The FASTEST Biceps Workout With Dumbbells (That Actually Works)

by Jeremy Ethier - August 21, 2021

Looking to build bigger arms in record-breaking time? This article is for you. Here, I cover the exercises - and exact training methods - to use for the FASTEST biceps workout with dumbbells (that actually works!)

I'm going to give you a killer 10-minute biceps workout - with only dumbbells. Better yet, we'll use 3 different training methods that'll cut your workout time by one-third without sacrificing gains. I'll show you 2 things in this article:

  • How each of these training methods work using science AND
  • Exactly how you can incorporate them into your workout to grow your biceps

If you appreciate training in a science-based manner like this, you’re going to love the BWS programs. I’ve designed every single one of them to contain valuable knowledge on why (exactly) you’re using a specific exercise to target a particular muscle group (not just your biceps!) This way, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of your training – while experiencing the quickest gains possible. If you’re interested:

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10-Minute Biceps Workout With Dumbbells

Alright. So, here's the 10-minute workout. As mentioned earlier, we'll make use of 3 training methods to cut down on your training time:

  • Rest-pause sets: This is method 1. It will take you about 2 minutes to complete.
  • Compound sets: This is method 2, and it will pair 2 bicep exercises together. This method will take you 5 minutes to complete.
  • Drop sets. This is method 3. You will use this to finish your workout off, and it will only take 1 minute to complete.

So, assuming a 1-minute rest period between each method, you'll be done with your biceps workout with dumbbells in just 10 minutes (that you can easily do at home, even). Here's a detailed look at what your routine would look like:

Method 1: Rest-Pause (1 set of 20 reps total)

Dumbbell Curls

Method 2: Compound Set (3 sets of 8-12 reps)

Spider Curls

Incline Dumbbell Curls

3 compound sets of 8-12 reps

Drop Set (5 drop-sets total):

Hammer Curls

5 drop-sets total

Method 1: Rest-Pause Training

To kick your biceps workout with dumbbells off, we're going to implement rest-pause training. This is a method of training where you combine all your sets for an exercise into just one long set - instead of doing them separately.

Illustrating its effectiveness is a recent 2019 study. The researchers split the participants into 2 groups:

  • Group 1: Trained their biceps with the traditional method. That meant they used 3 sets of 6 reps, with 90 seconds of rest between each set.
  • Group 2: Used rest-pause training. This is where they performed just 1 long set. Within this set, they tried to do as many reps as possible, only took 20 seconds of rest, and repeated this process till they achieved the same number of total reps as the traditional group. That meant a total a 18 reps.

The findings? Both training methods resulted in similar gains in size and strength in the biceps - despite the rest-pause group only training for half the time.

How To Implement Rest-Pause Training In Your Biceps Workout

So, we'll apply this to our workout. Only, we'll use an exercise that is safe for us to push our limits with: the standing dumbbell curl.

Start by finding a weight that you could typically do 6-8 reps with. You're going to perform as many reps as you can while maintaining good form. This is important because if you don't maintain proper form throughout these dumbbell curls, the rest-pause method won't be as effective. So, as the rest-pause set gets more difficult, be mindful of 2 things:

  • Keep your elbow locked by your side: Letting it swing forward will take tension away from your biceps. And onto your front delts instead. A little bit of movement is fine. But make sure it isn't excessive.
Keep your elbow locked by your side as you perform the standing dumbbell bicep curl during your biceps workout with dumbbells
  • Watch your wrists: Avoid curling the wrists excessively at the top. Doing so will will cause your forearms to take over. Instead, you should keep your forearms neutral. And keep your palms facing up even at the bottom. Doing these will help to maximize the tension on your biceps.
Keep your elbow locked by your side as you perform the standing dumbbell bicep curl

Once you finish your first rest-pause set and can't do any more reps, put the weights down. Rest for just 20 minutes. Then, immediately perform another set using the same weight again for as many reps as you can. It won't be as many as you could do in the first set. But keep repeating this process until you have completed a total of 20 reps. If done correctly, it will likely take you around 4-5 mini-sets to get to a total of 20 reps. And it will look something like this:

What your rest pause set may look like in your biceps workout with dumbbells

Once you hit 20 reps, rest for 60 seconds. Then you're ready for method 2 in your biceps workout with only dumbbells.

Method 2: Compound Sets

Method 2 is something called compound sets. This method takes 2 types of bicep exercises that can be performed back to back without rest.

Performing A Compound Set Helps You Target Both Biceps Heads AND Saves Time

This is possible because the bicep is composed of 2 heads:

These 2 heads have slightly different functions. During bicep curls where your arm is held in front of the body, the short head is more active. And the long head, in turn, is less active. Whereas the opposite is true for exercises where your arm is held behind the body.

