So you want to learn how to get bigger biceps. Welcome to the club. Strong, sexy arms are coveted by a great many people and are one of the primary body parts people want to sculpt.
However, scoring bulging (or even visible) biceps isn't as easy and slamming out a few sets of bicep curls. It's a start, but it won't give you the well-rounded and functionally strong biceps you're after.
Before we get into how to get bigger biceps, let's first talk a little bit about the biceps muscle.
Bicep Anatomy 101
Biceps are a two-headed muscle that flexes your arm at the elbow. Your biceps also help to facilitate the rotation of your forearm when your hand is palm up, the bringing of your arm to your shoulder and the flexion the shoulder joint.
The bicep structure stands out from most muscles in your body because bicep muscle fibers run parallel, as opposed to pinnated (i.e. feather-like, having fibers originating from a central, common axis). This is why your bicep muscle has the unique ability to bulge when it flexes.
Other muscles with parallel fibers include the sartorius (which flexes and rotates your hip and bends your knee) and sternocleidomastoid (a large clavicle muscle that rotates your head from side to side and flexes your neck).
So, now that you know a little bit about the formation and function of your biceps, let's get into what you need to know about training this two-headed monster muscle.
3 Things You Gotta Know to Get Bigger Biceps
1. Vary Lifting Intensity
Your biceps are over half fast-twitch muscles (around 60%), which means that, as the name suggests, they respond better to being trained with faster, heavier exercises.
What does this mean?
It means you want to prioritize lifting faster and heavier for around half of your training. 6-12 reps is the ideal zone. If you can easily lift more than 12, then you need heavier weights.
But you can't neglect slow-twitch muscle training, since slow-twitch fibers--which react better to slower and more endurance-based exercises--make up roughly 40% of your biceps' muscle fibers.
2. Switch It Up
Variety is the spice of life, and this holds true for training your biceps (or any muscle in your body for that matter). To keep your biceps challenged and growing, you need to encourage new muscle growth.
For example, standing bicep curls have been shown to activate more muscle fibers when the muscle is shortened at the end of the lift, whereas preacher curls facilitate more activation when the muscle is lengthened at the beginning of the lift.
One is not better for the other, however. They are both powerful moves to help build stronger, bigger, muscles.
Some of the other best bicep moves include:
Cross Body Curls
Narrow Kettlebell Curl
Pink Thing Curls
Barbell Hammer Curl
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Note that you can also use a reverse grip for some of these moves, which is a great way to quickly switch up activation and gain greater mass. Reverse bicep curls will engage your brachialis (18% of your total arm mass) more than a standard curl grip, where you grip the weight with your palms up toward you. With a reverse grip curl, your palms are facing down.
3. Vary Training Models
More on variation. Not only do you want to switch up the exercises, but you need to switch up the way in which you train your body. Fitness plateaus happen when your training becomes redundant and you do the same thing repeatedly.
This doesn't just pertain to how heavy you lift: it's also about the loading strategy you use. Doing 4 sets of 8 reps constantly is going to lead to stagnant muscle growth.
To force your body to get stronger and your muscles to become more defined, you have to encourage them to consistently adapt to new training models.
For example, in addition to rep-based lifting as discussed for fast and slow-twitch optimization, you can do Tabata training, pyramid training, and reverse pyramid training.
You can also play with the timing of your reps (aka. timing under tension), doing the extension for one count, pausing for one count and the flex for three (1-1-3), or vice versa (3-1-1). These are just sample times. You can play with your timing under tension times to keep your body guessing and the good gains coming.
You can also vary your rest times in your rep training, giving your body anywhere from no rest to 120 seconds of rest.
You can do all of these types of training with us at BodyRock+. We have thousands of workouts for all fitness levels, that you can do any time, anywhere.
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How to Build Bigger Biceps
Now that you have some intel, put it into action. Start training to build bigger biceps and stronger, more sculpted arms. Join BodyRock+ and hone in your efforts and see results, faster.
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