The Top 5 Best Biceps Exercises

Arnold Biceps

Biceps. The ultimate show muscle. From age 10 on, every boy, teenager, and man wants to have huge bulging biceps. This is, apparently, a true sign of manliness and strength, and is also attainable if you incorporate these best biceps exercises into your routine.

Biceps are among the most famous muscles in the body. When somebody asks you to “make a muscle” or “flex”, they aren’t asking you to flex your hamstrings. They want to see your biceps!

This whole notion of flexing the biceps as a measure of anything is completely ludicrous to me, but it is a reality. When someone asks me to flex, I ask them if they’d much rather discuss max-effort PRs, perhaps dynamic powerlifting strategies, or better yet how to put together the most effective HIIT complexes. Most folks walk away thus.

But I digress…

How to Get Big Ass Arms

Of course, to have big arms one must work the triceps twice as hard as the biceps. For this, you may refer to my post on the top 5 best triceps exercises.

The next thing you should know, is that compound back exercises build biceps mass best. Sure, you can perform isolated curls until the cows come home, but chances are if you are just curling, your biceps aren’t growing. For this, you may refer to my post on the top 5 best back exercises.

Now we must examine how the biceps work so that we can better target them for growth.

Anatomy of the Bicep

The biceps brachii is attached to a forearm bone called the radius and originates at the scapula in two places. In fact, the bicep gets its name from this two-headed structure; we refer to it as the long head and the short head of the biceps.

The biceps brachii runs down the front, or anterior, side of the humerus and makes up approximately 1/3 of the muscle mass of the upper arm. As I mentioned before, the 3 standards heads of the tricep make up the other 2/3 of your upper arm mass.

Two additional parts of the bicep are called brachialis and brachioradialis. These are little muscles on the outside of the bicep that contribute to elbow flexion. Typically there is no need to train these specifically unless you are a bodybuilder.

Biceps Anatomy

Functions of the Bicep

The primary function of the bicep muscle is to flex the elbow, which moves the forearm towards the shoulder. This explains the standard bicep “curl”.

The secondary function of the bicep is the supination of the forearm, which means turning the hand from a palms-down position to a palms-up position. This is why a rotational type of curl is always good to add to your bicep training arsenal.

The Top 5 Best Biceps Exercises

I thought about avoiding all compound exercises that exist in the top 5 best exercises for any other muscle group. But I can’t. The reality is that the top 5 best biceps exercises include a form of rowing and a form of chin-up/pull-down. Therefore I will present the top 3 best direct biceps exercises and the top 2 compound exercises that you should use if you want big biceps.

Never should your workout program contain an ‘arm day’ where you focus only on biceps. There’s no need to do more than two biceps exercises in any given workout, and those two exercises should be two totally different movements.

1. Standing barbell curl

If there was ever a ‘compound biceps exercise’, this would be it. This is the only direct bicep exercise that you can just pile weight on and use all the muscles of the biceps and forearms to get the weight up. Standing barbell curls are the only must-use exercise if you want tank arms.

To set up: load a standard 45 lb barbell with some weights, and pick it up. Your hands should be supinated (palms up), about shoulder-width apart. Arms should hang down beside/in front of your body, the bar in front of your hips. Tuck your elbows into your sides and DON’T move them throughout the exercise.

To curl: keeping your elbows tucked in place at your sides, curl the bar up to your chin, but not so far that your forearms are perpendicular to the floor. Always keep tension on the biceps throughout the motion. Do not let the biceps relax at the bottom of the rep, but also don’t bounce the bar off your hips or quads in order to start the next rep. Keep tension on the biceps.

Variations: wide grip, medium grip, narrow grip; standing ez curls with a 20-25 lb ez curl bar. Do reverse curl to work your forearms.

WARNING: The following video depicts the perfect technique for the barbell curl, except for one small detail – he is curling in the power rack. Please, for your own safety do not curl in the power rack or the squat rack, otherwise, you may find your barbell stuffed where the sun don’t ever shine.

2. Alternating rotating dumbbell curl

This is a simple exercise, that feels natural in its plane of motion. By alternating, you can focus maximal intensity on each arm separately.

To set up: grab two dumbbells and hold them down at your sides, arms straight, palms facing your body. Again, keep your elbows tucked in to your sides as soon as you start curling.

To curl: start the movement with a hammer curl, then as the dumbbell clears your body, begin to rotate it so that at the end of the movement, your palms are facing your head. Once you lower the dumbbell back to the starting position, start curling with the next arm.

Cheat Principles

Here is an example, but this guy is definitely swaying and cheating. I couldn’t really find a good video for standing alternating bicep curls. Basically take this principle and instead of swaying, keep your elbows locked at your sides and just stand still while you curl.

When you get to the last rep, you may feel free to apply a cheat principle by either swaying a bit or by raising the elbows away from the body, but this should only be on the last rep of the set.

3. Hammer curl

The hammer curl is great for developing the forearms, brachialis, and brachioradialis. I’m not sure about you, but I can hammer curl more than I can traditional curl, and lifting more with good form is always better than lifting less.

To set up: grab two dumbbells and hold them down at your sides, arms straight, palms facing your body. Keep your elbows tucked in to your sides as soon as you start curling.

To hammer curl: you are basically curling the dumbbell up as high as it can go without moving the elbows. Ideally, the flat side of the dumbbell, at the top of the rep, should come close to touching the shoulder of the lifting arm. We call this a hammer curl because it looks like you are swinging a hammer. This means the palms face towards your body throughout the whole exercise.

This guy here is doing his hammer curls close to his body. This is one way you can alter the plane of motion in order to lift a bit more weight. Notice how he still keeps his elbows stationary though? That is the point you should away from this vid.

For those who are big fans of cardio equipment, most full-body cardio machines offer a way to work these muscles be providing handles. Think about the handles on rowing machines, the Maxi Climber, and elliptical machines; they all provide a neutral or pronated grip that you can use to get some extra work done on the hammer curl muscles at a super high rep range.

4. Supinated bent over rows

OK, now we get into the real biceps mass gainers, which also doubles as a variation on one of the best back exercises. When you curl you can use maybe 50-70 lbs dumbbells, or 120-150 lbs on a straight bar, but when you are rowing, you can load the bar up to well over 200 lbs. I personally remember bent over straight bar rows with 265+ lbs back in college.

