Biceps made simple
By Lee Bennett
As a Personal Trainer in London the most common question I get in the gym, hands down, is “how do I get big arms?”. Well I’m going break it up into two blogs, firstly, lets talk about the gun show!
Biceps, in my experience are one of the easiest muscle groups to train, in regards to actual range of movement and application of movement. Lets face it, all you can really do to isolate your biceps is curl your arm, flex your biceps to contraction, control the negative and repeat, simple.
I like to to train my biceps on the back of a bigger muscle group. Back is always a good shout as you will have pre-exhausted them during your back workout ensuring you have a full breakdown of muscle fibers. After chest is also an option so your biceps are totally fresh for the onslaught of iron punishment to come. Alternatively, have an arms day, biceps and triceps together. I like to super-set one movement for each muscle group for about four to five different exercises each, always a good workout to do on a Friday night before you hit the bar, for sparkling water of course, and don’t forget your tight T-shirt, 2 sizes too small for you should suffice.
Once a week is enough, or rest for at least 4 days after isolating them until the soreness has subsided until you hit them again. Here is the best breakdown for your muscle building hypertrophy workout:
- 4-5 exercises
- 3-4 sets per exercise
- 8-12 reps per set
The biceps, comparatively, are quite a small muscle group. They don’t need, or cant handle the same load as some of your bigger muscle groups. You still need to pack the weight on and go heavy (And you should always go HEAVY) But keep the form and contractions as strict as possible until the last few reps, when you are approaching failure (And you should always go to FAILURE) Then you will probably use a little momentum to squeeze out those last few key reps. Always keep it safe, knees soft and back flat, never compromise good form for weight.
So, here is my take on the exercises.
Always start with your big boy exercise, like you would with any other muscle group. Start with your big mass exercise, in my book, that’s heavy standing barbell curls. Then taper down to more isolated exercises as you continue, dumbbell work, single and double arm, also alternate grips like hammer curls and twist curls. Finish with a very isolated single arm exercise or something on a cable stack, contraction is key, so squeeze like fuck at the top of every rep and mix things up, variety is after all, the spice of life, especially with a muscle group that only has one range of motion and one purpose.
Use advanced training principals towards the end of each of your exercises. Just to reiterate, make sure you always employ peak contraction with biceps, squeeze as tight as you can at the top of EVERY rep. Drop sets are always a favourite of mine, as soon as you go to failure on your set, grab a smaller weight and and hit another set, don’t worry about reps on the drop, just go until you cant get another rep, and don’t bullshit yourself, if you can get more reps then do it, only stop when the burn is too much to handle and your arms are too tired to lift. Negatives are another top tool, when you hit the peak contraction of your curl, lower the weight very slowly, fight the weight down until full stretch and then explode back up on the positive with everything you’ve got.
Muscle gain takes time, patience and persistence, so smash it hard every time your in the gym then as always rest, eat, repeat. Don’t make the mistake of training them every time your in the gym thinking the more you train them the more they will grow, not the case! Your muscles grow when they are resting and being fed, so make sure you wait till the soreness has gone until you unleash hell on them again.
Here is a sample program for bigger biceps!
- Standing heavy barbell curl – 4 x 8-12 reps (Inc drop sets)
- Seated alternate dumbbell curl – 3 x 8-12 reps
- Close grip E-Z preacher curl – 3 x 8-12 reps each arm (Inc Negatives)
- Standing cable rope hammer curls – 3 x 8-12 (Inc drop sets)
- Single arm concentration curls – 3 x 8-12
- *Rep out to failure with 3 drop sets on standing straight bar cable curls as a finisher.
Remember, this can be done with another muscle group, so you can give your biceps time to recover during the other exercises, alternating between muscle groups.
Remember to get your whey protein, BCAA’s and glutamine in immediately after your workout to begin the recovery process, then rest up and watch that tape, and your sleeves stretch!
So, this is how to hit the biceps, but back to the original question, how do I get big arms? Yes the biceps are the movie muscles, the pose everyone will ask you to hit when they find out you train but we cannot neglect the rest of the arm. In the next blog we will be addressing the unsung hero, the next door neighbour of the biceps. The Triceps! 66% of the arm is made up of the Triceps so you have to hit them strong, and I’m going to tell you how to make them pop. Adding inches to your overall arm measurement and getting the sleeve filling arms that every red blooded, red meat eating man wants, and while I’m on the subject of meat, DON’T be a vegetarian or vegan if you want big arms, and if you are then STOP IT!