It’s probably because it’s spring, but I’ve been getting a lot of requests for information on how to grow your biceps. While there are a lot of things that need to take place for any muscle to grow, ie; proper nutrition, adquate recovery time, plenty of sleep, training methods that produce significant stimulation etc. I wanted to talk specifically about what you can do to grow your biceps in terms of training techniques
First off, I feel that it’s important to point out that the biceps really aren’t designed to get big. If you’ve read my other post The Best Way To Get Big Arms, then you know that for overall arm development and size, training your triceps is far more important.
In my opinion the first thing that you can do differently with your training to stimulate more muscle growth in your biceps is to use less weight.
Yep, less weight.
It’s one of the biggest mistakes guys make in the gym when they train their biceps. They lift to damn heavy! Then they wonder why their shoulder hurts all of the time. Why they have tendonitis in their elbow. Why their forearms feel bruised.
Lifting less weight will allow you to control the ENTIRE range of motion and better isolate the biceps. When you use weight that is too heavy, you’re going to recruit other muscles and you’re going to break form. This will result in less stimulation of the muscle that you’re trying to train.
The weight that you use should allow you to really feel your biceps as you lift the weight. Focus on the muscle working, squeeze hard at the peak of the movement. Don’t just cruise through your workout. Mentally engage with every rep!
Using the right weight will also allow you to lower the weight in a slow and controlled manner. This will allow you to take advantage of what is perhaps the most beneficial part of any exercise. The eccentric contraction.
The eccentric contraction is the part of the biceps curl where you’re lowering the weight to the starting position. If this contraction isn’t twice as long as the lifting or concentric contraction then you need to lighten the weight or slow down.
It’s been shown that the eccentric contraction is where the majority of the micro-trauma that takes place during resistance training happens. Micro-trauma is essentially the breaking down of the muscle fiber. Breaking muscle down is the entire point of lifting weights! If you’re not controlling the negative / eccentric contraction you may as well have stayed home.
When you’re choosing the optimal amount of weight, choose a weight that will allow you to complete at least 8 full, mentally focused, slow and controlled reps. You shouldn’t have to squirm or break form to complete those 8 reps. Breaking form and cheating is a good indication that the weight is too heavy.
8 is the minimum but you shouldn’t be able to complete more than 12 reps in this fashion. If you’re doing that many reps with this slow and controlled approach then you’re probably not engaging those fast twitch (bigger & stronger muscle fibers) muscle fibers. If growth (hypertrophy) is your goal stay between 8-12 reps when training your biceps.
I’ll write a lot more about how to optimize your training for overall growth, but for now incorporate these suggestions into your biceps training (or all of your workouts for that matter). Here they are summarized.
- Lighten the weight
- Mentally engage in every rep
- Contract hard at the top of the movement
- Lengthen the eccentric contraction
- Reach muscular failure in the 8-12 rep range
There you have it, some quick and dirty how to grow your biceps tips!
If you’re looking for something more complete, like an entire training program that’s dedicated to growing bigger biceps then Lee Hayward’s Blast Your Biceps training program might interest you. I grabbed it several months ago and picked up quite a bit of info that I mix into my workouts.
Specifically the concept of “Positions of Flexion” which is basically working your muscles in several different ranges of motion to maximize muscle contraction at these key points. He goes into much more detail in his program. Check it out here if you’re looking to grow those guns by summer!