Bicep Cable Workouts: The 6 Best Cable Bicep Exercises

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The biceps are one of the go-to muscles that everyone loves to strengthen. 

Big, strong biceps not only look good but also help you with other weightlifting exercises as well as everyday activities.

But what are the best biceps cable exercises? How should you program biceps cable machine workouts?

In this article, we will discuss how to program your bicep cable workouts and provide step-by-step instructions for how to perform the following cable biceps exercises:

Let’s dive in! 

Bicep Cable Workouts: The 6 Best Cable Bicep Exercises 1

How you should structure your arm dumbbell workout in terms of reps, sets, and dumbbell weights depends primarily on your fitness level and primary training goals.

For strength gains, work up to performing 2-6 sets of 3-5 reps per set and at least 85% of your one-repetition maximum (1RM) for the load. The fewer reps you perform, the closer to 100% of your 1RM you should aim for with your weights.

If your goal is hypertrophy (muscle growth), strive to perform three sets of each exercise, using loads that are 70 to 85% of your 1RM for 8 to 12 reps.

Bicep Cable Workouts: The 6 Best Exercises

Here are some of the best exercises to add to your bicep cable workouts:

#1: EZ Bar Cable Machine Bicep Curls

You can use any attachment handle that you prefer, but most people find the EZ-curl bar attachment to be the most comfortable for this exercise. 

Ultimately, EZ-bar curls are a good variation of standard cable curls because turning your wrists inward using the grip pattern on the EZ-bar targets different muscle fibers in your biceps.

Plus, the EZ bar is more ergonomic for your wrists and elbows.

Here are the steps to perform this biceps cable exercise:

  1. Set the cable pulley at the lowest setting. 
  2. Stand upright with good posture facing the cable machine, about one to two feet back from the cable anchor point.
  3. Grip the EZ-bar using the inner angled grips so that your hands are turned inward, somewhat facing one another, and are positioned slightly closer than shoulder-width apart.
  4. Slowly curl the bar up all the way and then back down, making sure to use control so that gravity is not doing the work on the eccentric (lowering) portion with the weight stack.
  5. Lower the weight all the way back down to the straightened position so that you are maximizing the full range of motion and not “cheating“ by only going 95% of the way down before beginning your next rep.

#2: Cable Hammer Curls 

Although most people perform hammer curls with dumbbells, you can also perform this bicep exercise with a cable machine.

The benefit of hammer curls is that you can maintain a neutral grip position, which is typically more comfortable on your elbows and wrists, allowing you to lift more weight.

To perform this cable machine biceps exercise, you will want to use the double handle attachment so that you can use a neutral grip.

Here is how to perform this biceps exercise with cables:

  1. Set the cable pulley at the lowest setting with the double D handle attachment clipped in. 
  2. Stand upright with good posture facing the cable machine, about one to two feet back from the cable anchor point.
  3. Grip the double handle D attachment so that your palms face one another.
  4. Lock your upper arms and elbows against your torso.
  5. Curl up by bending your elbows and moving just your forearms and hands up towards your chin.
  6. Slowly lower back down.

#3: Unilateral Negative Cable Bicep Curls

This is a great biceps cable exercise for mass.

Studies have found that the eccentric portion of an exercise, which is when you are lowering the weights, is most impactful for hypertrophy (muscle growth).

Therefore, this cable machine biceps exercise focuses primarily on the lowering portion of the exercise.

What is unique about performing this bicep exercise on the cable machine is that you will perform a bilateral curl for the concentric portion, allowing both arms to help you lift up the weight, but then you will do a unilateral eccentric contraction. 

This means that you will only lower the weight with one arm.

The weight that you choose should exceed what you can typically curl when doing single-arm biceps cable curls or dumbbell curls.

Because the concentric portion of the exercise is harder, you are using both hands to help you get the weight up, which will be very easy, but then you will have a very heavy weight to slowly lower down.

Our muscles are typically stronger in the eccentric portion of the exercise, so by splitting up the movement with the bilateral assist and then the unilateral lowering portion, you can safely maximize the muscle-building training stimulus.

Bicep Cable Workouts: The 6 Best Cable Bicep Exercises 2

Here are the steps for how to perform this biceps exercise with cables:

  1. Set the cable pulley at the lowest setting. Use a single-handle attachment.
  2. Stand upright with good posture facing the cable machine, about one to two feet back from the cable anchor point.
  3. Grip the single handle with both your palms facing the ceiling.
  4. Bend your elbows to lift the weight stack all the way up until your hands are at chin height.
  5. Then, remove one hand so that you are only lowering the weight with one arm.
  6. Move as slowly as possible, resisting the momentum and trying to pull the weight stack down.
  7. At the bottom of the curl, when your arm is fully extended, curl back up with both hands before beginning the next unilateral lowering.
  8. Perform 3-10 reps per arm.

