3 Best Ways to Stretch Your Biceps (Step by Step Guide)

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: March 12, 2024
FACT CHECKED by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Our content is meticulously researched and reviewed by an expert team of fact checkers and medical professionals. They ensure accuracy, relevance, and timeliness using the latest reputable sources, which are cited within the text and listed at the end of the article. Before publication and upon significant updates, we confirm factual accuracy, committed to providing readers with well-informed content. Learn more.

We all see those dumbbells at the gym. You know the type. The kind that shows up sits on a bench and starts curling as aggressively as they can - those dumbbells.

Stretching is crucial to prevent injuries and enhance workouts. Learn to stretch your biceps safely.

Proper stretching significantly improves power, mobility, and joint and muscle health.

Here’s the best way to give both arms a great bicep stretch.

Quick Summary

  • Bend over position, seated bicep stretch with knees bent, and standing bicep stretch are some ways to stretch your biceps.
  • To enhance workouts and prevent injuries, learning safe and intentional bicep stretching techniques is crucial.
  • As fitness experts emphasize, stretching your biceps properly can enhance your overall workout effectiveness and reduce the risk of injury.
  • In my experience, incorporating a variety of bicep stretches, such as the Phelps stretch, seated biceps stretch, and standing biceps stretch, can significantly enhance upper body flexibility and reduce the risk of muscle strain.

Do A Pre-Stretch On Your Biceps Before Any Upper Body Workout

man in a Phelps stretch position

The benefits of stretching cannot be overstated, as confirmed by the study published on the National Library of Medicine website [1]. Michael Phelps popularized the name for the “Phelps stretch,” but you might know it better as a “fast hug” or “swimmer’s stretch.” It's a great way to get your biceps and lots more moving.

It works from a standing or bent-over position:

  1. Arms out at your sides with palms facing down, like a T.
  2. Start moving by quickly flinging your arms open and closed, alternating arm swings on each rep.
  3. A slight bend in your knees can help warm up your lower back, too.

From my personal experience, this method effectively loosens the shoulders for further stretches, providing a noticeable stretch in the shoulder joints, elbows, and biceps.

Try A Seated Biceps Stretch, Knees Bent And Feet Flat

Remember in elementary school when you did the “crab walk”? This stretch works a lot like that.

  1. Sit down on the floor with your knees bent, and keep your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Put your arms behind you, fingers facing away, or to the side if it’s more comfortable.
  3. Scoot your butt forward and back, so your hips move closer to your feet, body weight forward, outstretching your arms behind you.

You should feel the stretch in your shoulders, biceps, and wrists. As you slowly slide back and forth, try to keep each elbow straight.

Related: What Are The Best Triceps Stretches?

Relieve Muscle Tightness In A Standing Biceps Stretch

standing bicep stretch

This standing bicep stretch will be good for your biceps brachii, shoulders, and chest.

  • With your fingers interlaced, place clasp hands behind your back. They should rest on your lower back. Palms face each other.
  • Straighten your arms and “push” back, like you’re pushing against a wall, lifting as high as you can.
  • For a bonus, hold this position for thirty seconds to a minute.

In a doorway, you can take a literal step forward by leaning forward or taking a small step into the doorway.

Such placement is easy to overdo, so keep your palms flat and stretch the biceps, triceps, shoulders, and wrists gently.

Repeat for the other arm about a minute per side.

You should feel a stretch as you slowly turn.

A Wall Biceps Stretch From A Wall Or Doorway

Wall Biceps Stretch

Another great option for a dual biceps stretch at the same time:

  1. Walk over to a doorway, pole, tree, wall, or any vertical flat surface or sturdy object and place your palms facing forward, about shoulder height.
  2. From a standing position, arms still out at shoulder height, rotate and slowly turn your body away from the wall, keeping your arms straight.

This “standing doorway stretch” is probably among the deepest you can do on your upper body because there’s little strength required.

That almost makes it among the most likely to cause an injury if you pull or twist too far. Many beginners think they should rotate almost fully 45 or 180 degrees.

Everybody is different, and you should rotate only as far as feels comfortable.

Overhead Or Hanging Bar Stretches

Hanging Bar Stretch

Your body weight is an excellent counterbalance for shoulder and bicep stretches.

  • Hang from a pull-up bar or tree branch with your arms overhead
  • Hang for as long as possible, or about 20 seconds minimum
  • Repeat this hold by changing your hand’s starting position. Start with your hands shoulder-width apart, then try a wide grip, a narrow grip, an alternating grip with one arm rotated in and one out, and vice versa.

This is also a great way to improve wrist and grip strength. Just be sure you have a firm hold on the bar. A little chalk can help improve your grip if you start to slip.

You can make this into some dynamic stretching for pull-ups by pulling a quarter or halfway up. Do some arm rotations up there, too, by changing the position of your elbows.

Related Articles:

Bicep Stretches FAQs

Is It Possible to Stretch Too Much or Too Aggressively?

Yes, it is possible to stretch too aggressively. Horizontal arm extensions, for instance, can increase muscle soreness on your shoulder joint and elbows if you do them too far.

Remember to maintain a gentle pulling sensation in any arm rotation and slowly bend in and out of them.

Should I Do a Bicep Stretch after a Workout, Too?

Absolutely. Doing dynamic stretches at the end of a workout is a great way to add a little spicy bonus to the end of a bicep-focused set.

You can use bands or static holds like planks or side planks to ratchet down the intensity, keep good blood flow, and get a great stretch.

We should all adopt healthy habits like after-workout cool-down stretches.

I Have an Injury; Should I Be Stretching My Biceps More, Less, or Not at All?

Ask your doctor, certified personal trainer, or physical therapist for the best range of motion for you. But any professional medical advice is likely to include stretching to prevent injury or re-injury and maintain healthy muscles.

You can also stretch one arm if the other is immobile, like in a sling. Just be sure not to overdo it and make sure your doctor or proper medical advisor agrees.

How Much Time Should I Be Spending on Each Bicep Stretch?

Hold the stretch for about a minute, and your muscles will thank you. It takes at least a minute for your muscles to catch up to what’s happening. I often recommend people shoot for 2-3 minutes in some bodyweight or static holds where possible. Static holds on your biceps get real hot, real quick.

For the extra-inflexible among us, stretching for as much as ten minutes before a workout might be worth doing, not just for your biceps but legs and core, too.

Stretching shouldn’t be considered “the warm-up,” either [1]. Treat your muscles like you treat your mind first thing in the morning.

For most of us, that’s a process that involves slowly amping up the activity before we’re fully ready to go.

Don't forget: stretching helps you build more muscle effectively, and more muscle helps people lose weight and keep it off because of increased calorie burn.

Are Bicep Stretches Only for Bicep-Heavy Workouts?

No, dumbbell curls and flys are common exercises that people really “feel the pump” on, but pushups, burpees, plank holds with your arms straight, and lots more exercises work your bicep muscles in various ways.

I usually do some kind of shoulder, bicep stretch, wall stretch, and tricep stretch, plus a warm-up no matter what my workout entails. Often I just like to feel the stretch in my upper arm.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3273886/
Was this article helpful?
YesNo

About The Author

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
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.
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.
Learn more about our editorial policy

You May Also Like

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our scoring system is the result of objective testing data and subjective expert analysis by a team of fitness coaches and medical experts. Our scoring factors are weighted based on importance. For more information, see our product review guidelines.