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The Ultimate Bicep Workouts Guide – One Stop Workouts To Gargantuan Arms!
Your arm muscles are among the most noticeable and prominently displayed muscle groups in your body. For this reason, most bodybuilders naturally desire an impressive set of arm muscles. And when we talk about arm muscles, well-developed biceps are probably the most sought-after. So, how do you build strong, fabulous biceps? Read on for a complete guide to effective bicep workouts.
Of course, one can never hope to effectively develop any set of muscles unless you understand its anatomy and functions. That is why it is important to review how the biceps are situated in your body and what it does for you so you’ll know better how to setup your bicep workout.
The muscle known as biceps brachii is attached to your forearm bone known as the radius. The muscle originates from two places at your scapula and runs down the front side of your humerus. It makes up about a third of the total muscle mass of your upper arm, with the remaining 2/3 made up by the three heads of your triceps. The bicep actually gets its name from the fact that it originates from two different places, and its origins are known as the long head and the short head of the biceps.
There are two more parts of the biceps – the brachialis and the brachioradialis. These two are relatively small muscles on the outside of the biceps that contribute to your elbow flexion. In general, these two smaller bicep muscles only need to be trained specifically if you are a serious bodybuilder planning to join major competitions.
Your biceps work primarily to flex your elbow, thus moving your forearm towards your shoulder. This movement is best demonstrated when you do a bicep curl. Your biceps also have a secondary function, which is to turn your hand from a palms-down to a palms-up position. This movement is best shown when doing a rotational type of bicep curl exercise. Aside from ensuring that it is able to perform its functions better, working on the complete development of your biceps will also add a great deal to the overall look of your upper arm, especially when it is flexed.
Training the Biceps
As mentioned earlier, the biceps comprise only a relatively small portion of your upper arm. That is why there is always the danger of overtraining it. To avoid this risk, the best bicep workouts to choose are those that are short but intense and highly-focused. There are a lot of different exercises you can perform to develop your biceps, but it is still best to stick to the basic curl and its variations as regards angle and positioning. In general, curls done in a steep incline or upright position work the lower part of the biceps whereas curls done on a low incline or flat bench while lying on your back specifically develop the upper part of your biceps.
One common misconception in bodybuilding is that the more training you do, the faster your muscles will grow and the bigger they will get. The truth is that you can actually maximize the growth potential of any muscle with about 15 exercise sets per workout session. In fact, many bodybuilding superstars like Clarence Ross and Steve Reeves have proven this to be true.
Rather than the amount of work that you do, what’s more important is the manner in which you train your muscles. In performing your bicep workouts, make sure that you work in total concentration such that you feel every single strand of your biceps tensing and responding to the exercise. You should also ensure a complete contraction and extension on every repetition because that is essential to total muscle growth and development. Resting for a short period after each set will also help you achieve the necessary burning sensation that signifies positive results. And if you want to develop more shapely biceps, it will be best to perform your bicep workouts always with your palms face-up.
Now you have a general idea of how your biceps are situated in your body and what their functions are. You are also armed with a few important tips on how to properly train your biceps. But, what particular exercises should you perform in order to get an impressive pair of upper arms? Here are the top five exercises to include in your bicep workouts.
Standing Barbell Curl
This is considered as the ultimate compound biceps exercise perhaps because it is the only exercises that allows you to use all of the muscles in your forearms, particularly the biceps. And no matter how you setup your bicep workouts, it is essential that you include this exercise if you really want to develop tank arms.
Prepare for a standing barbell curl by loading some weight son a standard 45-lb barbell and then picking it up with your hands a shoulder width apart, palms up. Your arms should hang down such that the bar is positioned in front of your hips and your elbows should be tucked into your sides. Take care not to move your elbows throughout the exercise.
Start the movement by curling the bar up to your chin. Be careful not to go too far such that your arms are already perpendicular to the floor. When you curl, be sure to keep the tension on your biceps all throughout the movement. This means that you shouldn’t allow your biceps to relax at the bottom of a rep, nor let the bar bounce on your hips as you start the next rep.
Variations of this exercise include using a 20-25 pound EZ bar or using a wide grip, medium grip, or narrow grip.
Alternating Rotating Dumbbell Curl
This is a relatively simple exercise and the best thing about it is that the motion involved feels very natural. And the act of alternating allows you to focus maximum intensity on each arm as opposed to working them both at the same time. Prepare for the exercise by holding a dumbbell in each hand with your arms held straight at your side, palms facing your body.