To set up: you will be grabbing the bar with a supinated grip (palms up/away) with your hands about shoulder width apart. You will need to either unrack the bar from a rack or stand, or deadlift the weight into a standing position.

It is important to bent over so that your upper body is close to parallel to the floor, but not so much that your lower back rounds over. By pushing your butt back, you will be able to maintain a stronger core while getting lower to the floor.

To row: the row itself is simply bringing the bar up to touch your abdomen, and lowering it down so that your arms are just short of fully extended. As always, keep your elbows in, as opposed to flared out to the side.

5. Close grip chin ups

YES! Biceps mass will be well on its way once you master this exercise. By keeping your hands close together and focusing on your biceps to lift your body, you will be essentially doing bodyweight curls. How much do you weigh? 150? 180? 220? Can you straight bar curl that much? I didn’t think so.

There is a big difference between pull ups and chin ups though. While pull ups are good for your arms and back, close grip chin ups bring that whole movement to a whole new bicep-mass-building-level.

To set up: find a straight bar that you can comfortably reach from a standing position. Grip the bar with an underhand/supinated grip (your palms should be facing you). Keep the hands about 4-6 inches apart; they should be right outside your chin on either side.

If you are strong enough to do weighted pull ups or chin ups, add some weight either by crossing your feet and placing a dumbbell between your ankles, or hanging a couple plates from a weighted belt. A weighted belt should have a chain on one end and a loop on the other end, to which you should hook the chain. Put the chain through the hole in the middle of the plates and clasp the chain to the loop. Good stuff.

To chin up: an important aspect of chin ups, is getting your chin up over the bar. While this isn’t a dire necessity, if you don’t at least get your chin up to touch the bar, you can’t call the rep complete.The girl in the following video has better form than most of the male pull up videos I found on YouTube.

Honorable Mentions

preacher curls, concentration curls, seated incline curls – We prefer to highlight the most useful compound exercises before we give props to the unilateral or isolation exercises, but at minimum these 3 are fun to really pump up and build your peak.

Just real quick I’d like to show a preacher curl video. Bodybuilders love these, so they must work pretty well. When you do these, you don’t want to bring your forearms perpendicular to the floor, as this takes tension off the biceps. Here you go:

To integrate these exercises into a full-body workout program, you should choose either #4 or #5 as your main back exercise, and follow it up with any one of the first 3 exercises. This will allow you to lift the maximal weight on the compound movement, burn the biceps out with a direct biceps movement, and maintain your appearance as an ageless male. Even consider breaking up the back and biceps exercise with something else entirely (legs or chest perhaps) in order to give the biceps some additional recovery time.

To integrate these exercises into a training program that splits the body amongst different days, you can do exercise #4 and #5 on back day, and follow it up with any one of the first 3 exercises. I still recommend not using a dedicated bicep day or an arms day that focuses on the bis.

If you focus too much directly on biceps, you will just be spinning your wheels. They are more of a secondary muscle group, and for them to really grow and get stronger, all the large muscles around them (shoulders, triceps, back, and chest) need to get stronger first.

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180 Responses to “The Top 5 Best Biceps Exercises”

  1. Excellent article. I will surely follow it. Besides, I want to take some supplement or better if SARM because I think it is important to take it to gain more mass. I have seen guys taking Ligandrol in gym to gain mass and increase strength while doing work out. I am thinking to buy it online. Hope it should work for me to gain more mass and strength.

  2. I’ll get back with some pics once I finally achieve those ass-kickin biceps you’re talking about.

  3. So besides not working out my whole body , is working bis and chest every other day a bad idea for better/faster results ? I know rest is important but ive read so many diff opions on “oh you should only do it once a week” that just doesnt make sense to me that i need to let them rest that long. And also does my routine as far the exercises I’m doing look ok to you ?

    • You can definitely work any muscle group every 48 hours as long as you don’t KILL it every since workout. There’s no need to do 20 sets of chest and bis every other day. 6-8 sets is plenty. Make sure you hit the other muscle groups with equal volume and intensity, in fact back and legs can be trained 50% more than chest and 75% more than little muscle like biceps.

  4. Hey idk if u still reply to this but , Ive done a couple rounds of p90x and now I want to start getting mass in my arms and chest, I started a biceps and chest routine and do biceps every other day and chest and abs on the in between days and some
    Cardio (jump rope ) on certain days, something like this
    Monday biceps- ezCurl 5×5, hammer curl 3×6, regular curl 3×6, corkscrew curl 3×6 , preacher curl 3×8 and reverse grip chin ups 3 sets until failure
    Tuesday Chest – Cable chest press 3×8, incline dumbell press 3×8, Cable flys 3×8, Standard pushups 30, Decline pushups 20, Pike press 15 , Wide pushups 25 ( I do all pushups until failure I just gave an example ) and then I perform my an routine.
    Wednesday biceps – repeat
    Thursday Chest – repeat
    Friday Biceps – repeat
    Saturday Chest – repeat
    Sunday – rest
    I read that my bicep routine which I changed to my liking would be great every other day for 4 weeks on every other day and then a week off and then repeat this is why I do them every other day, is this bad ?

    • I think you have the wrong idea about getting a big chest and arms. You need to train your whole body, not just chest and bis. Otherwise if you don’t train back, legs, tris, etc…. then your chest and bis will be limited by the lack of development of the rest of your body. Just follow one of the Project Swole full body routines or Werewolf Training, and let me know how it goes.

  5. really gud work out Steve (Y) I have something to share too πŸ™‚ , Best thing to build biceps is chin ups. Find a suitable bar, put your hands on it with your palms facing you and just pull yourself up and down. If you do not have a suitable bar, use milk bottles, or any other suitable weight. just keep working them a lot, and you will see results .

  6. Looking for help. I have totally hit a wall, not making any strenght gains anymore. An example of my twice a week chest workout would be.
    Bench press 5 sets between 6-10 reps each.
    Incline bench 5 sets between 6-10 reps each.
    Dumbell Press 4 sets between 6-10 reps each.
    Close grip bench 5 sets between 6-10 reps each.
    Incline Close grip bench 5 sets between 6-10 reps each.
    Flys 5 sets between 6-10 reps.
    What am I doing wrong with this workout? I weigh 180 and seem to have maxed out at my bench at 255! About a year ago I could bench 270 πŸ™

    • We talked about this on the Project Swole Facebook page I think. I hope you can see some results after making the recommended changes to your routine.

