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15 Bicep Stretches to Build Your Upper Arm Strength

As one of the 2 main muscle groups in your upper arm, bicep stretches are helpful to stay flexible so that you are able to maintain strength in your upper arm. 

Most individuals neglect the biceps when it comes to upper body stretches. This can lead to injury, so it's important to stretch your biceps before and after workouts. 

Why Should You Stretch Your Biceps?

person-holding-stretch-for-biceps

Your biceps muscle attaches your shoulder blade to your lower arm. It is responsible for elbow and forearm flexion (bringing your forearm up by bending your elbow).

Since a lot of exercises require bicep strength, stretching your biceps is vital. When the bicep gets tight, your biceps muscle doesn’t have the range of motion to fully lengthen so your shoulder blade is yanked downward. This can have a devastating effect on other muscles that surround your shoulder blade.

As a result, stretching your biceps is a key component to preventing injury, and maintaining function in your upper body. 

Benefits of Stretching Biceps

person stretching their biceps

 

Some of the main benefits that come with stretching biceps are increased flexibility, a higher range of motion, and muscle relief. Let's take a look at some of the benefits in detail.

Increased Flexibility

Stretching your biceps helps improve your flexibility, which is an essential ingredient for pain-free movement. While exercise may be optional, movement is essential, so making sure your movement is pain-free is a primary goal.

Increased flexibility in your biceps will also make you less susceptible to nagging strains that can hinder your daily routine.

Since your bicep is directly attached to your shoulder and lat muscles, increased flexibility can help inhibit any arising postural issues. 

Higher Range of Motion

Higher range of motion is also a significant benefit of stretching the biceps. By extending your range of motion to greater lengths.

Since most injuries occur at a range of motion that is beyond an individual’s threshold, a higher range of motion gives your body more latitude to operate without concern of injury. 

If you want to increase your range of motion as fast as possible, incorporate forearm stretches into your routine so that you're stretching your entire arm.

Faster Recovery Times

Recovery is a crucial part of any wellness routine, as your ability to reset your body from work, stress, and sport is critical. By stretching the biceps, you will improve blood flow and circulation, softening the fascia in your muscles, and giving you faster recovery times.

With faster recovery times, your body will bounce back faster and more efficiently from those tough core workouts! In turn, you can find more time and energy for doing the things you love. 

Relieve Muscle Tension

Muscle tension can be uncomfortable, annoying, and sometimes outright painful. Within your upper body, muscle tension can restrict your ability to carry heavy objects, perform any laborious household duties, and more. 

Yet, stretching the biceps can be a vital part of relieving muscle tension. When you have muscle tension, it’s normally accompanied by tightness and soreness. Once you stretch the biceps, you are essentially giving your muscles oxygen to “breathe”. 

Furthermore, studies have shown that if you breathe and hold the stretch, your body begins to adapt, reducing the tension dramatically.

When Should You Stretch Biceps

person holding bicep

The best times to stretch the biceps are after you wake up, before you go to sleep, and before or after you workout.  

When rising in the morning, bicep stretches can be helpful to wake up the muscles that have been dormant for 8ish hours. 

Before sleep, bicep stretches are beneficial to eliminate any tightness that was accumulated by your day. 

Before your workout, a proper warm-up to activate your working muscles should include bicep stretches.

And post-workout, bicep stretches are worthwhile to inhibit delayed onset muscle soreness. 

Bicep Stretches Best Practices

bicep stretches best practices

In order to get the most out of your bicep stretches, there are 2 key ingredients. 

First, maintain your breath. Breathing with discipline can help you stay comfortable within your stretch and prolong your time under tension. 

Second, keep control. Don’t yank or pull your arm beyond your capabilities to try to get “more” of a stretch. Staying in control of your body and listening to your body should dictate how you progress. 

How to Stretch Biceps

Now that you know you should be stretching your biceps, here are the best bicep stretches to incorporate into your routine. 

15. Standing Bicep Stretch

The standing bicep stretch is an effective stretch because it also puts the shoulders into extension. This gives the standing bicep stretch a unique position. 

Here are the steps:

  1. While standing, interlace your hands behind your back 
  2. Now, start to straighten your arms while keeping your hands interlaced and your palms face down. 
  3. Holding tension, raise your arms up your spine as high as you can.
  4. Breathe and hold

You should feel your biceps, shoulders, and chest open up after completing this stretch. 

