It’s important to know the function of the muscle you’re training in order to design a routine that properly works that muscle. The biceps is known as the biceps brachii and is a two-headed muscle. This muscle has two functions – Flexion: The action of bringing the arm up to the shoulder and Supination: The action of twisting the wrist or turning the thumbs away from the body. The brachialis is a small muscle which lies just beneath the biceps. It is not really a part of the bicep muscle but is included in the discussion because an untrained brachialis muscle can add up to an inch to your current arm size.
What exercises work best for the bicep?
The following exercises are designed to help build and increase the strength of the bicep muscle. They are examples of isolation movements since they focus primarily on the bicep.
Standing Barbell Curl:
The muscle at work in this exercise is the bicep. The main role of the biceps is elbow flexion, therefore, the curling movement stimulates the most amount of muscle in this region. This is the most basic and probably most used exercise to promote true bicep growth.
Incline Dumbbell Curls
Allows variable motion while getting a maximal stretch at the bottom of the movement. The sitting position enables a higher concentration of the arm movements and attempts to rule out other muscle trying to aid the bicep in performing a rep.
One Arm Preacher Curl
An isolating movement which focuses stress on the peak of the bicep. It helps add fullness to the lower portion of the muscle.
This exercise develops the brachialis, which is a flexor muscle of the elbow, running alongside the upper arm. It helps developers to the overall size of the bicep muscle.
I have devised a basic training programme to develop bicep mass:
Standing bar curls – 3 sets of 6-8 repetitions.
One arm preacher curls – 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions.
Hammer curls (both arms or alternating) – 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions
Incline dumbbell curls – 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions.
Hammer curls (both arms or alternating) – 3 sets of 6-8 repetitions.
Standing bar curls – 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions.
How to increase bicep mass? – Intermediate lifters
It is recommended that training the biceps should be limited to two sessions a week, as it receives additional work if one is training the back and chest – this is advisable for a beginner or intermediate lifters. The above routine is more than enough for a beginner to develop a good base for his or her bicep, that is easy although once you have conquered the beginner gains and you have put on that inch or maybe more depending on your genes and your muscle mass and tone before starting to workout; it gets a lot tougher! Every millimeter is a struggle, but there are a few things you can to boost your bicep size, however, a consistent effective routine, in the long run, will always provide you gains, but to boost those gains there a few things you can do. This theory is based on shocking your biceps into growth, when a muscle of the body is shocked or ‘surprised’ by some form of variation its almost like beginner gains, your body responds better. In order to shock those bi’s there are three things you can do:
Overload: This is a simple concept and very effective and works for all muscle of the body and the bicep is no different, for a short period of time overload your bicep for example, if you were previously working them once a week bump that to 3 sessions a week for 3 weeks and then come back down to the normal routine of once a week and every so often but not too often introduce this overload to continually keep your bicep working at its peak while providing variation with overload and just wait and see how they respond, however, this does not mean if you overload them every week you will see massive gains that’s not an overload that’s an over train! That will leave your biceps stunted and smaller then what you could achieve by training correctly
Drop sets: Also to provide continual variation and really work the bicep effectively, try drop sets. On bicep day, after doing 2 sets on say the barbell curls do your drop set, load the bar up with small weights to a maximum weight that you can only perform 5-6 reps with and then begin your set at the maximum weight performing as many reps as possible and then dropping the weight in small decrements with no rest between subsets within this drop set. The pump is incredible and provides a real ‘shocker’ for the biceps.
Supersets: These are also a variation to how to perform sets to provide continual variation for your body. These work best when you work different parts of the bicep, for example doing a set of barbell curls then moving to hammer curls with no rest in-between is an effective way to promote growth, the advantage this type of set has over a drop set is that you don’t tire as easily because you aren’t working the exact same place on the bicep in succession.
So no matter if you have been working your biceps for a year or two, you can still squeeze more out of them by using the above tips. Give them a try and really boost your biceps, we are always happy to hear your stories about how your training is going to contact us and tell us about your bulging bi’s.
In Iron, AJ
Featured Image: MENSXP