split-stanceChange to grow

To really boost your arm size you need to mix up your workout

For decades, the dumb-bell curl has helped build bigger biceps, but it’s also stripped us of our imagination. How often do you try a new variation of this classic exercise? If it’s not every four weeks, your arms aren’t working hard enough. So MH asked Brendan Chaplin, coach to the Caged Steel MMA Fight-Team, to explain the benefits of a varied approach. Mix and match any of these positions to create 25 different versions of the curl. The upshot: you’ll never run out of ways to build your biceps. If you’ve got dumb-bells at home, slot in a couple of light sets on your rest days from the Big Arms Workout to keep Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) from your door.


1 To do these variations you need to master the original. Stand holding a dumb-bell in each hand with your arms hanging by your sides. “Just holding the weights here turns on the muscles in your forearms,” says strength coach Brendan Chaplin.

2 Without moving your upper arms, curl the dumb-bells to your shoulders. “Hold and squeeze to give your biceps a bigger peak when you flex them,”says Chaplin. Perfect this technique for impressive arms, then up your game, and arm size, even further with our 25 variations.

Grease Your Palms

STANDARD standard
With your palms facing forward, grip the handles in the middle.

BENEFIT - “This is the hand position for the classic dumb-bell curl, which targets your biceps brachii, the largest muscle on the front of your upper arm.”

THUMB OFFSET thumb-offset
With your palms facing forward, touch the outside head of your dumb-bells with your thumbs.

BENEFIT - “You’re forcing the biceps brachii to work much harder to keep your forearm rotated outward.”

LITTLE FINGER OFFSET little-finger-offset
With your palms facing forward, touch the inside head of the dumb-bells with your little finger.

BENEFIT - “This tweak shifts the way the weight is distributed, providing more variety to keep your muscles growing.”

REVERSE reverse
Turn your arms so that your palms are facing backwards.

BENEFIT - “This position targets your brachioradialis, the most frequently used muscle in your forearm, but decreases activity in your biceps brachii.”

HAMMER hammer
Keep your palms facing each other.

BENEFIT - “You’re forcing your brachialis, the bulge in your bicep, to work harder. Building this muscle will make your arms look wider.”

Choose your body position

Stand tall with your feet slightly closer than shoulder-width apart.

BENEFIT - More muscle everywhere. “Anytime you’re standing engage more core muscles than when you sit.”

Stand tall and place one foot in front of you on a bench that’s just higher than knee level.

BENEFIT - Stronger abs. “This stance forces your hip and core muscles to work harder in order to keep your body stable.”

Sit tall on a bench or a Swiss ball.

BENEFIT - Stronger biceps. “Performing the exercise while seated will make you less likely to rock back and forth (ie cheat) as you curl the weight.”

Lie face down on a bench set to 45 degrees.

BENEFIT - Thicker arms. “Lying on a decline causes your arms to hang in front of your body, a position that challenge your brachialis more.”decline

Lie on your back on a bench set to 45 degrees.

BENEFIT - Bigger and longer biceps. “Lying on an incline causes your arms to hang behind your body, which emphasises the long head of your biceps brachii to a greater degree.”