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Build Bigger Biceps

Bigger Biceps – What You Need to Know


We’ve all heard it. Maybe even been asked ourselves. We’ve seen threads about it in countless forums. But do you really know the answer to the question, “How can I get bigger biceps?” I’ve decided to filter out all of the fantasy and myth surrounding bicep training, and write a one-stop article, covering everything you need to know to work on adding some size to those biceps.

Bigger Biceps - Anatomy

Bigger Biceps - Anatomy of the Biceps

The Basics


The first thing we should discuss is the actual function of the biceps – what their purpose in life is. We can tell from the name ‘Biceps’ that what we’re talking about is a 2 headed muscle, or a muscle comprising of two parts. These two heads have two different functions:

  • Bend the elbow (as in a bicep curl).
  • Rotate the wrist.

So from that, we can already tell that if we really want to work the biceps, we’re going to need to train both of these heads, by making use of both functions. Simply concentrating on bicep curls isn’t going to cut it.

So What Do I Need to Know?


If you’re looking for bigger biceps, I have narrowed what you need to know down to 7 pieces of information. Each of the following points are equally important. Read them. Understand them. Implement them!

1. Know your anatomy

Which we have discussed above. You have to understand what your biceps do before you can effectively train them.

2.Train Short & Sharp

The reason that we lift weights is to trigger muscle growth. In order to achieve this resposnse we have to demand more from our muscles than they are used to – by either lifting more or performing more reps. Certain muscles are composed of higher ratios of slow twitch muscle fibres (Type I) but biceps aren’t amongst them.

The biceps should be worked in the 6 – 8 rep range. Training the biceps with low weights for high amounts of reps will not only consume a lot of your time, but may also be counterproductive. The key to developing bigger biceps is training short and sharp. A few high intensity sets in the 6 – 8 rep range, working hard and concentrating on good form, will be more than enough to trigger the muscle growth we’re looking for.

3. Keep Your Body Guessing

Bigger Biceps - The end result

The end result - a symbol of strength

Going through the motions of the same workout day in and day out will not stimulate the muscle growth that you need to develop bigger biceps. The body will merely adapt to the workout that you’re making it do over and over again.

If the body is constantly guessing, and does not know what to expect, it must be prepared and must adapt to a greater degree in order to cope with what you may throw at it.

Don’t be shy when it comes to trying new exercises. This doesn’t mean that you have to change the exercises you use every time you train. It can be as simple as changing your hand position or using intensity techniques (such as dropsets, supersets or 21’s). You have nothing to lose and plenty to gain.

4. Target Specific Parts of Each Muscle

To ensure you achieve your bigger biceps goals, you should be making a conscious effort to target each part of each muscle, in every workout. This can be achieved by training the entire bicep muscles, not just one part. For example, for maximum results, you should be doing exercises for the inner and outer biceps as well as the brachialis.

5. Proper Use of Intensity Techniques

Intensity techniques are a very effective tool in your arsenal, providing they are used correctly. Intensity techniques should be used sparingly, and only at the end of your workout on a particular bodypart. Overuse of these techniques can lead to overtraining which will almost certainly be counterproductive. Some examples of intensity techniques are:

  • Supersets.
  • Dropsets.
  • Forced/Partial reps.
  • 21’s.
  • Negative reps.

6. ….And Rest!

Bigger biceps - Rest is a must

Bigger biceps - Rest is a must

If you take nothing else away from this article, make sure it is this: Your body does not grow in the gym, it grows when you are at rest. Training merely gives muscles the stimulation they require to grow.

Regardless of how much effort you are putting into training, you simply will not grow bigger biceps if you are not getting enough sleep. 7 – 8 hours is a good amount to aim for. You should be waking up feeling rested, not tired or fatigued.

7. Nutrition

You’re training hard, and getting enough rest, but there’s one last ingredient that your body needs. Nutrition. Without proper nutrition, your body will not be able to grow, and may even begin to break muscle tissue down. The topic of nutrition is a big one – too deep to get into here. Just make sure that you’re eating something every 2 – 3 hours, not training on an empty stomach and taking in protein after your workouts.

Which Are the Most Effective Exercises for Building Bigger Biceps?


The most important things to concentrate on when working the biceps are good form, and using a weight that will allow you to train in the 6 – 8 rep range. For those looking to add mass to the biceps, the most effective exercises are:

  • Back exercises! Back exercises are mostly ‘pulling’ exercises which rely heavily on the biceps.
  • Pullups.

Using a wider grip on the bar will incorporate more of the outer head of the biceps, and using a narrow grip will incorporate the inner head. Aim to curl the bar upward through a wide arc, taking it as high as you can without moving the elbows. Moving the weight through a wide arc prevents other muscle groups from assisting the biceps with the exercise. Always squeeze the biceps at the top of the movement to ensure full contraction.

Conclusion


Training the biceps is not a black art. Follow this advice in this article and you will start to see your development in the mirror. Another important point for those of you looking for bigger biceps: Don’t forget to train your triceps! The triceps make up around 60 – 70% of the muscle mass in your upper arm.


Photo Credit: RedAndre, Mikecogh

4 comments

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  1. Steve

    how many sets is best for biceps curls? can i overtrain if i do too many?

  2. Andy

    Hi. Thanks for the question.

    Biceps are only small muscles, so I would say its best to do a maximum of 3 sets per exercise. For 3 exercises, that should be more than enough.

    Andy

  3. Ranjeet Singh

    Sir. Can i do biceps and triceps exercises same day. What combinations and sets are suitable for arms??

  4. Andy

    Hi. Thanks for your question. Working biceps and triceps in the same session is definitely an option. You just need to remember to give yourself 48hrs rest before training the arms again. The triceps make up most of the upper arm, and a great exercise to train them is Incline Skullcrushers. Concentration Curls and Barbell Preacher Curls really target the biceps. Go for 3 sets of 8 – 12 reps for each.

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