8 CrossFit Bicep Workouts (Increase Arm Strength & Size)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: April 1, 2024
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Drawing from my background in sport and exercise science, I've spent many years applying scientific principles to help clients and readers enhance their arm strength through diverse workouts.

CrossFit bicep workouts are the greatest as they improve and strengthen your upper body.

Each arm workout is meant to put your arm strength to the test, uncover your weaknesses, and allow you to overcome them while pushing yourself to the limit.

In this article, I will provide the best CrossFit exercises you can perform to develop your biceps and the benefits of training them.

Quick Summary

  • CrossFit biceps workouts include effective exercises like ring curls, barbell curls, and push-ups.
  • Ring curls and barbell curls stand as indispensable exercises, capitalizing on the distinctive advantages associated with the biceps short head, particularly its role in forearm rotation and elbow flexion.
  • A study in the International Journal of Shoulder Surgery emphasizes the role of the biceps short head in forearm rotation and elbow flexion.
  • Incorporating these specific CrossFit exercises and effective pre-workout supplements made for CrossFit not only boosts physical strength but also contributes significantly to overall upper body resilience and functionality.

Best CrossFit Bicep Workouts

Performing CrossFit Bicep workout

The biceps, known as brachii, consist of two parts: the short and long heads [1].

These muscles, crucial for flexing and rotating the elbow and wrist, are connected to the shoulder and elbow.

The biceps short head, attached to the scapula, aids in forearm rotation and elbow flexion, contributing to the biceps peak, according to the International Journal of Shoulder Surgery journal [2].

According to the Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research journal, the biceps long head on the upper arm's exterior also helps in bending the elbow and twisting the forearm, enhancing arm thickness when trained [3].

Here are exercises to enhance its size:

1. Ring Curl

In my experience, incorporating ring curls adds a dynamic element to arm workouts, challenging the upper body in unique ways that I've found effective both in theory and practice.

This action resembles the synchronization of ring dips and muscle-ups, in which your midline is held constant while your upper body completes the movement with a pull.

This excellent biceps-specific exercise can also transfer skills to higher-level activities.

How to perform: 

  1. Grasp a pair of rings with a supinated grip (palms facing up). Ensure the rings are about a firearm's distance apart.
  2. Move away from the setup, leaning back with your legs flat on the floor. You may make the loading more challenging by walking closer to the rig or by stepping further away.
  3. After finding a comfortable distance, stabilize your midline by clenching your glutes and compressing your abs.
  4. Curl both hands towards your shoulders, keeping your elbows stationary until your elbows have surpassed a 90-degree angle.
  5. At this point, squeeze your biceps.
  6. Controllably lower yourself back to the starting position.
  7. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

2. Barbell Curl

Doing curls using a barbell

From my practical experience, I've found the traditional barbell curl to be a cornerstone in developing bicep strength, essential for both beginners and advanced athletes.

Keeping a firm hold on the barbell can help condition your elbows for higher-impact moves such as snatches and jerks, in which you will receive a heavy weight overhead with your arms extended.

How to perform:

  1. With an underhand grip, grab a V-bar  or Olympic bar about shoulder width apart (palms facing up).
  2. Stand tall with your feet together (you may find it more relaxing to put one foot back for support), your back in a straight line, and your arms fully extended.
  3. The bar shouldn't come into contact with your body.
  4. Keeping your eyes ahead, slowly curl the bar, elbows tucked down at your sides, and your body motionless.
  5. Squeeze your biceps firmly at the top of the action, then gradually drop them down to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

3. Push-ups

Although conventional push-ups don't stimulate the biceps muscle, adjusting your hand posture when performing the push-ups can make this muscle more significant in the movement.

The best way to target your biceps is to do inside push-ups with reversed hands.

"Moving your hands down your chest and inverting their position will result in a greater arm-curling action, which is critical for biceps targeting."

