It’s a given that the majority of bodybuilders want defined, muscular arms – not only while they’re pumped up during workouts, but long after. Whether you’re an athlete or the next Ronnie Coleman, the best bicep workout tips below can help take your arms to the next level.
Choosing a Well Rounded Routine
The first step to building the perfect arms is to ensure your workout routine doesn’t contain any flaws. After all, it’s the triceps that really add size to the upper arms. We’ve all seen the guys who only do bicep curls and end up looking deformed rather than the mean machines they aspire to be. Whether your training involves full body workouts, or splits, make sure you attack each muscle group from various angles. On top of that, always ensure the muscles have adequate fuel to grow, and time to rest to avoid overtraining.
Use a One Rep Max Calculator
When lifting weights, optimum performance is achieved through scaled progression. Use a one rep max calculator, for both enhanced performance and safety. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Best Bicep Workout Basics
Remember that you use the biceps for other exercises – especially when working out the back. As a result, try to distance your arm and back days (or exercises) so that you are more efficient with your energy for optimum growth. Many people have dedicated arm days for this reason; doing so means they can really go to town hitting the biceps, triceps and forearms with multiple exercises when energy is at a maximum.
Another factor to keep in mind is rep range. For building size it’s generally accepted that reps of 6-8 with 4 or 5 sets work well, and for definition, hypertrophy training works with reps of 8-12 for 3 or 4 sets. To make the best of both worlds, utilize drop sets at the end of heavy sets to really feel the burn. Lastly, when you perform any exercise it is absolutely vital not to use momentum. If you’re lifting too heavy, the only thing you’re working out is your ego. Form and technique is everything, so don’t be afraid to drop the weight and work up properly.
Best Bicep Workouts
- Bicep Curl to Shoulder Press – If you mix up your workouts rather than have dedicated days, the bicep curl to shoulder press is one exercise that’ll get your heart pumping in a hurry. Start the exercise standing straight with your feet shoulder width apart. Your arms should be hanging at your sides, with palms facing out. Curl the dumbbells using both arms while keeping your elbows in, once they are at chest level, change to a shoulder press so your palms are facing away from you and execute the press. Remember to use controlled movements.
- Standing Barbell Curl – This is a great exercise for the biceps, although it can put strain on the forearms. If you find your forearms hurting with this exercise you can choose an EZ bar instead. You can choose a narrow or wide grip – both targeting different areas of the biceps. To start, stand with your feet shoulder width apart, holding the barbell with an underhand grip. Flex at the elbows to curl the bar toward your chest, holding the contraction at the top before slowly returning back down.
- Incline Bench Curls – This exercise helps to isolate the biceps more, making it a difficult although more beneficial workout. Sit down on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand. You have the option to curl both dumbbells at the same time, or alternate one at a time depending on preference. Together is usually more difficult. You can choose to keep an underhand grip for a regular curl, or a sideways grip for a hammer curl.
- EZ Bar Curl – This exercise is one of the most popular bicep workouts. Holding an EZ bar with a medium grip, stand with both feet shoulder width apart with the bar in front of you and an underhand grip. Slowly bring the bar up while contracting the biceps. Hold the contraction at the top and bring down fully before repeating. Maintain a controlled movement. This exercise can be made more challenging by using a preacher bench to isolate the movement. You can also reverse your grip to work out the forearms more.
- Classic Standing Alternate Bicep Dumbbell Curl – For those times when you just want to hammer out a set, the alternating dumbbell curl is hard to beat. Stand upright with a dumbbell in each hand at your sides at arm length. Your palms should be facing your thighs. Slowly curl one dumbbell, twisting slightly so your palm faces towards you, contracting the biceps as you bring the dumbbell to chest level. Squeeze and hold the contraction of the bicep at the top of the movement before returning slowly, and repeating with the other side. Make sure to keep your elbows in, and be careful not to use momentum to lift the dumbbells.
As a final note, always mix up exercises every 8 weeks or so. Doing this ‘shocks’ the muscles and allows for better development overall. If you have a favorite bicep exercise, let us know in the comments below.