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The FASTEST Biceps Workout With Dumbbells (That Actually Works)



I’m going to give you a 10 minute bicep workout, with only dumbbells. Best of all, we’ll use 3 different training methods that will cut your training time by a third without sacrificing gains. I’ll show you 2 things in this article:

  • How each of these training methods works using science AND
  • Exactly how you can incorporate them into your training to develop your biceps

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Well. So here’s the 10 minute workout. As mentioned earlier, we will be using 3 training methods to reduce your training time:

  • Rest-break sets: This is method 1. It will take you about 2 minutes.
  • Composed sets: This is Method 2, and it will combine 2 bicep exercises together. This method will take you 5 minutes.
  • Sets of drops. This is Method 3. You will use it to complete your workout and it will only take a minute.

So, assuming a one-minute rest period between each method, you’ll be done with your bicep barbell workout in just 10 minutes (which you can easily do at home, even). Here’s a detailed look at what your routine would look like:

Method 1: Rest-Pause (1 set of 20 repetitions in total)

Dumbbell curls

Method 2: Compound set (3 sets of 8-12 repetitions)

Spider curls

Incline dumbbell curls

3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions

Set of drops (5 sets of drops in total):

Hammer curls

5 sets of drops in total

To start your bicep workout with dumbbells, we are going to implement a rest-pause workout. This is a training method where you combine all of your exercise sets into one long set – instead of doing them separately.

A recent study from 2019 illustrates its effectiveness. The researchers divided the participants into 2 groups:

  • Group 1: Train their biceps with the traditional method. This meant they used 3 sets of 6 reps, with 90 seconds of rest between each set.
  • Group 2: Rest-break training used. This is where they only performed 1 long set. In this set, they tried to do as many reps as possible, only took 20 seconds of rest, and repeated this process until they hit the same number of reps as the traditional group. This meant a total of 18 repetitions.

The results? The two training methods resulted in similar gains in size and strength in the biceps – although the rest-break group only trained half the time.

How to implement rest and break training into your bicep workout

So, we are going to apply this to our training. Only, we will use an exercise that allows us to push our limits safely: the standing dumbbell curl.

Start by finding a weight that you can usually do 6-8 reps with. You are going to perform as many reps as possible while maintaining good form. This is important because if you don’t maintain good shape throughout these barbell curls, the pause method won’t be as effective. So, as the whole rest-break becomes more difficult, keep 2 things in mind:

  • Keep your elbow locked by your side: Letting it rock forward will take the strain off your biceps. And on your front deltoids instead. A little movement is good. But make sure it’s not excessive.
  • Look at your wrists: Avoid excessively curling the cuffs at the top. If you do, your forearms will take over. Instead, you need to keep your forearms neutral. And keep your palms up, even down. Doing this will help maximize the strain on your biceps.
Keep your elbow locked to your sides as you perform the Standing Dumbbell Bicep Curl

Once you’ve finished your first set of breaks and can’t do any more reps, put the weights down. Rest only 20 minutes. Then immediately perform another set using the same weight again for as many reps as possible. It won’t be as much as you might get in the first set. But keep repeating this process until you have completed a total of 20 repetitions. If done correctly, it will probably take you around 4-5 mini-sets to get a total of 20 reps. And it will look something like this:

What your set of rest breaks may look like in your bicep workout with dumbbells

Once you have reached 20 repetitions, rest for 60 seconds. Then you are ready for Method 2 of your bicep workout with only dumbbells.

Method 2 is what is called compound sets. This method takes 2 types of bicep exercises which can be performed back to back without rest.

Performing a compound set helps you target both bicep heads AND saves you time

This is possible because the biceps is made up of 2 heads:

These 2 heads have slightly different functions. During bicep curls where your arm is held in front of the body, the short head is more active. And the long head, in turn, is less active. While the reverse is true for exercises where your arm is held behind the body.

