7 Best Brachialis Exercises to Add to Your Workout

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: January 30, 2024
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Doing lots of biceps curls just won’t cut it if you want bigger and stronger arms.

There’s actually a forgotten yet more important muscle that you should target to get crushingly powerful arms: the brachialis.

If you want biceps that pop, read on to find out the best exercises you should add to your training

Quick Summary

  • The best brachialis workouts include dumbbell hammer curls, cable hammer curls, resistance band Zottman curls, reverse grip barbell curls, and reverse dumbbell Zottman curls.
  • The brachialis workouts are meant for the upper arm between your triceps, and biceps.
  • According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the brachialis, generates about 50% more power than the bicep.
  • In my opinion, incorporating brachialis workouts into your routine can lead to larger, stronger arms, improved athletic performance in sports requiring elbow joint strength, and an enhanced aesthetic appearance of well-defined upper arms.
arm muscle diagram

Before we dive into the best brachialis exercises, I thought it'd be helpful to first understand what this muscle is.

What Is The Brachialis?

The brachialis is a primary muscle in your upper arm that lies between your biceps and triceps.

According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the brachialis, the little muscle underneath it, actually generates about 50% more power than the bicep and is mainly responsible for elbow flexion [1].

Best Brachialis Exercises

Luckily, brachialis exercises aren’t that difficult to pull off; all my clients find them easy. These beginner-friendly moves are easy to learn and can help you get stronger arms in no time.

1. Dumbbell Hammer Curls

Hammer Curl

The effectiveness of this hammer curl has to do, in part, with your hand position.

Since this hammer curl workout will have your palms facing inward, you’ll be able to work the brachialis directly rather than sharing the weight with your biceps.

Here's how you do this exercise with good form:

  1. Stand with your body straight.
  2. Grab a pair of dumbbells in each hand with your palms facing each other.
  3. Engage your core and flex your elbows to bring the dumbbells up toward your shoulders, keeping your wrists straight.
  4. Squeeze your arm muscles at the top of the movement for a full second, then slowly lower the weight down to the starting position.

2. Cable Hammer Curls

Cable Hammer Curls

The cable hammer curls place extra tension on the brachialis, making it a great addition to your arm workout.

From my own workouts, I can confirm that cable hammer curls add that extra tension to your brachialis.

Here's how you do this exercise with good form:

  1. Hook a rope attachment to a cable machine.
  2. Grab one end of the rope attachment in each hand.
  3. Extend your arms and hold them out in front of you with your palms facing inward.
  4. Flex your elbows and pull the rope attachment toward your chest, keeping your wrists straight.
  5. Squeeze your arms at the top of the movement, then slowly lower the rope attachment back to the starting position.

Also Read: Hammer Curl Variations

3. Resistance Band Zottman Curls

Resistance Band Zottman Curls

This exercise increases the stress in your brachialis as you curl your arms.

Here's how you do this exercise with good form:

  1. Stand on the resistance band with your body upright.
  2. Grip the band just below the handles with your palms facing up.
  3. Contract your biceps and curl your hands up to shoulder height.
  4. Squeeze your biceps at the top and twist your hands so that your palms face downward.
  5. Slowly lower your hands to the starting position and turn them again so that your palms are facing forward.

Related: Best Bicep Exercises With Resistance Bands

“You need to select a manageable weight that you can lift and control with perfect form to create and keep tension on the muscles. That gets the blood flowing for the most insane pump possible.”

- John Meadows, Bodybuilder

4. Reverse Grip Barbell Curls

Reverse Grip Curl

You can either use a straight barbell or an EZ bar for this exercise. You can minimize wrist strain using the latter, but it will still do an excellent job of activating your brachialis muscle.

Here's how you do this exercise with good form:

  1. Stand straight and grab the barbell with your hands roughly shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold it with your hands facing down.
  3. Curl the bar up towards your chest.
  4. Squeeze your biceps at the top and slowly lower the bar down.

5. Dumbbell Incline Curls

Reverse Grip dumbbell Curls

Dumbbell incline curls are a great isolation exercise for training the brachialis muscle. The incline position ensures that you can’t take advantage of momentum to lift the weight.

I've personally found that dumbbell incline curls are an excellent isolation exercise to target the brachialis muscle effectively.