  7. hi steve

    i have been working out about 8 months now but i am not getting the results i want. i have a 3 days on 2 off routine at home. i do chest and back day 1, bis and tris day 2 and shoulders and legs day 3. i am taking whey protein and serious mass gainer everyday. do you have any suggestions for a better routine for me thanks

  8. ok your top five are def different than the issa nsca would say… one, barbell rows of 226, how do you even get 226 on a bar? two, preacher curl and spider curl are more effective than standing barbell curls, bangbang! third off if you are going to quote the weider principles, use the ones that don't involve cheating, like battle of eccentric contractions isn't 10 times more effective than concentric contraction. fourth, 4&5 are compound lifts, so they involve other groups of muscle and it is remotely impossible to isolate bis from a row or pull up. I think four and five should be, preacher curl or incline dumbell curls, because these grow bis. and the fact that you said up to 226+ on BB rows means I'm probably going to void this entire entry to begin with, I did 315 for 8 reps when my bis were a mere 17 inches. overall point, go to a certified trainer for workout advise, and then make sure they are fit on their part… practice what you preach is a big deal in this field.

    • I am SO JEALOUS. I recently had surgery for a full rupture of my right distal biceps tendon and am rehabilitating it. I'm curling little-bitty weights like a girl. It'll take a few months to build back the "bithons."

  9. I normally do biceps with chest and triceps with shoulders….Could you please tell me how many sets of exercises should I for each of the above body parts?

    • Currently I follow the following plan:
      Chest: Flat Press- 3*10; Inclined Press- 3*10; Declined Press- 3*10; Push ups- 3 sets
      Biceps: Alternating rotating dumbbell curl- 3*10; Barbell Curl- 3*10; Concentration- 3*10; Hammer Curl- 3*10
      Shoulders: Front Shoulder Lifts- 3*10; Back Shoulder Lifts- 3*10; Dumbell Flies- 3*10; Dumbell Press- 3*10
      Triceps: Dips- 3 sets; Close grip push ups- 3 sets; Lying French Press- 3*10; One Hand Dumbell Curl- 3*10….
      Please suggest me how can I make my routine better…and what should be the ideal number of workout sets for each of these muscles.

      • No need to do push ups on chest day after all that other stuff. Too many sets for biceps. They are small. Pick two of those exercises and perform only 2 intense sets of each. I don’t know what front and back shoulder lifts are, and dumbbell flies are not for shoulders. Stick with overhead press movements – military press, dumbbell press, push press. You only need 2 shoulder exercises each workout, not 4. Triceps are overkill as well. Back off on the total volume, but keep dips and close grip push ups, but alternate in lying French press from time-to-time.

        Also, where is your leg and back training? Abs?

    • Chest, back, and legs, being large muscles, should be 2-3 exercises for a total of 7-9 working sets. Shoulders and triceps, being medium sized muscles, should each be 2 exercises for a total of 5-6 working sets. Biceps are very small and really only need 1-2 exercises and 4-5 total sets, especially if you are training back properly.

  10. Hi Steve,

    I am 47 years old. I started with training ten months ago. I attend a local gym. My workouts are:
    Mon: Chest
    Tues: Back
    Wed: Arms
    Thurs: Shoulders
    Fri: Legs
    Sat: Cardio
    Sun: Off

    I want to enlarge my arms because they are small.
    What can I do?
    I am a middle-aged man now and so I think that it was a little bit late for me to gain some more muscles πŸ™‚

    What is your opinion, please?

    There’s any idea to gain some big triceps and biceps?

    Thanking you in advance.

    Kind regards,

    • You can still gain plenty of muscle at your age. Train your triceps hardest because they make up 2/3 of your total arm mass. Use free weights and compound movements instead of machines and isolation movements.

  11. Steve, I’m trying to develop my own program that suits my goals and gives me some results. Do you see any problems with the following split?

    Monday-(Leg/shoulders) Hang Cleans, Front Squats, Military Press, Deadlift

    Wednesday-(Chest/Back/Arms/Abs) Weighted Chinups, Weighted Dips, Abs, Barbell Row, Diamond Pushups, Abs, Bicep Iso, Tricep Iso, Abs

    Friday-Repeat last Monday muscle groups with either same or different movements or higher rep schemes (endurance) for example Military Pressing, followed by a circuit lunges, sprints, jump squats,

    Next Monday-Repeat Last wednesday muscle groups with either same or different movements or higher rep schemes. Bodyweight Dips, Bodyweight Pullups, Dumbell Row, Bench Press, etc.

    Next Wednesday-Repeat First monday’s workout (Legs/Shoulders)

    Next Friday-Repeat first wednesday’s workout (chest/back/arms/abs)

  12. hi steve.
    my exercise shedule is

    i have spended nearly six months in gym..but i m not satisfied with the result..can u seggest me some good exercise that work..

    • Sorry but your workout plan is atrocious. You should not have one day dedicated to one arm muscle. Where is your leg training? Drop your current routine all together and start my Werewolf Muscle Training routine. Use the nutrition advice. Use some supplements. Follow the training routine without the optional cardio. Do it for 3 months and report back.

  13. I do 5×8 barbell curls,5×8 wide grip barbell curls then 5×8 close grip barbell curls and after it i cant lift anymore but i find if i do them in the morning then in the evening i can lift them again. is it ok if i workout out the biceps twice or three times a day then without over training as long as i get at least a week’s rest before another bicep day?

    • I don’t think it will hurt you, but I don’t see much sense in it. I’d use that time to train something else, like back in the morning and biceps at night.

  14. I use towel pull-ups as one of my main biceps and forearm exercises along with chin-ups and they feel great.

  15. Steve,

    I’ve never been a person that comments before I had to here as your site has helped me gain the missing weight I’ve been seeking for the past year. Keep up the great work and I’ll keep coming back.


  16. Alright, listen up kiddies…this guy Steve is speaking the truth. If you want big arms, you need to work your back and your legs. If you are an ectomorphic body type (thin-framed) like I am, you’ll have a tougher time gaining by using isolation exercises…you need compound movements. Blast your back and your legs and you’ll be swimming in testoterone which will aid in gaining overall size. I see too many young fellas in the gym training chest and biceps every single day…it doesn’t work. I’m a 40 year old man and I can outlift most 25 year old guys because they are overtraining some body parts and UNDERtraining others. If you want those 19 inch arms, you need to train your WHOLE body.

