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MASSive Biceps Program: 7 Bicep Exercises at Home With Dumbbells & A Barbell (+ Without Weights)

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Who doesn’t want bigger biceps?! 

Ask gym members what they want to achieve, and I know for sure that building muscle would feature pretty highly on the list! In fact, 61% of my gym members want to build muscle. 

In this MASSive biceps program, I’ll show how to add size to your biceps using a strategic, targeted approach. These are no-nonsense bicep exercises. And I’ve used it with dozens of personal training clients over the years. They’ve all added serious size and strength with this method.

The MASSive biceps program will mix a variety of exercises, rep ranges, and contraction angles. 

I guarantee you this will maximize muscle and strength gains. 

Even more importantly, it’s a program that will run alongside your main workouts, because you’ll only need to do this workout twice per week. 

Need another program to work on with the MASSive Bicep Exercises Program? 

Check out all of our workout guides here. You will find something in there that is perfect for the level of training you are at.

MASSive Biceps Program: 5%+ bigger biceps in 8 weeks

Bicep exercises infographic

Make your arms bigger in 8 weeks with a targeted approach to muscle building.

Benefits of biceps exercises

Build 5% or more upper arm muscle

It’s time to stop guessing and start following something that works. Especially if you’ve been training for a long time and haven’t seen the results you want. 

The MASSive biceps program is no-nonsense and will spark those gains quickly. 

It’s high volume, it’s targeted and most importantly, it’s effective. 

Improve your functional strength

The benefit of bigger, stronger arms is that your functional strength improves. 

This means your athleticism is increased. 

You have more control over your body.

You can lift more, carry more and perform better in the gym. 

Look awesome in t-shirts

We could all pretend this isn’t a benefit… 

But we know we’d be lying. 

Vanity is a central element to a lot of muscle building, so let’s not pretend otherwise. The arm-growing benefits of the MASSive biceps program will help build your confidence and make you look great in a t-shirt! 

Perfect ahead of summer!

Reduce your injury risk

All things being equal, stronger muscles are more resistant to injury. 

You can make shoulder and elbow injuries a thing of the past with the MASSive biceps program. Targeted, varied exercise will ensure a full range of motion and strength improvement around the upper limb joints. 

Reduce your injury risk

5 Steps to Use the “MASSive Biceps Program” to Get Bigger Arms

5 steps to use the massive biceps program

1. Eat 0.8-1g of protein per pound of lean body mass per day

If you don’t get this step right, your biceps will not grow. 


The research around protein intake for building muscle settles on a figure of around 1.2-1.6g per kg of bodyweight.

Protein intake chart

This is about 0.8-1g per pound of lean body mass. Personally, I believe you’re better off spreading this across multiple meals rather than consuming a lot in a single go. 

Beef, lamb, pork and chicken are my go-to sources, topped up with protein shakes. 

A real example of protein intake:

Bodyweight: 180lb

LBM: 132lb

Protein required: 105-132lb

Just for reference, every ounce of meat contains about 7-9 grams of protein. So if you eat around 10 ounces of meat per day with eggs, whey protein, and other protein sources you can consume 130 grams of protein.

If you do not eat meat then beans, lentils, and tofu (with extra protein shakes) will be required. Fish and eggs are other great options.

Don’t overcomplicate it though! 

Just eat high protein foods with each meal, eat 3 to 5 meals a day and consume protein shakes.

2. Perform this program twice a week between your regular training 

This is a very intense workout program. 

So you don’t need to be doing this more than twice per week if you’re already following another program. It’s designed to run alongside your other workouts because it’s hyper-targeted on one body part.

A suggested week on the MASSive Bicep Program would look like this…

Monday: Normal program

Tuesday: MASSive Bicep Program

Wednesday: Normal program

Thursday: Rest

Friday: MASSive Bicep Program

Saturday: Normal program

Sunday: Rest

Give a couple of days rest between repeating the session. You want your arms to recover fully ahead of the next one!

3. Each session should last for a maximum of 60 mins

There’s a total of 31 sets in the whole workout. So you’ll need a maximum of 60 minutes if you stay strict on the rest periods (no more than 1-minute rest). 

Keep your eye on the clock between sets. The idea is to get the workout done quickly and with high quality. This volume with intensity is what commands your muscles to grow! 

Work hard, work fast.