- Daniel Bubnis, NASM Certified Personal Trainer

How to perform:

  1. Begin in a regular push-up position.
  2. Turn your hands so that the fingers face the wall behind you.
  3. Adjust your hands so that they are parallel to your midback.
  4. Descend, tucking the elbows as close to your body as possible.
  5. When your chest nears the floor, push upwards to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

4. EZ-Bar Preacher Curl

Doing Preacher curls using EZ bar

Based on my experience and scientific understanding, EZ-bar preacher curls are excellent for targeting biceps and improving arm power, thanks to the ergonomic design of the curved bar.

The primary goal of this curved bar is to relieve wrist stress, allowing you to concentrate on your biceps.

How to perform:

  1. Grasp the EZ curl bar with a firm grip.
  2. Stand upright, shoulders neutral, and in a comfortable position.
  3. Squeeze your biceps briefly to curl the EZ barbell to your chest.
  4. Drop the bar in a smooth motion while keeping your elbows bent. The pressure should be felt on your elbows.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

5. Resistance Bands Hammer Curl

Rotating in resistance band mobility training is an excellent method to offer your joints a rest from free weights while accelerating recovery, which is especially important for CrossFitters.

If you've done a bunch of pressing movements during the week, resistance band hammer curls are an excellent technique to repair some of the damage inflicted on the pressing muscles.

By flooding the antagonist muscles with fresh blood supply, you will reduce joint tension and prepare your body for another week of upper-body presses.

How to perform: 

  1. Hold the resistance band in each hand, palms facing each other, and loop it beneath your feet.
  2. Bending your elbows, curl the band toward your shoulders without raising your upper arms. Your palms should always be facing each other.
  3. Pause, then return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for reps.

6. Chin-ups

Performing chin ups in the gym

There is a lot of dynamic kipping in CrossFit. This allows you to do more reps quickly, but it might be hard on your shoulders.

Pulling exercises are excellent for maintaining arm and shoulder health, mobility, and strength.

Chin-ups focus on shoulder mobility, pulling strength, and biceps growth all at the same time.

This functional activity will still provide better full-body development than a focused isolation action.

How to perform: 

  1. Hang with a supinated grip on a quality pull-up bar (palms up).
  2. With your arms wholly extended overhead, place your hands slightly outside shoulder width apart.
  3. Maintain a firm, hollow position in your midline throughout the exercise.
  4. Tuck the pelvis under and squeeze your glutes to do this.
  5. To complete each rep, raise your chin over the bar and drop yourself to a completely hanging, extended position.
  6. Initiate every pull from the core to the extremities, first with the lats, then the shoulders, and ultimately your arms.

7. Dumbbell Hammer Curl

CrossFit requires a firm grip since it aids in all gymnastics pulling and hanging movements.

You'll also need a firm grip for moves using barbells, kettlebells, and dumbbells. The hammer curl strengthens your forearms and biceps, making it an effective grip improver.

"A hammer curl is mainly about developing the thickness and general growth and strength of the forearm and arm, which will help with larger complex exercises with a more pronated grip, like wide grip pull-downs or pull-ups."

- Ray Buckton, Gymbox Personal Trainer

How to perform:

  1. Begin by holding a pair of dumbbells and standing upright with them by your sides.
  2. You should use a neutral grip, with your hands facing your body.
  3. Bend your hands slightly to increase biceps tension.
  4. Slowly curl the dumbbells as much as possible while keeping your torso stable and your elbows at your sides.
  5. At the apex of the action, squeeze the biceps and then slowly drop the load to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Related: Dumbbell Crossfit Workout Routines To Transform Your Physique

8. Cable Concentration Curl

Using a cable rope for a concentration curl

The cable concentration curl is a strengthening workout that focuses on your biceps.

This isolated workout concentrates entirely on the biceps and aids muscle mass development.

Keeping proper posture during the exercise is essential for good results.

