Why it’s great: When ACE researchers measured muscle activation during several bicep moves, this simple exercise came out on top. Because you’re so focused on isolating the movement, you really tax the biceps without relying on your forearms or hands to help with the lifting and lowering. It’s not fancy, but it works.
How to do it: Sit on the end of a weight bench, with knees slightly splayed out. Holding a dumbbell in your right hand, bring your right arm in between your legs, so the back of your arm is resting on your right quad. Concentrate on engaging your bicep as you curl the weight up toward you. Pause at the top, then slowly lower it. The slower you do this move, the more effective it is. Repeat on opposite side. Do three sets of 12 reps.
Why it works: It’s a push-up, so it’s going to work your arms, shoulders, chest, and back. And because you’re on your fingertips, you’re also strengthening your hands and grip.
How to do it: Start in a regular push-up position, then lift your palms off the floor, so only finger tips touch the floor. McCall says to do as many reps as you can in a row, switching to knees if necessary to keep good form. Aim for three sets of all-out reps.
Why it works: You can have the strongest biceps and triceps in the world, but if you don’t have forearm or grip strength, you’ll never be able to do the things that make you functionally fit — like picking up and hanging on to heavy loads. McCall says this exercise is one of the easiest ways to build forearm and grip strength, and ACE included it in its Best Grip Strength Moves roundup.
How to do it: Hold onto a barbell with an overhand grip. Curl the barbell up, with the backs of your arms leading the way toward your shoulders. Return to start and repeat. Do three sets of 12 reps.