For many, bigger biceps = more confidence. Biceps are a very visible muscle, especially in the summer where t-shirts dominate our wardrobe and lean, vascular biceps and forearms are our cleavage. Girls see a lean, muscular set of arms and take notice. Almost in the same way guys sees a nice set of mcgee’s and has a hard time looking away (see video below).
It being winter, now is the time to start working on this muscle in preparation for t-shirt season. But how do we start building bigger biceps: through isolation? Compound exercises? How?
If we neglect to isolate the muscle, we are neglecting an important aspect of training, and we’re missing out on angles that can’t be worked through by using compound exercises. Pure isolation also isn’t going to help us build the best muscle either. Balance and variation are a must.
The key to building bigger biceps is very much the same as building any muscle: find a balance between the proper variation in reps, sets, exercises, time under tension, and weight used.
Biceps are a small muscle
This means that they can take more damage and recover quicker. So finishers of higher rep counts can create the muscle damage we want.
Try finishing a biceps workout with the following set at a light weight:
Barbell Curls: reps – 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10.
It’s best done with a partner, take turns doing each rep with your break coming while the other guy is performing the required rep count. Thus, rest reduces as the rep count reduces. If you’re lifting on your own, have your rest period match the previous rep count in seconds.
Get out of your comfort zone
The comfort zone for biceps training is usually in the hypertrophy range (8-12 reps). It’s a good rep range and you’re going to see results. But if you limit yourself in rep range, you’ll limit yourself in what you accomplish.
Just because it’s a smaller muscle, doesn’t mean we can’t lift heavy when we work it. Try exercises like the power curl (video below) for 3-6 sets of 4-6 repetitions. It’ll help you shock the muscle in a different way, while also hitting different muscle fibres that you won’t necessarily hit in the hypertrophy rep range.
Change up your cadence (a must)
Cadence is one of the most overlooked variations we can alter in our training. But it’s a must if we’re going to get the best results possible. I’ll keep this short and give you 3 different cadence’s you can use in your biceps training.
- Fast on concentric contraction (curl), 3 seconds on eccentric phase (way down).
- 5 seconds concentric, 5 seconds eccentric.
- All-out. No cadence (best on heavier exercises or burnouts).
3 Unique Biceps Exercises (video)
Try the exercises below in a giant set. Add it to the end of any upper body workout to attack your biceps from different angles and tensions. The result will be great looking arms.
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What’s your favourite biceps exercise?
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