Luckily, the bicep is one muscle that responds fairly quickly to training. That means that if you’ve acknowledged your slightly lacking arms a little closer to summer then you might still be in luck. All you need to do is implement the right training regime and you can start making some solid gains. This is all coupled with a proper nutritional approach as well, of course.
Now, bicep training isn’t all about doing endless sets of curls. If you look around any gym then you’ll see rows and rows of guys doing the same old curls again and again and again. Yet, very few of them have that special peak that makes the biceps really pop. This is because a lot of this guys are just chasing the pump. They’re lifting simply to make their arms feel good opposed to doing what makes them look good.
Also, another issue with this is that they don’t necessarily use proper form. There’s a lot of swinging and momentum implemented so that they can lift more weight. A lot of gym goers use too much weight to make themselves feel better which means they end up using their biceps less. Yep. Because of the weight that they can’t handle they have to use more momentum and so end up training their biceps less and wonder why they struggle to increase in size.
Luckily for you, once you start focusing on proper technique and muscular tension opposed to just feeling good then you’re well on your way to bigger, better guns. You need to lighten the load and make your aim getting the full range of motion as well as peak contraction to get the biceps looking good. Once you can hit the desired amount of reps with good form then and only then is it time for you to move up the weight. That means not when you start to feel bored at that weight but when you can perform all of the reps cleanly and controlled.
Another top tip is to supinate your wrists at the top of the curl. The biceps don’t only flex the arm but also supinate the forearm. So, to get peak contraction you need to rotate your palms to face upwards at the end of the motion. If you don’t supinate the wrists then you’re never fully contracting the biceps and therefore missing a vital opportunity for growth.
Recommended Bicep Workout Routine
Now it’s time for the actual training program. If you’re solely focused on making your arms grow then you should optimize the days that you train. Only train on the days where you have the most energy. You should perform this workout twice per week leaving at least two days in-between.
This leaves enough time for your arms to recover so that you can give it your all again in the next session. Over 3 months you should be able to see your biceps grow each and every week until you have that perfect peak right at the end.
- STRAIGHT-BAR WIDE-GRIP BARBELL CURL
3 sets of 12-15 reps
- DUMBBELL HAMMER CURL
4 sets of 10-12 reps, turning hands upward at peak
- CONCENTRATION CURL
3 sets of 10 reps
- CLOSE GRIP CABLE CURL
4 sets of 12-15 reps
- SINGLE-ARM HIGH-PULLEY CABLE CURL
3 sets of 20 reps
- SINGLE-ARM DUMBBELL PREACHER CURL
4 sets of 20 reps, turning hand upward at peak
This workout is laid out in such a way to perfectly hit the biceps. You start off with a wide-grip curl to warm-up the muscle and to really hit the inner head of the biceps which can be hard to target.
Next, you roll into your hammer curls so as to train the brachialis muscle which lies beneath the biceps brachii and works to flex the elbow, also. Hitting the brachialis means that your arms will increase in overall size so as to supplement that peak that we’re trying to get in the rest of the workout.
One top tip is to supinate your wrists as you bring the dumbbell into the last portion of the single-arm preacher curl right at the end. This last exercise is to top off the workout and make sure that your biceps are really feeling it. The single-arm addition will highlight any imbalances you have in your arms so that you can even them out.
With each exercise never go to the level of extension that releases tension from the muscle. You want there to be tension throughout the whole movement so you’re really feeling it by the end. Time under tension (TUT) is a key contributor towards growth and imperative when you’re looking for that perfect peak.
Bicep Workout For Advanced Bodybuilders
If you’re slightly more advanced in the gym then using a workout partner can really kick your workout up to the next level. However, if you’re still fairly small and/or inexperienced with fitness then simply stick to the regular program.
The point of the gym partner is to take the workout that little bit further on the dumbbell preacher curl. Now, you can do loaded negatives safely. Once you’ve reached failure on the preacher curls and can’t complete another rep with good form then have your partner grab each end of the weight and help you lift it back up to the top.
Next, your workout partner should push down on the rep with slightly more force than you can manage so you slowly lower the weight under tension. They shouldn’t be pushing so hard that the weight shoots down but equally there needs to be enough force that the weight lowers for 3-5 seconds. Continue with these reps until you can no longer perform the eccentric portion of the lift either.
Another good training method is to face off against each other to see who can complete the most amount of reps with a given weight right at the end of the workout. So, you start by curling the weight until failure and then immediately hand it off to your partner. They should then complete as many reps as they can until they reach favor before handing it straight back to you. Keep doing this until you or your partner simply can’t last any longer.
You can also try adding in a couple of forced reps where the partner aids you with the concentric portion of the lift. This can be done on any exercise but is better used on the exercises towards the end.
Obviously, no good program is complete without good nutritional advice.
As stated earlier, if you’re keen on getting big arms then you need to make sure the rest of your lifestyle is set up so that you have the most energy and best recovery protocol surrounding your arm workout. This means having a good meal before your workout that’s full of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. An example would be whole wheat toast with avocado and smoked salmon.
As a recovery meal, you need similar but faster-acting foods. This means more simple carbohydrates and faster acting protein. Interestingly, one of the best sources of calories after a workout is a bottle of chocolate milk. Chocolate milk contains protein from the dairy and then simple sugars from the added ingredients which will go straight into your body and immediately replenish the energy lost during your workout.
Both of these macronutrients will then start to repair your muscles and help them grow before your next workout. Having a 500ml bottle of chocolate milk straight after your workout is fantastic for helping you grow. Then when you get home and have more time you can cook up a more nutritious meal of healthy carbs, fats, and protein. An example of this would be steak, vegetables, and potatoes.
In terms of macros, you want to be eating at least 0.75g of protein per lb of bodyweight. Protein is a critical component of growth and recovery so aim to eat at least a fistful of protein at every meal. Protein shakes are an extremely helpful supplement if you struggle to get in adequate amounts of protein each day.
It’s important to remember to vary your meals so you get the benefits of a wide range of foods. Try to ‘eat the rainbow’ each day which is to eat foods of a variety of colors. A ‘cheat meal’ can be a really good way to get any cravings out of your system. There is no ‘bad’ food per say, just foods that are better for you and can be harder to fit into your macros.
If you’re the type of person who wants a pizza at every meal then having a cheat meal after an intense session can be a good way to fit this in. A cheat meal is simply a meal where you don’t worry about calories and simply focus on eating foods you want until you are full. It’s not a way to go on some enormous binge and have no repercussions. All it is is a way to get anything that’s been playing on your mind out of your system and move on.
To wrap everything up, if you stick to this program for 3 months then you’ll definitely have that peak. As well as sticking to the program you should get in around 18 calories per pound of bodyweight to supplement your training and provide your body with enough building blocks to grow.