When people want to make their biceps look like Mount Everest, nine times out of ten they will blame genetics when they fail. However, your grandparents are most likely not to blame. Instead, you might try analyzing your workouts to see what you’re doing and how to improve it in order to get those guns.
In order to get more out of your workout, try to strategize and structure it into something that will be fully beneficial for your body.
This way, you can reach your maximum potential and if that doesn’t work, then feel free to put the blame on genetics. Try some new exercises to stimulate the biceps in different ways than it has been stimulated for the entire duration of your training. We’ve made a list of some tips and strategies to make your bicep workout better. Here they are.
Lifting the Weights Higher Doesn’t Necessarily Mean That the Effect Will Be Better!
When you exercise any part of your body, you want to make sure that you’re in full control of your weight and that you have proper form. This is extremely important, even with the simplest of movements.
Make sure that you’re doing your curls correctly or you might as well not do them at all since the effect will be minimal. Usually, people will swing the weight to its top range of motion and hope that it somehow works because the weight goes really high up.
The logic of this thinking escapes me, especially because when you lift the weights really high up and aren’t feeling any effect, there is a good chance that you’re actually pulling your elbows and therefore ruining your form! When this happens, your elbows move forward and away from their correct position.
This means that instead of working on one single joint, you’re actually working on two or more joints, which will usually activate your anterior deltoids, which means that your biceps won’t be getting the attention they need.
Your range of motion needs to be maintained from one locked position, so keep your elbows where they should be – by your sides. When you lift the weight so high that your hands are stacked right above your elbows, there is no stress on the bicep and the exercise will not work.
For best effect, contract your biceps at the top of the movement if possible. This will make those specific muscles feel more stress and the intensity will rise as well since you won’t have time to rest those muscles between reps.
Bend Your Elbows Instead of Your Back!
Again, you want to have perfect form. If you don’t fully extend your arms at the end of the range of motion of the movement, meaning at the lowest point of the curl, you are selling yourself short. If you lower the bar that low by lower-back extension and flexion, it will probably have a positive effect on your lower back.
But, if you’re training for biceps, you want to loosen up your arms at the end of the movement and extend them fully. When you don’t retain this form, certain irregularities can start to form.
One of these is usually the underdevelopment or partial development of the part of your bicep closest to your elbow. This happens when you don’t extend your arm fully, so make sure to keep the muscle under stress by doing a little muscle flex movement when you begin the rep.
However, don’t let your arms just hang by your side – you don’t want your biceps resting and that’s exactly what this does! If you extend your arms fully, you also put more stress on the elbows.
You can feel the full effect of this for yourself – next time you’re doing preacher curls and your arms are against a bench, notice how much harder it is to do the same, slightly modified movement.
Pay Attention to the Details!
One exercise does not only affect one muscle in one way. You can modify every single exercise out there to suit your needs at the moment. If at any point, you change your grip, angle or arm position, you will be affecting different muscles than the ones with the standard form.
You can change the focus of a curl from, say, the long head to the short head or maybe even the brachialis, the muscle under the biceps brachii. You’re probably wondering why you would want to even touch the brachialis if it’s not visible, and the answer is very simple: the bigger it is, the thicker your arms are!
Just switch up what you’re doing when you work out with arm-curling exercises and soon enough your brachialis will be emphasized. For best effect, use a hammer grip which will also work on the long head of your biceps.
When you do movements which utilize arm curling, such as the preacher curls, the intensity on the long head of your biceps will drop, instead raising the intensity on the short head. However, you may find it interesting to do some incline-bench curls, which will let the long head bear all of the pressure. Make sure to maintain proper form which in this case means to maintain your elbows back while you’re lifting the weight.
If you take a grip where your hands are closer together, the long head will take the brunt of the stress, but if you take one where the hands are wider apart, the exercise will target the short head.
You can switch it up and do two sets of shoulder-width grip exercises, two sets of wider grip exercises and two sets with a grip where your hands are close together. Note that you shouldn’t switch up your short or wide grips – they are always either two inches inward or two inches outward.
Also, you might want to add cable curls in your regime because they have a whole different effect on your biceps. Because of their specific line of pull which doesn’t come straight down but from the side, they will let you enjoy greater versatility in your exercises.
