Build Bigger Biceps
The biceps take up only 25% of your upper arm, yet in terms of the cultural impact, the biceps are the biggest muscle on your body. Don't let anyone tell you differently- biceps matter! The Biceps Brachii (their proper name) are made up of two heads, the long head, and the short head. Another muscle that is similar to the biceps is the Brachialis which runs alongside them.
The best biceps workout does not destroy the muscles with hundreds of reps it forces you to perform low rep sets using a heavy weight. This is because they are mostly made up of Type II muscle fibres (fast twitch), these will respond best to big weights. The best way to perform these exercises is not all in one go as this will prevent you from being able to go heavy enough. Add these exercises into your current workout program and start seeing some real results for your biceps.
Exercise One: Barbell Curls
Let's start off with the simplest arm exercise, the standing barbell bicep curl. There are a couple of variations to this exercise that you can do, bringing your arms out wider will target the short head of the Biceps whilst placing your hands closer will target the long head.
Stand upright with your arms fully extended down with your hands around mid-thigh. Hold the bar using an underhand grip, keeping both hands very slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Take a deep breath and curl the barbell up until it is in line with your shoulders, keeping your elbows tucked in by your side throughout. Pause, and then lower the barbell back down to your waist.
If you find that you are rocking your torso back and forth to help lift the weight (by using momentum to your advantage) then you can rest your back against a wall to prevent this. It is a good idea because it will isolate the biceps even more. Just make sure you lower the weight to compensate!
Exercise Two: Seated Dumbbell Curls
An excellent biceps exercise that will also target the Brachialis and Brachioradialis muscles. Sit on the edge of a workout bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Extend your arms so that they are straight, then one arm at a time curl the weight up until your hand is in line with your shoulder. You need to really squeeze at the top of the movement to get the most out of it.
To increase the difficulty of this exercise you can use an incline bench. Whilst you sit on the end of the bench for the regular version, you lie right back on this one (at a 45-degree angle) with your arms straight down by your side. This will increase the range of motion quite a bit, and therefore the difficulty.
Exercise Three: Preacher Curls
This is an amazing exercise for targeting and isolating the Biceps. This will require a preacher bench. Rest your arms on the pad with the bar in your hands. Make sure your arm is fully extended and your arms are flush with the pad. Take a deep breath, and curl the weight all the way up until it is in line with your forehead. Lower it all the way down until your arms are fully extended again.
You can also perform this exercise with dumbbells, curling the weights together or individually. In the next step, we will learn about Hammer curls, which you can also perform on a preacher bench.
Exercise Four: Hammer Curls
Not only are Hammer curls a fantastic exercise for your biceps, but they are also great exercises for your forearms. They work the Brachialis, and Brachioradialis almost as much as they work the Biceps Brachii. You will need to use a slightly lighter weight compared to regular bicep curls, as the Brachialis and Brachioradialis muscles are going to limit you.
Grab a pair of dumbbells, but instead of holding them like you would normally (palms facing outwards in an underhand grip) you hold them like you would a dart. Your palms will be facing in towards each other, and you will keep them in this position as you raise them up to the finishing position. This again will look similar to when you are about to throw a dart at a dartboard.
Exercise Five: Reverse Curls
Another fantastic fitness exercise for the forearms as well as the biceps, the reverse curl targets even more of the muscles in the forearm. These muscles are very underrated as arm muscles but nobody wants to have a huge set of Biceps and Triceps but puny forearms. Grab a barbell and hold in an overhand grip so that your palms are facing your body (rather than out). Have the bar resting at mid-thigh level with your arms fully extended.
Now all you need to do is curl the bar upwards whilst keeping your elbows tucked in. Unusual for an arm exercise, the more difficult part of this exercise is lowering the weight back down (as the biceps are used less and the weaker forearm muscles take on the load). This means that you are required to lower the weight slowly and with control to get the most out of the exercise.
Exercise Six: Chin Ups
Chin Ups are a brilliant bicep workout, criminally underrated. They work the biceps through the full range of motion, and will put sufficient load on them to promote growth. The chin up also works the Latissimus Dorsi, Teres Major, and Brachialis.
Grab a pull-up bar with an underhand grip with your hands slightly narrower than shoulder width apart. Take a deep breath, and pull yourself up so that your shoulders are in line with the bar. Pause, and then lower yourself back down to the starting position.
Biceps Workout Finisher: Run-The-Rack Biceps Curl
This is a fantastic arms workout for finishing the biceps at the end of a workout. Grab a heavy barbell, for this example, we'll say 35kg. Perform as many reps as possible with it, until you can't lift your arms anymore. Then drop the weight to 30kg and immediately start curling again, drop to 25kg and so on until you are lifting a 10kg barbell and struggling.
This is probably one of the best bicep workout finishers there is, and can be performed with dumbbells using standard, hammer, or reverse curl variations.