Your biceps are composed of two muscles, referred to as the long head and short head. They rest on the upper arm, starting their connection to the body on the scapula and running downward and inserting into the forearm, more specifically, the radius bone. Bicep muscles raise the forearm towards the shoulder, as well as the supination of your forearm. This means that its two main functions are to curl and pull, and the control of lowering the forearm back down.
To strengthen and develop your biceps, you’ll need to do exercises that focus on these movements. Bicep training doesn’t need to be just curling alone. In fact, diversity and a spot of ingenuity may work in your favour. Biceps are a small muscle group, meaning you should not overwork them more than you would with larger muscle groups.
A good example would be your quads, as this area is comprised of more muscles working together to perform an action, the movement is not as immediately exhausting – you have more horsepower in larger muscle groups so if you put a smaller muscle group to the same test, like your biceps, they will quickly be overworked and are not as capable of the same strength, sets and reps.
Which exercise types are best for building biceps?
Whilst isolated bicep exercises will work the muscles like nothing else, you might not have realised that other parts of your weekly workout plan also channel the biceps.
Anything that involves pulling and curling will work your biceps. These include exercises such as pulling bars, pull-ups, rowing and climbing. This isn’t bad news if you’re working towards bigger biceps, but it means that you may want to factor this in when writing up your workout plans for the week.
For example, on back day, you can pre-exhaust your biceps with some curls before working the back and then again at the end of the session. Our advice here is to make sure any arm-training days are two or three days apart. Your muscles need time to recover, build and develop.
Biceps aren’t especially used in many sports. Think about it, any sport that does overly use a pulling or curling motion, also would not benefit from isolated, exhaustive exercise prior to game day. Tightness in the biceps can restrict the arms’ movements when running, particularly sprinting. It will also inhibit throwing activities, swinging, lifting and pulling movements. Because of this, we would recommend that athletes and sportspersons make sure they completely rest the biceps following any isolated or exhaustive training prior to a sporting event.
When training the aforementioned long- and short heads, a simple tip is to alternate palm-up and palm-down exercises when curling. Another theory for training the two heads is to vary the width of your grip when curling. Try a variation of both short- and wide grips.
If you’re beginning to train your biceps, four to six sets, twice a week is recommended. You could increase this to 10 to 12 when you feel you’re advancing and know your body’s capabilities and recovery tendencies.
Please introduce this section. It will be a list of recommended exercises specifically for bigger biceps. Here are some examples of articles that target biceps, for which we already have videos. Please use a minimum of 10.
1. Bicep Curl
- Start standing with a dumbbell in each hand. Your elbows should rest at your sides and your forearms should extend out in front of your body.
- Bring the dumbbells all the way up to your shoulders by bending your elbows.
- Reverse the curl slowly and repeat.
2. Concentration Curl
- Start by sitting on the edge of the bench, holding the dumbbell in your right hand.
- Let the right arm hang straight down with the elbow resting on the inside of the knee.
- Lean forward so your torso is over your legs, and place the left hand on the left knee.
- Bending at the elbow, curl the dumbbell up to shoulder level and pause momentarily before slowly lowering the weight to the starting position.
- Repeat until your set is finished, then switch sides and complete with the left arm.
3. Bentover Row
- Hold a barbell with a pronated grip (palms facing down). Your feet should be shoulder-width apart.
- Bend your knees and bring your torso forward slightly. Your back should be straight and almost parallel to the floor. This is your starting position.
- Lift the barbell up towards your sternum, keeping your elbows tucked in and close to the body.
- Pause and hold at the top of the movement, squeezing your back muscles.
- Slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired amount of reps.
4. Zottman Curl
- Hold a pair of dumbbells by your sides with your palms facing.
- Curl the weights up to your shoulders
- Keep your upper arms still and turn your hands so your palms face up as you lift.
- Pause at the top of the movement and slowly rotate your grip so your palms are facing downwards.
- Lower the weights back to the start position and rotate the hands to repeat.
5. Chin Up
- Leap up and grip the bar with your hands shoulder width apart and your palms facing away from you.
- Hang with your arms fully extended, you can bend your legs at the knee if they’re dragging on the ground.
- Keep your shoulders back and your core engaged throughout.
- Then pull up. Focus on enlisting every upper body muscle.
- Move slowly upward until your chin is above the bar
- Slowly downward until your arms are extended again.
6. Hammer Curl
- Stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand, holding them alongside you. Your palms should face your body.
- Keep your biceps stationary and start bending at your elbows, lifting both dumbbells.
- Lift until the dumbbells reach shoulder-level, but don’t touch your shoulders.
- Lower slowly and repeat.
7. Decline Dumbbell Hammer Curl
- Hang both your arms down holding the dumbbells with your palms facing out.
- Bend the elbows and without moving them, lifting your arms up to reach your chest.
- Curl your wrists as much as you can to put tension on both the biceps.
- Bring it down in the same motion, but slowly.
8. Crossbody Curl
- Keep your palms turned to face your body when at your sides.
- Work with one arm at a time.
- Curl your arm slowly as you would with any other form of a standard bicep curl, bringing it up and across your body to the opposite shoulder.
- A good tip is to not lock your legs in a straight position.
9. Dumbbell Row
- Bring the dumbbell up to your chest, concentrating on lifting it with your back and shoulder muscles rather than your arms.
- Keep your chest still as you lift.
- At the top of the movement, squeeze your shoulder and back muscles.
- Lower the dumbbell slowly until your arm is fully extended again.
10. Incline Bicep Curl
- Sit down against the workout bench, keeping your back straight and your abdominal muscles tight.
- Your weights should be at your sides to start, one in each hand.
- When you’ve gotten the starting position down, lift each dumbbell, palms up, toward your shoulders.
- It’s important to keep your upper arms tight so that you can isolate the biceps brachii muscle as you move your lower arms only.
- Slowly lower the dumbbells back down to your starting position.
- Don’t release the weights too fast or you could strain your muscles. This should be a controlled and slow movement.
Take Home Message
Really focus on the compound movements on your back or pull days. Anything that needs the pulling motion may require your biceps. Supporting this with exhaustive exercise or an additional section of your training on your arms will help to fill them t-shirts.