What are the 5 best exercises for biceps?
The biceps are the first muscle group that spring to your mind when someone talks of regular weight training. What’s the size of your arms, bro?
This is one of the most frequently asked question that any gym rat hears ever so often. You tell your friends that you’ve been hitting the gym regularly and the first thing they’ll do is check out your biceps.
Some people are genetically blessed with big arms while the others are not.
For me personally, my arms were always a pain to develop and I was always made fun off for having weak arms during the first year of training. This embarrassment coupled with the importance of having strong biceps to be better in Chin ups, Deadlifts, Bench presses and just about any upper body exercise motivated me enough to pay special attention to my Bicep training. It took a lot of brainstorming, different methods of training and adjusting of volume and intensity to pump up my arm size. After plenty of experimentation, I will here try to enclose the absolute essentials for successful arm workouts in this article.
Before I go on to pick my favourite bicep exercise, here is a general set of rules you must follow to get the best of any bicep workout routine.
Arm Training Basics
Frequency for training biceps can or should be comparatively higher, maybe twice a week, for an intermediate or a beginner lifter. As you advance, intensity of your workout would increase (that is, increasing weight, reps etc. and reducing time intervals between sets.) and you could train arms only once a week and still get better,
Generally, pump training is advisable for arm gains. Sets between 6 to 8 repetitions done with a minute rest in between are optimal. For arms, ego lifting, that is lifting with bad form and extremely heavy weight is often redundant and will cause back and shoulder problems. Performing smooth reps with 70-80% of your 1 rep max and altering the weight after each set is the best way to go about it.
You should never approach arm training like a heavy weight lifter. Always look forward to training your arms like a bodybuilder would do. A good bodybuilder is always meticulous with his form. The rep should always be smooth. Bring the weight down from the final position in a very controlled manner ,so that, the speed of the negative is twice as slow as the positive or upper portion of the rep.
Using only machines and cables for your entire training is not only counterproductive but also an abject waste of time. Training with barbells and Dumbbells give you the muscle mass you require more aptly than any machine ever would. 80% of your workout should be based on free weights and the rest should be machines, just to condition the muscle. Complete machine based workouts are only for the Pros and don’t try to mimic their workouts unless you yourself possess 20″ arms.
Although biceps are a comparatively smaller muscle group, they still are composed of three separate muscles : Outer part, Inner part And Brachialis (Circumferential). An effective bicep routine must put an emphasis on the development of each individual muscle, so that the end result is perfectly balanced, round and buff arms.
So without further ado, Here are the 5 best exercises for biceps.
5 best exercises for biceps
These are the primary mass builders for your biceps and should always be in your routine throughout your lifting routine. These work on the complete bicep muscle with supplementary benefits to the forearms.
Brace the bar tightly with your hands in a supinated position. Stand with your chest out and breathe in before starting the movement. Curl your arms until your hands reach your clavicle in a deliberate movement and then slowly lower it to the starting position in the same controlled fashion.
Your elbows should be stable and remain in one position (close to the body) through out the movement.
Don’t bring the bar too forward at the start of the movement as it involves the front Deltoids to a greater extent.
Don’t jerk the weight up using your shoulders.That’s cheating as it involves the lower back, shoulders and you risk injury by such ego lifting.
Bending at the waist at the start of the movement to jerk the weight kills the isolation effect of the exercise.
Control the bar’s speed and don’t rush the reps.
You can use a straight bar or a standard EZ curl bar. Use an EZ bar if your wrists are hurting from the normal bar ones.
Varying your hand grip will affect different regions. A closer grip would hit the inner biceps whereas a wider grip (approx. Shoulder width) would hit your outer biceps.
These let you work on each arm individually and concentrate on them through out the movement. Also, the change in wrist position through out the movement makes it a more isolation type movement and hence makes it one of the best biceps developers there is. It is also the best exercise to develop the inner part of the biceps.
The technique is pretty similar to the barbell curl. Except in the dumbbell curls, you flick your wrist side wards at the top of the rep to involve more inner bicep and have an option to start the movement with your palms facing your body at the start of the movement and slowly rotating your wrist so that you end up in a supinated position.
Again, swinging back and forth at the shoulder to cheat curl the weight is redundant to progress. Use a lighter load and perfect your technique.
You can do these seated to add more intensity as it completely cuts the lower body’s influence on the movement. You can choose the wrist position as you like. Palms facing the body is more advisable as it gives you some variation from the regular barbell curl that you are doing and also hits the muscle at various different angles.
This exercise is, by far, the most superior exercise to develop the Brachialis muscle or the separation between bi’s and tri’s and increasing the circumference of the entire arm. Excellent exercise to develop the outer part of the forearm and the area above it.
Taking heavy dumbbells and keeping the palms facing the body, curl the weight up to shoulder height. Keep the elbows in one position through out the movement to make the movement as strict as possible.
Don’t rush reps. Make the movement as smooth as possible. Also, this exercise demands heavier lifting to give the best results. So, pumping away with 5kg Dumbbells is going to help no one here.
You can bring the dumbbell in front of the chest or in front of the shoulders. Either way, the movement remains the same and will give similar results, just pick the variation according to your comfort here.
Though considered a Lat exercise, this exercise offers a heavy carry over to your arms and forearms. This is the only bicep exercise you can do without equipments and also improves general functional strength as well as the core strength of your body. Also, this is an excellent exercise to develop the entire width of the biceps.
Just grip an overhead bar with a supinated grip and lift your entire body weight up until your chin is just above the bar. Bring your entire body weight down until your arms are at an almost complete extension and then begin the next repetition.
The biggest problem with chin ups is that people don’t come down the entire way and stick to only a quarter of the top portion of the movement. These shouldn’t be considered as chin ups. Bringing your entire weight down to execute the complete movement is essential for this exercise.
The Preacher bench provides a perfect brace for the back of the arms so that the elbows don’t move throughout the movement and you can focus on making your arms work. Excellent exercise for developing the peak of the bicep.
Same as the Barbell curl.
Bring the bar down until your arms are almost completely extended or below parallel to the ground. Half reps on this exercise will not only waste your time but also your wrists.
My absolute favourite is the preacher cable curls as you get a better control on the negatives from these. Using Dumbbells on the preacher bench is also a good idea to focus on each arm individually.
Whenever following a routine, try to stick to the rep ranges and not get carried away by the weight. Also, changing your routine for each body part after 2-3 months is advisable to avoid plateauing.
Here’s a sample Bicep workout plan that you can use twice a week:-
Barbell Curls using an EZ Bar – 4 sets of 8-10 reps
Preacher Bench Barbell Curls – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
Hammer curls – 4 sets of 6-8 reps
Increase weight after each set. For example, you can curl 50 pounds for a set 8 at max, then Starting with 35 pounds for 8 reps and incrementing 5 pounds per set would be a good idea.
Also, since biceps is a small muscle group, rest periods should be limited to 30-50 seconds and your entire workout should be quick paced. This workout should not take more than 15-20 minutes for completion and an awesome pump.