14. Arm Swings

Arm swings are a dynamic bicep stretch that is a great choice for pre-workout stretching. 

Here are steps:

  1. Start by standing up straight with your knees slightly bent, and your arms stretched our horizontally on each side 
  2. Now, cross your arms with the right arm higher than the left, as if your right hand is trying to grab your left shoulder blade, and your left arm is trying to grab your right shoulder blade. 
  3. Then, bring both arms back to starting position and repeat, this time with your left arm above your right. 

Besides being a good warm-up exercise, the benefits of arm swings are compounded by the shoulder abduction and adduction.

13. Seated Bicep Stretch

The seated bicep stretch provides similar benefits to the standing bicep stretch, but with a little bit less intensity.

Here are the steps:

  1. Start by sitting with your knees bent and your feet resting flat in front of you.
  2. Then, place your hands on the floor behind you, fingers pointed away from you. 
  3. When ready, start scooting your butt towards your feet, but keeping your hands in place.
  4. If you want to progress further, scoot your butt towards your feet and then lift your butt off the ground.

If you lack mobility in the biceps and shoulders, the seated bicep stretch is a better option than the standing bicep stretch.

12. Doorway Bicep Stretch

The doorway bicep stretch is excellent since the doorway acts as an anchor point for stability. 


Here are the steps:

  1. Start by standing in a doorway and using your right hand, anchor your hand to the doorway slightly above waist height, so that the doorway provides secure support.
  2. Then, step forward with your left foot and lean forward over the left knee and foot like you’re doing a lunge. Make sure your left hand is grasping the door firmly. 

Utilizing a movement in the legs to power a stretch in the biceps makes this a good functional stretch for athletes. 


11. Horizontal Arm Extension

Another dynamic stretch, horizontal arm extensions can actually fatigue your shoulders and biceps, so make sure you’re prepared.


Here are the steps:


  1. Standing or sitting, extend your arms horizontally out to each side, parallel to the floor.
  2. Internally rotating your shoulders, point your thumbs down so your palms face behind you. 
  3. Now switch by externally rotating your shoulders with your thumbs pointed up and your palms facing forward. 
  4. Quickly alternate back and forth. 

Moving your shoulders through internal and external rotation while stretching your biceps makes this a great stretch for all individuals, no matter your activity level. 

10. Wall Bicep Stretch

The wall bicep stretch also uses an anchor, allowing you to increase the stretch by changing your hand placement.


Here are the steps:


  1. Standing directly next to a wall, press your left palm firmly against the wall. 
  2. Then, rotate your chest, back and hips away from the wall, maintaining contact with your left hand. 
  3. You can hold the stretch, or move back and forth dynamically.
  4. Repeat on both sides

Varying your hand placement can provide different muscle tension relief, so use trial and error to find what suits your best. 

9. Horizontal Hand Rotations

Horizontal hand rotations may not “feel” like stretching, but they do serve a specific purpose.


Here are the steps:  

  1. While standing with your arms by your sides, rotate your shoulders forward by turning your thumbs down.
  2. Then, switch and rotate your shoulders backward by turning your thumbs up.
  3. While rotating back and forth, maintain tension in your arms and shoulders for maximum engagement

The simplicity of moving your shoulders through rotation is an effective tool for maintaining integrity in your biceps. 

8. Arm Circles

You may remember arm circles from your elementary school P.E. class, and for good reason, since it’s an effective dynamic stretch!


Here are the steps:


  1. Start by standing straight up with your arms extended horizontally out to each side, parallel to the ground.
  2. Then, keeping your arms straight, start moving your arms forward, upward, backward, and downward in small circles in a clockwise direction. 
  3. Progressing slowly, increase the circle circumference to medium and large circles.
  4. Next, repeat in a counterclockwise direction. 

Arm circles hit 4 primary movements in your shoulders (protraction, retraction, elevation, depression), making them a great option if short on time. 

7. Hanging Bicep Stretch

The hanging bicep stretch requires use of a pullup bar and is one of the best bicep and full body decompressions. 


Here are the steps:


  1. Starting under the pull-up bar, reach and grab with both hands. You can use a bench or step if you can’t reach the bar.
  2. While breathing, relax your shoulders and let your body hang.
  3. To progress to a deeper stretch, lift your feet off the ground or bench and hold. 

