To start off, I am going to say, that if your arms are still growing without precisely focusing them on the separate arm days - keep doing what you are doing, and don't work on arms separately, but rather progress from all the stress your arms get by supporting certain heavier lifts for other muscle groups.
Now, if your biceps are big enough that they cannot grow anymore from the stress you have been giving them, this is when you can start incorporating exercises that primarily target biceps muscle. How do I know if they are big enough? Well, usually when your arms are about 15-16 inches (depends on your height), this is when you could start including 1 or 2 extra exercises of 2-3 sets (including the warm-up set) of medium weight, don't go heavy, or the chances are - recovery will take so long that it could harm potential gains.
Let's dive into the anatomy of this muscle, so called "Biceps". Well, biceps muscle is composed of two
heads: Long head
and Short head
. Long head is the one on the outer part of your arm, and the short head is the inner part of your arm. The functions of biceps are to bring your forearm towards your shoulder AND to rotate
your wrist, which is called supinate
(make your palm/forearm face up). It is worth mentioning, that the long head (outer) connects deeper into the shoulder, than the short head.
So, knowing these anatomical features, let's talk about what exercises will benefit us in developing those round balls of biceps muscle.
It is worth of saying, that just like in any other muscle group - some people have longer muscles and some have a long tendon and less muscle. In a biceps you can check by placing fingers between your bicep and forearm. Those who can fit 1 finger or none at all usually will tend to have better strength capabilities than the ones who can put more than a single finger in that space. Nevertheless, it should not discourage you in any way, because it is more important the way you train than what you got from nature, besides, with more space - you get easier to achieve peak. Also, if your forearms will get bigger - it is a very good chance that the space will be reduced by 1 or 2 fingers making your physique aesthetically pleasing with peaked muscles.
This is a good overall
biceps mass building exercise when performed correctly. Grab the bar, you can take either a straight bar or the ez curl bar. Stand straight, shoulders down, traps relaxed, elbows in front of you, and at your sides
. The grip width depends on which region you would like to put more stress on.
(at your hips or slightly closer):
more stress on the Long Head.(outer).
I prefer closer grip for more outer head work since I do preacher for the inner head isolation (will be covered later on).
: more stress on the Short Head (inner).
From this position start lifting the barbell. ONLY YOUR FOREARMS SHOULD MOVE, and NOTHING ELSE IN YOUR BODY . This way at the maximum contraction you will still have full tension on the biceps and nowhere else. Oh, and did I say you should not use anything except your biceps? So DO NOT
flex your shoulders and slightly give a boost to the elbows forcing them forward with the front deltoid.
I personally alternate barbell and dumbbell curls. Both exercises add strength and mass to overall biceps, and ideally you would need both
to develop fully functioning and spherical biceps.
Here is why dumbbell curls have their place in a biceps routine:
Remember I wrote that biceps has a function for supinating(turning upward) your palm? Well, with a dumbbell curls you can exercise that too.
: grab dumbbells close to the top
plate, elbows in front of you
and by your sides. Now, start bringing the forearm up and slowly rotating (supinating) your palm upwards, and then back down. Again, nothing moves except your forearm and palm being rotated.
Cable curls behind back or
Dumbbell curls behind back
Either one of those work, and will primarily target/even isolate the Long Head (outer region). Why it is important? Because more people neglect this region, or think they exercise it, while they actually not. Without the Long Head biceps looks incomplete and like a long sausage, also you will get a peak improvement by developing a better outer head.
: grab the cable handle (preferably short one) and walk forward making your elbow and arm to come behind as far as possible. Now lock yourself in the position and again, nothing else than your forearm should be moving. Start getting your forearm to move forward contracting the biceps as much as you can.
If you are using dumbbells:
adjust the angle of the bench so that you get your elbow behind you as far as possible.
Lock in the position and do the same thing as with a cable
In my opinion the cable version is much better in terms of control over the contraction, besides cables provide a constant tension over the whole motion.
Two/Single arm cable curls at a shoulder level
Well, Schwarzenegger had an idea that muscle should be worked from all the angles that it will be seen from afterwards. Some people benefit from it and some don't. This is mostly used for peak and in some cases to bring pump in your bicep to its maximum (so that you won't be able to touch your shoulders for the rest of the day
if you are doing it one arm at a time - then just find any cable machine. If you are going to do two arms at a time - then stand in between the cables, grab handles, imagine that you are doing front double biceps pose, chest up, you should look like a latter T with straight positioned perpendicular to your body arms, head up. Imagine that you want to hit yourself in the ear with knuckles, but you can't because you can move only your forearms
, so you start contracting biceps hoping to reach with your ears with knuckles. Remember, head/neck is up straight.
Most of the above exercises target the long head(outer) of biceps.
Now let's look for some isolation for the Short Head (inner)
In general, Preacher Curl exercise is an excellent exercise to do at the end of your biceps routine. It develops extra strength at that certain angle unique to preacher curl, can target both heads at the same time, and the most importantly, just like the barbell curls the targeted area is dependent on the width of the grip.
Unlike the barbell curls, in preacher curls the grip width/targeted areas are the opposite.
primarily puts focus on outer head
most of the stress goes to the inner head
Out of the two we are interested in the close grip.
adjust your seat in a way, so that when your shoulders are fully down - your arm is perfectly parallel
to the pad. Sit down and lock yourself in a position with shoulders down, traps relaxed, chest slightly touching the pad, head straight up, and the whole body mass is more in a "fall-back position"
, while arms are extended. Again, as always, everything is relaxed and down except for the biceps. Start contracting biceps, bringing forearms slightly past 90 degrees to your arm.
To check if you are tense in shoulders/traps or anywhere else - try bringing your shoulders down and sitting up straight with your straight back while holding the weight. If you could change your position - then you should revise your technique with a smaller weight.
This is about it for the biceps itself. Again, I encourage you to have a very strict form. Arms are whole have a lot more muscles than you might think, and working every of those muscles will give you the 3D look and the size. So, go on and read about Brachialis and Brachioradialis,
which are essential to building even bigger arms and having a greater peak in the biceps.