You don’t need to spend hours upon hours doing curl after curl to grow big biceps. In fact, a good biceps workout doesn’t need to last long at all.
Sure, you could probably do zounds and zounds of biceps curls until your arms screamed for mercy, but there are better ways to train your biceps, says fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. A better approach will have you curling with precision for a shorter period of time.
“But during that time,” says Samuel, “you’ll pile up more time-under-tension, because you’ll be living in more challenging positions of the biceps curl.”
Not all portions of the biceps curl are created equally, says Samuel, and knowing how to take advantage of the biceps’ two different actions is key to building well-sculpted arms and big, strong biceps.
How the Biceps Works
Your biceps is responsible for two key actions. First off it flexes your arm at the elbow pulling your forearm closer to your upper arm. “This is the motion you tend to think of when you’re doing curls,” says Samuel. “Your biceps does play a key role in this motion, but it does something else, too.”
That something else can often be key to biceps growth. Your biceps also “supinates” your forearm, essentially rotating your forearm so that your pinky rises toward the sky. This motion, says Samuel, is key to your biceps development. “The biceps isn’t the only muscle responsible for forearm flexion; your brachialis can also help with that,” says Samuel. “But the biceps gets far less help from dominant muscle groups when it comes to supination.”
Timing of that supination is key, says Samuel. “Too many people start rotating the dumbbell head after their forearm has risen past parallel-to-the-ground,” he says. “The problem with this is that momentum and gravity help that rotation once you’re past this point. You need to begin supinating either right when your forearm is parallel to the ground, or right before it hits that point.”
You’ll hone that idea during this three-move workout.
Form Is The Key
Form is key when training biceps, especially because people tend to rock when curling, says Samuel. “You’ll see plenty of rocking at the waist, or shifting the elbows forward,” he says. “Neither of these actions is the actual responsibility of the biceps. If you want to grow biceps, you need to erase these cheats.”
Focus on keeping your upper arms perpendicular to the ground at all times, says Samuel. It won’t be easy, but it’s key to your biceps development.
Want more keys to biceps development? Consider picking up Samuel’s New Rules of Muscle workout program, which is loaded with arm moves that spark serious biceps (and triceps) growth.
Directions: Do this workout as often as twice a week. You can do it alone, or you can do it after you’ve done a back workout. Rest at least two days between biceps sessions for best results. Continue doing this workout for three straight weeks.
Mixed-Style Dumbbell Curl
Do 3 sets. Aim to do 5 to 6 pairs of reps in each set.
3D Hammer Curl with Parallel Twist
Do 3 sets. Aim to do 8 to 10 reps each set.
Incline Spider Curl Hellset
Do 1 to 2 sets. Focus on form in each set even though, by this time in the workout, you’ll be battling serious arm fatigue.
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