The stretch you feel in your biceps while lengthening the spine makes the hanging bicep stretch a great post-workout or pre-bedtime stretch to counter any tightness in the arms and back from hunching, typing, texting, etc. 

6. Table Bicep Stretch

The table bicep stretch is another stretch that utilizes shoulder extension to emphasize a stretch in the biceps. 


Here are the steps:


  1. Start by standing in front of a table and reach behind you to place your palm firmly on the table.
  2. Then, slowly begin moving your hips and feet away from the table until you feel the tension in your bicep
  3. Breathe and hold

In this stretch, your wrist is also in extension, and the tension can also produce a nerve glide through your arm. 

5. Wall Corner Stretch

The wall corner stretch utilizes two walls and attacks both the biceps and the pectoral muscles.


Here are the steps:


  1. Start by standing facing the corner in between two walls. 
  2. Next, bring both of your arms out horizontally at shoulder height.
  3. When ready, place your left palm on the left side wall and your right palm on the right side wall.
  4. Then, lean further into the walls’ corner until you feel tension in your biceps. 

If you lift weights frequently, the wall corner stretch is an effective stretch to loosen up your upper body. 


4. Standing Behind-the-Back Stretch

Standing behind-the-back stretch utilizes interlaced hands that you commonly find in several yoga poses, such as Humble Warrior.


Here are the steps:


  1. From a standing position, extend your arms straight behind you 
  2. Then, grab your hands and interlock your fingers. 
  3. Within your range, extend your arms straight behind you while keeping your fingers interlocked. 
  4. Moving slowly, hinge at your hips like you’re trying to touch your head on the floor, and raise your arms towards the sky.
  5. Breathe and hold

In order to maximize the standing behind-the-back stretch, maintaining strong integrity in your hands while interlocked is crucial.

3. Light Incline Dumbbell Curl

The light incline dumbbell curl requires good grip strength so you can hold dumbbells while under tension.


Here are the steps:


  1. Sitting on a gym bench at a 45-75 degree incline, grab a set of moderate to heavy dumbbells. 
  2. Leaning back on the incline, let the dumbbells hand by your sides, lengthening your biceps.
  3. To progress, rotate your wrists to different angles and see what angle you feel the most tension.

While you want moderate to heavy dumbbells, you don’t want too heavy of dumbbells where you can’t control the weight, which goes back to the best practices we referenced earlier. 

2. Light Cable Bayesian Curl

To perform the light cable bayesian curl, you will need access to a cable machine found at a gym. If you don’t have access to a cable machine, you can use a heavy resistance band tied to an anchor point.


Here are the steps:


  1. Start by setting the cable pulley at the lowest position with a single handle attachment. 
  2. Then, grab the handle and face away from the cable pulley.
  3. Next, step forward so your arm becomes fully extended behind your body. 
  4. Breathe and hold. 

Balancing out the amount of shoulder flexion in daily life with bicep stretches that incorporate shoulder extension can help balance out your body and eliminate tightness. 

1. Half-Kneeling Bicep Stretch

Half kneeling bicep stretch is a great alternative to standing stretches because it helps to improve balance, since it is easier to stabilize your body than with standing.


Here are the steps:

  1. Start half-kneeled with your left knee on the ground and right leg up.
  2. With your left palm facing up, start to reach behind you.
  3. Now, hinge at your hips like you are trying to touch your head to the inside of your right shin, and keep pulling your left arm upward. 
  4. Breathe and hold

Using more active range mobility, this stretch can greatly improve range of motion with consistent effort. 

How Often Should You Stretch Biceps?

how often should you stretch biceps

Like chest stretches, stretching your biceps should be part of your weekly routine. Since you should be stretching a few times per week to improve flexibility, release endorphins, and maintain a healthy body, bicep stretches ought to be included. 


If you exercise often, bicep stretches can be an everyday assignment. Your upper body can be susceptible to tighten up from the combination of frequent exercise and flexed arms and spines, so stretching biceps, along with the pectoral muscles, triceps, shoulders, and spine will keep you physically fit. 


References:


Williams, David. “A bicep stretch for complete flexibility and warm-up.” 24 Aug 2021, A Lean Life. www.aleanlife.com/bicep-stretch/


Smith, Adam. “Bicep Stretch – Types, Benefits, and Tips You Should Know.” 21 Feb 2022, Health Yell. www.healthyell.com/bicep-stretch-types-benefits-and-tips/