#4: Bayesian Curls

The Bayesian curl is one of the best cable bicep exercises you can do.

Plus, the unique movement path requires performing this biceps exercise with cables rather than dumbbells, so it’s a great biceps curl variation to add to your cable bicep workouts.

This is a single-arm biceps curl cable exercise.

You will face away from the cable machine rather than straight on. Therefore, when you perform the biceps curl with the cables, the resistance pulls your shoulder into extension so that your arm is back behind your body.

This activates the long head of your biceps brachii muscle to help stabilize your arm in shoulder extension.

Then, as you perform the cable biceps curl, you will work the short head of the biceps muscle, meaning that you will work the entire length of the muscle and both heads.

Adding biceps long head exercises to your strength training workout will help get you better muscle definition in the top portion of the muscle. Most biceps exercises target the biceps short head naturally.

Bayesian curl.

Additionally, the natural position of shoulder extension means that you will get a great range of motion, increasing your time under tension to maximize your biceps hypertrophy and strength gains.

Here are the steps for how to perform this cable machine biceps exercise:

  1. Attach a single handle to the cable and set the pulley at the lowest setting near the ground.
  2. Stand about 3 feet away from the cable machine with your back facing the weight stack.
  3. Stagger your stance so that the right foot is in front of the left by about 12 inches. This helps improve stability by widening your base of support.
  4. When your right foot is the one in front, grab the handle with the right hand. Hold the handle with an underhand grip and allow your arm to extend backward behind you towards the weight stack. This is the starting position.
  5. Slowly curl the handle up towards your shoulder, allowing your torso to lean forward slightly by hinging at the hips. 
  6. At the top position, when your hand is up at your shoulder, slowly curl back down all the way, allowing your arm to again extend backward behind your body in the straightened position before beginning the next rep.
  7. After you have completed all of the reps on one side, switch sides, remembering to switch your stance so that the left foot is in front.

#5: Cable Concentration Curls

You can perform concentration curls with cables instead of dumbbells, which helps keep your muscle fibers under uniform tension throughout the entire exercise.

You should be “concentrating“ on maintaining tension in your biceps during the entire range of motion of the movement. 

Stay present and focused, and do not allow gravity to do any of the work of lowering the weight stack on the way down.

This is a unilateral biceps cable exercise, so you can help resolve any muscle imbalances and work more heavily on your weaker side.

Doing so can help you increase your load with bilateral biceps curls exercises because the “lagging“ biceps will be able to carry more of the load.

Here is how to do this biceps exercise on a cable machine:

  1. Set the pulley on a cable machine or functional trainer at chest height with a single handle attachment. 
  2. Hinge at your hips so that your torso is leaned slightly forward. Grip the handle with your palm facing up (supinated).
  3. As you curl the weight, your arm should angle across your body towards the opposite ear. 
  4. Slowly lower the handle back down once you have reached the top position.

#6: Cable Rope Curls

Using the rope attachment on a cable machine requires your biceps to both supinate and flex the elbow, which are the two motions that the biceps are responsible for. 

Thus, this is one of the best exercises to include in bicep cable workouts because it targets both functional roles of the biceps.

The more that you twist your hands inward towards your face as you curl, the more you will really feel your biceps working.

Here is how to do cable machine biceps curls with the rope attachment:

  1. Stand facing a single cable pulley with the pulley set at one of the lowest heights. Secure the rope attachment.
  2. Grip the rope attachment so that the top of your fist by the thumb side of your hand is near the ball of the rope end, and then bring your palms to face one another.
  3. Perform a curl by bending your elbows, but as you curl upward, start to rotate or supinate your hands (so that your palms begin to face one another) after you are about one-third of the way up. Do not supinate at the beginning of the movement; wait until you are 30 to 35% up towards the top of the movement.
  4. Finish the exercise at the top portion in the supinated position, and then slowly lower back down, returning to a neutral grip by the end of the movement.

There you have it! 6 great bicep exercises to add to your bicep workouts with cables.

If you don’t have any equipment but want to work your biceps, check out our guide to the best no-equipment biceps workout here.

A push up.
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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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