4. 5 sets of compound lifts and 4 sets for isolation lifts 

There are two types of exercise in the MASSive Biceps Program: 

  • 3 compound lifts (5 sets to failure)
  • 4 isolation lifts (4 sets of 15)

Remember, it’s high-volume work here! 

On the compound lifts, if you’re hitting more than 10 good quality reps, add more weight. 

5. Increase weight each workout

Progression is the name of the game here. 

Seek to add around 2-5% each week, whether that’s in weight or reps. There may be times when you can increase more or less. It’s not a guaranteed linear progression, but where you can, add weight to your exercises. 

Just don’t sacrifice form.

The MASSive Bicep Program – a how-to guide

Massive bicep program infographic

As I just mentioned, this program is split into two different types of exercises:

  • Compound exercises (these will train the back too) 
  • Isolation exercises (these hit the biceps only). 

In every workout, you will perform each exercise. You’ll perform the compound exercises for 5 sets, and the isolation exercises for 4.

The program is designed to run twice per week. The idea here is that the bicep training volume is high, so we give them a rest in between. My suggestion is that you allow at least 2 days between MASSive bicep program workouts.

You want to be as fresh as possible ahead of the next session!

On your days off, you can run your normal programming. You don’t even need to avoid bicep work – just don’t do a lot of it. You want to give the muscles a chance to rest and recover. 

Steve Hoyles (me) performing hammer curls targeting the brachialis
Steve Hoyles (me) performing hammer curls targeting the brachialis

There are 31 sets in the MASSive Biceps Program, 19 of which are to failure. 

This is a serious amount of volume on a small muscle group. When you first do this, expect a significant amount of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).

It’s a program that will demand a lot from you, which is why it is only done twice per week. 

The rest of the time, you’ll have to make sure you’re not neglecting the rest of your fitness.

Maintain the quality of the movement throughout and you’ll ensure you get the most out of the MASSive Biceps Program. You’ll see your arms grow and your pull-up numbers increase! 

Test your arm size every 2-4 weeks to mark the progress. 

Don’t measure too frequently – give your arms time to grow!

The MASSive Bicep Program – Exercises

You will always do the compound exercises first. These exercises are to be done across 5 sets to failure.

If you are capable of doing more than 10 good quality reps, you need to lift heavier. In the case of pull-ups, you can do this by wearing a weighted belt or holding a dumbbell between your feet.

The isolation lifts each target one area of the biceps (with one exercise targeting all the biceps). This will help to make sure all areas of the biceps are being developed to make them look nice and juicy!

How to build bigger biceps infographic

Workout time required: 60 mins max

Sets and reps: 3 compound lifts (5 sets to failure) and 4 isolation lifts (4 sets of 15 reps). If you can manage more than 10 reps on compound lifts, add extra weight to make it tougher.

Focus: High-intensity workout on the biceps.

Equipment needed:

Nice to haves:

Be sure to check out our ultimate guide to building a home gym on any budget. It won’t cost as much or take up as much space as you may think!

3 Compound Exercises

1. Chin-ups

The best compound bicep exercise that exists.

The chin-up is the vertical pull option that activates the biceps the most. The palms facing the body forces greater recruitment of the biceps than the other versions, as proven by research carried out by James Youdas et al. It’s also the most achievable pull-up for many people. This combination of form and function have earned it a spot in this program.

How to do chin-ups

  • Jump up and grab the bar with an underhand grip
  • Hands should be shoulder-width apart
  • Engage the lats, keep the core tight and pull your chest towards the bar by bending your arms
  • When your chest reaches the bar, slowly lower yourself back down to full extension
  • Repeat as many times as possible

REP PR-4000 Power Rack

REP-PR-4000 Power Rack
Read our best squat rack guide here

Looking for an affordable yet high quality power rack?

Look no further!

After comparing over 100 types of squat racks the PR-4000 came out on top.

You can add any attachment to it (including cables, dip bars and plate holders). You can even add additional uprights to back to make it even more of a beast!

The 1 inch westside hole spacing means you can position the spotter arms to the ideal height when you bench press. So you can safely drop the bar and have a full range of motion when you lift.

And the 3×3″ 11 gauge steel make this the best value rack we could find.

2. Neutral grip pull-ups

Just like the chin up, the neutral grip pull-up activates both the lats and the biceps. It’s also a variation of the pull-up that most people can achieve more good reps with.