    You also need to FEED YOUR MUSCLES and REST. Stop eating a bunch of crap and expecting to grow. Protein, protein, protein. You need to eat 5-6 times per day…and McDonalds doesn’t qualify as “good food”.

  17. i do biceps and triceps together.. should i do this to gain muscle in biceps or should i change the routine.

    • Remember that triceps are 2/3 of your arm mass, biceps are only 1/3, so if you want big arms, focus on tris.

  18. Also I forgot to add I am alergic to milk so i take soy protein. Is there any thing you recommend me taking that will help add more muscle mass. I want to be at 160-165 by the fall.

    • Do you have access to Lactaid or Lactose-free milk, or Lactase pills? Those will allow you drink regular milk. Soy protein is not a good choice for men. Use foods like 2% (or whole) lactose-free milk, natural peanut butter, and flax oil to get more calories. Eat plenty of meat and fish for extra protein. Choose whole grains instead of white processed breads and pastas.

      • I am alergic to milk eggs and peanuts. I have soynut butter. I am not alergic to lactose. I am alergic to the protein in milk. when you mean speed dead and squats light weight constant reps. I do squat jumps with no weight.

  19. I am starting college rugby in the fall and am wondering what some good lifts are for rugby. Ive been doing bench squat and deadlift for 2 years. I weigh 145 pounds. I bench 190, squat 275 and dead 350. I want some workouts that will help with explosive speed and power.- thanks

    • If you want explosion train the Olympic lifts, and use lighter weights from time to time on squat, dead, bench, and overhead press. Using the lighter weights should allow you to use far greater speed and acceleration. You have a decent level of strength, so by using speed lifts you can translate that strength into power. In addition to learning the Olympic lifts, try using speed squats, jump squats, speed deadlifts, dynamic bench press, medicine ball toss (for shoulders), and read my post on Neural Activation Training (NAT).

  20. Hi Steve.
    I’m 19 years old and I kickbox but wanted to start gaining sum muscle and
    Strength. I do not go to the gym but I have plenty of dumbbells at home. Any suggestions on what routine I should do each week?

  21. On backs/biceps days, i do hammer curl, barbell curls, and 21s. Should i include “normal” curls and get rid of hammer curls?

  22. i see that youve mentioned doing back and bis together. i seem to have better results when i work back and tris on day 1 and chest and bis on day 2. it has been working, that way there is now muscle getting a break and day 1 is primary and day 2 would be secondary based on the muscle group being worked. allowing myself a day off on wednesdays and the weekend. i find the two day work out to be great also i mix up core excercise so day one would be abs and day 2 would be legs, and cardio everyday. how does this sound?? oh reps consist of 8-10×3 sets, and each muscle group has three workouts per.

    • I wouldn’t normally advocate training tris the day before training chest, but you should continue to do whatever works best for you.

  23. hi steve i am just starting to train, but started by getting diet and sleep and things like that right first, well i have bin training but want to do it properly now, but i have no idea how to put a routine together, i am into calisthenic exercises but want to include weights aswell, any help work be great, and found your information very useful thanks.

  24. Hi,
    I am 29 Yrs old, my workout schedule is as below,
    1)chest triceps
    2)cardio, abs
    4)cardio, Legs
    I have confusion that for biceps workout, should i start with dumbbell curls or Barbell curls? and about the weights range selection as higher to lower OR lower to higher?

    many thanks


    • You dedicate one full day to biceps training? I can’t support that. You should be training back & biceps together. Start the workout with either deadlifts, rows, or pull ups. Afterwards use 2 sets of barbell curls and 2 sets of dumbbell curls.

      • Hi Steve,

        Thank you so much for reply. I will use your suggestion.

        For biceps training i use to do 5-5 sets, I don feel tired even after that. I feel i have stamina to do more. i have been working out from last 4,5 months now, i don take any supplement.
        Do u recommend on Whey protein?

        many thanks for your response.


        • Yes, whey protein is great. You should also check out Shakeology, which is a complete meal in a very low calorie package.

  25. so what is a good rotation of a work our i usual do triceps and chest one day, biceps shoulders and upperback the next, lowerback and legs one day and a lot of abs everyday such as leg lifts 200+ situps and russian twists everyday, is this a good process?

    • Abs should be trained every other day just like any other muscle group. Day 1 chest & tris; day 2 back, shoulders & bis; day 3 legs? So is that like a M/W/F routine? If so, training abs each workout would be fine. I don’t think your routine is very specialized at all, but then I don’t know the details of it. Depending on your goal, you may want to consider using one of the Werewolf or Fat Loss routines here on Swole.

  26. Maybe you can help me with this…I am in the military and doing special forces prep workouts mon-fri. Each day is some type of running followed by field exercises and calisthenics, except for day 3 which is always pool day. Prior to this training I lifted quite often and had good size biceps but now I dont know how to fit them in to the routine seeing as no calisthenics we do work them at all.

    • Yes and no. Yes if you are using different kinds of exercise. For example, weight training every other day and endurance cardio on off-days. Or upper body day 1, lower body day 2, a full body HIRT workout day 3 (you never train to failure with HIRT workouts), then repeat. I highly suggest you take at least 1 day off every week for recovery though. Remember, your body only adapts (heals/recovers) when you are NOT training, and without proper recovery you will eventually plateau, over-train, and your progress will probably start to go backwards.

      • Yes i agree, it is great to workout daily and work individual muscle groups through out the week or if you divide your workouts by upper body or lower body. But the most important thing to keep in mind is not to over train. Its important to have atleast one or two days off in your routine. And if you work out your muscle groups individually then make sure to take a good amount of rest between days, meaning dont work out the same muscle group for atleast 3-5 days. Some pros might recommend 5-7, but I found better results with 3-5 days rest.

        • I have great results training 2 days on, 1 day off, 2 days on, weekends off, repeat. Sometimes I do extra workouts on the off days, but I never train to failure with extra workouts. I’ve also had great results with a M/W/F full body routine. Rest is definitely the key to making progress.

  27. Hi steve,
    I’ve been training for about 6 months now.
    Whenever I workout my back+biceps, I feel like my biceps is already quite tired after my back workout, so I’m not able to do alot of excercises/reps. I thought that was okay because I worked it out with my back aswell. The problem is that my biceps isnt really growing good, so are there any changes possible to seperate back and biceps because I feel like this just isnt working out for me.

