Bigger, Balanced, Defined Biceps

on Friday, 27 January 2017. Posted in Strength Training Solutions

When it comes to developing an attractive physique, few will debate that a muscular, well toned body is more appealing.  We are all  “genetically wired” to feel more attracted to individuals that exude physical characteristics we associate with being capable, strong, and healthy.  And in the minds of most, noticeable, well defined biceps are synonymous with a high level of refined fitness.

It is no wonder, then, that so many work on improving this quickly noticed area of the anatomy when working out. But while aggressively targeting the biceps in your workouts can lead to impressive results, refining what, how much, and when to work this small muscle group is a key components to achieving safe, desired, fast results.

Biceps are a “small muscle grouping” that require a balanced workout for best results.

Biceps are commonly referred to as two muscle groupings (called the Biceps Brachii), consisting of the outer Long Head Bicep muscle and inner Short Head Bicep muscle. On the side of the Biceps (between the Biceps and the Triceps) are the Brachialis muscles—a secondary muscle group associate with arm flexion and extension that adds strength and stability to the area. Working Biceps to include the Brachial muscles is an important part of adding upper arm size, balance, and definition.

Train Biceps on a strict schedule to build up…not break down.

Like all muscles in the arm, the Biceps are worked out to some degree with every arm-involved exercise you do. So I recommend concentrating on Biceps once a week for those just beginning this training, and no more than twice a week for advanced training stages. Remember, many other pull-motion exercises (back pull, bent-over rows, pull-ups, etc.)  train and count as bicep training ) Be careful not to overtrain, which  can actually result in negative results.

Bicep warm-up will help prevent injury.

Like all muscle groups, the biceps should be properly prepared prior to a high intensity work our. Begin with full-range flexion and extension stretching of the arm, shoulder, wrists, core and back (remember your back and core will be providing needed stability). Continue warm-up by doing a stand-up curls,  20 reps, using dumbbells that weigh about half of what you will be working out with.

Safety Note: In Motion Overviews below, I instruct to extend arms to a “comfortable position.” By this I mean to a point where the elbow joint does NOT feel uncomfortably stretched or hyper-extended. Typically (especially with heavier weights), this may be to about 95% of the arm’s full extension.

Four great Bicep exercises.

The 4 exercises described below, done in the order listed, will stimulate growth in both the Long Head and Short Head Bicep muscle groups, while simultaniously working the Brachialis side support muscle groups:

Exercise #1: Standing EZ-Grip barbell curl:

If I were to recommend just one exercise for Biceps, this would be it. With proper form, standing curls produce balanced and noticeable results. I would suggest always beginning with this multiple-muscle group, higher weight exercise.

Motion Overview

1. Grip bar with hands about shoulder width apart and stand upright with arms comfortable extended. Properly gripped, the bends in the EZ-Grip bar help minimize wrist and elbow stress through the exercise.

2. Without rocking or jerking, curl the bar smoothly upward toward the chest while keeping elbows in a steady position about an inch or so away from your side.

3. Continue upward motion until bar reaches as close to chest as your anatomy allows, then immediately without hesitation slowly reverse the motion, feeling the negative resistance until arms are extended again. All curl motion should be controlled, taking about 2 seconds in each direction.

4. As soon as arms are extended begin curl motion again.

Sets/Reps: Three sets of 8 to 12

Exercise #2: Dumbbell preacher bench curls—single arm:

Single arm preacher bench curls somewhat isolate the Short Head Biceps, helping to add size and shape fullness.

Motion Overview

1. Sitting at an angled “preacher” bench, grip one dumbbell palm-up and rest elbow on the angled pad with arm comfortably extended.

2. Smoothly curl the dumbbell upward the shoulder of the working arm while keeping the elbow steady on the pad.

3. Immediately reverse motion until comfortable extension and repeat.

Sets/Reps: Three sets of 8 to 12

Exercise #3: Dumbbell Curls on an incline bench
Incline bench curls introduce a wider range of full-extension motion, and therefore work a fuller spectrum of Bicep muscle fibers. Because of this full extension, the weight used should be reduced to ensure a safe, smoothed, controlled exercise.

Motion Overview

1. Adjust bench incline to about 45º, and arrange dumbbells on either side.

2. Lay back on bench, and grip a dumbbell with each hand, allowing the arms to naturally hang straight down.

3.  Keeping elbows steady, smoothly curl both dumbbells upward, turning the wrists as you do so that palms are facing upward and toward you at the end of the curl motion.

4. Immediately reverse motion to full comfortable extension and repeat.

Variation: Stagger alternate motion between each arm (left up, right down…right up, left down, etc.)

Sets/Reps: Three sets of 8 to 12

Exercise # 4:  Hammer curls with dumbbells

Hammer curls develop the Biceps and the side Brachialis muscles mentioned earlier, adding girth and shape definition to the lower Biceps.

Motion Overview

1. Gripping a dumbbell in each hand, stand with a “very slight” bend forward at the waist (no more that 5º). Keep elbows fixed at the side of the body, arms comfortably extended with forearm rotated so that palms are facing inward.

2. Smoothly curl dumbbells upward, keeping wrist orientation fixed so that palm remains facing inward, and keeping back and core angle fixed and stable (no jerking or rocking).

3. At top of curl, immediately return to to comfortable extension and repeat.

Sets/Reps: Three sets of 8 to 12

Motion Variation: Stagger alternate motion between each arm (Left up, right down…right up, left down, etc.)

Bicep workout weights—when to go heavier
In general, you should be taxing your Biceps at the end of each set so that you are “almost but not quite” at the point of fatigue or motion failure. When you get to a point where you can comfortably perform 3 sets of 12 reps, it is time to increase the weight being used to that exercise.

Beginner’s NOTE: If just starting out, I would suggest using a weight that ensures you can get at least 10 to 15 reps in every set. Higher repetition in the beginning will help awaken and condition the targeted muscles, while also helping the body establish the repeat muscle patterns needed to maintain proper form.

Have questions regarding gaining the guns you hope for? Catalyst trainers and staff will be happy to help!

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