The Most Effective Exercises For Building The Biceps

Bicep Peak Developing Workouts

Although developing the arms is important for physique, it’s vital that they are not overdeveloped in comparison to the rest of the body.

For a comprehensive aesthetic look, all muscle groups should be developed at a similar rate otherwise the body may look out of proportion.

Strategic Muscle Growth

Instead of having the sole aspiration of developing the arms, it is important to use a more targeted approach.

If you are a bodybuilder, the goal is to develop a look that is aesthetically pleasing. Having 25-30 inch arms that don’t fit the rest of your body is not a good look.

Therefore, be wary of using exercising the arms too frequently and instead focus on being smart with your training and training quality.

For optimal bicep development, incorporate bicep work into your back or shoulder and tricep workouts. This will ensure that mass develops at an equal rate throughout a range of muscles.

Utilizing this method will not lead to building a significant amount of full-body mass but will also develop the bicep peaks optimally and proportionally.

workout bodybuidingTwo Bicep Peak Developing Workouts

As mentioned earlier, the following two workouts should be incorporated into either back day or shoulder & tricep day.

For each of the following exercises, it is recommended to perform 1-2 warm-up sets. These sets should involve approximately 50% of the weight that you will use for the working sets.

In addition, ensure you only complete 3 or 4 reps and avoid working to muscular failure. The purpose of a warm-up is to enhance the mind-muscle connection and reduce injury risk (1).

Workout 1

Exercise

Sets x Reps

Barbell Curls

1 x 60-100 reps

Cable Hammer Curls – Rope Attachment

1 x 60-100


Workout Instructions & Technique

The first workout uses just one set and high reps. The reasoning behind this is because the biceps are primarily made up of slow-twitch, type 1 muscle fiber.

This means that biceps recover more quickly than other muscles and are more resistant to fatigue which is why it is recommended to train the biceps twice per week.

The sessions do not have to be excessively long, as demonstrated with workout 1. The recommendation is to use workout 1 in conjunction with a back workout.

This is because the biceps will have already experienced a great deal of stress during the back-based resistance exercises and therefore using a high-rep set works the biceps in a different way.

The 2 sets will take no longer than 5 minutes and will effectively force blood into the biceps, causes a build-up of fatigue and onset bicep growth

Barbell Curl

For the barbell curl, select a weight that is 30% below your 10 rep max for barbell curls. For example, if you can complete 10 curls at 100lbs, you would use 70lbs.

Start by aiming for 20-25 reps with this weight before slashing the weight by half and completing as many as you can.

If you reach the point of failure before 60 reps, drop the weight by half once again and continue until you complete a minimum of 60 reps.

Using 70lbs as an example starting weight, complete 20-25 reps, drop the weight down to 35lbs and work to failure; drop down further to 17.5lbs, if necessary.

When gripping the bar, use a grip that is slightly wider than shoulder-width to target the inner head of the bicep. In addition, move the weight onto the outer palms if possible.

In terms of pace, focus on a 2-second concentric contraction, squeeze the biceps tightly and then control the eccentric contraction, taking 3-4 seconds to return the bar to the hips

Cable Hammer Curl

For the cable hammer curl, the rope attachment means that you will use a neutral grip (palms facing each other) which will effectively work the brachialis muscle.

However, as you drive the load upward look to supinate your grip (turn the palms upwards). Doing this will effectively engage both bicep peaks.

Workout 2

Exercise

Sets x Reps

Superset 1:
Barbell Curl
Triceps Pushdown


2-3 x 8-12

Superset 2:
Machine Preacher Curls
Seated Barbell Military Press


2-3 x 8-12

Superset 3:
Concentration Curls
Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdown


3 x 10-15, 1 x 20-25

 

bicep workoutWorkout Instructions & Technique

The second workout utilizes 3 supersets and should be performed on shoulder & triceps days.

Because the exercises are supersetted do not rest at all until you have completed all of the reps. However, do take a 60-90 second rest between each superset.

Barbell Curl & Tricep Pushdown

For superset 1, use your 10 rep max weight for the 3 sets, after completing the warm-up sets. Ensure that you are using a shoulder-width grip for the curl.

It is imperative that you do not pyramid up during the warm-up sets as you want to avoid fatiguing the biceps prior to the working sets – remember, 3 or 4 reps will suffice.

For both of the exercises in this superset, cadence is highly important. As with workout 1, use a 2 second concentric and a 3-4 second eccentric.

Machine Preacher Curl & Seated Barbell Military Press

For the machine preacher curl, the main emphasis must be on the eccentric (or negative) portion of the exercise as eccentric training has been found to accelerate the rate of muscle growth (2).

In the preacher curl, the shoulder should be relatively relaxes as the upper arm is supported by the bench which should allow for a greater drive and control.

Look to bring the weight up by 1 second and use a 4-5 second descent to maximally load the biceps.

Concentration Curl & Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdown

When performing concentration curls, often it is the case that less weight is better. The focus of the exercise should be on the control and squeeze of the biceps, not the amount of weight lifted.

Focusing on the contraction can cause a greater degree of muscle activation (3) and consequent burn. Therefore, avoid the temptation to go excessively heavy and choose a weight that facilitates control.

To get the most out of the concentration curl, utilize a wrist twist at the top of the movement. Start with the dumbbell in a neutral grip, as you curl upward, supinate your grip.

At the very top of the movement, turn the wrist a little further to maximize supination. Imagining you are trying to get the pinkie to touch the nose is a good way to maximize wrist twist.

With the sets of 10-15 reps, select a weight that will allow you to complete a minimum of 10 and bring you to the point of muscular failure.

For the final set of 20-25 reps, drop the weight by 30-50%. The weight you use is dependant on how fatigued your muscles are at that point. 

Final Word

The above workouts should bring about significant changes in bicep peak size for all individuals regardless of your level of conditioning. However, it may be particularly beneficial for those of beginner and intermediate level.

Look to perform these workouts for a period of 4-6 weeks before assessing how your body has adapted to this training stimulus. Feel free to then experiment with loads and rep ranges to see what works best for you. 

References:

1-Herman, Katherine; Barton, Christian; Malliaras, Peter; Morrissey, Dylan (July 19, 2012). “The effectiveness of neuromuscular warm-up strategies, that require no additional equipment, for preventing lower limb injuries during sports participation: a systematic review”. BMC Medicine. 10: 75. doi:10.1186/1741-7015-10-75. ISSN 1741-7015. PMC 3408383. PMID 22812375.

2-Roig, M.; O’Brien, K.; Kirk, G.; Murray, R.; McKinnon, P.; Shadgan, B.; Reid, W. D. (2009-08). “The effects of eccentric versus concentric resistance training on muscle strength and mass in healthy adults: a systematic review with meta-analysis”. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 43 (8): 556–568. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2008.051417. ISSN 1473-0480. PMID 18981046.

3-Calatayud, Joaquin; Vinstrup, Jonas; Jakobsen, Markus Due; Sundstrup, Emil; Brandt, Mikkel; Jay, Kenneth; Colado, Juan Carlos; Andersen, Lars Louis (2016-03). “Importance of mind-muscle connection during progressive resistance training”. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 116 (3): 527–533. doi:10.1007/s00421-015-3305-7. ISSN 1439-6327. PMID 26700744.

SHARE
Jacob Ladon
Jacob Ladon is a staff writer and former amateur bodybuilder. He has been passionate about bodybuilding since he was 15 years old and discovered the joys of training in the gym. He reports and comments on all bodybuilding related matters.