More good quality reps = more muscle built.

There’s additional brachialis activation with this hand and elbow position, so there’s a change in muscle activation compared to the chin up.

How to do neutral grip pull-ups

  • Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, grab the parallel pull-up bars so that your palms are facing each other
  • Hang freely with your arms extended to start
  • Brace your core and keep your head straight, then pull yourself upwards by bending at the elbows but keeping them tucked into the sides of the body.
  • pull-up until your chin is just higher than the bars, then lower back to the starting position in control.
  • Repeat as many times as possible

3. Inverted rows (using a barbell or suspension trainer)

The inverted row is included here because it’s a pronated (overhand) grip exercise that you can hit good rep numbers with. 

I’m factoring in fatigue – if you tried regular pull-ups after 10 sets of other pull variations, you’d fail miserably! This way you can still hit good numbers of an effective exercise. Research by Ronald Snarr shows that the greatest biceps brachii activation (the most outer part of the biceps) in suspended rowing versions comes from the pronated grip version, like this.

How to do inverted rows

  • Position your barbell securely on a rack
  • Lie under the barbell and hold it with an overhand grip, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width
  • Pull your chest towards the bar, bending the elbows and squeezing your shoulder blades together
  • When your chest touches the bar, pause and slowly lower yourself back into position
  • Repeat as many times as possible

If you find that the inverted row is not a challenge anymore, check out our inverted row alternatives and level up the load on the same muscle groups.

If you want to try out even more compound exercises, be sure to check out our compound dumbbell exercises article.

Rogue Ohio Cerakote Bar

Rogue Ohio Bar Cerakote
Read our best Olympic barbell guide here

This is the bar that we recommend for ‘most people’.

We have spent over 120 hours of research and tested over 100 barbells.

It is affordable but comes with some high specs. The Rogue Work Hardening and 190k PSI tensile strength mean the bar will last a lifetime in a home gym.

It is a multi-purpose bar with a 28.5mm diameter shaft and composite bushings in the sleeves. This means it’s balanced for heavy slow bench presses but you can also perform snatches and fast overhead lifts.

4 Isolation Exercises (there are actually 5)

These exercises are included to target the bicep muscle group. There’s extreme focus and concentration with every rep. It’s about maximizing muscle contraction with each rep. You need to squeeze the muscle every single time. Each exercise should be done for 4 sets of 15 – we’re shooting for high reps here.

The only exception is the final exercise – alternating dumbbell curls. This is to be done to failure with each set, because it’s a finisher. You end the set when you can’t complete an extra rep on each side. 

4. Incline dumbbell curl (long head)

This is the best bicep exercise to target the long head of your biceps. 

It’s the one that will add the most volume to your biceps and make them look bigger quicker than any other exercise here. But there are many mistakes people make with this one so be sure to follow the steps below carefully. 

How to do incline dumbbell curl

  • Raise the bench to 45-60 degree angle
  • Push your back, shoulders and head against the bench the whole time
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand and let your arm fall vertically to the floor
  • Lift the dumbbells keeping your elbows fixed
  • Squeeze your biceps at the top for a second or two
  • Lower all the way to the bottom
  • Repeat for 15 reps

SMRFT Nüobell 80LB Adjustable Dumbbells

SMRFT Nüobell 80LB Classic
Read our best adjustable dumbbell guide here

These are the dumbbells we recommend for ‘most people’.

We have spent over 50 hours of research and compared over 100 dumbbells. Adjustable dumbbells make sense for most home gyms as they save space.

The Nüobell dumbbells go all the way to 80lbs per hand. This means they are much more versatile than most 50lbs adjustable dumbbells. You can use these for heavy shrugs, squats and bench press etc.

The main reason they are the top pick is because of their shape. They actually feel like real dumbbells and are not awkward to lift like some others.

5. Hammer curls (brachialis)

I like hammer curls for a couple of reasons:

  1. They are a great way to activate the brachialis 
  2. It isolates each arm

So it hits a muscle that pronated curls don’t activate quite as well. Secondly, it’s a biceps exercise that uses dumbbells. This means each side has to work independently, so the weaker side can’t ‘hide’ behind the stronger side.

