We all see those dumbbells at the gym. You know the type. The kind that shows up, sits on a bench, and immediately starts curling as aggressively as they can - those kinds of dumbbells.
Without stretching, you’re kneecapping your workout and putting yourself at risk of injury. You should know how to stretch safely and with intention.
I’ve been working with clients for twenty years and can recognize people who stretch properly and those that don’t. Your overall power and mobility, joints, and muscles are only improved by taking the time to stretch and get a proper warm-up and cool down.
Here’s the best way to give both arms a great bicep stretch.
Summary of the Key Findings
- There are several bicep stretch exercises you can do.
- These exercises have a range of benefits, such as alleviating muscle soreness, improving overall mobility, and more.
- Most bicep stretch exercises have two to three steps you should follow.
- You don’t need special equipment to do the bicep stretch. You can use several things in your surroundings.
Do A Pre-Stretch On Your Biceps Before Any Upper Body Workout
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:
- Arms out at your sides with palms facing down, like a T.
- Start moving by quickly flinging your arms open and closed, alternating arm swings on each rep.
- A slight bend in your knees can help warm up your lower back, too.
It’ll loosen up your shoulders for the rest of these stretches. You'll feel a stretch in your shoulder joints, elbows and a subtle stretch in your 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.
- Sit down on the floor with your knees bent, and keep your feet flat on the ground.
- Put your arms behind you, fingers facing away or to the side if it’s more comfortable.
- 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
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 this 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
Another great option for a dual biceps stretch at the same time:
- 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.
- 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
Your body weight is an excellent counterbalance for shoulder stretch 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, narrow grip, 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 hold on the bar firmly. 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.
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 . 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.
Takeaways For Your Next Bicep Stretch
Now that you know all the ways to get a good bicep stretch, you can get the most of your next workout and develop healthy habits.
We now also know how to listen to our bodies and push ourselves without risking injury or strain.
It’s important to check in with all your muscles as you work out, not just your biceps. Stretching between sets will help you reduce muscle strain and soreness, too.
And you can further decrease the risk of injury and soreness by drinking lots of water. Your biceps will thank you.