Arms and biceps in particular are one of the muscle groups that most people are interested in working on and for good reason. After all, a good set of bulging biceps look great with your shirt off, wearing a tighter fitting t-shirt and you could even pull off the long sleeve look given the right amount of size.
So how exactly should we train biceps to get that same size, peak and definition?
Some people may suggest working your arms every day to “specialize” on them. The problem with that is you will quickly learn that training any body part every day without allowing adequate rest and recovery will lead to overtraining and less than optimal results.
You may have heard of using lighter weights and high repetitions (30+ reps) to ‘tone and define’ the biceps. However, it is important to understand you cannot truly ‘tone and define’ any body part by simply following a set rep range. High reps does not tone a muscle or define a muscle and neither does low reps. The so called ‘defined’ look is determined by muscle mass and lower bodyfat levels.
If you want to really bring out the best in your biceps and get that muscle bulging from your shirts that impresses onlookers, you need to combine proper training to build muscle mass that includes targeted exercise selection, progressive overload, recovery and a low enough body fat percentage to allow the definition to appear fully.
The 3 Step Exercise Plan for Bigger Badder Biceps
This 3 step workout can be included in your current training plan you are already using or you can use this as a standalone workout if you prefer. The key is to only use the volume prescribed and follow the guidelines provided so that you see the best results.
Standing Barbell Bicep Curls:
The first exercise in the workout will consist of a compound movement. Although the biceps are a relatively small muscle group that does not really allow for many compound movements, the barbell bicep curl is a great exercise to recruit the most muscle fiber activation within the least amount of time that qualifies as a compound movement.
After initially warming up, jump into the exercise and perform anywhere from 8-12 reps with good form. This exercise will be responsible for hitting the biceps when they are still fresh and allow you lift your maximal weight early in the workout.
Standing Dumbell Hammer Curls:
The standing dumbbell hammer curl will allow you to work your grip as well as work your bicep muscles from a different angle that will assist in forearm development.
Developing your forearms will compliment your biceps and balance overall arm proportions. This exercise is much more effective at building bigger forearms when compared to wrist curls or other direct forearm exercises because it allows you to use a heavier weight.
1 Arm Dumbell Concentration Curl:
This exercise should be positioned as a finishing movement at the end of your bicep workout. It focuses primarily on the peak contraction of the muscle and involves the least amount of muscle recruitment but allows you to place the majority of the stress on a different part of the biceps.
Really focus on squeezing the contraction at the peak of this movement to get the full benefit of this exercise. Complete one full set on one arm, then follow up with another set on your other arm. A set is only complete once you have performed repetitions on both arms.
Another great advantage to using one arm at a time is that it helps you to identify weaknesses in your arms and it forces both arms to work without any assistance from the partner arm.
This workout should be completed no more than twice per week and preferably only once per week will lead to much improvement in building bigger arms.
Below are the exercise demonstrations of each exercise at their start and stop positions. Should you have any concerns regarding proper form or execution, consult with a personal trainer at your gym or another informed trainee.
Also included below are three variations on this routine that are goal and lifestyle specific. Choose the one that fits with your schedule and aligns with what you would like to accomplish.
|Standing Barbell Curl||4||8-12||60 seconds|
|Standing Dumbbell Hammer Curl||4||8-12||60 seconds|
|Concentration Curl||4||8-12||60 seconds|
|Standing Barbell Curl||4||6-8||90 seconds|
|Standing Dumbbell Hammer Curl||4||6-8||90 seconds|
|Concentration Curl||4||6-8||90 seconds|
|Standing Barbell Curl||4||8-10||No rest|
|Standing Dumbbell Hammer Curl||4||8-10||No rest|
|Concentration Curl||4||8-10||90 seconds|