How to do hammer curls

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms pointing inwards, towards your body on each side
  • Keeping your elbows tucked in by your sides, curl the dumbbells up towards your shoulders
  • At the top of the movement, squeeze the biceps to maximize contraction
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position at the sides of your body
  • Repeat for 15 reps

Note: check out our dumbbell arm workout or our dumbbell bicep exercises to see how we’ve combined the hammer curl with 6 other exercises to provide the ultimate workout aimed at strengthening your arms.

6. Chest supported dumbbell curls (short head)

In my opinion, this is one of the biceps exercises that doesn’t get the love it deserves. I think it’s an excellent way to really maximize bicep contraction. Because you don’t really need to think about body position or technique. 

The fact that your body position is taken care of with the bench allows you to work through a long range of movement.

Making the biceps work incredibly hard through the lift.

Pro tip – this is way harder than you think, so you might want to lift a lighter dumbbell than you would for normal curls!

How to do chest supported dumbbell curls

  • Position a bench with an incline, and lie frontways on it so your chest is supported and your arms are free to move on both sides
  • With a dumbbell in each hand and your arms at full extension, perform a full curl
  • The range of movement should be from full extension to the point where the dumbbells nearly touch the shoulders at the top
  • At the top of the movement, squeeze the biceps to maximize contraction
  • Repeat for 15 reps

REP AB-3000 Bench

REP AB-3000 Weight Bench
Read our best weight bench guide here

This is the weight bench we recommend for ‘most people’.

We compared over 70 benches against 12 criteria. This is our highest-ranked flat, incline & decline (FID) bench.

Some adjustable benches can be a bit wobbly when on the incline. But the AB-3000 is very sturdy.

With a height 18mm it’s comparable to benches that cost twice as much.

Note: if you want more exercise ideas to target your biceps, check out our spider curl alternatives or our incline dumbbell curl alternatives.

7. Alternating curls and EZ bar curl

I recommend doing the alternating curls in one session and the EZ bar curl in the other. 

The reason?…

They are both really good at targeting all the bicep muscles. But doing them both with the other exercises will be overkill here!

The alternating curls are arguably a better bicep exercise because they isolate each arm. But the EZ bar curl has been proven to activate the biceps more! So do them both, just alternate between the two.

7a. Alternating curls (targets all 3 bicep muscle groups)

This is a finisher, designed to eek out the maximum from your final exercise. 

In each of your 4 sets, you are shooting for complete fatigue. Where you have nothing left to give. It’s a dumbbell exercise on purpose, so each side is fully fatigued. As always, curl through the full range of motion and make sure you are working to full failure.

How to do alternating curls

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms pointing inwards, towards your body on each side
  • Keeping your elbows tucked in by your sides, curl the dumbbells up towards your shoulders
  • As you work through the curl, rotate your hand outward so the palms are supinated (flat) at the top of the curl
  • At the top of the movement, squeeze the biceps to maximize contraction
  • As you lower the dumbbells, rotate the hands inwards, back to the starting position at the sides of your body
  • Repeat until failure
7b. EZ bar curl (all 3)

The EZ bar curl is also a finisher for one reason… it’s the best for bicep activation. 

The research is pretty clear. 

The dumbbell curl, EZ bar curl, and straight barbell curl were compared for bicep activation. Giuseppe Marcolin and his team found the EZ was the top dog. It’s also the most elbow-friendly of the lot. So, if you have an EZ bar, get to work on it if you want big biceps!

How to do EZ bar curls

  • Hold the EZ bar on the ‘upward’ diagonals, with your arms straight down
  • Keeping your elbows tucked in by your sides, curl the bar upwards towards your chest
  • It’s important you keep your elbows tucked in throughout the movement
  • At the top of the movement, squeeze the biceps to maximize contraction
  • Slowly lower the bar to the starting position, keeping your elbows tucked in
  • Repeat for 15 reps

Check out our epic research into the best EZ curl bars on the market.

Bicep exercises bonus tips

A few additional little pointers to help you out…

  1. Lift appropriately

Never sacrifice form for weight. 

I’d rather you manage to execute good quality movement than lift really heavy. Of course, you should be lifting as heavy as you can. But the second you start sacrificing movement quality then it’s time to drop the weight down a touch.

  1. Maintain intensity

A workout on this program should be done in around an hour.  That’s 31 sets total, allowing 60 seconds for recovery between the sets. Keep an eye on the clock when it comes to rest periods. 

Put your phone down and focus!

  1. Remember to rest

Muscle grows when you allow it to rest. 

