift). Do not lean back as you lift, but get into a rhythm where you rock your torso forward and then extend your hips to complete each rep. Stop each set one rep shy of total failure.

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