How to perform:

  1. Position a flat bench in front of a low-pull cable machine.
  2. Connect the straight bar to the low pulley cable. On the stack, choose the required weight.
  3. Sit on the bench with both feet shoulder-width apart.
  4. Using an underhand grip, grasp the bar with the palms facing up.
  5. Place your elbows on the inside of your knees. Push out with the elbows and in with the knees while keeping your elbows in place. This will keep them locked during the activity.
  6. Remove the slack from the cable to create tension in your biceps. This is your starting point.
  7. Slowly curl the bar up until your hand is near your head.
  8. Pause here, squeeze your biceps, and return to the starting position.
  9. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Biceps Training Tips

Man showing both biceps

Including bicep aid exercises in your CrossFit workouts may be a fun and practical approach to correcting muscle imbalances and bringing trailing body parts up to speed.

To get started, consider the four tips below.

1. Increase Volume Via Progression

A 3-week progression of a particular superset is an excellent strategy for aid training.

For instance, if you couple barbell curls with dumbbell hammer curls, you may utilize the following progression:

  • Week 1: 3 sets x 8 reps
  • Week 2: 3 sets x 10 reps
  • Week 3: 3 sets x 12 reps

This development would be carried out with the same weight for all 3 weeks while elevating the total amount of work from 24 to 36 repetitions.

After three weeks, you would restart the progression with different motions.

Another illustration might be:

  • Week 1: 3 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Week 2: 4 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Week 3: 5 sets x 10-12 reps

You'd also use the same load for all three weeks for this method of progression.

This time, you'll raise the overall volume from 30 to 36 repetitions to 50 to 60 reps.

This example requires more time for exercising and recovery, so try both and see which works better for you.

2. Utilize Supersets

Holding a dumbbell to perform bicep supersets

After a training session, you may achieve a lot in only five to ten minutes.

Combining two biceps exercises back-to-back will enable you to rest one bicep muscle while working the other.

This type of superset training increases muscular endurance while saving time with your exercise.

If you're going to do superset exercises, do the first and then the next without any rest in between. After completing the entire set of both motions, take a little break and repeat.

3. Keep It Simple

There's no such thing as a perfect formula or a one-size-fits-all solution to programming.

While putting together your aid workouts, remember that they are supposed to supplement your training, not replace it.

Suitable exercise will improve power and muscle in trailing body regions that may impede your functional movement performance.

4. Prime Your Biceps

Before diving into these biceps exercises, make sure to prepare this muscle with a warm-up and stretches. By focusing on biceps health and resilience, you will stay injury-free while pushing your limits.

Benefits of Training Your Biceps

Training biceps inside gym

Through my studies in performance psychology, I understand that training for round, peaked biceps goes beyond aesthetics, offering psychological benefits such as improved self-image and motivation.

1. Support Compound Lifts

Strong biceps are vital for building a robust back, as they provide the necessary power for rowing actions.

Without sufficient bicep strength, your back's development could hit a ceiling.

Plus, balanced bicep and tricep strength is key to preventing injuries, especially in exercises like close-grip bench presses.

2. Physique Conditioning

Beyond aesthetics, bicep training plays a significant role in achieving broader physique goals and supports heavier lifts.

3. Functional Fitness

A man showing his biceps

More than just for show, sturdy biceps assist in everyday tasks, from lifting kids to hauling groceries.

Strengthening your biceps also fortifies your wrists and forearms, which are crucial for maintaining grip in functional exercises like the farmer's carry.

Similar Article: Crossfit Diane Workout Plan

FAQs

How Do CrossFitters Train Biceps?

CrossFitters train their biceps by performing workouts such as chin-ups, hammer curls, EZ preacher curls, and incline dumbbell curls targeting the muscles.

Is CrossFit Good for Your Biceps?

Yes, CrossFit is suitable for your biceps. Functional arm workouts may help you gain muscle, test and develop your biceps, grip strength, triceps, and forearm, and strengthen your shoulders in preparation for CrossFit.

What Exercise Builds Biceps the Fastest?

The exercises that build the biceps the fastest are the barbell, preacher, concentration, and zottman curls. They target all the biceps muscles for overall development.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519538/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2878700/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2743659/
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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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Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
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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