Best Functional Dumbbell Exercises for Biceps

Posted by Monica Bulnes on Aug 12th 2022

Male model performing seated bicep curls with YBell center grip
YBells center grip allow the weight to be evenly distributed around the hand and enable you to do bicep curls.

Best Functional Bicep Dumbbell Workouts & Exercises For Mass

As one of the main muscles in our arms, the biceps help us perform dynamic upper body movements every day.

We’ve provided 5 functional dumbbell exercises that work the biceps, shoulders, legs, and core to create a full-body workout.

Functional training programs build the full-body strength needed to face obstacles in everyday life, such as carrying groceries in one trip or lifting heavy boxes.

We’ll be using the YBell to perform these dynamic movements. The YBell is a 4-in-1 training tool combining a dumbbell, a kettlebell, a double-grip medicine ball, and a push-up stand, all in one piece of equipment.

Understanding the Bicep

Let’s take a deep dive into the biceps – it’s crucial to fully understand the muscle we’re targeting so we can work it to its full potential. The prefix to the work bicep, bi-, originates from the Latin word, bis, meaning two. This name tells us that one bicep, known as the biceps brachii, is made up of two heads – the short head and the long head.

The long head sits on the lateral side of the biceps, meaning it faces the outside. It’s targeted by bicep exercises that begin with your arms at your sides.

The short head sits on the medial side, meaning it’s tucked away a bit further underneath the arm towards the inside of the body. It’s targeted by bicep exercises that begin with your elbows in front of you – think of preacher curls.

Dynamic bicep dumbbell workouts will target both elements of the bicep, leading to well-rounded muscles and an increase in overall strength.


According to the American Heart Association, warming up before intensive exercise promotes oxygen supply to each muscle group while increasing flexibility and raising muscle temperatures.

At the very least, your warm-up should slowly raise your heart rate to reduce a sudden increase of stress on the heart.

Begin your bicep workout with 2 to 3 sets of the following warm-up exercises:

Warm-Up Exercises

  • Jumping Jacks
  • High Knees
  • Tricep Stretch
  • Arm Circles (Small and Large, Forward and Backward)
  • Standing Toe Reach

Failing to stretch before a workout can cause injuries and long-term stress on the joints.

Dumbbell Bicep Exercises

Depending on the development of your biceps and the number of exercises performed, the reps and weight used will depend primarily on your fitness training goals and personal records (PRs).

We can’t tell you what training regimen to follow, considering a workout should fit your individual needs. However, we recommend you perform 3 to 4 sets per exercise and repeat them each for 6 to 12 reps, depending on the exercise. Feel free to adjust accordingly.

Let’s jump right into our top 5 functional bicep dumbbell workouts and exercises for mass using the YBell as a dumbbell by holding its center handle.

1. Squat Curl Press

Functional dumbbell movements activate the four most important pillars of exercise: strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance training. Using only the YBell, the entire body can be sculpted and conditioned for various everyday activities.

The squat curl press, commonly associated with CrossFit, can build the biceps along with deltoids, quads, triceps, and glutes.  

Recommended Sets: 3

Recommended Reps: 6 to 8

Equipment Used: YBell used as a dumbbell

How To Perform:

Perform this three-part functional dumbbell exercise in the following way:

  1. Start by standing with feet shoulder-width apart and a YBell in each hand, holding the center handle to use it as a dumbbell.
  2. Keeping your arms straight at the sides of your legs, lower your hips into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Squeeze your glutes and stand back up by pushing into your heels, hamstrings, and glutes.
  3. Perform a bicep curl. Instead of lowering the arms from the bicep curl stance, rotate the YBells to get the palm of each hand facing away from you while you press the weights over your head simultaneously, squeezing the shoulders.
  4. Lower the YBells to shoulder height, then back to each side to complete one rep. Begin the series again, starting with the squat.

2. Zottman Curl Lunge

This power move targets the biceps and brachialis (elbow flexor) as primary muscle groups. It also hits the brachioradialis (a forearm muscle) as a secondary muscle and works the deltoids, which builds rounder shoulders.

This variation to the Zottman curl adds functionality to an otherwise stagnant movement, incorporating a lunge for a full-body burn.

The YBell makes a traditional bicep curl more effective because standard dumbbells place added weight on the wrist and take focus away from the bicep. Instead, the YBell’s outer handle sits right above the wrist, locking the hand in place to discourage excessive wrist movement. The YBell keeps weight and tension focused on the biceps alone.

