Want to build bigger, stronger biceps? Free weights, such as barbell curls, are effective, but doing biceps workouts with machines can help isolate and fully fatigue your bicep muscles.
Biceps machine exercises are a great way to target and isolate your biceps muscles for maximum growth. But with so many bicep machine exercises to choose from, it’s challenging to know which ones are the best.
Whether you are looking for a classic bicep curl machine or an innovative Bayesian Curl, our expert tips will ensure you maximize every rep for optimal muscle growth.
Say goodbye to guesswork and take a well-informed, effective approach to biceps training.
In this blog post, we’ll show you the best biceps machine exercises for each muscle group and how to do each one correctly. We’ll also provide a sample workout routine and tips.
- What Are Bicep Machine Exercises?
- Types of Machines Used for Bicep Workout
- Bicep Muscle Anatomy
- Top Gym Machines For Bicep Workouts
- 1. Preacher Curl Machine
- 2. Cable Bicep Curls
- 3. Assisted Chin Up Machine
- 4. Smith Machine Bicep Curls
- 5. Double Pulley Cable Machine
- Bonus: Behind The Back Cable Curl (Bayesian Curl)
What Are Bicep Machine Exercises?
Bicep machine exercises are a category of strength training exercises that specifically target the biceps muscles. They are primarily used with specialized gym equipment or machines.
These exercises are designed to work the biceps, which can lead to increased arm muscle size, strength, and definition.
Bicep machines are especially beneficial for beginners or those with joint issues. Because the machine guides the movement, there is a reduced risk of incorrect form and injury.
It is also easier to perform advanced techniques, such as drop sets and forced reps, with a machine.
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Types of Machines Used for Bicep Workout
- Cable Machines: Using attachments like ropes or bars, cable machines provide a more versatile way to perform bicep curls with consistent tension.
- Preacher Curl Bench: Often combined with a barbell or dumbbell, the preacher bench supports your arms.
- Smith Machine: Though typically used for various exercises. It can be used for bicep curls with a controlled bar path.
Bicep Muscle Anatomy
To build bigger and more impressive biceps first, we needed to understand the anatomy of the biceps muscle, which helps to perform the cable biceps workout at the best level.
The Bicep Muscle consists of the following parts:
The Biceps brachii muscle (biceps) is a large, thick muscle of the upper arm.
The Biceps Brachii is attached to the forearm bone called the radius and originates at the scapula in two heads (the Bicep gets its name from the two heads).
The brachialis lies on the outer side of the arm.
The brachioradialis muscle group is firmly attached to the bicep and is also activated when training the back and biceps.
Top Gym Machines For Bicep Workouts
Having strong, stable biceps is a key goal for many gym-goers. While free weights like barbells and dumbbells are effective tools, it is important to consider bicep machine exercises when developing your bicep training regimen.
Machines help isolate muscle groups, improve form, and make it safer to lift heavier weights. Here are 5 gym machines that you can use for a complete bicep workout.
1. Preacher Curl Machine
The preacher curl machine is a great way to achieve a peak contraction of the biceps muscles. The design of the machine forces your arms to remain in a fixed position, which helps to isolate and target the biceps.
Additionally, the machine allows you to use a heavier weight than you could with free weights, which can lead to greater muscle growth.
With a preacher curl, you get many benefits that don’t come with regular bicep curls. Do preacher curl with a little wider grip to impart more load on short-head biceps.
There are many ways to do preacher curls, each of which has its benefits.
- Dumbbell Preacher Curls: Allow for a greater range of motion and independent arm movement.
- Reverse Grip Preacher Curls: Target the brachialis muscle and emphasize the outer portion of the biceps.
- Machine Preacher Curl: Provide a more controlled and stable environment for the exercise.
- Cable Preacher Curls: Provide continuous tension throughout the movement.
How To Do Machine Preacher Curl
- Adjust the seat height to ensure that your elbows are aligned with the pivot point of the machine.
- Grasp the handles with an overhand grip, palms facing forward.
- Your hands should be shoulder-width apart.
- Rest your upper arms on the padded support bar.
- You should curl the weight up towards your chest and keep your elbows close to your sides. Squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement.
- Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
- Be sure to maintain control of the weight throughout the entire range of motion.
2. Cable Bicep Curls
The cable machines are an exercise that trains the biceps in isolation and places the muscles under constant tension throughout both the concentric and eccentric phases. This is one of the biggest cable bicep training benefits over other methods.
Using the cable machine, you’ll be able to hit all the heads of the biceps from different angles and through a range of motions.
Cable bicep curls can be done on a cable machine with different attachments like a straight bar, rope, or EZ bar.
Adjustments To Target Different Bicep Muscles
1. Grip Width and Angle
- Wider grips on the straight or EZ-bar target the short head of the biceps more effectively.
- Narrower grips shift the focus to the long head of the biceps.
2. Hand Position
- In the standard bicep curl, your palms are facing upward (supinated grip). This curl primarily targets the biceps brachii muscle.
- In the hammer curl, your palms are facing each other (neutral grip). This curl works both the long of the biceps and the brachialis muscle.
- In the reverse curl, your palms are facing downward (pronated grip). The primary focus of the reverse curl is on the brachialis muscle and the brachioradialis muscle (a forearm muscle)
3. Cable Height Adjustments
- Setting the cable at different heights (low, mid, high) changes the angle of resistance, which can slightly alter muscle recruitment.
- High cable curls target the lower part of the biceps, while low cable curls engage the upper part more.
4. Standing Position
- Standing closer to the cable machine increases tension at the beginning of the curl.
- Stepping back a bit allows for more tension at the end of the curl.
