Nothing exemplifies the “super hero” physique like a large upper body, complete with thick, round biceps.
However, many athletes get stuck in a plateau, sometimes for years at a time, where growth stalls or stops completely.
In order to keep my biceps growing, my training routines have always included plenty of exercise variation, working to total failure.
If you’re feeling stuck with your current bicep plan, use the exercises included in this article.
These, when used with my technique tips, will destroy your biceps and prime them for growth.
To experience the full effect of this workout, take your pre-workout supplement about 30 minutes before hitting the gym. This will allow enough time for the ingredients to absorb and be transported through your body, heightening your mental focus and preparing you for a solid training session.
Related: Understanding Carbohydrate Sources & Timing With Kris Gethin
While most pre-workout products focus on flooding the body with a heavy dose of stimulants to give a perceived effect, my pre-workout supplement is different. It has been formulated to provide the body with the ingredients which enhance performance, such as buffering fatigue, increasing nitric oxide and sharpening your mental focus.
Now that your body is primed for an intense training session, let’s get to work. Here are six bicep exercises which I make sure to include in my training plans.
|1. Seated Alternating Dumbbell Curls||4||12-15|
|2. Concentration Curls||4||12|
|3. Hammer Curls||4||10-12|
|4. Single Arm Dumbbell Preacher Curls||4||12-15|
|5. Drag Curls||4||12-15|
|6. EZ Bar Curls||4||8-10|
1. Seated Alternating Dumbbell Curls
Starting with seated alternating dumbbell curls allows me to isolate the biceps by reducing torso momentum. Using dumbbells provides me with the freedom to supinate my wrists so I can achieve total external rotation. As I reach the peak of each rep, the external rotation makes the muscle fibers across the heads of my biceps work harder!
To encourage blood flow, improve my neurological connection, and let your pre-workout supplement really “kick in”, I use a 12-15 rep range for this exercise.
2. Concentration Curls
Switching to a unilateral exercise allows me to focus on each bicep individually, ensuring both arms work equally. Concentration curls are the perfect choice for building a better “mind to muscle” connection. For this exercise, I slow down my speed to make each rep burn deep in the bicep.
To vary this exercise, I use a seated position with my elbow resting on the inside of my thigh. Under no circumstances will I let my legs or body assist with the movement, all the pull has to come from my bicep.
I’ll aim for around 12 slow concentrated reps each set, being careful not to cheat as the lactic acid start to burn.
3. Hammer Curls
Hammer curls are the perfect mass builder for biceps because they allow me to move big weight with limited stress on my bicep tendon – a common issue in weight lifters. In a semi-supinated position there’s no external rotation at the wrist. This relieves most of the tension the bicep tendon is under during a conventional curl.
With this exercise, my preference is to bring the dumbbell across my body, allowing me to work the peak contraction. This angle also feels more comfortable for me, affording me a better rhythm with this exercise.
In each set, I aim for 10-12 reps with limited body motion to keep the work isolated in my biceps.
4. Single Arm Dumbbell Preacher Curls
Preacher curls are one of the best isolation exercises because it’s impossible to create momentum. To make this even more challenging on my biceps, I like to push my armpit into the bench and keep my triceps completely flat on the pad. This ensures that the biceps have to do all of the work.
My goal is to always use a full range of movement so my biceps really suffer, especially when the dumbbell is at the furthest point away from my body.
This exercise is best done with a 12-15 rep range. With every rep, I focus on working the negative and avoid using too much weight which could strain my bicep tendon.
5. Drag Curls
Although this is a multi-joint compound exercise, I like drag curls because they feel isolated on my biceps, especially when done on a cable machine. The range of motion is much shorter on this exercise by design, which is why remaining in control is even more important to get the most out of it.
Again, the rep range remains at 12-15 for this exercise.
6. EZ Bar Curls
To finish my workout, I will use a basic compound lift - my favorite is EZ bar curls. The EZ grip of the bar allows for a more neutral wrist position, which puts far less stress on my wrists and elbows in comparison to a straight bar. It also gives me extra freedom to punish my biceps at the peak contraction of each rep if I use a full range of motion and really squeeze the muscle at the top.
When performing this exercise, I make sure to keep my elbows tucked by my sides and limit torso movement. This makes the biceps the primary mover, ensuring that they are doing the brunt of the work, making them suffer more of the pain inflicted by each rep!
Related: Kris Gethin's 7 Part Plan for Big Arms
That being said, as I start to reach failure I might start to use a “controlled cheat” to get my final couple of reps. Even if I do this, I will always concentrate on resisting the weight on the way down to really work the negative portion of the movement.
The rep range for this exercise drops to 8-10 reps.
With my biceps completely exhausted, my attention immediately turns to recovery. To start this process, I have my post workout protein supplement which contains 28g of whey protein.
After training, digestion can be difficult due to elevated cortisol levels, but whey protein is quick digesting. I also make sure to take in glutamine, betaine, and creatine with my protein. All of which are perfect for helping return my biceps to an anabolic state and replenishing ATP levels, getting my body ready for my next intense training session.
Doing four working sets of each of the above exercises will provide you with a thorough bicep workout. Ensure that you choose a weight that allows you to keep the work in the biceps – not cheating with unnecessary momentum - cheating won’t make your arms grow!
Work every negative; resisting the weight even when the pain becomes so intense you want to stop.
This approach will leave your biceps beaten, and more importantly, force them to grow.
Great article. Thanks so much. I have a question if you don’t mind. Im doing an LPP programme 6 days on 1 day off. So I’m working biceps x2 a week. Would love to use this routine as part of my LPP. However would you recommend this or is the volume too much for X2 a week? If volume too much which iexercises would you advise to drop? Many thanks in advance.
That should be fine. I'd recommend splitting this program into 2 and perform the 1st 3 exercises once a week and the other 3 the next session.
If you feel you need a little more volume, you could simply pick 4 of the 6 exercises from Kris' list and perform them in a workout twice a week.
Hope this helps!
Thanks so much Josh. Will do as suggested. Great article, so informative.