Start the movement with a hammer curl and then slowly rotate the dumbbell as it clears your body such that the movement ends with your palms facing your head. Lower the dumbbell slowly back to the starting position and then perform the movement with the other arm. Make sure that your elbows are kept tucked into your sides throughout the movement.
This is a very good exercise for developing your forearms as well as the smaller muscles of your biceps – the brachialis and the brachioradialis. Most bodybuilders can perform more hammer curls than traditional curls, which makes this an ideal exercise indeed since lifting more is always a good idea, especially if you lift in good form.
Prepare for the hammer curl by holding a dumbbell in each hand with your arms held straight by your sides and your palms faced towards your body. Be sure to keep your elbows tucked throughout the movement.
Start the movement by curling the dumbbell as high up as it can go without moving your elbows. An ideal curl is when the flat side of the dumbbell comes close to touching your shoulders at the top of the rep. The exercise got its name from the fact that the movement resembles that of swinging a hammer. A hammer curl can be performed with both hands at once or alternating one arm at a time.
Supinated Bent-over Rows
This exercise is another great exercise for gaining mass. That is because you can use up to 200 lbs of weights when doing rows, as opposed to the 50-70 lbs that you use when doing curls with dumbbells or the 120-150 lbs you use when curling with a straight bar.
Prepare for the exercise by holding the bar with your palms face-up and your hands a shoulder width apart. You will need to either take the bar from a barbell rack or deadlift it into a preparatory standing position. Now, bend over slightly such that your upper body is almost parallel to the floor, while making sure that your back is kept straight. Here’s a tip: Maintain a strong core when you bend over by pushing your butt back.
Start the movement by bringing the bar up so that it touches your abdomen and then lower it back down such that your arms are just a little short of being fully extended. And as with the three previous exercises, be sure to keep your elbows tucked into your sides throughout the movement.
Many people think that this exercise is purely for back development, but the truth is that it is also one of the best exercises to include in your bicep workouts if you really want to add muscle mass to your arms. The trick is to keep your hands close to each other and use the strength of your biceps to lift your body. If you weigh anywhere between 150-220 pounds, then this exercise will definitely help you bring biceps mass-building to a whole new level.
Setup for the exercise by finding a straight bar that you can easily reach from a standing position. Now, grip the bar with your palms facing towards you. Your hands should be positioned on either side of your chin, about four to six inches apart from each other. If you have enough arm and back strength to do weighted chin-ups, it will be best to cross your feet together and then place a dumbbell between your ankles. Another option would be to hang a couple of plates from a weighted belt.
Start the movement by pulling yourself up until your chin goes over the bar or at least level with the bar. This is very important because if you are unable to get your chin at least as high up as the bar, then you can’t call it a complete rep.
The Best Bicep Workouts
As previously mentioned, you need to schedule no more than two days for your bicep workouts in order to prevent overtraining. The exercises that you do during these two days may be repeated for the duration of the time it takes you to achieve your desired results as regards the size and shape of your biceps. You may also choose to vary the exercises included in your workout sessions from time to time, depending on the results that you get. Varying the levels of intensity is also a good idea to add more stress to the biceps.
Furthermore, the techniques you use can be switched around according to your energy levels and your muscles’ ability to recover. The amount of weight you use can also be adjusted according to the prescribed number of repetitions of each exercise. Exercises that require less repetition normally require heavier weights, while high rep exercises normally require less weight.
Ideally, the first day of your bicep workouts should include the following exercises: 8-12 repetitions of standing bar curls in three sets; 8-12 repetitions of incline dumbbell curls in three sets; 8-12 repetitions of one-arm preacher curls in two sets; and 8-12 repetitions of hammer curls in three sets. Remember to take a short break before performing the last set of each exercise in order to further stimulate the targeted muscles. At the 10th repetition, pause for about 15 seconds before completing another rep and then complete the rest of the reps in this manner.
Day two of your bicep workouts ideally includes 12-15 repetitions of standing bar curls in three sets and 12-15 repetitions of hammer curls in two sets. Take note that the second day of your biceps workout routine is necessarily a lower intensity workout session in order to facilitate faster biceps growth without resulting in overtraining. Studies show that any muscle group has to be trained once every three to five days in order to optimize growth. However, the biceps are indirectly stimulated during your back and chest workouts, so they require a longer period of rest. That is why beginners are advised to train the biceps only once each week and the more advanced lifters are advised to work the biceps no more than twice each week.
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