    • So add 2-4 sets of biceps training on days when you aren’t training back that day, the previous day, or the following day.

  28. Hi steve, I’m a 15 year old and am just starting out on weight traing. My main goals are to get massive biceps and chest. Can you suggest some good workouts and the frequencies needed to build these muscles with just a barbell and dumbells?

    • The biggest mistake you will make when starting to train, is to focus on ‘massive biceps and chest’. If you do that, you will look back in 5 years and wish you hadn’t wasted your first couple years training only biceps and chest. Use a full body routine or a 2 day split. Be sure to train your back and legs just as much as chest and arms. Remember triceps are 2/3 of your arm mass, so train them harder than biceps. I’ve gotta write a noobie tips post.

  29. can i do triceps on the same day i work my biceps.if yes then can somebody pls tell me what can be the most effective or top exercises for triceps to get it bigger . i’m 19 yrs old .so i want exercises according to my age .i workout in my local gym.want to be a bodybuilder

  30. hey steve im 16 and have been working out for about a year now my routine is this
    1)chest tri
    2)day off
    3)shoulder and bis
    4) abbs/cardio
    5)day off
    6) legs/back
    my biceps seem to be laking peak so ive been trying to get them up to par but havent been seeing much any advice?

    • Do chin ups on back day and on biceps day. Use supinated grip on your over rows on back day. Add 1 biceps exercise on chest day.

        • To me, arm day is counterproductive unless you use compound exercises on that day, and there really are no compound arm exercises that don’t work back and chest, so arms day would become chest, back, and arms day.

  31. I’ve talked with several competitive body builder, and they all have told me that i should do all of my “pull” exercises together and all of my “push” exzercise together. Then do legs seperate and shoulders seperate (each on a seperate day). Im tryin to gain mass and strength, and Im always open for a suggestion. I also like to switch the routine up and so I keep the muscles guessing. What do you think?

    • A workout routine like that should work just fine, but I’d put shoulders on the “push” day simply because shoulders are a small muscle group and do not need a dedicated day. If you want to train 4 times a week do this:

      Day 1: Push – chest, tris, shoulders
      Day 2: Legs – hamstring dominant, abs, dynamic effort squats
      Day 3: off
      Day 4: Pull – horizontal back, vertical back, biceps and grip training
      Day 5: Legs – quad dominant, abs, dynamic effort bench press
      Day 6 & 7: off

      Just a suggestion.

      • Can you elaborate on dynamic effort squats/bench, horizontal back and vertical back?

        Also what is the best way to work the legs to gain mass while at home? Ive gotten so tired at waiting around in the gym. So all I really have to work with is a straight bar, bench and dumb bells.

        During tricep days should I do reg bench, decline and incline bench consecutively since they tend to hit different areas of the chest or is it best to transition them bi-weekly?

        I want to keep things simple, at the gym there is just too much going on at any given time and with so many options its easy to get confused. Is it likely that I can get a good muscle building workout by doing split routines with 3 main compound exercises each session paired up with three isolating moves? In order to get the most out of muscle confusion I was thinking about changing up the isolated moves each time depending on the workout.

        • Dynamic effort is when you use 50% of your 1 rep max, for 8 sets of 3 reps, moving the weight as fast as you can for those 3 reps. You literally pull it down, reverse it, and push it back up as quickly as possible. It should only take you about 1-2 seconds to complete each set. You are training for speed/power/force development, not to get a pump or to lift heavy weight.

          Horizontal back mean rows. Vertical means pullups/chinups.

          At home, use jump squats, speed squats, tabata bodyweight squats.

          Your thoughts on workout simplicity seem accurate, although I don’t see the need for 3 isolating movements after you complete the 3 compounds lifts. Don’t overtrain.

  32. I agree with a lot of your practices…..I wanted to shed light on another bicep exercise that has helped me a lot. I don’t know if this has a proper name or not because I kind of made it up, but I call it inverted cable curls. First you need a preacher curl seat (so yull have somewhere to rest your elbows and to keep from swinging your body) and set it in front of a cable machine with the cable setting all the way to the floor….and you will need a rope attachment. Place the seat in front of the cable machine and set down. The best way to explain the grip is to hold your hands palm facing outward…kind of like if you were getting change from a cashier. You want the end of the rope to be coming out the bottom of your fist, the ball on the end of the rope is going to be against your pinkey fingers. Remember to keep tension on the bicep all the way thru this motion top to bottom….I usually extend as far down as I can without locking my elbows. Since I’ve started doing this exercise I’ve gained a lot of width and strength on my bicep. Give it a try and lemme know what you think.

  33. This guy is a joke? Do you not use your arms when you work your back? You must be magical. Most experts agree that compound movements put far more mass on your body than isolation movements.Work your back as hard as you can, and there is no reason why your biceps should not be toast with it. Shoot, some say that you can get bigger arms not even working them,… by doing compount movements.Dead lifts and squats are said to put mass on the whole body,…..

  34. this guy is a joke, you dont do back exercises to build biceps and expect results… the back will do majority of the work with little bicep stimulation. to get big BI’s you lift big,hard and exclude as many muscles from helping the biceps doing the work. get a clue bud

    • 2-3 sets of 2-3 exercises for biceps curls each week plus heavy back training is all you really need to grow your biceps. A serious bodybuilder might want to dedicate a couple more sets each week if biceps are a lagging body part. Otherwise overtraining the biceps is a waste of time.

    • When I started doing deadlifts, bent over rows, and squats, my bicep max increased 30 pounds and that was with no extra training of my biceps.

  35. I don’t have a full day devoted to arms, I always work biceps during my chest day…here’s what I do for biceps on that workout day…

    BB Curls 4×10
    Incline Curls 3×10
    Hammer Curls 3×10

    My question is this – On my back days I do medium grip chin ups and supinated BB rows. Do you think I would gain more mass if I switched out either incline or hammer curls with close grip chin ups? And if I did that, I suppose on my back day I would switch my BB rows to pronated. What do you think?

  36. The Top 5 Best Biceps Exercises…

    The top 5 best biceps exercise to give your favorite show muscle a rippling peak….

  37. I really like you start by describing the anatomy first and then the exercises. Makes it easier to understand to follow.

