I’m trying to make my biceps explode with more development. I am looking to find and implement new techniques to make them grow. Do you have any good bicep routines you could suggest?
There are many instances where people are searching for “new” and “inventive” approaches to training that will pack on gobs of muscle and often in this pursuit of new techniques they overlook the basics. I’ll warn you right now the routine I am going to suggest may not look real flashy but it will be effective.
I feel the best mass building bicep routines incorporate progressive resistance.
Keep the volume of total sets low and the intensity high.
- 1 Here Is An Example of An Effective Biceps Workout:
- 2 Preparing to Lift Heavier Weight
- 3 Biceps Training: Curls
- 4 Barbell and Dumbbell Curls Are The Compound Exercises
- 5 Losing Body Fat to See Muscle Striations in the Arms
Here Is An Example of An Effective Biceps Workout:
Barbell Curls….3 sets 4-8 reps (After warm-up)
Standing Dumbbell Curls….2 sets 4-8 reps
This training routine may not seem to be very fancy but you can be assured it will blast your biceps and stimulate maximum muscle growth.
Which Exercise is Better for Working the Biceps; Using the E-Z Bar or a Straight Bar for Arm Curls?
Some bodybuilders use the E-Z bar for arm curls as they believe it recruits the biceps muscles more effectively than the straight barbell. Personally, I’ve always felt that the straight bar is much more effective. A study by researchers at Truman State University has confirmed my assumption.
In this study, the researchers measured the activation of the biceps and the brachioradialis muscles using electromyography (EMG). This device measures the electrical activity of the muscles. A high level of EMG activity infers greater muscle activation.
The biceps muscle was activated the most when the straight bar was used, whereas the brachioradialis was activated to a similar magnitude in both variations of this exercise. If the exercise doesn’t cause undue strain, I always recommend using the straight bar for the arm curl exercise over the E-Z bar. I believe it’s more effective.
I noticed from you suggest that when you do back and biceps together you still warm up biceps. Why? Aren’t they warm enough after 7 or 8 sets of back movements, in which biceps are heavily recruited as a secondary body part? And likewise with triceps when you train them after chest?
Warming Up The Biceps
You are correct. Biceps do get a lot of secondary work during back exercises and the same is true for triceps when training chest. However, neither gets direct overload through their muscle specific ranges of motion.
I think it is a good idea to warm-up or acclimate biceps and triceps before you perform your working sets. This allows you to introduce heavier weights within the range of motion you are about to use.
An efficient warm-up for biceps and triceps will get you ready physically and mentally for direct overload and to help guard against injury.
When you do warm-ups for biceps, how many sets do you do and how do you gauge the weight increases?
It is important to keep your warm-up sets very efficient. You don’t want to do any unnecessary warm-ups and you certainly don’t want to fatigue your muscles.
Preparing to Lift Heavier Weight
You simply want to progressively introduce a heavier weight to get your mind and body ready for the heavy (muscle building) sets.
I warm up for biceps and all major body parts. I typically do 4 warm-up sets for biceps. Each warm-up set I add weight and reduce my reps. Again, the idea is to progressively introduce a heavier weight without approaching the point of fatigue.
When selecting my weight advances I go strictly by feel and not by any specific percentages of what I’m going to use for my working sets. I have in mind the number of reps I want to complete with each warm-up set and I choose a weight that allows me to complete those reps with relative ease.
Here is an example of the rep pattern I follow for my warm-ups:
1st set = 10-12 reps
2nd set = 6-8 reps
3rd set = 3-4 reps
4th set = 1-2 reps
Remember to keep your warm-ups efficient and DO NOT reach the point of fatigue.
Biceps Training: Curls
What is the best way to perform dumbbell curls, standing or seated?
I suggest performing dumbbell curls while standing to get the most out of the exercise.
Executing dumbbell curls from a standing position will allow your body to move naturally during the exercise and enable you to handle heavier weights. This is an important point to consider because more overload equals more muscle stimulation.
Exercise Variation and Muscle Stimulation
It’s a good idea to stay away from variations of exercises that limit the amount of weight you can use. Just ask yourself the simple question, “Will this particular variation of the exercise allow me to handle more or less weight while performing the same motion?”
The answer to that question should help you pick the more effective exercises for maximum muscle stimulation.
I have been working out over the last ten years. I train 4 days per week doing chest with back 2 days and triceps with biceps on the other 2 days. About six months ago I started doing 5 sets of eight pull-ups with my back routine and lately I have a lot of soreness in my shoulders.
Is it bad to do pull-ups after bench pressing? Do you think that could be the problem?
It appears to me that you are over training and working your body parts too frequently without allowing enough rest between sessions. This could likely be the cause of your shoulder discomfort more so than the addition of pull-ups.