Here's how you do this exercise with good form:

  1. Adjust your incline bench to about a 30 to 40-degree angle.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing up.
  3. Face the bench so that your chest is pressed against it.
  4. Keep your feet flat on the floor, and make sure your shoulders and the head of the bench are at the same level.
  5. Flex your elbows and curl the dumbbells upward.
  6. Squeeze your arms at the top and slowly bring them back down.

6. One-Arm Kettlebell Reverse Curls

One-Arm Kettlebell Reverse Curls

This brachialis exercise is one good way to target each arm independently.

Here's how you do this exercise with good form:

  1. Stand with your torso straight.
  2. Grab a kettlebell with one hand with your palm facing down.
  3. Curl the kettlebell upwards.
  4. Squeeze your bicep hard at the top and slowly bring your arm back down.

7. Reverse Dumbbell Zottman Curls

Reverse Dumbbell Zottman Curls

The Reverse Dumbbell Zottman Curl hits three areas, i.e., your brachialis, biceps, and forearm muscles.

Here's how you do this exercise with good form:

  1. Stand with your feet roughly hip-width apart and your body upright.
  2. Grab a pair of dumbbells with your palms facing up.
  3. Curl the dumbbells up toward your shoulders.
  4. Squeeze your biceps, then rotate your wrist so that your palms face down.
  5. Lower the weights back down to the starting position and twist your hands so that your palms are facing upwards again.

The Benefits of Brachialis Exercises


If you’ve been relying on standard biceps exercises to get those chiseled upper arms, it’s time to shift your focus on your brachialis muscles.

Based on my experience, here’s why you should add brachialis workouts to your arm training:

  • Gigantic and stronger arms: Working your brachialis regularly will help you grow your guns and increase your upper arm strength.
    The more developed this muscle is, the more it expands, pushing up your biceps and making them appear larger.
  • Enhanced athletic performance: Brachialis exercises can help you perform better in a variety of sports where a powerful bending in the elbow joint is needed, e.g.rowing, lifting weights, doing gymnastics, and wrestling.
  • Improved aesthetics: While having perfectly sculpted and bulging upper arms is not the end all be all of fitness, it certainly won’t hurt to have them, right? And if you’re the type who likes the attention, having a bicep that looks like Popeye’s is one surefire way to get it.

Also, consider exploring popular post-workout recovery supplements that can complement your routine for optimal post-workout recovery.

Maximizing Brachialis Engagement in Compound Exercises

While isolation exercises are crucial for targeting the brachialis muscle, incorporating compound movements into your workout can significantly enhance overall arm strength and development. Here's how you can activate and strengthen your brachialis during compound exercises:

1. Pull-Ups and Chin-Ups: A Dual Benefit

Pull-ups and chin-ups are not just for your back and biceps; they also heavily engage the brachialis. When performing these exercises, focus on a full range of motion to maximize brachialis activation. As you pull yourself up, the brachialis works in conjunction with the biceps to flex the elbow, receiving a robust workout.

2. Rowing Variations: Targeting the Brachialis

Exercises like bent-over rows, seated cable rows, and T-bar rows also involve the brachialis. To engage the brachialis more, use a neutral grip (palms facing each other) which naturally shifts more load onto this muscle. Ensure a controlled movement, especially during the pulling phase, to effectively work the brachialis.

3. Deadlifts: An Indirect But Effective Approach

Although primarily a lower body and back exercise, deadlifts also engage the brachialis. The act of gripping and lifting the barbell requires significant forearm strength, indirectly working the brachialis. Focus on maintaining a firm grip and a controlled lift to benefit your brachialis.

4. Enhancing Grip Strength for Brachialis Activation

Improving your grip strength can indirectly benefit your brachialis development. Stronger grip strength allows you to handle heavier weights in compound exercises, thereby increasing the workload on your brachialis. Incorporate grip-strengthening exercises like farmer’s walks or use grip trainers to enhance your grip.

5. Mind-Muscle Connection: Key to Effective Training

While performing compound exercises, consciously focus on engaging your brachialis. According to a study from the European Journal of Applied Physiology, mind-muscle connection is crucial for muscle development [2].

Visualize your brachialis working in tandem with other muscles during each movement to enhance engagement.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551630
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00421-015-3305-7
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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
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Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
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Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
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