Today we’re going to look at 6 old-school bicep exercises that are effective muscle-builders. Including a variation that Arnold Schwarzenegger did to help develop those famous peaks.

First, we’ll look at incline curls and compare them to drag curls as both work the biceps in the stretched position.

Both Arnold and Steve Reeves were fans of the incline curl, but it’s not Arnold’s forgotten exercise that comes later in the video.

Steve worked off a homemade wooden structure to achieve the correct working angle. In his second book, “dynamic muscle building,” he said 45 degrees is the best angle.

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This position creates a stretch on not only the long head of the biceps, which is responsible for the peak, but also the tendon that attaches it to the shoulder. And this is where we need to be careful to not overstretch this tendon, as it could cause an injury.

I do this exercise at 45 degrees, but if you’re new to it, you might want to set the bench a little higher, say at 60 degrees, especially if you’ve had shoulder issues.

This is where the drag curl has an advantage, you’re in that fully stretched position at the top, but you don’t have a continual stretch on that tendon through the whole set.

There’s more and more evidence coming out that stretched position exercises build more muscle. So it makes sense to add these to your program.

If your shoulders are healthy, I would make incline curls my main stretched position exercise, either at 60 or 45 degrees and occasionally rotate drag curls in for variety to give that tendon a break.

I’m not sure what exercise I should compare this next one to. It’s one I’m currently doing in my training, and it’s a tough one. It was invented by an 1800s strongman named George Zottman.

This curl works the brachioradialis in the negative part of the movement, and by the last few reps, it’s all I can do to control the weight on the way down.

You curl the weight up like a traditional curl. Then once you reach the top, you pronate your hands, engaging the brachioradialis and reducing the amount of work your biceps are doing.

The advantage of this exercise over, say, reverse grip curls is you can use heavier weight, and it really overloads the forearms on the negative.

Anyone who’s watched pumping iron will have seen this exercise. There’s only a brief clip of Arnold doing it in the movie, and that’s the standing concentration curl.

I like this movement better than the seated version, but both have pros and cons. In theory, one of the great things about the seated concentration curl is it’s hard to cheat the move. This isn’t really true, and I’ll showcase another old-school exercise that’s much harder to cheat in a bit.

When we have our elbow pushed into our thigh, it helps to keep from swinging our arm, but it also creates a lever making the exercise easier, and you can cheat it with a slight rocking motion of the upper body.

In the standing variation, you have your hips back like when doing a bent-over row. You can still cheat the move with your legs, so we should be aware of this and resist the temptation.

Arnold does something interesting on his last repetitions with this forgotten variation. Once he goes to failure, he pauses, sets the weight down for a second to recover, which allows him to get in a couple more reps.

Next up is lying cable curls, another exercise Steve Reeves liked to do, and we’ll compare it to spider curls. Both of these exercises have your arms in front and allow you to contract the biceps fully, making it a perfect complement to incline curls which work the muscle in the fully stretched position.

If you only have dumbbells to work with, spider curls make an excellent option even over preacher curls which puts your arm at an extreme leverage disadvantage in the fully extended position and increases the risk of injury.

    18 replies to "6 Old School Biceps Exercises That BUILD MUSCLE"

    • Fit and 50

      If you would like help losing excess body fat and building muscle, please email me at for information on my personal training services.

      The shorts and shirt I’m wearing in this video are supplied by FortisFight. Here is the link to their website for all your gym apparel; and use my affiliate discount code FITAND50 at checkout for 15% off.

      Check your testosterone levels from home. Just click this link and receive 30% off with code: LAURENCE30 I receive commissions on referrals to LetsGetChecked. I only recommend services I know and trust.

      Check out, Bells of Steel for all your home gym equipment needs,

    • adegbenro agoro

      Thank you very much.

      • Fit and 50

        I appreciate you stopping by. Keep working out!

    • shahzaib gull

      Great video you should make this type of content specially the old school thanks alot sir respect ❤💪

      • Fit and 50

        Glad you enjoyed it! This is video #2 in an Old school exercises series, so stay tuned more to come!

      • shahzaib gull

        @Fit and 50 I’m watching your all videos sir content is great and I’m from Pakistan.The reason I’m following you is I started the gym late at age 33 hope I can build muscle😂

    • Dwayne Cunningham

      Zottman kurlz are great if anyone hasn’t tried them yet.

      • Fit and 50

        Those negatives get so tough!

    • nord kristal


    • Nancy Pelosi

      Thanks 😊

      • Fit and 50

        Thanks for watching!

    • Ruben Rios

      Bicep forearm curls are real arm burners.

      • Fit and 50

        They are for sure Ruben!

    • Shone Marcus

      Life over 50, is a lot better, with videos shared by a Coach, who does his homework. Thanks Coach! God bless you and your family Sir.

    • Gods men of America

      Arnold’s standing curls has been a staple for me

    • Shantanu Sapru

      Excellent video!!
      Am loving this ‘Old School’ series…!

    • Tramontane

      Hammer curls for thickness…and brochiaradialis.
      Over hand, underhand and pistol grip are the key hand positions for any exorcise that negotiate gravity and resistance . Hand position is everything on a exorcise movement.
      These three hand positions are really apparent with the three heads of triceps,
      and Lat work/Terres major,minor as well.
      For inside head of bicep, go elbows close with wide hand grip on the bar.
      Bicep is small group of muscles, and easy to over train.
      For big arms you need big delts. The deltoid is an arm muscle, the delts attaches three places
      on the arm bone, more than anywhere else on the anatomy, therefore it is arm muscle.
      Thank you for the videos I always learn something from your teaching.

    • Zany


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