Building Your Biceps

Question

I’m just starting out with weightlifting and came across your website. What exercises do I do to build my biceps up the most?

Do I need a preacher curl? Are DB curls as good as barbell??

Answer

First things first: It sounds like you’re bodybuilding, not weightlifting.

There is a difference and a reason I’m making the distinction..

Bodybuilding is more focused on building as much LBM as possible, with of course lower bodyfat levels to help show it off.

Weightlifting in the classical sense involves cleans, clean and jerks, the snatch, etc.

You’ll notice weightlifters for the most part don’t look like bodybuilders, and vice versa.

Much of it is due to their training, as there is no “negative” or eccentric involved in their exercise template.

They do however, have some of the best backs and traps in the business.

As for you, biceps and bodybuilding the equation is going to be a little different.

First, understand that it takes adding around 15-20lbs of bodyweight to add an inch to your arms.

This isn’t easy, as it involves a lot of squatting, deadlifting and heavy eating.

It’s imperative then, that you work hard on those exercises, adding weight wherever possible.

You also need to use a tape measure, and I don’t mean just around your arms.

Keep an eye on that waist measurement, as it’s a lot easier to eat another inch on your waist than it is to your arms.

Having said all of that, IMO the humble chin up is the best biceps builder in the world.

Reasons are twofold: 1. It works the muscle from origin to insertion (shoulder to elbow), as every other type of curl works the muscle through just one joint (usually just the elbow). 2. It moves the body and weight through space simultaneously.

If you’re going to perform a curl, I favor the hammer curl (especially if deadlifting with a mixed grip).

Also, understand 2/3rds of your upper arm mass is in your triceps, not your biceps.

Nevertheless heavy pushing and pulling exercises give the triceps and biceps respectively a great growth stimulus.

Particularly if you superset a push with a pull exercise.

There’s no need for concentration curls, DB kickbacks etc. You want to keep it to big, basic movements with a lot of weight.

You can lighten up some every other workout, having a session where you focus primarily on volume/total tonnage an Time Under Tensions of around 40 to 60 seconds.

Interesting note: My arms only started growing when I dropped all direct biceps work, and I just poured myself into big pushing and pulling movements.

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Coach Rob Regish

Coach Rob Regish

Rob Regish is an internationally recognized name in the field of health and fitness. He's been a weekly contributor to Superhumanradio.net for almost a decade, answering listener questions from around the world.

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