For many of us having big biceps is a major goal in the gym but many of the people I see in the gym go about building biceps the wrong way. A lot of the time you will see people in the gym hitting every kind of curl in the book hoping that they will get bigger biceps but is this the best way to build them? The answer is no, even body builders don’t approach building biceps this way. Most people that have big arms focus on compound multi joint lifts to get the job done and will hit the smaller single joint movements on their arm day or easy day. While single bicep exercises have their place the multi joint movements is where the magic happens.
Here is the personal trainers guide to building bigger biceps
Focus on compound lifts
If your goal is big arms, then you need to lift big. This means pull-ups, chin-ups, dumbbell rows, barbell rows and cable rows. Studies have shown that if you focus on compound lifts your biceps will have more muscle activation. The reason that the bicep muscle works harder during compound lifts is that you’re putting more load on the muscle and when you put more stress on a muscle it will grow bigger and stronger.
Personal trainer tip for bigger muscles: If your goal is size go slow on the negative part of the lift because the eccentric contraction causes more micro tears in the muscle fiber causing the muscle to become bigger from the repair process.
When the focus is on size focus on a rep range of 8-12 this is the best rep range for hypertrophy.
Program in a high-volume day
Pick a day of the week where you will focus on high volume low intensity. This will give your arms a tremendous pump and won’t cause too much stress on the joints. This is the day that you focus on arms directly with lots of different kinds of curls. Palms up, palms down, hammer grip, rope pulls and reverse curls can all be done on this day. As mentioned before the compound lifts should be front and center while the arm workouts should be secondary. When doing an arm day try not to place it to close to back day because it will impact your strength on your compound lifts. On high volume days focus on keeping the weight low and the volume high.
If you want big arms, legs, chest and shoulders you will need to program in a bulk phase. Have you ever tried to gain muscle while losing weight? I know I have and guess what I failed. When I became older and wiser I learned that you must bulk up to build muscle and this means you will put on fat with the muscle. This means you will be gaining weight. This is ok because you will be doing a cutting phase that will show off the big arms you built during your bulk. When bulking up you shouldn’t go above 15% body fat because it will be much harder to cut if you add too much fat.
If you want show off your big arms you will need to lose fat. Just like you need to bulk up to build muscle you will need to cut fat to show it off. When you are cutting make sure that you are losing about one pound a week. If you lose more than one pound a week you may lose a lot of the muscle you’ve gained. When cutting you’ll lose a little muscle but that’s ok the idea is to cycle from bulking to cutting until you get the results you desire.