We can take advantage of this fact to save time. How? ‘Or’ What? By performing a set consisting of 2 biceps exercises performed back to back without rest. The first exercise will position the arms in front of the body. This means that he will place most of the stress on the short head. Then, once you are unable to do any more repetitions, we will immediately move on to the next exercise. This exercise will place your arms behind the body to involve the long head more as it has not been completely tired from the first exercise.

OK. Just a very quick note before starting the compound set. Hope you now see the importance of applying science to your workouts if you want to maximize your results. And get the most out of the effort and time you put into it.

That’s exactly why, within our Built With Science programs, we’ve searched hundreds of research articles and collaborated with experts to create a step-by-step program that uses science to maximize your results. Our system has transformed the lives of thousands of people around the world. To get started, just take the free one-minute quiz below; it will guide you to the best plan for you and your specific body:

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Implement a compound set during your bicep workout with dumbbells

Okay, now let’s move on to growing those biceps. Here is how you will perform this compound set:

  • Start by setting an adjustable bench up to 30 degrees (usually the third or fourth notch of the bench).
  • Choose a weight that you can usually do 10 to 12 reps with in a normal bicep curl.
  • Holding the dumbbells in your hands, lie down with your stomach on the bench. Your arms should hang down in front of you.
  • Lock your elbows in this position, then lift the weight up. Fight the urge to let your elbows come back to your body as you do this. Keep your upper arm perpendicular to the floor.
Resist the urge to let your elbows come back to your body as you lift the weight
  • Do as many reps as possible with good form. Ideally, between 8 and 12 repetitions.

Then, immediately after:

  • Keep the exact pair of dumbbells – but roll over onto the bench and with your arms now behind your body.
  • Lock your elbows in place. Then curl the weight back. In this case, you will be tempted to let your elbow move closer to the body. Combat this by keeping your upper arm perpendicular to the ground.
Avoid letting your elbows come close to the body as you perform the curls
  • Again, you’re going to empty the tank onto this one doing as many reps as possible. But, of course, while keeping good shape.

After that, you will have completed a compound set. Take 60 seconds to rest. And then repeat this 2 more times. After your last set, rest for 60 seconds. Then move on to the final exercise.

For the last exercise in your bicep workout with dumbbells, we’re going to be using drop sets. This is where you do a bunch of restless sets – but drop the weight after each set.

A 2017 study illustrates its effectiveness. Here, the researchers asked participants to perform loops in 2 different ways:

  • Group 1 (Traditional method): 3 sets, with 90 seconds of rest between each set.
  • Group 2 (Drop sets): Performed an initial set where they tried to do as many reps as possible until they failed. Then I dropped the weight by about 5 lbs, performed another set until it failed. And continued without rest until they completed 5 sets in total.

The results? The researchers found that the two groups experienced similar gains in size and strength. But the drop set group completed each training session in less than a third of the time.

Cultivating the brachialis helps create the illusion of bigger biceps

As for the specific exercise that we will be applying sets of drops to? We want to use an exercise that will target an arm muscle called the brachialis – which hasn’t been stressed with our previous exercises yet. This muscle actually goes under your biceps. But once developed, it can help push your biceps out. And that creates the illusion of a bigger bicep.

Your brachialis can be targeted using loops where the hand is in a neutral position. An example would be with the hammer curl, where you hold the dumbbells as if they were hammers.

To implement this into your biceps workout with dumbbells:

  • Start by finding a weight that you can initially do between 15 and 20 reps.
  • Using this weight, perform a series of hammer curls until failure with good form. This means you need to keep your elbow locked in place with minimal swaying.
Avoid using excessive swing on hammer curls
  • Once you can no longer do any more reps, immediately move on to the next lowest set of dumbbells and complete another set until failure.
  • Repeat this until you have completed 5 sets in total.

And you’re done! You can see how much more effective your workouts can be if you apply the right science.

To apply this science to all of your workouts (not just your biceps), take our quiz below to find the best program for you and your body:

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Oh, and for how to develop other muscles like your chest or shoulders, you can check out these 2 previous articles I wrote:


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