  38. Hi,
    I’m 18 yrs old, 6ft, and 164pds. I been working out for a couple months now and I’ve gained about 9 pds. But now I’m stuck right there and I’m trying to get to 170. Would drinking 2 whey protein shakes a day help? Because I’m only taking one after I workout. Also is shoulders and chest a weird combination to workout? I have a 6 six pack but its not really chiseld and defined. Any workouts for abs? Thanks, I really appreciate it. (:

    • To get thicker abs, use extra weight in your exercises. Instead of doing 30-50 reps, use enough weight to limit your reps to 5-10. This will make your abs stronger and thicker.

  39. how is close grip chin ups different from close grip pronated pull ups? I want to focus more on building my biceps than my back but for some reason, i seem to be able to do more reps with the pronated version. which is better for my biceps?

    • Chin ups will hit your biceps more. Pull ups hit the back and other arm muscles more, but biceps to a small extent.

  40. Great article! But with biceps i think less is best! If you have a good back workout your biceps are getting hit alot! So if you spend to much time on biceps you are going to overtrain them! So stick with the basics, and consume the right foods, protein, good carbs, good fats, rest and your biceps should grow!!

  41. In regards to supinated bent over rows. How much of an effect does that exercise really have on the bi’s? It seems more like a back exercise?

    • Especially when supinated, bent over rows are excellent for the biceps and upper back. When pronated, bent over rows are an OK biceps stimulator, but when supinated you are sort of doing a modified curl. Trust me, it works.

  42. or should i do:

    e.g. biceps – bicep curl (3 sets) and hammer curl (3 sets) in one week. (10 reps per set)

    E.G. Pecs – bench press (6 sets) and Dumbbell flys (6 sets) in one week. 10 reps per set)

    • I’d rather see:
      Day 1: flat chest – 4 sets x 5 reps, other muscle groups, dumbbell incline chest – 3 sets x 8 reps, other muscle groups, biceps – 3 sets x 10 reps
      day off
      Day 2: other muscle groups, incline chest – 3 sets x 5 reps, other muscle groups, dumbbell flat chest – 3 sets x 8 reps, biceps – 3 sets x 8 reps
      day off
      Day 3: other muscle groups, dumbbell flat chest – 3 sets x 10 reps, other muscle groups, biceps – 3 sets x 5 reps
      2 days off

      Don’t forget to train legs, back, shoulders, triceps, and abs too. Dumbbell flyes are not all that necessary, but could be used in a superset with some back or leg exercise. Don’t prioritize them though.

      • thanks

        but how many sets should i do in a week if i was to do:

        incline bench press, flat bench press, decline bench press and dumbbell flys.(in one week)
        should it be 12 sets a week of each or 12 sets in total

  43. im confused. how many exercises and sets for each muscle should i do.

    i do:
    e.g. biceps – bicep curl (6 sets) and hammer curl (6 sets) in one week. is this enough or too much. (10 reps per set)

    E.G. Pecs – bench press (8 sets) and Dumbbell flys (8 sets) in one week. is this enough or too much.(10 reps per set)

  44. How do you feel about doing biceps with chest and triceps with back? I used to always do triceps with chest and biceps with back (as I believe most people do) but wanted to give 100% on the arm exercises so I switched up the routine. So this way I can get some bicep work in on back day and then do more weight/sets when I do the isolation work on the other day than I would if I did it on back day.

    • That’s great news! Can you actually send me the link to the post where you found that info? I don’t seem to remember writing about the secrets of immortality, but I’d love to refresh my memory.

  45. Hi Steve, I was wondering if you could give me your opinion on my workout routine. Day1= chest,legs. Day2= back, biceps. Day 3= shoulders, triceps. I do 4 sets of 4 exercises for each body part. Is this ok, or is this too much for some body parts (like biceps)? I also do abs every other day or every two days.

    I have just recently started checking out this site and I have already come to realize how important mixing up your workout is through your posts. I got into a routine and was doing the same exercises all the time, then after coming on here I decided to mix it up, and boy did I feel it, I hit muscles at different angles and in different ways and I had not felt that sore since when I first started working out. So I just wanted to say thanks too (sorry for the long post)

  46. Hey Steve,

    Thanks for the website as I base my routine on a lot of this stuff and it is working well with my full body workout. However, recently I have developed a sore right wrist from what I believe is from doing 5 sets of pushups on my “off days”. I weightlift every other day and on other days do cardio w/pushups. Do you think the aore wrist is from overkill on pushups or even maybe the hang/clean/press lift I also do.


  47. i usually do
    Tri’s, shoulders, and back on mon
    bi’s, chest, and forearms on wed
    legs and abs on fri
    and im usually in the gym for about two hours maybe a lil longer but that includes a 20 min jog except for fridays because i work legs that day.
    What do you Think?????

  48. Hey Steve, I was wondering if a seated row with a straight bar would suffice for supinated bent over rows. I realize you, and myself as well, like free weights, but was just curious if that would get it done too.. Thanks

    • Supinated cable rows can be substituted for supinated bent over barbell rows, but they will be only a fraction as effective.

  49. Hi steve, ive been working hard the past 5 months. im very comfortable except for my biceps can you tell me a workout so it grows really really big? i dont drink protein shake because the doctor told me so.. please help.. thank you!!

  50. hey steve can you give me some advice on my routine

    i workout 4 times a week, most of the time for 2 hours, have seen improvements but not to the extent i want (been going to the gym for around 5 months now)

    each muscle i try and do at least 5 different exercises with at least 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps

    i incorporate some compound lifts such as bench for chest, chin ups for bicep, and squats when i do legs


    what do you think?

  51. Hey steve, need some advice on if my routine is good or not

    I’m skinny (133 lbs) seeing improvements but not to the extent i want (i’ve been going to the gym for probably about 5 months now)

    my workout generally consists of this, and each muscle i try to do at least 5 different exercises where i try to do at least 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps:

    monday-chest: bench, flys, push ups, dips etc.

    tuesday-biceps/triceps/forearms: for biceps i usually do at least 5 different bicep routines; some isolation lifts such as curls as well as incorporating some chin ups also. then i proceed to do several tricep exercises such as skull crushers, dips, pushdowns


    thursday-legs (squats, deadlifts, leg press, etc.)

    friday-back/shoulders: wide grip pullups, cable rows, etc. for back and upright rows, barbell presses, etc. for shoulders.

    would you say this is a good routine?