Recommended Sets: 3

Recommended Reps: 10 to 12

Equipment Used: YBells used as dumbbells

How To Perform:

  1. Hold a YBell in each hand by its center handle with your palms facing outward. Start with your arms fully straightened and feet hip-width apart. Curl the weights towards your shoulders and pause at the top of the movement to increase muscle tension.
  2. Without flexing the wrists or using the upper arms, rotate your hands until your palms face outward. Slowly lower the YBells back to each side. Keep it slow and controlled as you release – this is just as crucial in building muscle tension.
  3. When the YBells are at your sides again, rotate your hands until your palms face the body. To perform the lunge, step one leg forward, bending your knees at a 90-degree angle. There should be a pull at the hamstring in this position.
  4. Use your glutes and quadriceps to straighten your legs and bring your foot back in. Repeat on the other side. Once you perform the Zottman Curl and lunge on each side, you’ve completed one full rep. Repeat.

3. YBell Bent Over Rows

When executed properly, bent over rows work the biceps while improving posture, stabilizing the core, and sculpting the entire back. Pay careful attention to your form when performing this exercise to prevent injury or straining.

Recommended Sets: 3

Recommended Reps: 10 to 12

Equipment Used: YBells used as dumbbells

How To Perform:

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. With one YBell in each hand held at the center grip, lean forward at the waist, keeping a straight back. Make sure your neck stays level with your spine – not higher nor lower. Keep your palms facing in towards one another and arms hanging straight down.
  2. With a strong core, squeeze your shoulders and row the YBells up until they’re level with your chest. Squeeze at the top before lowering the YBells slowly back down. Repeat.

4. YBell Twist Curl

Twist curls have added benefits compared to traditional dumbbell curls as they put the biceps through a full range of motion, activating additional muscle fibers that don’t engage without the added rotation.

The YBell is the perfect equipment for twist curls because holding it as a dumbbell by its center grip rests its supporting grip right over the wrist to hold it in place. Instead of sharing the weight with your wrists in this movement as you usually would with a traditional dumbbell, you will keep all of the weight on your biceps and contract them much more.

ThIs exercise can be performed as alternate twist curls, meaning you can focus on lifting one arm at a time or lift both simultaneously. If you’re new to this movement, lift one arm at a time so you can master the motion first.

Recommended Sets: 3

Recommended Reps: 6 to 8

Equipment Used: YBells used as dumbbells

How To Perform:

  1. Grab one YBell in each hand by its center grip and let your arms hang at your sides. Keep your spine straight, core tight, and palms facing the body.  
  2. Slowly curl one arm up, keeping your forearms facing in.
  3. Halfway through the curl, rotate your wrist until your forearms are facing up and your wrists are facing towards your shoulders.
  4. Pause at the top and squeeze before slowly rotating the wrist back to the starting position with the palms facing towards the body again. Alternate arms to complete one rep.

5. Standing Medicine Ball Wood Chops

This movement will keep the abdominals engaged while using back muscles, legs, and arms to increase stability.

Recommended Sets: 3

Recommended Reps: 10 to 12

Equipment Used: YBell used as a double-grip medicine ball

How To Perform: 

  1. Plant the feet a bit wider than hip-width distance. Give a slight bend to the knees and hold the YBell using its two outer handles, turning it into a double-grip medicine ball.
  2. Bring the YBell above your right shoulder with both arms straight. Squeeze and prepare to exhale while keeping a tight core and using a chopping motion to swing the YBell diagonally in front of the body.
  3. Bend your knees and bring the YBell as far down as your left knee. Bring the YBell up in a slow and controlled motion.
  4. Repeat until you have performed the designated reps on one side and move on to the next. Once both sides are complete, that’s one set.

YBells vs. Dumbbells

Here at YBell, we don’t believe in lugging equipment that wears you out before your workout begins.

With the YBell, you have a dumbbell, kettlebell, double-grip medicine ball, and push-up stand all in one. Bring it on the turf field, to the gym, or even on the beach for a fully functional workout.  

The versatility of the YBell goes beyond the average dumbbell and opens the door to infinite movements, allowing anyone to build a comprehensive training program.

No matter where you go, the YBell is waiting to exercise your full potential.

Final Thoughts

Interested in learning more about the YBell and the many exercises you can incorporate into your training sessions? Take the YBell quiz to see which YBell training tool is right for you! Shop YBell Fitness now.

Monica Bulnes

Monica has written for countless health & wellness brands, beginning as Rutgers University's Health & Wellness writer while obtaining a business and research-based degree.

She then combined her in-depth research skills and business acumen to work with well-known corporate brands Panasonic, Sephora, and Questex Media.

Monica has been offering her services since December 2019, first working closely with beauty brands, and more recently entering the Health & Wellness arena to write for healthy lifestyle and personal care brands such as The Gravity Vault Indoor Rock Gyms, Saro de Rue, AIMTOM, Dermastart, Lilac St. and more.

When she's not writing, you can find Monica doing yoga, working out, or cooking a dairy-free recipe in her kitchen.