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LAVERA STEWARTEditor-in-Chief of the Approved By Coach
We have to say that our attitude toward exercising kept changing over the years. As younger, we enjoyed playing various sports, and we were good at them. As teens and young adults, we were overwhelmed by studies and we didn’t have time for many additional things. Finally, when we began stable in our jobs, we decided to return to the gym. What motivated us? Well, one thing was that we finally had time to think about health and fitness. We are writers and as you know that job comes with a lot of sitting. We knew that a sedentary lifestyle isn’t healthy. Besides that, we knew that the risk of developing some health issues due to inactivity increases with age. And we were not getting any younger.
But more than that, we have to admit that we were drawn by the idea of having strong arms! You know, strong biceps, like people in the movies?! However, desires are one and reality, something completely different! We had no clue how to achieve our goal. But we didn’t want to give up either, so we began to read about bicep workouts and talk with professionals on whether or not this type of exercise will actually do any good. Finally, we decided to share information with all of you who also want to figure out how to work out your biceps.
- 1 What Are Your Biceps?
- 2 Best Bicep Workouts
- 3 Key Rules for Building Bigger Biceps
- 4 Conclusion
What Are Your Biceps?
If you observe kids (and even some adults do that), you will probably notice that they bend their arms to see their muscles in the mirror or show off in front of their friends. These muscles that pop up when we bend arms are called biceps. In the upper arm, we have four different muscles – three in the anterior compartment – biceps brachii, brachialis, and coracobrachialis muscle and one in the posterior compartment triceps brachii. There is another bicep muscle, called the biceps femoris but it is located in the lower body and pulls the thigh to the trunk.
As we mentioned, biceps brachii is one of the principal muscles in the upper arms located in the anterior part of the arm. More precisely, it is found between the shoulder and the elbow, and it is responsible for the movements of those parts. The muscle is made of a short and long head that join together in the middle arm to create a common muscle belly.
The main function of the biceps brachii is flexion of the elbow and supination of the forearm. Now, this probably sounds confusing for many of you, doesn’t it? Simply put, this muscle is responsible for lifting and pulling. The function at the shoulder is to perform smaller tasks such as moving the arms forward, upward, and sideways. It is essential to say that this is one of the muscles in the human body that often changes its size and shape. As we know, the size varies from person to person and is generally the most conventional symbol of one’s strength. Everyone knows that we can build biceps by working out. That is why most of us are often curious about the best bicep exercises.
Biceps Training Specificities
Before starting to build your muscles, you should know some basics of workouts for biceps. For example, if your muscles are untrained and you’re a novice, you shouldn’t train the biceps every day. They are also not used to the movements that bicep training includes. Hence it is best to start with lighter weights and increase gradually.
- Do a biceps workout, once in two days maximum. Make sure to do as many reps as possible because this helps muscles grow. Keep in mind that recovery is as important as exercise.
- Whether you are in the gym or doing your bicep workouts at home, try to include movements that involve various muscles. The things are that muscles grow most when more of them get engaged at the same time.
- Make sure to follow the right order when working out and activate the large muscles first.
- Try to do between 8 and 12 reps if you want your muscles to grow. If you are building strength, then 6 reps should be enough.
- One set shouldn’t last longer than a minute. Aim to do between two and three sets in one session.
- Repetition is fantastic for muscle growth. However, if you are doing the same workout over and again, there is a risk that muscles get adapted. Adaptation can slow down progress, and you can hit a plateau. That is why to include as much variation as possible in your training and change every 2 to 4 workouts.
- Remember to gradually increase the load.
- You can train biceps at the same time as triceps, shoulders, forearms, etc.
Best Bicep Workouts
Many people believe that different exercises affect the biceps in various ways. However, this is a total misconception. The shape of the biceps is mainly (90%) defined by our genes. So basically, we cannot change the shape of the biceps. However, we can change the size and the strength. Are you wondering what an upper bicep workout is? Trust us; you are not the only one! However, there isn’t a straightforward answer. Scientists from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro studied several exercises to understand the best workouts for biceps to increase muscle size. The only thing this research showed us that the Scott bench wasn’t ideal because it comes with a short range of motion. We will list some of the workouts with weights and bodyweight bicep exercises so you can see what they are and choose what suits you most.
Standing Dumbbell Curl
Biceps workouts for men and women are undoubtedly the simplest and most known lift. At the same time, it’s critical for increasing the size of arm muscles. Generally, there are three variations of this exercise, with standing dumbbell curls being the most popular. These bicep curl exercises are simple and an adequate option for beginners. However, keep in mind that it is nevertheless necessary to maintain the proper form. Some people think that their muscles will grow quicker if you train faster and with more force. However, forcefully swinging the weight can only increase the chances of injury, nothing else.
How to Do It?
- Take a dumbbell in each hand and let your arms hang on your sides.
- Make sure that the elbows are close to the torso and palms turned forward.
