Chances are when someone asks you if you have been working out, you are tempted to throw your arm in the air and flex that bicep. And most of us probably flex our guns every once in a while in front of the mirror to check out the fruits of our labor. Well, to keep those biceps bulging and keep you proudly proclaiming, “the beach is that way,” here are some compound moves to build your biceps and beyond. Everyone loves compound exercises because they are time-worthy by engaging more than one joint and more than one muscle group. Who doesn’t want more bang for your buck?
Power Punches: Start in push up position, and in one explosive movement, lift your right arm straight out in front of you in a thrusting punch motion. Keep your wrist, elbow and shoulder aligned when punching. Return hand to ground directly under shoulder and immediately punch with the left arm. This can also be done on your knees if your balance feels compromised. Perform continuously for 30-60 seconds. Not only will those arm muscles burn, but you will also challenge your core and shoulders with this move.
Rows: This is a versatile exercise because you can use a machine, free weights, or resistance band and engage your biceps, shoulders, triceps and back muscles. You can also adjust the positioning of your body to get various results as the compression, range of motion and contractions are all different. Whichever variation you choose, complete 3 sets of 10-15 reps.
- Begin standing with feet shoulder-width apart with a slight bend in your knees, palms facing down on the tops of your thighs, grasping a dumbbell in each hand.
- Keeping the bend in your knees and arms extended, bend at your hips and lower your dumbbells as far as possible. Keep your spine neutral, shoulders down and keep your gaze forward, not at the ground.
- Pause at the bottom of the move, then squeeze your glutes to raise yourself back to the starting position. Keeping your abs tight and without rounding the back, row the weights upward by raising your upper arms, bending your elbows, and squeezing your shoulder blades together.
- Pause at the top and lower the dumbbells to the starting position.
Bicep Curl with Overhead Press: While bicep curls are the primary bicep-building exercise, don’t hesitate adding an extra step in your traditional bicep curl to turn this into a compound exercise. The bicep curl with overhead press can also be done with free weights or a resistance band.
- Perform a traditional bicep curl and when your weights or band hit the shoulder, turn your hands with wrists facing out and lift arms straight overhead in goal post position.
- Slowly return hands to shoulders, turn wrists toward body, lower your curl, and repeat! Complete 3 sets of 10-15 reps.
Bicep Push Up: Begin in push up position with legs straight out or knees on ground, and angle your hands out to about 45 degrees. As you lower your chest to the ground, squeeze your biceps and press yourself back up into starting push up position, exhaling when you reach start position. Complete 3 sets of 10-15 reps.
Stability Ball Balance Curl: Rev up your traditional bicep curl with a stability ball and some serious balance work to engage your core.
- Sit straight up on a stability ball with both feet on the ground in front of you and holding a dumbbell in your right hand, palm up.
- Lift your right foot off the ground until it is fully extended in front of you. Then, lift your left arm and extend to the side at shoulder level.
- Once you are balanced, perform 15 bicep curls while holding this balanced position.
- Lower left arm and right leg and switch sides. Complete 3 sets on each side for 15-20 reps.
Kettlebell Hang Cleans with Overhead Press: Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart and place a kettlebell between your feet. To get in starting position, push your butt back like you're sitting in a chair and grab the kettlebell with one hand, keeping your gaze straight ahead. Raise the kettlebell towards your shoulder as you extend your body through your legs and hips, rotating your wrist to face out (aka clean). Once kettlebell is at shoulder-height, extend your arm up so kettlebell is above your head. Lower back to start position, and complete 3 sets of 10-15 reps.
The Pull-Up or Flex Arm Hang: Don’t think you need a gym or fancy equipment to conquer this bicep and back sculpting move. Check out your local playground and don’t hesitate to utilize those monkey bars and hang bars that can be the perfect height for women. Pull-ups can be extremely challenging in the beginning, but remember form before numbers is key. Even if you only get one or just half a pull-up, with perfect form you are laying the groundwork to strengthen your arm and back muscles. With continued effort, you will be knocking out several in no time. Check out these informative tips on performing the perfect pull-up.