Home Men's Health 8 Exercises To Maximise Your Arm Gains (Without a Single Bicep Curl)

8 Exercises To Maximise Your Arm Gains (Without a Single Bicep Curl)

8 Exercises To Maximise Your Arm Gains (Without a Single Bicep Curl)

We’ve seen somewhat of a renaissance of the bicep curl in gyms lately, with many trainees who had fallen into the groove of ‘functional fitness’ discovering that they’re sorely missing the instant dopamine hit that comes along with a dirty, sleeve stretching arm pump.

For those you that never lost faith but were still religiously offering sacrifice at the altar of the preacher curl bench, you’ll still no doubt have encountered those days where it seems as though there just isn’t enough time to fit it all in, and that prioritising your tri’s and bi’s seems a bit self-indulgent and more than a tad inefficient.

To that end, we’ve compiled a list of exercises that — whilst geared towards other body parts, movement patterns or goals — still give those arm cannons a growth-inducing pasting in the process; arming you with everything you need to grow guns as a side hustle, without letting the business of building the rest of your body go by the wayside. Let’s begin.


A bodyweight burner that should be a staple in every trainees arsenal. Stretch deep into the bottom of each rep to blow up your chest, but lower yourself slowly- before exploding back up- to share the glory with your triceps. Jump on a set of ring to double down on the gains, or add weight.

Jump up on two parallel bars or gymnastics rings with your palms facing inward and your arms straight (A). Use two boxes or the backs of two sturdy chairs if you’re at home. Slowly lower until your elbows are at right angles, ensuring they don’t flare outward (B). Drive yourself back up to the top and repeat.

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By switching from a wide, overhand grip to a closer, ‘supinated’ or ‘palms facing’ grip, your biceps are drafted in to assist the muscles of your upper back and lats. If you could do just one exercise to pump up those bi’s— this is it.

Grab a pull-up bar with your palms facing your body. Lift your feet off the floor and hang freely with straight arms (A). Pull yourself up by flexing your elbows, pinching your shoulders together. When your chin passes the bar, pause (B) before lowering to the starting position. Try not to swing too much.

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Ditch the bench to blow up those arms. By shortening the range of motion versus a traditional bench press, your chest isn’t able to get the type of stretch that helps to blast the bar back upwards, instead it calls on your triceps to keep driving the rep count up. Keep your arms close to your body for extra tricep stimulus.

preview for 5 Most Underrated Dumbbell Exercises

Lay flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Press a barbell or pair of dumbbells above your chest, locking out your elbows (A). Lower them slowly until the back of your arms are resting on the floor (B), close to your body, pause here before explosively pressing back up.

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‘Supinated’. It’s that word again. Just like the chin-up, gripping your barbell with a slightly closer, underhand grip brings the biceps into play to a greater degree in this back building classic, loved by old-school bodybuilders. Squeeze those pythons hard at the top of each rep to establish the coveted ‘mind/muscle connection’.

Hinge down with soft knees and a flat back, gripping a loaded barbell with hands shoulder width apart, palms facing upwards (A). Draw your elbows back, rowing the barbell up towards your hips whilst maintaining a flat torso and tight core. Pinch your shoulder blades together and squeeze your biceps (B) Before slowly lowering the barbell.

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Bring your hands closer together and keep those elbows pinned to your sides during your bench press to lengthen the range of motion your triceps move through— think of it as extra growth inducing mileage. Slowly bring the bar down to below the centre of your chest before explosively pressing back up, flexing your triceps hard at the top of each rep.

Lay flat on a bench, your knees bent, pushing your feet into the floor. Grip a barbell with hands slightly closer than shoulder width apart and take it out of the rack, locking out your elbows (A). Lower the bar slowly until the bar touches just below your chest (B) keep your elbows close to your body throughout, pause here before explosively pressing back up.

ring row


By switching from a bar to the rings for rows, you’re able to create a completely bespoke range of motion, that you can tailor perfectly to your sleeve stretching goals. At the bottom of each rep, as your arms are outstretched ‘turn your biceps outs’ so that the backs of your hands are facing one and other to fully stretch the biceps. As you row your body upwards, rotate the rings, finishing each rep with your knuckles facing you, biceps fully contracted.

Hang, parallel to the ground, with straight arms beneath a set of rings. Create a tension throughout your entire body (A). Flex at the elbows, drawing yourself up towards the rings, rotating the rings until your palms are facing you. Squeeze your biceps at the top of each rep before slowly lowering yourself back down to the starting position.

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Just like the close grip bench press, keeping your arms pinned to your sides challenges your triceps far more than your garden variety press-up. Grip a pair of dumbbells or handles that almost touching, and aim to shift your bodyweight forward as you descend to spark new growth in the back of your arms.

Drop into a plank position, with your core tight and hands stacked below your shoulders (A), bend your elbows to bring your chest to the floor (B). Keep your elbows close to your body as you push back up explosively.

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If you check the textbook, you’ll read that the biceps’ primary function are to ‘create flex at the elbow’. But, in practical terms that means that they’re built to pull heavy things close to your body, and hold them there. No movement provokes this response from your bi’s quite like picking up a heavy sandbag. You’ll be able to grip and rip considerably more than you can curl, building raw, real-world strength (and size) as you do.

With a sandbag between your feet, bend down and roll it side to side, working your hands underneath. Keeping your back straight (A). Lift the bag from the floor and rest it on your thighs. Now, pull it close to your torso and stand up explosively, use the momentum to roll the ball over one shoulder (B). Alternate shoulders each rep.