It is important to remember that more is not better when it comes to training frequency. You need to factor in adequate rest time in order to fully recover and respond to the stimulus created by your workouts. Training too frequently will shoot your progress in the foot.
Bodypart Split Training an Recovery
I suggest splitting your body parts up so you are training them only once per week with heavy weight. This will keep each workout shorter and more focused because you will be training fewer body parts each day and equally important you will avoid over training.
Plus, the heavy weight and progressive resistance will work your entire body which will lead to a more balanced and overall stronger physique.
Recovery is a big part of the muscle building equation and a very important component of progress. If you follow the plan you can be assured that you are creating the best stimulus for muscle growth as well as incorporating proper recovery time to best respond to that stimulus.
Progressive Resistance and Hitting a Plateau
I’ve been training heavier that I used to with progressive resistance for 6 weeks and it is going great. My size and strength are improving from head to toe but lately my biceps and triceps seem to have hit a plateau.
I’ve been taking measurements and for the last two weeks I have not seen any increases in arm size. What I can do to get my arms growing again?
Your Arms Are Going To Grow
My advice is put the tape measure away and focus on training and nutrition. If you are training heavy and eating properly with enough protein, your arms are going to grow but you have to give them time.
If you get too caught up with frequent measurements you will likely get frustrated and discouraged when you have no reason to be.
You’ve been training heavier for only 6 weeks and already noticed gains in size and strength. I’d say that is a great indication that you are on the right track.
Don’t waste mental energy worrying about weekly changes on the tape measure but devote that energy to greater intensity in the gym and better attention to your nutrition.
Great muscle building results come from the continual execution of an intelligent plan over a span of time so be consistent inside and outside of the gym.
Continue to train like I suggest and take advantage of all the nutritional strategies and you will be well on your way to building massive arms, just give it some time.
Barbell and Dumbbell Curls Are The Compound Exercises
You almost always use barbell curls and dumbbell curls. Don’t you need more variety with your exercises to keep progressing?
I primarily suggest sticking with barbell and dumbbell curls because I feel they are the two best compound exercises for biceps. Both barbell and dumbbell curls allow me to reach maximum overload in a complete and natural range of motion.
Do You Need Variety?
I don’t think exercise variety is all that important from a muscle stimulation stand point. I think the most important thing is to continually overload the muscle and compound free weight exercises get the job done best.
Certain body parts offer a few more effective exercises to choose from but when it comes to biceps, your choices are more limited and there is no need to use a less effective exercise just for the sake of variety.
Variety can play a role mentally and that is why we change things around a bit every 8 weeks. I stay with barbell and dumbbell curls but we do change the exercise order around to help keep mentally fresh.
Again, there is no need to change just for the sake of change. Keep your workout centered around the best exercises for maximum stimulation.
Improving Arm Definition
I have been working out for a while now and I have noticed my biceps are getting bigger but I would like them to get more “cut” or defined. Do you have any workouts you could give me to improve my arm definition?
In order to achieve more arm definition you need to lower your body fat levels so the muscular development you have will be more visible. Lowering body fat levels is primarily an issue of cardiovascular training and diet.
There is no specific weight training workout I could give you to make your arms more defined because you can’t spot reduce fat from any area of the body no matter how many reps you do or what training techniques you try.
Muscular Development and Lowering Body Fat on the Arms
Weight training stimulates muscle to grow so when you approach your workouts your goal should be to stimulate muscular development and this is best accomplished by using progressive resistance.
When you are working to increase definition it is important you continue to train heavy so you keep stimulating muscle growth while you are zeroing in on fat loss.
Losing Body Fat to See Muscle Striations in the Arms
To lose body fat to see muscle striations in the arms you need to pay careful attention to your nutritional intake and expend energy through intense cardio. At some point you may need to slightly lower your caloric intake if your fat loss results are not coming along the way you want them to.
Gradual caloric reductions of 100 to 150 calories every 7 to 10 days will help you pinpoint the calorie level that best suits your individual metabolism and your fat loss goals.
Intense cardio is the other key to getting more “cut.” I would suggest starting with 3 to 4 cardio sessions a week. High Intensity cardio means keeping the sessions shorter (15- 20 minutes) and very intense.
Increasing Metabolism With Exercise
Shorter and more intense cardio sessions will have a bigger impact on metabolism and elevate it for a longer period of time after exercise.
Paying Attention to Your Diet
I think it is important to understand that achieving greater muscular definition is the result of lowering body fat levels by paying careful attention to your diet and increasing energy expenditure through cardiovascular training, not by changing your workouts.
Weight training should always be about stimulating muscular development. That is why progressive resistance is the most effective way to train while working to lose fat and increase muscle definition.