With one machine, you can work on the entire bicep, as well as the muscles surrounding it. All you need to do is change the height or your body’s position and you will be able to hit every single point on the bicep.
All bicep exercises are essentially single joint movements. This means that sometimes people say that you might not be starting with the right single joint movement, and you should listen to them about this issue. Just because they are all performed through one joint, it doesn’t mean that you get to pick and choose what you do and don’t do.
That’s why for your first exercise of the day you should always pick an exercise that will let you lift as much as possible while your form remains impeccable. If you go right to the preacher bench when you walk into the gym, or if you do concentration curls right off the bat, you will need to find a new routine or trainer.
This is because both of those exercises require that your upper arms be warmed up and stabilized so that they can isolate the movement of your muscles. For best results, get some heavy dumbbells or a heavy barbell and pump away.
Don’t Accept the Norm!
Sometimes, things can get dogmatic in the gym and as we all know, dogma sucks for everyone. That’s why, if you want to make muscles much stronger than in your regular routine, you will need to be smarter. These following few tips will enable you to hit more biceps areas at the same time, as well as activate the inner to outer bicep heads or even the brachialis underneath.
1. Peak-Contraction Training – Hold the weight at the top of the movement and clench your biceps as hard as possible. This will bring about extra tension and that clench lets you have a very short pause which will help you with your focus when it comes to that movement. So in the end, you won’t just drop the weight.
2. Partial Reps – These can be very useful for going above and beyond your sticking point. These reps will help you keep intensity on the part of the movement where you perform the best so you will be able to lift more than usual. I would recommend seated barbell curls or curls in a power rack.
3. Getting Double the Workout – Begin your set with your arm fully extended with a little bend at the elbow, then take it up for a full contraction. After that, go down but only halfway. Then, raise the weight up again and all the way down. Keep in mind that this is still only one rep, but your bicep has been stressed twice. How’s that for effectiveness?
4. 21-Rep Sets – Do seven partial reps for the bottom half of the range of motion, followed by seven more partials for the top part of the range and then seven full range reps. This will bring you to 21 reps.
5. Put Resistance Bands Into Play – When working out with barbells or dumbbells, the weight will constantly shift through the range of motion. If you add some resistance bands when doing these curls, you will make it harder for yourself to do the full range of motion and your biceps will be more stressed, hence the workout will be more effective. This is known as the variable resistance technique, and it will make your weights feel lighter at the bottom and heavier at the top, which is yet another way to grow your biceps.
6. Increase Time Under Tension – Try to take your time when exercising. Slow it down. You can do this by using negative (eccentric) training. To do this, have a partner help you lift up the weight and then take a few seconds to drop it down again. This will lengthen the muscle, put it under more tension for a longer period of time. You can also do this the other way around. Get your partner to lower the bar and then you can lift it up with explosive quickness or for even greater effect, as slowly as possible.
For best effect, do both of these things and mix them up with some blood-flow restriction and cluster-set training. The result is pretty much guaranteed, since there is actually credible scientific evidence that your muscles will grow bigger and faster if they are placed under longer and more intense stress. This is because your body will start synthesizing protein more quickly, and the anabolic hormones will kick in.
However, you don’t have to do negative rep training just to get into a tempo – you can do both quick and slow reps which will both perform on the positive instead of the negative side.
And That’s Not All!
There is a huge number of techniques out there that you can utilize to boost the growth of all of your muscles and especially your biceps. If you supinate your hand when you curl that dumbbell you will have better effect.
If you switch between low rep and high rep workouts or integrate finishing moves like the FST-7, you will have an even better effect. Also, you can isolate your biceps twice while your training split is going on, or you can train them after a pause day.
Anyway, the most effective way to grow your biceps is to add variety to your exercises. Stop doing what you’re doing and do something different. Make your muscle experience new sensations and it will grow in new ways. You are both the experimenter and the result of the experiment, and realistically you don’t have anything to lose when you want to try new techniques.
I would suggest that you devote up to six weeks for every one of these methods. Monitor its effect on your muscles and change it. It’s a test that you create for yourself!