- Lift the weight so they are in the height of your shoulders while keeping the arms stationary when doing these dumbbell chest exercises without bench.
Incline Dumbbell Curl
Incline dumbbell curl is another one of classic bicep exercises. It is practically the same as standing dumbbell curl, except you will do it while sitting. Hence you will need a bench to do this type of curl.
How to Do It?
- The bench needs to be inclined at the 45-60 degrees angle as per your preference and fitness level. After you set it up, sit on the bench and take a dumbbell in each hand.
- Keep your back flat against the bench and make sure that your abdominal muscles are tight. Your hands should be at your sides, with elbows close to the body. Make sure to hold the dumbbells in a way that your palms are facing upwards.
- Lift the weight so they are in the height of your shoulders.
Chin-ups are one of the best bicep workouts without weights. They are not simple to do, and they require that you already have a certain level of strength. They are big, compound exercises, and they use a large range of motion. The great thing about this workout is that you can do it anywhere – in the gym, in the park, or at home. The only thing you need is a metal bar that can be fixed. Besides the biceps chin-ups, also work the upper back. You can do them with an angled, neutral or underhand grip.
How to Do It?
- First of all, you need to assume the correct starting position – grab the bar with an underhand grip, meaning that your palms must face away from your body. And make sure to keep them shoulders width apart.
- Lift your feet from the floor, and engage your core muscles by pulling your belly button to your spine. It’s also important to first inhale and then exhale so that you could engage your core muscles.
- Raise your upper body towards the bar, so that your chin touches it. Make sure to engage the muscles on your arms and back as much as possible. It’s also important to not swing your legs and make sure that your shoulders remain down and tucked back.
- Once you reach the bar, inhale and slowly lower yourself to a starting position.
It is one of the best variations of the standard bicep curl. Primarily Zottman curls target biceps brachii. It is a great arm exercise for men and women because it strengthens lower arms too while building bulging biceps. Since you rotate the dumbbell as you do the exercise you target the entire bicep muscle group.
How to Do It?
- Start by holding dumbbells by your side.
- Then lift them to your shoulders. Your upper arms should be still while you turn your hands, so the palms face upwards.
- Pause at the top and then rotate your hands, so the palms face downwards.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
- You can do this exercise with dumbbells or alternate the arm you lift with.
Underhand Seated Row
It is a simulation of rowing. With this type of move, you are not engaging just your biceps but also your back muscles. To do an underhand seated row, you will need a barbell and a bench.
How to Do It?
- Start by sitting on a bench with bent knees.
- Hold the barbell with underhand grip. Make sure to place your hand’s shoulder-width apart.
- Lean a bit but make sure that your back is straight, and then pull the bar towards your bellybutton using the strength of your back muscles.
- Return to the initial position.
EZ Bar Curl
Working with the EZ bar is easy, and thus we can say that this exercise is good for beginners. This bar has a curved handle, which contributes to better muscle activation compared to exercises with barbells or dumbbells.
How to Do It?
- Position your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your knees slightly bent.
- Hold the bar with an underhand grip and extend your arms.
- Then lift the bar by curling up towards your chest.
Key Rules for Building Bigger Biceps
Many of us feel tempted to skip warm-up exercises. Indeed, it seems that it takes a lot of time and it’s boring. So it is not at all surprising that you want to do cambered bar curls or any other straight away. However, there is a reason why all fitness experts insist that you warm up. It is pretty simple – warmed muscles work better and the risk of rips and tears is much lower. Besides that, warmed muscles receive more oxygen and nutrients.
Alternate Between Workouts
We mentioned this earlier too. People get confused because they often hear that repetition is the key to success. Indeed that is true. It means that you always need to do several sets of several reps to build the muscles. But, the thing is that you have to change workouts every few weeks. If not, the muscles get adapted to movements, and the progress slows down.
The Importance of Breathing
Proper breathing is critical during strength training. It provides the blood with a sufficient amount of oxygen. When the blood is well oxygenated, the waste product is then removed. If you hold your breath while lifting weight, your blood pressure might go up. That increases the risk of injury.
We tend to think that the more we work out, the faster our muscles grow. Indeed we need to work out regularly. However, it is necessary to know that recovery is as essential for muscle growth as is exercise. Working out with everyone will not enable you to see desired results faster. Make sure that you include at least one rest day, whether you are doing at-home arm workouts without weights or something else.
Number of Repetitions
How many repetitions should we do for best results? Ideally, there should be 2 -3 sets in each workout. Every set should have between 8 and 12 reps for biceps growth and around six if you want to increase strength.
And that’s all we wanted to share on our biceps workouts! As you can see, there are plenty of phenomenal at home arm workouts without weights that will make your arms a lot stronger.
Thus, make sure that you follow the instructions and do each of these workouts properly. Keep in mind that patience is a virtue, and keep exercising to become stronger! And good luck!
So have you ever tried bicep workouts before? What are your experiences?