Biceps, Guns, Pythons, Pipes, call them what you will – but these have got to be THE muscle that springs to mind when someone says Strength or Bodybuilder. Even the average Joe doesn’t want a noodle for an arm – but what’s the big deal? Actually, the Bicep is one of the smaller muscles on the body, yet arguably the one with the biggest draw. Is there anything we can do to add some much fantasised size to them? Well, apart from a Jersey Shore-esque micro t-shirt that’s two sizes smaller than it should be…
Let’s look at some tips and exercises that can help bring the twins up a bit.
Standing EZ bar Curls
This is a classic bread and butter movement solely designed for mass and a good one to start the session with as it allows some decent poundages to be used.
I generally adopt a grip on the outer curve of the bar (with the option of switching to the inside position for the last set for a drop set). As bigger weights are generally used on these, try and keep the back as straight as possible and avoid excess swinging of the bar to maintain a constant tension on the biceps. Look for a long range of motion on these.
3 sets of eight reps would be a good place to start.
Seated Cable Dead Stop Curls
This is a great exercise that can be done to add a little variety to your arm training. The beauty of using a cable is that the load is much more constant, and using this method ensures the range is always the same for each rep and isolates the biceps from the rest of the body.
Taking the cable from the bottom pulley, place an incline angled bench directly in front. Placing your feet on the sides of the cable frame can be helpful. Bringing the bar upwards to finish under the chin, pausing, then lowering until the bar lightly rests (stops) on the thighs before repeating again.
3-4 sets of twelve reps will really get those arms pumped up.
This exercise is good for anyone with mobility issues or wrist injuries. Due to the nature of the movement, the wrist maintains a neutral angle so removes the stresses that can be put upon it with other exercises. As you can probably guess, it gets it’s name as the movement mimics that of you swinging a hammer.
Starting at waist level, bring the dumbbell all the way upward until the bicep is fully contracted and compressed (the weight should be around cheek height), with the ends of the dumbbell pointing up and down (not sideways like a conventional curl) whilst all the while the wrist will remain static.
I find doing them alternating opposed to doing both arms together. A real Brucie bonus with this exercise is that they also hit the brachialis muscle that sits underneath/beside the bicep, and will add width to the upper arm. These also work the brachioradialis muscle in the upper forearm.
This is another classic one, and as the name suggests, is an isolation exercise designed to shape the muscle. The beauty of these is that they can be done more or less anywhere – all you need is one dumbbell and a bench!
Starting with the weighted hand hanging down between the legs, with the elbow against the inner knee – use the opposite hand as support on the knee.
Bring the weight up and slightly across the body so it comes to the opposite shoulder/under the chin. For extra focus, try turning the wrist inwards a little to really help compress the bicep. Pause, then slowly lower the weight down again ensuring it stays off the floor at all times.
3 sets of 10 reps per arm would be a good number.
Prepare for pain! This one may look a bit strange when performing them, but we will have the last laugh watching the tape measure stretch over the newly sized guns.
The idea of this movement is to keep the bar (weight) as close to the body as possible, as in to ‘drag’ the weight up the torso putting an unrivalled time under tension upon the biceps. You may find yourself leaning back a little at the top of the movement and this is fine as the load will still be on the targeted muscle, but try not to lift the shoulders as this will take some of the desired tension away. Pay particular attention to the eccentric (the lowering) part of the lift to maximise results.
You’ll need less weight than a typical curl with these, but remember with any weight training it’s form that matters. Again, 3 sets is a good number to look for.
If the above movements are missing from your training routine, get them incorporated and watch those arms grow!
You may find the addition of some BULK POWDERS® Wrist Wraps and Liquid Chalk can enhance your training and give you extra focus when trying these out.
About the Author:
Matt Argall, a BULK POWDERS® sponsored athlete, is a 3 time British, two time world and WNBF pro natural bodybuilding champion. Matt has a wealth of training and competitive experience behind him and is known for his consistency and his precise approach to weightlifting. Unlike many bodybuilders, he is in shape year round.