Nope, it's not the curl. Here it is, plus a gym-friendly alternative.
The Best Biceps Exercise You Can Do
When asked about the best biceps exercise, my answer is always the same: the rope climb. You only need to visit Muscle Beach in Santa Monica – a place where there are enough ropes to excite a family of gymnasts – and observe the biceps development of guys who climb them on a consistent basis.
- From a biomechanics standpoint, the rope climb forces your arm to pull from a position that's close to the midline of your body. This overloads the elbow flexors more than the upper back muscles. Any time you pull with your hands close together, your back can't take over. And when you pair that with the fact that your hand is in a neutral position to target the brachialis (a key upper-arm booster), you've got yourself a killer exercise.
- The rope requires your gripping muscles to work with ferocious intensity. In fact, there's no better exercise to boost your gripping strength than climbing a rope. There's a direct correlation between your gripping strength and your biceps mass.
- Since your upper back is also helping your efforts, some of the burden is taken off your elbow joints. Plus, it appears the biceps will grow only when the supporting (upper back) muscles are strong enough to handle the added girth.
To grow big muscles fast requires you to train a muscle group at least three times per week. The best way to pull it off is to perform exercises that are relatively easy on your joints. It takes significantly longer for your joints to recover than it takes your muscle tissue. This is why the Scott curl (preacher curl) has always ranked at the bottom of my list: It can be brutal on the elbow joints, and this slows your recovery.
A Gym-Friendly Alternative
No rope? The second best exercise for your biceps must possess all three of the elements mentioned above. The pull-up with a narrow neutral grip fits the bill.