Defined biceps for women require more than a few dumbbell curls. Hit your biceps hard with this isolation workout and you will even impress the male lifters at the gym. Perform the four exercises back to back, resting as needed. The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends various weight targets depending on your goals. For hypertrophy, lift 67 to 85 percent of one-repetition max -- the maximum amount of weight you can lift once -- six to 12 repetitions per set. For strength and power, lift 75 to 90 percent of one-repetition max, three to five repetitions per set. For endurance, lift less than 67 percent of one-repetition max, 12 or more repetitions per set.
Stand tall holding a barbell with a shoulder-width grip, elbows about an inch away from your sides. Engaging your core, flex your elbows and curl the weight toward your chest, keeping your elbows and upper body in a fixed position. Focus on squeezing the biceps as you pause briefly at the top of the curl. Slowly lower the weight back to starting position, resisting gravity so you don't push the barbell down quickly. Avoid using momentum from swinging or swaying your body to lift the weight. Instead, stand tall with your back against a wall to keep the exercise focused on biceps. If you want a challenge, complete 10 repetitions then hold the weight at the midpoint of the curl, elbows flexed at 90 degrees, for 15 to 30 seconds.
Incline Dumbbell Curls
Set the barbell aside, grab a set of dumbbells and lie back on an incline bench. With your arms extended and your palms facing each other, curl one or both arms toward your chest as you rotate your wrists so your thumb is on the outside. Rotating your wrists engages both actions of the biceps: flex elbow and supinate forearm. Focus on squeezing the biceps as you pause briefly at the top of the curl. Slowly lower the weight back to starting position. Again, do not use momentum in the lift. The incline curl allows for a better stretch of the biceps at full extension of the elbows.
Move to the end of the bench with your legs spread and feet flat on the floor. Starting with your right arm, reach down and place the back of your upper arm on your inner right thigh. Place your left hand on the top of your left thigh for support. Keeping the rest of your body fixed, move your forearm toward your chest, lifting the dumbbell to shoulder height. Squeeze and hold for two to three seconds before slowly lowering back to start. To maximize the contractions of the biceps muscle, again rotate your wrist so your thumb is on the outside. Switch and complete on your left side.
Underhand Chin-up or Supine Row
Finish with either underhand chin-ups or supine rows. For the underhand chin-up, grasp the chin-up bar with an underhand grip, or palms facing your body, at shoulder width. Pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar and your elbows are at your sides. Lower so your elbows are fully extended and repeat. If you cannot complete a chin-up, do the underhand supine row. Using a fixed bar on a squat rack, lie on your back under the bar and grasp the bar at shoulder width with an underhand grip. Engage your core, keeping your body straight, and pull yourself up to the bar. Slowly lower back to start until your elbows are fully extended. The closer the bar is to the ground, the more difficult the row will be.
- "Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning"; Thoms R. Baechle and Roger W. Earle, eds.; 2008
- Upper Arm Exercises; Exercise Prescription on the Net
- Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.