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The Three Best Exercises to Get Bigger Biceps

Updated on May 28, 2014
When someone asks you to flex, your biceps are the first thing to come to mind. These tips will aid you on your journey to build bigger guns.
When someone asks you to flex, your biceps are the first thing to come to mind. These tips will aid you on your journey to build bigger guns.

Mostly for Show

While the biceps serve as assistance muscles during pulling movements, such as rows and pull ups, the curling motion used to train and isolate the biceps has very little use in the real world. Think for a moment how often each day you bring your palm to your shoulder. Chances are, not very often. While biceps can aid in occupations that require heavy lifting, the brunt of the work is still being accomplished by the back and legs.

So why even bother training your biceps? Well, if you do not train for image, there really is no reason to, but the majority of men do, whether they want to admit it or not. Therefore, keeping your biceps in proportion with your chest and shoulders is very important when striving toward an impressive physique.

Aside from proportion, biceps just look flat-out impressive when they are thick, round and full. Every man wants a nice pair of arms that bulge out of their sleeves, and these few methods will help make that dream a reality.

The biceps experience a great stretch at the bottom of the movement and are also completely extended, allowing for the largest possible range of motion.
The biceps experience a great stretch at the bottom of the movement and are also completely extended, allowing for the largest possible range of motion. | Source

Seated Incline Dumbbell Curls

While the name may be a mouthful to say, the movement is relatively simple; while leaning back on an incline bench, the weight is curled upward toward the shoulder before being slowly lowered back down. It is important to keep the back and head flat on the bench in order to best isolate the biceps.

To get the most out of this movement, each repetition should be fairly slow, with the weight under complete control at all times. A rep range of eight through twelve should be used to flush the muscle with blood and nutrients that it needs to grow. Biceps are one of those muscles that, for most people, will grow very little unless strict form is used.

A common that is made is the incorporation of the front delts into the movement. When the elbows are brought forward instead of only bent, the stress is taken off of the biceps and placed onto the shoulders instead, thus limiting the progress one will make with this exercise. Therefore, it is very important that the biceps are focused on completely during the movement to ensure they are the only muscles moving the weight.

Preacher curls allow the weight to be more easily controlled, creating a much better focus on the biceps and furthering their development.
Preacher curls allow the weight to be more easily controlled, creating a much better focus on the biceps and furthering their development. | Source

Preacher Curls

For those of you unfamiliar with the name, preacher curls are done by placing the elbows on an angled bench for support while sitting down, allowing the arms to both rest on the surface as well as fully extend. Be wary of how low you let your arms fall, however, as going too low may cause bicep and elbow pain over time. To avoid this, simply do not let your arms lock out during the descent, keeping a slight bend in the elbows at all times.

The bar can then be curled to chin level, providing a nice squeeze in the biceps at the top of the movement. This squeezing sensation is important, as it will allow you to contract the muscle fully and recruit the most muscle fibers during that particular rep. As always, the weight should move smoothly and slowly along the same path during each repetition.

Due to the aforementioned squeeze, the peak of the bicep will be targeted directly; this is the highest point of the muscle when flexing. Therefore, developing the peak is one of the quickest ways to increase the size of the biceps. Even for those with larger arms, a more developed peak will improve the overall appearance of the biceps and the arm itself.

Barbell curls are the heaviest bicep exercise that can be performed, thus adding the most mass overall.
Barbell curls are the heaviest bicep exercise that can be performed, thus adding the most mass overall. | Source

Barbell Curls

Barbells aren't just for benching and deadlifting. Loading weight on the bar and curling it with strict form is sure to result in an increase in muscle mass. The key to achieving maximum growth is to not go too heavy that form is compromised; it is extremely common to see men arching their back and thrusting their elbows forward just to move the weight. This is lifting harder, not smarter, and the lack of progress shows.

Just like when performing preacher curls and seated incline curls, the elbows are the only segment of the body that should be in motion. Pushing the elbows forward, leaning backward, or thrusting the hips to create momentum may all help you lift the weight, but the stress is being allocated to other parts of the body, and that is definitely not what you want.

With strict form, the biceps can be exposed to the maximum amount of weight, drastically increasing the potential for growth. It is important to never sacrifice form for a heavier lift. Aside from the obvious risk of injury, you also delay your arm development considerably.

If you are too focused on the number, you will only attempt to remedy your lagging progress with heavier weight, creating a cycle of false advancement that will only end with you returning to lower poundage than when you began.

One Last Tip

Since the biceps are small in comparison to the triceps, which comprise two-thirds of the arm, very short rest intervals are needed. A maximum of sixty seconds should be taken to rest at the end of each set to ensure they stay pumped with blood. If you enjoy longer rest periods, super-sets are on option.

Super-sets involve performing two exercises back-to-back, such as ten reps of preacher curls followed immediately by ten reps of barbell curls. Due to the increased intensity, slightly longer rest can be taken. Regardless of your preference, make sure not to slack after each set and work your biceps as hard as you can.

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