Biceps are the most popular muscles trained at the gym by men. Every guy wants bigger guns. The bicep is made up of two parts, hence the term bicep (“bi” meaning two and “cep” meaning head). In order to work the biceps, we must understand their functions.
First, the biceps point of origin is located under the front deltoid and it inserts below the elbow (picture below for reference). Anytime you curl your arm you are working your biceps. Also, a little-known fact is that whenever you twist your wrist you are using your bicep.
At first glance, the biceps are quite a simple muscle group. They have one end at the shoulder and the other anchoring itself by the elbow, right? Wrong! Even though it is one muscle with two single heads, it can be separated into inner/outer thickness, length and height. Performing different exercises or utilizing specific angles will place more of an emphasis on an individual aspect of the muscle. For example to hit inner bi’s you use a wide grip on a barbell curl and to emphasize the outer bi’s – a close grip is used. Twist your wrists inward whenever doing curls with dumbbells. If you don’t you won’t reach your bicep potential.
How to perform the perfect Biceps exercise.
One of the most important aspects involved in biceps training is to actually use your biceps. Sounds logical, but all too many times, people use their delts, backs and even forearms far too much to help them lift the weight.
The key to a perfect curl is to only move your arm at the elbow. Whether it be sitting, standing, dumbbell or barbell, no part of your body should move except your arm at the elbow joint. It is all too easy to drop your shoulder into the movement and thus bring in other muscles like the deltoids. This also applies to swaying elbows that cause you to recruit more help from your back muscles.
Full range of motion and failure.
You must use a full range of motion – especially if you are tall! Most people do not take the weight far enough down. Allow the weight to come as far down in the movement as possible, literally straightening your arms out. This is performed easier with dumbbells as opposed to a barbell, but even so get them as straight as possible feeling a complete stretch in the muscle. Some people have perfect form in warm-ups and then when they lift heavier weight their form goes out the window.
Get in the workout.
When training biceps you need to get into a bodybuilding mindset – visualize them growing. As stated above it is just an up and down movement of the forearms. When you train your guns, imagine that you are locked in and that it’s impossible for you to move your arms from side to side during the lift, up and down is the only way. You should experiment and find out what feels best and places the most stress on your biceps, more than likely that is your growth movement.
How do you get a great pump? Drop-sets, Super-sets, Tri-sets. Basically just loads and loads of training, hard training, high intensity, which will increase blood flow to your bi’s.
A simple tri-set to try:
1. Dumbbell Supinated Bicep Curl (7 reps)
2. Dumbbell Hammer Bicep Curl (7 reps)
3. Dumbbell Reverse Bicep Curl (7 reps)
The classic case of the Tortoise and the Hare.
It is the same with biceps training, perform the exercise with a slow motion. You need to understand that it’s time under tension that counts. Time under tension is the amount of actual time that the muscle group is forced to work. Bi’s like to be trained quite slowly in comparison to other muscle groups. A great way to “confuse” (Rich Piana) the biceps is to train them extra slow. Around 5 seconds for the concentric (positive) and 10 seconds for the eccentric (negative). During this workout, you would not do as many sets or exercises.
As stated earlier, it’s one muscle but with 4 different aspects. Do not neglect any one of them! Train your inner bicep thickness with wide grip curls, outer with close grip curls, upper with peak contraction and lower with an emphasized stretch at the bottom of the movement. Prioritize the parts that are lagging by training them harder and you’ll get HUGE guns before you know it!