Build upper arm muscle with these seven bicep curl variations

Strengthen your upper body and stabilize your shoulders with this short dumbbell routine

Woman performing bicep curls
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bicep curls are one of the most effective exercises you can do to build upper arm muscle. But you can get even better results with these seven bicep curl variations; you only need a set of dumbbells to get started.

If you're training at home, it's worth investing in a set of the best adjustable dumbbells. These combine several weights into one for easy storage and have quick adjustment dials for you to change the load, even mid-workout.

This makes them ideal for progressive overload training, where you increase the load over time to challenge your muscles as you get stronger. When you have fixed weights at the gym, you can use this guide to work out what dumbbell weights you should use.

To get the most from fitness training duo Tiff x Dan's (opens in new tab) seven-move bicep routine, you'll want to find a weight that'll challenge you but won't affect your form, even across 10-12 repetitions and up to three rounds.

As the pair say, the key is to "keep it slow and controlled, squeezing at the top and getting full extension at the bottom." If you're unsure on pacing, you can practice your technique with Dan's demonstrations before starting. 

Watch Tiff x Dan's bicep curl variations

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Bicep curls are a muscle-building staple, featuring in many beginner's gym workouts and roundups of the best bicep workouts for building more muscular arms. Besides developing visible upper arm muscle, there are other reasons to strengthen this area.

According to research published in the National Library of Medicine (opens in new tab), developing your biceps also improves stability around your shoulder. Meanwhile, a separate study in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine (opens in new tab) looked at the effect of bicep curl variations.

The team found that although each variation activates the biceps brachii muscle, other arm muscles were involved to varying degrees. So, using Tiff x Dan's seven styles of curls develops your biceps and builds strength across your upper arm.

If you want a more comprehensive arm session, you could couple this short routine with these exercises to workout your triceps with dumbbells. The five-move practice includes presses, raises, and extensions to strengthen your upper body.

It's important not to neglect your lower half, so consider alternating these arm sessions with the best leg workouts to build strength. The six-move routine combines bodyweight exercises like squats and calf raises with dumbbell deadlifts.

James Frew
Staff Writer

James is a London-based journalist and Staff Writer at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.


In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.