5. Arm Variations
- Doing both arm bicep curls can help you lift more weight and make your arms bigger.
- Performing curls with one arm at a time allows for greater focus and isolation on each bicep. This can be beneficial for addressing muscle imbalances.
How To Do Bicep Machine Cable Curl
- Adjust the pulley to the lowest setting and attach a straight bar or rope to the cable.
- Stand facing the machine with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
- Grab the bar or rope with an underhand grip, with your palms facing up.
- Keep your elbows close to your sides and your upper arms stationary throughout the exercise.
- Slowly curl the weight up towards your shoulders.
- Squeeze your arms at the top of the exercise, and then slowly lower the weight back to where you started.
3. Assisted Chin Up Machine
Chin-Up and Pull-ups are some of the best bodyweight exercises for building upper body strength, particularly in the back and bicep. However, they can be challenging for many people, especially those who are new to fitness or who are recovering from an injury. This is where the Assisted Pull-Up Machine comes into play.
This specialized gym equipment has a counterweight system that offsets some of your bodyweight, making it easier to perform pull-ups or chin-ups.
The machine typically consists of a pull-up bar attached to a weight stack via a pulley system, along with a platform or knee pad to place your knees or feet on.
Chin-ups and pull-ups are often used interchangeably. However, they do have some differences.
- A chin-up is an exercise where the palms face toward the body (underhand or supinated grip) while gripping the bar. This grip targets the biceps more than the back and shoulders.
- A pull-up is an exercise where the palms face away from the body (overhand or pronated grip) while gripping the bar. This grip targets the back and shoulders more than the biceps.
How To Do Machine Assisted Chin Up
- Adjust the machine to the appropriate weight that will help you complete the chin-up. The more weight you select, the easier the chin-up will be.
- Place both knees on the pad and grip the handles with an underhand grip, palms facing towards you.
- Exhale and pull yourself until your chin is over the bar
- Squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement.
- Inhale and slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position.
4. Smith Machine Bicep Curls
Smith Machine Bicep Curls are a different way to do the traditional bicep curl. They use a special machine called the Smith Machine, which is a barbell that is attached to steel bars and moves slowly.
As the bar path is controlled, one can concentrate more on the contraction and extension of the biceps without having to worry about the bar balance.
You can vary your grip (wide, narrow, underhand, overhand) to target different parts of the biceps and arms.
- The Smith machine’s fixed bar path can restrict your natural range of motion.
- Some exercises can be uncomfortable if you force your body into a fixed path.
- The Smith machine can make it hard for beginners to develop the proper form and stability they need for free-weight exercises.
How To Do Smith Machine Drag Curls
Smith machine drag curls offer several benefits over traditional bicep drag curls.
- Set the Smith machine bar to a height that is just above your waist.
- Stand in front of the bar and grasp it with an underhand grip, keeping your hands shoulder-width apart.
- Step back a few inches to allow the bar to clear the machine.
- Raise the bar straight across your body, bringing your hands toward your shoulders while pulling your elbows behind your chest.
- Pause at the top of the movement and squeeze your biceps.
- Slowly lower the bar back down to the starting position.
5. Double Pulley Cable Machine
The Double Pulley Cable Machine is a versatile and effective piece of gym equipment that offers a wide range of exercises for muscle targeting and isolation. Unlike free weights, the cable machine provides constant tension throughout the range of motion.
Featuring two adjustable pulleys, this machine allows you to perform an array of pulling and lifting movements from various angles, optimizing your bicep training for strength, hypertrophy, or endurance.
Here are some effective bicep exercises you can perform on this versatile machine:
How To Do Overhead Cable Curl
- Attach a handle to a cable machine, with the pulley set to a position higher than your head.
- Stand in the middle of a cable machine with a D-handle in each hand.
- Grip the D-handles with an underhand grip, palms facing down.
- Extend your arms overhead until they are fully extended.
- Keep your elbows stationary as you curl the handles towards your shoulders.
- Exhale as you curl the D-handles and squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement.
- Inhale as you slowly lower the handles back to the starting position.
- Repeat for 8–12 repetitions.
Bonus: Behind The Back Cable Curl (Bayesian Curl)
Doing cable curls behind the body shifts the emphasis of the exercise onto the outer biceps and minimizes the chance of you developing unsightly muscular imbalances. Must try this cable bicep workout.
How To Do Bayesian Curl
- Connect a single cable handle to the bottom of a cable pulley.
- Grab the handle with an underhand grip and then face away from the machine.
- Take a step out from the cable station and let your arm travel behind your torso until you feel a good biceps stretch.
- Curl the handle toward your shoulder by squeezing your biceps as hard as you can.
- Lower the weight back down under control until your elbow is fully extended.
- Repeat for the ideal number of reps to complete the set.
- Now, switch arms to complete the exercise on your right side, and then alternate between arms for sets.
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The gym can be a good way to build bigger, stronger biceps, improve curling form, and isolate the bicep. Different handles and movement variations allow you to target all areas of the biceps.
Some of the most popular gym machines for biceps workouts include the preacher curl machine and cable curl stations.
The Smith machine and chin-up assisted machines can be used to do a full biceps workout.
So the next time you’re at the gym, don’t forget these powerful tools for building your biceps. Use biceps machines to grow, define, and break down plateaus.
Manish brings over 10 years of hands-on experience in weight lifting and fat loss to fitness coaching. He specializes in gym-based training and has a lot of knowledge about exercise, lifting technique, biomechanics, and more.
Through “Fit Life Regime,” he generously shares the insights he’s gained over a decade in the field. His goal is to equip others with the knowledge to start their own fitness journey.