What male doesn’t want big biceps? Biceps so huge they demand their own seat at a restaurant; that’s how big we’re talking here.
Well there’s a lot of work that goes into achieving that kind of mass. So with that said, I think it’s time to explain how to get it done.
Bicep anatomy 101
The biceps brachii is known simply as the biceps. It is made up of two “heads”; the long head and the short head. The short head of the bicep stems from the coracoid process at the top of the scapula, and the long head begins just above the shoulder joint at the supraglenoid tubercle.
Although both heads may be joined at the elbow and parallel to one another, they’re different in composition. The short head of the bicep magnifies the thickness of the arm from the front, while the long head runs along the outside and shapes the peak when an individual flexes their arm.
If genetics is in your favor, it’s possible to be blessed with a noticeable split between the two heads. If not, some believe that you can target either head individually with certain exercises. In my personal opinion, derived from the useful advice of the very well educated Scott Francis, curls and other basics are king for bigger biceps.
More specifically for me, I found that dumbbell curls provide significant gains for the biceps. Because dumbbells have a greater range of motion than resistance machines and cables, more muscle fibers are being recruited throughout your lifts. More muscle fiber involvement leads to more muscles being worked, and this equates to more muscle growth. Get it? Got it? Good. I’m not saying resistance machines and cables CAN’T help one build massive biceps, but I would suggest sticking to the basics and working with dumbbell curl variations for quite some time to ensure optimal bicep plumpage.
Below are three different exercises intended for arms. They target either the entire bicep, short head or the long head. Try ‘em out and watch them arms grow, grow, grow!
Full bicep targeter // Dumbbell Hammer Curls
Dumbbell hammer curls not only works the full bicep but also the main muscle of the forearm, the brachioradialis. The dumbbell hammer curl is performed by hanging your arms at your side with your hands facing your thighs while gripping the chosen dumbbells. While keeping your elbows close to your side,raise the dumbbells straight up, meeting just below your pectoral muscles at the height of the exercise. You’re going to keep the dumbbells in this neutral position and refrain from turning your wrist at the height of the curl.
After raising it in this manner, you will return it to its original descent position and perform this motion for however many reps you planned. A tip I use to maximize the effects of hammer curls is to keep your motion as slow and controlled as possible, no matter how much pain sets in. Also, minimize the swinging of the back as that tends to take from the contraction intended of the exercise.
Long head targeter // Alternating Incline Dumbbell Curls
Alternating incline dumbbell curls has been believed by the masses to isolate the long head of the bicep, but I’ll let you guys be the judge of that ultimately.
First, set an incline bench at about 30 degrees before sitting and leaning back into it. Grab two dumbbells (that aren’t too heavy), to ensure optimal range of motion. Allow them to hang at your sides with your arms completely stretched out. From there, you will then begin curling the bells up, alternating each arm in the process, while remaining completely plastered to the bench with your back.
What I like to do is this. Once I hit 10 out of a 15 rep count, I begin pausing the dumbbells at a 90 degree angle mid-rep and count to 3 seconds. I use this method to both place more tension on my muscle fibers, and to force my actual biceps to work harder towards the end of a set.
Short head targeter // Alternating Dumbbell Preacher Curls
To give the short head of the bicep some love, a lot of people suggest using dumbbell preacher curls. Exercises that are believed to focus on more of the short head of the bicep are performed with elbows in front of the body. This includes the dumbbell preacher curl, and exercises like cable curls and concentration curls. In my opinion it’s best to perform this exercise while standing to really maximize tension, reduce the chances of your wrist curling, and to get a better range of motion.
Position the pad just below your pecs. Make sure to place your arm on it so that a little more than half of the tricep are on the pad. At the start of the lift your torso should be leaning back. As you begin, lean forward so you can keep tension on the bicep and optimize range of motion.
Keep your wrist strong and your fingers tight on that dumbbell while curling. Place your other hand on the top of the pad for morale support as I like to call it (it’s a mental thing).
To ooze out some additional bicep growth from this exercise, I like to pause at the maximum range of motion going down for about 5 seconds. I do this on the last 3 reps. It helps to keep that tension as gold as possible right before finishing.