The biceps are one of the most important muscles to build. Nothing makes you look stronger than having powerful arms. If you want impressive arms, focus on your biceps and triceps first.
You can build up your biceps faster if you do the right exercises properly. Doing ineffective exercises or doing exercises without proper form won't get you anywhere.
Focus on training intensity, not time spent in the gym. Trying to get the same workout done faster is often better than adding more sets to your workout. Even your training frequency (i.e., how often you train) is usually less important than training intensity.
Many people mistakenly think of concentration curls as "dated." Bodybuilders used them to build big arms in the ‘70s, and still do today. There may not be a better single-arm exercise for strengthening your biceps.
Concentration curls are done with dumbbells, one arm at a time. Sitting on a bench is usually the best way, but you can also kneel or stand bent over. Strength exercises that you do while sitting, however, are often more effective than those done while standing. If you are sitting, there is no way for momentum to aid your movements, so all of the muscle strain will be on your arm.
You will also naturally end up doing concentration curls with strict form. It is not easy to "cheat" when doing concentration curls.
Concentration curls almost exclusively use your biceps, making them better than many similar exercises. Other types of curls don't rely nearly as much on the bicep muscle:
1) Concentration curls (97% biceps activity)
2) Cable curls (80%)
3) Chinups (80%)
4) Barbell curls (76%)
5) Incline curls (70%)
6) Preacher curls (69%)
Do concentration curls at least once a week, and no more than every other day. Training your biceps does not need to be done every day. Get your arms sore in a single workout, and then train other parts of your body while your arm muscles recover.
Many people train their biceps using dumbbells. While dumbbell curls do work, using a barbell is better. When you lift a bar with two hands, you will strain your muscles harder and gain strength faster.
When you are pulling up the bar, there is a temptation to lean backward to make things easier. Don't let yourself lean backward - you're supposed to be putting a lot of strain on your arms, not relying on the rest of your body. Lift with your arms to maximize muscle strain.
As well, do the exercise slowly, and don't rely on momentum. If you pull up the weight too fast, the momentum will make it too easy for you to raise the bar up to your neck. The faster you do this exercise, the less effective it is.
Don't do barbell curls with lousy form, or you will get lousy results. This is one of the best bicep-building exercises, but only if you do it right.
While preacher curls do not rely as exclusively on your biceps as concentration curls do, they are still great for building up your arms, including your biceps.
Put a bench at a 45-degree angle. Make sure your armpit is right up to the bench. Don't allow any space between it and the underarm.
When you do the exercise, make sure that you do not lift your underarm up. Keep your entire upper arm glued to the bench at the right angle and lift your lower arm up. If you are lifting your arm, you aren't using the right muscles.
While there are some exercises that you should do quickly, preacher curls are not one of them. Some people sit low when they do preacher curls, but this will turn it into a full-body exercise. Bend over a little but stand up relatively straight to isolate the arm muscles.
It is much easier to get the form wrong than with concentration curls. Watch the exercise performed correctly, and don't compromise on form.
Hammer curls are another great dumbbell workout that you can do anywhere, even if you don't have much equipment at home. As well as strengthening your biceps, hammer curls can strengthen your brachialis, which will make your biceps more visible. The brachialis is between the biceps and the triceps, and the stronger it gets, the more your bicep strength will show.
Start with your arms at your sides and lift the weights up until your knuckles point forward. Keep your palms at the sides of the weights, not under them.
To do this exercise best, only move your arm at the elbow. Keep your upper arms and the rest of your body in place.
Clench your pecs and abdominal muscles to keep your torso from moving. Push your upper arms against your sides so they don't move.
Bending your knees can make it easier to keep your body in place while lifting only with your arms. It is easy to keep your hips in place if you bend your knees. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and try doing one arm at a time if you find the exercise too difficult.
While any pullups can strengthen your biceps, you should do narrow grip pullups if you want to focus on those muscles. Put your hands as close together as possible because you will use your back muscles too much with a wide grip.
Narrow grip pullups are a challenge, so you need to be reasonably strong before you do this. If you still have trouble with regular pullups, you might not be ready for these.
As well as building up your biceps, narrow grip pullups can build your chest, inner lats, and lower traps. Many other pull-up variations are also good for strengthening your biceps. Wide grip pullups, however, are more of a back exercise, though they strengthen other muscles.
Words by Edward Back
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5 May 2021
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