The complete guide of biceps
Do not forget brachial
Like the biceps, the brachialis is an elbow flexor. Due to its position under the biceps, it literally pushes the biceps up as it gets bigger, making the biceps appear taller. Likewise, a well-developed brachialis increases the overall circumference of the upper arm.
The key to maximizing recruitment of the brachialis is to do elbow flexion with a neutral grip, called hammer grip. This shifts the stress away from the biceps brachii and onto the brachialis.
Dumbbell Hammer Curl
Rope Hammer Curl
Know your arm
While biceps training may seem fairly straightforward because the body part only has two heads, it’s actually a bit more complex than you’d think. For one, the brachialis, another upper-arm muscle that flexes the elbow joint—lies underneath the biceps.
Even though the brachialis is a fairly small muscle, increasing its size can increase the overall size of your arm. The largest muscle of your forearm, the brachioradialis, which sits atop your forearm near your elbow and crosses the elbow joint, is also involved in some elbow-flexion movements.
The biceps’ peak
Without a doubt, the overall shape of your biceps is largely determined by genetics, so thank or blame your parents accordingly.
However, the long head does have more of a propensity toward being more highly peaked than the short head. Therefore, if you want to maximize the peak of your biceps, it’s worth doing an exercise or two that emphasizes the long head.
Incline Dumbbell Curl
Even though a general recommendation is to work biceps every 5-7 days, one of the best ways to jumpstart biceps growth is to train them more often for brief periods of time. Hitting bi’s on three nonconsecutive days per week (ie, Mon, Wed, Fri) for about six weeks tends to work really well.
You need to make a couple of modifications for it to work. For starters, only do two exercises (typically three sets each), during each of these thrice-weekly workouts. Next, stop a rep or two short of failure.
Don’t forget your back
Even though the muscles of your back are the prime movers on back day, your biceps help move the weight as well. That’s why so many lifters train both muscle groups on the same day, sometimes called a “pull day” workout. You can arrange your split so that you train biceps after back on the same day (never before back, always train the larger muscle group first), but don’t do a biceps day immediately after back day since your biceps would already be fatigued.
Begin with the appropriate weight
If you’re doing barbell curls first in your routine, the last thing you want to do is get comfortable and choose the same weight you’ve been handling for 10 reps workout after workout. The beginning of your routine is the best time to challenge your strength.
After warming up, do relatively heavy sets as low as 6 reps to really stimulate your arms. Your biceps grow larger only when you make demands on them above and beyond what they’re accustomed to.
In bodybuilding, regardless of the body part, it’s pretty much always advisable to hit a variety of rep ranges and even rest periods. Keeping in mind that your number of reps and amount of rest between sets should be inversely proportional, here are a couple of examples of different rep ranges/rest periods.
- 5 x 5 – With 120 seconds rest. Maximizes the mechanical tension placed on the biceps, which does a great job causing protein synthesis and neuromuscular improvements.
- 3 x 8-12 – With 75 seconds rest.
- 4 x 12-15 – With 30 seconds rest. Maximizes metabolic fatigue and the blood volumization response, leading to hypertrophy of “stuff” other than actin and myosin.
Isolate the biceps
Concentration and preacher curls, in which your arm is stabilized by pressing against your inner thigh or a bench, almost completely eliminate your ability to use momentum. These kinds of movements require you to reduce the amount of weight you can use, so they’re best done toward the end of your biceps workout.