  52. dear Steve
    im 13 years old and i work out a lot. period.
    gym every day and i get results , but i don’t loose the fat,
    i have a steady diet and control my workouts too
    but i just don’t loose the fat
    please give me advise..i am pretty strong and got my abs but no fat loss
    please help

    • You are eating too much. Keep eating all the protein you eat, but go down some on your carbohydrates. While it is true that you need more calories to get buff, the calories your body doesn’t use goes towards making you tubby. Still, eat tho =)

  53. Hi, u said 3 sets of 3 exercises for the biceps as a max, does tht include the compound back movements? Also, i am 14 years old and cant afford whey protien at the moment, can i meet my protien requirments if quiet a lot of it comes from sources such as beans and stuff, not all of it, i get meat and milk too but a fair chunk of it? by the way this site is very useful, thanks.

    • I think its more beneficial to get your protein from real food more than from a SUPPLEMENT. Having said that, Six star muscle brand is pretty cheap and it works. Steve recommends Optimum Nutrition and its pretty damn good also.

  54. Hey there steve I found your website very helpful at distinguishing the muscle exercises for building biceps. I am 16 and I wondered if you could recommend me a workout routine please. My gym is is very modern so I can use any equipment there. I use whey protein supplements and they are giving me the farts…eww. My friend said I must be doing the wrong muscle workouts as I have been foccusing on chest and arms. I can access my gym on week nights or any time during the weekend just not in the morning. My friend also said if I do cardio it would just burn my muscle. Also sorry but should I eat before I work out?. And what is the best timing to drink the protein supplement. I usually put the powder in a bottle and fill it with water during work out. sorry for demanding so much, but your feedback is excellent so πŸ˜€

    • “eww”?

      Anyway, do the Werewolf workout routines or full body fat loss for men. You can eat carbs and protein an hour before a workout, or drink the protein shake. A post workout shake like Biotest Surge Recovery is good for post-workout.

    • No, it’s too much. You need maybe 2 sets of 2 exercises or at most 3 sets of 3 exercises. If you are doing the compound lifts like pull ups, rows, deadlifts, etc… then using 5 exercises twice a week for biceps is over kill and your bis probably won’t grow that well.

  55. Hey steve
    i ahve jus joined up a local gym…and the thing is there aint any proper trainer over here… and am made to do the same set of exercises everyday…and i read sumwhere tht each day diff sets of muscles need to be exercised :-s is it true? and if so wht exercises wud u recommend for a beginner?


  56. After Reviewing a bunch of the workouts i was wondering if it would be better to do full body workouts rather then separated workouts. Cause i see a lot of exercises that look great that i haven’t tried before and would like to try out. In the past i had always done separated workouts like, chest, bis, shoulders and triceps on monday. Then Tuesday would consist of back, legs and some abs. I’ve always been pretty skinny so i never felt cardio was really a necessary thing in my workouts.

  57. Dear, Steve Im 14 years old I take creatine and protein I just started working out a week ago and am seeing some results thank you for the straight forward information. Im going to use the bicep information at the gym ( I run 3 miles to the gym and 3 back) then work out for 1 1/2 hours doing bech press and biceps is there anything else i should do to get ripped i would like to have a toned chest and tricep in 1 month in time for my dads wedding i havnt seen my family in a couple years and i want them to think Im crazy strong when they see me thank you
    P.S Im not far Im pretty skinny but i am thinking about taking fat burners so i can lose a lot of my fat and start over with muscle

    • Charles: Are you trolling for conflict or are you serious? If you are serious, I have to ask if you’ve read any of my other posts. Forget about chest and bicep training, and use full body workouts. If you just to chest and bis you are only asking for trouble. Trust me.

  58. Thanks for this…a very useful and informative site. I really like the accompanying video demonstrations and the straight to the point approach. Great job.

  59. Thanks for your advice steve, I really appretiate it and I’ll try to take onboard what you’ve said, but I just have one question to ask you so I fully understand what your trying to say…you know when you say about a diminishing return, well are you saying that the time if I spend an hour doing cardio before my weights and then do 2 and a half hours weights that the hour’s cardio makes the time I spend doing the weights pointless?

    Coz even thought I say I do 4 hour workouts, only 2 and a half hours of that is on weights, coz I do an hours cardio and 30 mins situps inbetween these days.

    Thanks again for your advice and I’ll keep checking to see if you’ve replied.

    I hope you dont take anything I’ve said the wrong way, believe me mate, I dont have an attitude and I trust that you know more then I do…..I’m just asking these questions because I really want to understand….

    It’s just when I’m in gym I really love my workouts, and I have loads of energy from start to finish, and I’ve seen great progress in my body recently, my legs, back, shoulders, arms and chest all seem to be getting toned up more then ever before and I’ve been losing weight too so I feel like it’s all been working for me, I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life. Seriously a few years ago I was heading for a heart attack and now I’ve turned it all around.

    I dont use steroids, I take a protein shake though, I dont believe in steroids, I think they’re dangerous and I’d never touch them.

    My friend takes 5 protein shakes a day and 5 meals a day where as I just take one protein shake a day and 2 meals. I was 24 stone, I’m now 18 stone, still trying to lose weight around the stomache but all other body parts are looking better then ever before.

    You might think I’m extreem but it’s just the reasons I go to gym a lot is because I was probably heading for an early grave and I want a six pack for the girls lol, I know that sounds sad but the ladies like guys with six packs I think so thats what I’m aiming for.

    Hope to hear from you soon mate.

    • It just seems like you are doing too much. I would never have someone do an hour of cardio then lift. If anything I would have someone lift, then do 30 minutes of cardio. Keep doing whatever works for you, but when progress slows down then you should cut back on volume. In the meantime I guarantee you are not making the most of your time if you are exercising for more than 60 minutes at a time. You’d be better off doing one hour in the morning and one hour at night, if anything.

  60. hey steve…my biceps is nt growing up..what i feel it just stuck…. 6 month before it was 16inch and nw its like same…wht shd i do for making them big even i m taking protein powders…

    • sameer: Increase your chin ups and bent over supinated (palms up) barbell rows to target your biceps directly. Increase your triceps work to balance out the opposite muscle group. Just adding more curls is not the answer.

  61. SkScotchegg: I’m not quite sure what to tell you. Maybe you are genetically blessed to handle that much volume, but 99.9% of people could not handle it. I’m not going to tell you how to train, but it has been scientifically proven time and again that high intensity training for more than 45 minutes at a time will deliver diminishing returns past that 45 minute limit. That is not do say that most people couldn’t push it to 60-75 minutes with great success, but the law of diminishing returns states that you are better off stopping your workout at 60 minutes in a single session.

