What Are The Best Exercises For Building Big Biceps?
There isn't a single bodybuilder out there that doesn't dream of having big biceps. Even though they are technically a smaller muscle group; their development alone can make or break a physique. In this article, I'm going to share some important tips and exercises that will help you improve your bicep development.
Shocking The Muscle
The key to building an impressive physique begins and ends with training. All body parts need to be treated and trained equally for maximum results – the biceps are no different. Quality will always matter more than quantity and most people have no clue about what this means. If you walk into any gym at any given time; you will always see someone with average arms doing curls with bad form.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, who arguably built the best biceps in history, said it best – in order to grow, you must shock the muscles. If you want something that you've never had before, you need to do something that you've never done before. My first piece of advice on building big biceps is to focus and prioritize them just like you would any other muscle group.
Training Frequency and Exercise Selection
Once you decide to give your biceps the attention they need, it's time to focus on how to train them. Moving forward, how you decide to train them is up to you. One thing that I would advise is to not overdo it. It's a pretty common rookie mistake to focus on frequency when trying to bring up a weak body part. Instead of adding an extra gym day for biceps, focus on the workouts you are already having and perfect them.
I've personally tried every trick in the book and believe it or not – a back workout finished with bicep work has yielded the best results. After I finish my back workout, my biceps are usually already pretty pumped so I finish the workout off with two or three bicep exercises. I know that a lot of “experts” claim that your biceps shouldn't be activated while working out back – but trust me when I say that it's impossible to avoid it when rowing 200lb dumbbells.
Normally -and depending on how I feel – after a workout, I like to perform three compound movements. I know that a lot of bodybuilders would go more for machine exercises, but I've never really liked them. My exercise selection is always very basic as I like to stick to the classics; barbell and dumbbell curls, preacher curls, drag curls, reverse curls, concentration curls, and occasionally hammer curls.
As I also said on my shoulder training article – in order to grow, you need to use different weight and exercise variations. Even though my bread and butter never change – my rep ranges, exercise order, weight, etc. always do. One day I'll work up to 135lb barbell curls, while on a separate occasion maybe I'll stick to ten high-rep sets of the same exercise with only the bar.
Weight, Angles, and Repetitions
There are tons of ways to make an exercise more challenging, fun, painful, and complicated. Be creative and switch things up but don't overdo it either. If you are seeing awesome results with a certain exercise combination and rep range, stick to it and ride it out till you hit a plateau.
Angles are extremely important and can change your opinion on an exercise entirely. For example, I never really liked doing concentration curls sitting on a bench so I decided to do some research and tried it the Arnold way (standing and leaning over); needless to say, it's now one of my favorites.
Classic bodybuilders were all about trying everything and anything. On a given day you would see Arnold benching 315lbs, another he would be doing 185lbs. Bodybuilding was an art, their body was their clay, and they were the sculptor. Most of the exercises and machines that we know today were created by these individuals who were always raising the bar (no pun intended).
If you want to rock a pair of sleeve-busting biceps, you will need to play around with different weights, angles, and rep ranges. One thing that I can't stress enough is the importance of the mind-muscle connection. If you can manage to feel the muscle contract on every single rep, you'll be able to figure out what works and what doesn't.
It's important to listen to your body at all times, it's not always a great idea to go heavy. A lot of lifters become injured because they want to lift way beyond their weight class. I'm not saying that you shouldn't push yourself; I'm just advising you to be careful and know where your limits are. The biceps are a pretty small body part and a lot of people get injured by not training smart; remember that there's a difference between being hardcore and being irrational.
If you want something bad enough, you'll do everything in your power to achieve it. I think that it's also very important to set realistic goals. No matter how much you try to build biceps like Arnold, you'll never be able to. Why? Because you are genetically unique. Your muscle shape, joints, structure, etc. are all different to his and unique to you.
A lot of people think that they genetically have poor bicep development because they lack the peak that others have. The truth is, these individuals probably have long muscle fibers that need a lot more work to fill out. Even then, some of us don't have the crazy peak that bodybuilders like Ronnie Coleman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kai Greene, or Albert Beckles are famous for.
And this is the beauty of bodybuilding. Everyone is completely different and unique in their own way. Maybe your bicep genetics aren't like the previously mentioned guys and they're more similar to that of Sergio Oliva and Kevin Levrone. Regardless of our genetics, we all have the potential to fully develop our physique through hard training and proper eating.
I hope these words can help you out at least a little. I honestly wished that I would've known this when I first started lifting years ago. With that being said, if it weren't for the mistakes that I committed, I would've never learned what's needed to always take my physique one step further. Remember to always have fun with it and enjoy your training – if you manage to do this, you will never stop making progress.