You should be training hard to stimulate the growth, but then give it the chance to grow. You do this by eating well, sleeping well and not overtraining. More doesn’t always equal better.

  1. Don’t neglect the rest of your body

The MASSive Biceps Program is designed to bring up your arms. 

But it works more effectively if you make sure you aren’t neglecting the other body parts. Research by Craig et al shows that strength training elicits human growth hormone production, so we have to ensure we’re training all body parts.

  1. Lift HARD

You don’t build muscle by taking the easy road, unfortunately. 

If muscle building was easy then everyone you know would be stacked. If you want to build big arms, you’re going to have to work for them. No wimping out on your sets!

  1. Don’t skip workouts

This is a twice-a-week workout program, so you can’t afford to miss a workout here. 

There’s no way you can afford to skip one of these sessions because it’s such a significant percentage of your weekly workout time.

  1. Full range of movement, every rep

You’ll have heard this advice before, but it’s important enough to repeat. The range of movement governs the amount of time under tension. 

The more time under tension the muscles endure, the more muscle gain. 

It’s as simple as that.

  1. Constantly seek progress

Every workout you should be looking to make progress. 

That may come in the form of lifting more weight, or adding more reps. Both are progression and you should seek it out every time. If you complete the same amount of reps with the same weight every week, you won’t make any progress at all.

MASSive Biceps Program – FAQs

A little extra detail on the MASSive Biceps Program for you…

Do the exercises have to be done in that order?

Kind of. Let me explain…

You always want to do the exercises in the order of compound first, isolation second. Within that, you can be a little more flexible. Just make sure you start the compound exercise section with the chin ups, and end the isolation section with the alternating curls (or EZ curls).

Can I do more than just the exercises in the program?

Theoretically yes, but if you execute each exercise correctly, that will be more than enough. There are whole body workout plans with fewer sets than you’re going to be performing on a single muscle group, so it should be more than enough!

Is it OK to do the MASSive Biceps Program more than twice per week?

Yes, but only if you’re fully recovered. If you have a limited range of movement because of DOMS, or you’re feeling really tired, just stick to the twice per week. It’s designed to fit around other programming. You shouldn’t be dedicating your training week to a single body part. 

Who is the MASSive Biceps Program for?

It’s for anyone who wants to add size to their biceps. Perhaps you’ve got a lagging body part and want to add mass to it? Maybe you want to add size to fill out a t-shirt? Maybe you just want a change in your training direction? It’s for all of these groups of people.

Can it be used in conjunction with the Tricep Express Program?

Yes, but I would only run them for a maximum of 8 weeks because you wouldn’t want to neglect the other body parts and these are both highly targeted training plans. The plus side is that by the end, you’d have a pretty awesome pair of arms!

How am I recording progress?

Simple – measure your arms before the first workout. Then re-measure them every 6 weeks. That’s the size element. For physical progress, keep a track of weights lifted and reps accomplished – you want to see these numbers go up throughout the program. It’s also a good idea to take ‘before’ shots, then take a new one every 6 weeks.

What to expect from the MASSive Biceps Program?

At first, it’ll be really tough. With the first workouts, you’ll feel a massive pump in your arms. Don’t be surprised if you feel a huge amount of DOMS either!

After a fortnight, you’ll notice your numbers start to go up in terms of lifting. Within a month you’ll have added extra pull-ups to your workouts. By the 6 weeks mark, you’ll notice your arms look and feel different. By 12 weeks, they’ll be transformed!

The MASSive Bicep Program: The bottom line

I’ve explained the exercises, the sets, and the rep ranges. 

You have all of the tools you need now! So it’s time to head out into the gym and get busy. I’m not saying it’ll be easy – in fact, if you do it right, it’ll be super hard. 

It’ll be worth it though.

What you should do from here is write the exercises down in your workout diary… or on your board in the gym and get to work. Execute each rep with intention, and enjoy the results that are about to come your way!

Need another program to coincide with the MASSive Bicep Exercises Program? 
Check out all of our workout guides here. I guarantee you will find something in there that is perfect for the level of training you are at.

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Steve Hoyles is a certified personal trainer and gym owner. Since graduating with his Sports Science degree in 2004 he's worked in the fitness industry, helping thousands of people reach their health and fitness goals. His writing has been read by millions of people in over 200 countries as he inspires to help as many people as possible live a healthy lifestyle.

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