    Perhaps you would get even better results if your broke your training up into 2-a-days. Workout your upper body in the morning and lower body at night. Or do cardio in the morning and a full body training session at night. This way you can still train for 2 hours a day but your body will be more apt to recover properly from each workout.

    I predict that you will eventually plateau from training so much, or that you will end up sick or injured. You should listen to your body and do what it tells you to do, but training for 4 hours a day is going to take a toll on you eventually, even if you are juiced to the gills (using steroids).

  62. Hi there Steve, great website. I just wanted to ask a question because above you said to some guy to cut down his 3-4 hour workout to 60 mins. The thing is, I do the same, I usually workout 3 to 4 hours and I love it, I’m addicted to the gym, and I dont really want to reduce my workout time, surely I’m not wasting my time? I could be at home sat on the sofa eating a takaway, but instead I’m working out in the gym 4 times a week 3-4 hours a time. I’ve lost around 6 stone over past 2 and a bit years and I’ve gained muscle, I’m in the best shape of my life. Usually when I go to gym I do 45-60 mins cardio and then the remaining 2-3 hours I do weights, but also in that last 2-3 hours I fit in 30 mins for just situps. I have a day of inbetween each workout day, and I usually do triseps & back mondays, legs & shoulders wednesday, chest & biseps friday, and I love my routine, I’ve adapted it over time and modified it and added to it, and when I look at your website, even before I found your website, I was already doing 99% of the things you tell us to do, and I learnt all of this for myself over the years, I’ve never had a trainer or looked at a website for advice untill I found yours a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been working out in the gym since september 2007. So I just want to know what you think about what I do, and if its ok, I’m trying to do the right thing, and I dont really want to cut down my hours in the gym, coz I enjoy it, and I’m serious about what I do, I’m one of the biggest guys in my gym, theres prob 500 members and I’m prob in the top 3, I’m 6 foot 4 and 18 stone, I used to be 24 stone back in september 2007 but I lost the 6 stone with all the cardio I been doing. And even today I still do cardio 4 days a week and weights 4 days a week, I do my cardio before I do the weights on the same 4 workout days I do each week, some people tell me not to, but I feel I workout better on the weights when I do cardio first, I know others do cardio after weights but this is what I prefer. Sorry for typing so much, but I had a lot to say as this is my first post lol. Thanks agin Steve. xxx

    • RKS: That all depends on your genetic makeup, and where the bicep ties into the radius. There’s no way to target the end of the bicep brachii, as it is all one muscle. I recommend maybe some concentration curls and hammer curls to help fill out your biceps, but that’s the best I can do.

  63. Just reading the previous post before me I noticed the reply on the body movement and how Steve replied there is a time for that. My own opinion there never is a time for improper body movement. If the individual wants to max out the weight I think they should be stationary.I am sure Steve meant that would be the proper way.

  64. When I first started working out I was always about how many reps and how much weight should I tackle. After the first year I got to into a routine. I found myself more comfortable with certain exercises and neglecting a lot of the smaller ideal exercises that in the end are the best result for further building the original muscles you set out for. sorry for the long sentence.

    We all search the internet to find out what and how to build but if you really want to build it you have to listen to your body.

  65. As a fitness professional, I was alarmed by the horrible form displayed in many of these exercises. Especially the hammer curl, the goal of the exercise is to isolate the muscle, if you are using you back as much as he is then that weight is too heavy. Make sure the people doing the exercises are doing them properly.

    • JT: You are right, some people use far too much body movement to complete their reps. There is a time and place for cheating, at the end of the last set of an exercise, otherwise form should be of top importance.

      • JT and Steve…you both have it right. It is unbelievable how bad the form is in most of the videos. Ironically, the directions above the third video for the alternating rotating dumbell curls say to ONLY sway yuor body on the last set, however the meat head is swaying his body the entire time. Try standing in place and curling that weight, I highly doubt he would be able do one rep without swaying. Right on JT and Steve!

      • Hi Steve am doing work out for the past 1.7 years bt y arms ar not growing as far my expectations,i have tried and presently doing all kinds of arm exercise but they are not showing any result..As far i have tried many protein supplements also starting from MAss Fuel to Whey Protein and ending with Taurine,Glutamine And Creatine but i cant see any improvment…so can you please suggest what to do next so to get good arms

        • Start focusing more on the larger muscle groups and less on the arms, and then your arms will grow. Eat large amounts of food in order to gain weight. Supplements will not help you as much as you might think they do.

  66. Lewallen is right. The girl in the first video needs help. She’s throwing the weight up. This is going to hurt her back. She looks like she is in shape but apparently she has not been trained properly. What’s sad is that unqualified people like this are gym trainers all over America.

  67. You don’t know what kind of bar she’s using?? LMAO

    She’s also swinging too bad which will result in damaged muscle. It doesn’t matter what kind of bicep exercise you do. Do anything for a given period of time and your muscle will grow. I’ve seen dozens of big muscular guys doing different workouts that result in the same. Big muscles.

    • That is one wacky bar. It’s an ez curl bar with some kind of rotational doohickies hanging off of it, blah blah blah… Just curl heavy weight and train your back to make your biceps grow. ’nuff said

  68. great site – very helpful.
    Not too much needless info like other sites.

    Im working out hard and long now (3-4hr sessions) – too long.
    Need more quality work..

    • Thanks for the comments Jadon. Cut those workouts down to 60 minutes tops. For 99% of people, exercising after the 45 minute mark results in a significant decrease in your return on effort.

  69. […] be done by either sitting on a chair or standing. However, you need a pair of dumb bells to perform bicep exercises at […]

  70. So true about everybody obsessed with biceps haha. It always amazes me working in a gym to see people spend one whole day on biceps. They don’t listen either!

    Good stuff

    Altug – Great post Gerry,

    Working in a gym environment you are constantly asked to show people ab exercises. 9 times out of 10 when I ask them what there goal is, it’s to lose weight around the stomach.

    It’s a shame all of these commercials for ab belts and stuff make people believe that to lose fat they have to work the stomach!

    Keep up the good work

    Altug – Build Muscle Fast

  71. This is a really great informative post. I really liked the bar the girl was using in the first video. My favorit exercise is the row with about 210lbs.

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