We can take advantage of this fact to save time. How? By performing a compound set of 2 bicep exercises performed back to back without rest. The first exercise will position the arms in front of the body. That means it will place most of the tension on the short head. Then, once you can't do any more reps, we'll transition immediately to the next exercise. This exercise will place your arms behind the body to involve the long head more since it hasn't been completely fatigued from the first exercise.

Okay. Just a really quick note before we start the compound set. Hopefully, by now, you're seeing the importance of applying science to your workouts if you want to maximize your results. And get the most out of the effort and time you put in.

That's exactly why, within our Built With Science programs, we've dug through hundreds of research papers and collaborated with experts to create a step-by-step program that uses science to maximize your results. Our system has transformed the lives of thousands all over the world. To get started, just take the free 1-minute quiz below; it'll guide you to the best plan for you and your specific body:

Click the button below to take my analysis quiz to discover the best program for you:

Implementing A Compound Set During Your Biceps Workout With Dumbbells

Alrighty, now, let’s get to growing these biceps. Here's how you're going to perform this compound set:

  • Start by setting an adjustable bench up to 30 degrees (generally the third or fourth notch on the bench).
  • Pick a weight that you can typically do 10-12 reps with in a normal bicep curl.
  • Holding the dumbbells in your hands, lay with your stomach on the bench. Your arms should be hanging down in front of you.
  • Lock your elbows in that position and then curl the weight up. Fight the urge to let your elbows move back toward your body as you do so. Keep your upper arm perpendicular to the ground.
Resist the urge to let your elbows move back toward your body as you curl the weight up
  • Do as many reps as you can with good form. Ideally, somewhere between 8-12 reps.

Then, immediately after:

  • Keep the exact pair of dumbbells - but flip over on the bench, and with your arms now behind the body.
  • Lock your elbows in place. Then, curl the weight up. In this case, you'll be tempted to let your elbow move closer to the body. Fight this by keeping your upper arm perpendicular to the ground.
Avoid letting your elbows move closer to the body as you perform the curls
  • Once again, you're going to empty the tank on this one by performing as many reps as you can. But, of course, while maintaining good form.

After doing so, you'll have completed one compound set. Take 60 seconds to rest. And then, repeat this 2 more times. After your last set, rest for 60 seconds. Then move onto the final exercise.

Method 3: Drop Sets

For the last exercise in your biceps workout with dumbbells, we're going to use drop sets. This is where you do a bunch of sets without rest - but drop the weight after each set.

Illustrating its effectiveness is a 2017 study. Here, researchers had participants perform curls 2 different ways:

  • Group 1 (Traditional method): 3 sets, with 90 seconds rest between each set.
  • Group 2 (Drop sets): Performed an initial set where they tried to do as many resps as they could to failure. Then decreased the weight by around 5 lbs, performed another set to failure. And continued this without rest until they completed 5 sets in total.

The findings? Researchers found that both groups experienced similar gains in size and strength. But the drop set group finished each workout in less than a third of the time.

Growing The Brachialis Helps Create The Illusion Of Bigger Biceps

As for the specific exercise we'll apply drop sets to? We want to use an exercise that'll target an arm muscle called the brachialis - which has yet to be emphasized with our previous exercises. This muscle actually runs under your biceps. But when grown, it can help to push up your biceps. And that creates an illusion of a bigger bicep.

Your brachialis can be targeted by using curls where the hand is in a neutral position. An example would be with the hammer curl, where you hold the dumbbells as if they were hammers.

To implement this in your biceps workout with dumbbells:

  • Start by finding a weight that you can initially do between 15 and 20 reps with.
  • Using that weight, perform one set of hammer curls to failure with good form. That means you should keep your elbow locked in place with minimal swinging.
Avoid using excessive momentum on the hammer curls
  • After you can't do any more reps, immediately move to the next lowest set of dumbbells and perform another set to failure.
  • Repeat this until you've completed 5 sets in total.

Want To Grow All Muscle Groups Through The Power Of Science?

And you're done! You can see how much more effective your workouts can be if you apply the right science.

To apply this science to all your workouts (not just your biceps), take our quiz below to find the best program for you and your body:

Click the button below to take my analysis quiz to discover the best program for you:

Oh, and to learn about how to grow other muscles like your chest or your shoulders, you can check out these 2 past articles I've written:

By the way, here’s the article summed up into a YouTube video:

The Fastest Bicep Workout (That Actually Works)

The FASTEST Biceps Workout With Dumbbells (That Actually Works)

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