Get On Your Way to 21 Inch Arms! Building Bigger Biceps
Getting a full workout in which you focus on all aspects of your body is important. Spreading the various exercises in your routine across the week helps give you time to repair the targeted muscles. While biceps are one of the muscle groups people focus on often. With the techniques that follow you should be able to build strength in less time.
However, it doesn’t matter if you are only intending to build strength but not bulk. Or if you want to gain inches around your arm, these next techniques will help you in the pursuit of great biceps.
Hands down the best exercise for building bicep strength is the bicep curl. However, depending on your desire you can adjust the weight (more weight for bigger arms; less weight with more reps for toned arms) to really target the muscle.
Here are some suggestions for growing your arms:
- Don’t cheat. Cutting out a few reps, or not doing the full extension is a waste of time. Why bother putting yourself though it if you aren’t going to do it right?
- Don’t swing the weight. While keeping a steady arm helps engage the muscle and increases strength.
- Always start your bicep workout with the biggest exercise in your routine. Because you’ll have most energy at the beginning and therefore do the most then.
- Try mixing up the bicep curl by using some other techniques. The preacher curl, concentration curl, and hammer curl will help to broaden the routine.
- If and when you reach a plateau in your muscle building, switch the routine. Give more time between workouts, but hit the muscle harder each time. Or focus on them more often, but with less workout time.
Protein and Muscle Building Supplements
Building bigger muscles means getting enough protein in order to repair the worked area and to offer substance for weight gain. Protein powders, energy bars and a diet complete with the appropriate amounts of vegetables and carbohydrates will increase your energy and bring you the body you want. Also adding bodybuilding supplements or muscle building supplements builds muscle quick.
Best Biceps Exercises
1. Barbell Curl
How to Perform the Barbell Curl
Below is a brief guide on how to perform the barbell curl.
- Step 1: Grab a barbell with an underhand grip, slightly wider than the shoulders.
- Step 2: With the chest up and shoulder blades pulled tightly together, expose the front of your biceps by pulling the shoulders back into the socket. The elbows should reside under the shoulder joint, or slightly in front by the ribs.
- Step 3: Curl the barbell up using the biceps, making sure to not let the torso lean forward, shoulder collapse forward, or the elbows slide backwards to the side of the body (they should stay slightly in front of the shoulders).
How to Perform the Chin-Up
Below is a brief guide on how to perform the chin-up
- Step 1: Hang from a bar with the wrists supinated (palms facing you) and the hands about shoulder-width apart, or slightly wider. The wider the hands the more back is involved, and less anterior shoulder.
- Step 2: From a dead hang, retract and depress the scapula so that the middle back is stable, making sure to keep the chest up and head cradled in between the arms.
- Step 3: With a tight, hollow core position, slightly lean back and pull you chin over the back, making sure to not let the body fold inwards (so many people do this). This will obviously be easier than holding the CORRECT position, but will also add additional strain on the shoulders.
3. EZ Bar Preacher Curl
The EZ bar preacher curl is a bicep curl done with a speciality bar. This specialty bar places the wrist in a 30-45 degree supinated angle, slightly different than the standard straight bar. This can help to stimulate different muscle fibers of the bicep and help to reduce strain on the wrists in lifters who may have discomfort with a straight barbell curl.
How to Perform the EZ Bar Preacher Curl
Below is a brief guide on how to perform the EZ bar preacher curl.
- Step 1: Set your body in the same position as the standard barbell bicep curl (chest up, shoulders back, and elbows slightly forward).
- Step 2: Grasp the EZ bar handle on the inner angled pieces. This will place your hands slightly narrower than shoulder width and on a semi-supinated angle.
- Step 3: With the body locked in place, curl the bar upwards as you flex the biceps, briefly pausing at the top of the curl to flex the biceps. Finally, lower under control, and repeat.
4. Hammer Curl (Dumbbell)
The hammer curl is a dumbbell curl variation that places the wrists in the neutral position, therefore isolating the brachialis and brachioradialis (outer biceps and forearm).
How to Perform the Hammer Curl
Below is a brief guide on how to perform the hammer curl.
- Step 1: Grab a pair of dumbbells with the hands to your sides, palms facing the body. The chest should be tall, shoulders set back and down the back, and the elbows under shoulders.
- Step 2: Lift the dumbbell upwards so that the thumbs come up first, making sure to not rotate the wrist into the supinated or pronated position (keep the wrist neutral).
- Step 3: The elbows should go into about 100-130 degrees of flexion, forcing the biceps to contract aggressively at the top. Then, lower under control and repeat.
5. Incline Dumbbell Curl
The incline dumbbell curl is a bicep curl variation that placed the lifter in a position that does not allow the shoulder to become involved. By placing the lifter on an incline bench, the torso is reclined. Also exposing more of the biceps and increasing the overall range of motion.
How to Perform the Incline Dumbbell Curl
Below is a brief guide on how to perform the incline dumbbell curl.
- Step 1: Set an incline bench at a 45-70 degree angle.
- Step 2: Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them by your sides, as you pull the shoulders back and position the chest upwards. The back and shoulder blades should be pulled tightly together. While this will pin the shoulder back and keep them out of the movement
- Step 3: With the elbows down towards the floor, curl the weights up to slightly past parallel (about 100 degrees of elbow flexion), pause, contract, and then slowly lower the load and repeat.
6. Supinated / Reverse Grip Bent Over Row
While this is a rowing movement, one that often is used to target the back muscles. Because the supinated grip bent over row can be an effective pulling exercise to target the biceps as well.
How to Perform the Reverse Grip Bent Over Row
Below is a brief guide on how to perform the reverse grip bent over row.
- Step 1: Grab a barbell with an underhand (supinated grip), shoulder-width apart.
- Step 2: Assume the proper bent over row position, with the back flat and chest up.
- Step 3: Row the barbell to the sternum/stomach, making sure to pull with both the back and the arms, lowering the load under control and repeating for reps.
7. Cable Curl
The cable curl can be used to integrate cable training into biceps workout. Because using cables can increase time under tension. Allowing for strength to be challenged throughout the range of motion, and enhance muscle growth and engagement via different loading patterns/angles.
How to Perform the Cable Curl
Below is a brief guide on how to perform the cable curl.
- Step 1: Set the cables at the desired height, often from a low position.
- Step 2: Grab the handles, rope, or bar attachment and perform the desired curl variation.
8. Concentration Curl
The concentration curl is a highly isolated bicep exercise that is often performed at the end of a training session, after main bicep exercises.
How to Perform the Concentration Curl
Below is a brief guide on how to perform the concentration curl.
- Step 1: Sit on a bench with the feet wide to allow your arm to hang in the middle, withe elbows/triceps resting on the inside of the leg/knee.
- Step 2: With a dumbbell in hand, slowly curl the dumbbell upward at a controlled tempo, concentrating on contracting the biceps to move the load
- Step 3: At the toes of the movement, flex as hard as you can, then slowly lower the load. While the key is to not lose tension on the biceps at any point in the range of motion.