Strong biceps help you perform daily tasks like lifting and carrying. They also enable you to do workout routines targeting other muscle groups more effectively. After all, powerful arms mean you can lift weights more effectively. This helps develop upper body muscles in general.
You may think that bulk is good for your bicep muscles. However, it is important to strike a balance between bulk, strength, and functional robustness. This balance will enable you to develop solid biceps that not only look picture-perfect but are also strong and injury-free.
At the same time, you may consider workouts that target not only the biceps but other muscle groups closely connected to it. This will help you get bulkier and stronger upper arms in general.
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How Many Exercises do I Need?
The actual number and frequency of bicep exercises depend on you. If you are a beginner or an intermediate, you must go with less intensive workouts and a lower frequency. A different routine may work for more advanced fitness buffs.
Most fitness experts and enthusiasts agree that 2 to 4 exercises are enough to effectively target the biceps. You should carefully select these exercises so that each workout targets a different section of the muscles.
Frequency Per Week
A good frequency for arm training exercises is 8 to 10 sets per week. You can break this total into smaller portions and perform the workouts on alternative days. For each exercise, go with 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
This is an estimate for beginner and intermediate-level trainees. You can adjust this to suit your own goals and other requirements.
If you are lifting heavy weights as a part of your arm training regimen, you may need to trim down the number of reps. You may also need to lower the frequency of workouts and rest at least two days between bicep training sessions. This allows your arms plenty of time to heal.
Choosing the Right Bicep Movements
When choosing bicep exercises, it is important to make them a part of an overall fitness routine. You may create a muscular imbalance if you focus entirely on your biceps. This will make your biceps bigger in comparison to your shoulders and other upper body areas.
The result of an imbalanced bicep focus is that you can cause an injury to your shoulders and elbows. This is why you should perform bicep workouts while also focusing on the related muscle groups.
Another thing to consider is the nature and type of training routines. Your biceps play a role in several upper body functions. These include curling and turning your arms in and out. These muscles are also connected to the shoulder and play a role in shoulder flexion.
In all, biceps are directly related to three distinct joints. Two of these are attached to the elbow, and the third is connected to the shoulders.
Any exercise routine you develop for your biceps must cater to these roles. You can enhance the strength, flexibility, and endurance of the biceps by choosing the right workouts.
Best Bicep Exercises
Here is a look at some standard bicep workouts that target all regions of these muscles:
‘Bicep curls’ is one of the most common exercises for arms training. It’s also quite simple and requires only a pair of dumbbells.
If you are a beginner, you should choose a weight of 2 to 5 pounds per dumbbell. Intermediate workouts can use 5 to 10 pounds per dumbbell. Always go with a weight that allows you to perform 8 to 10 reps in good condition.
Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing forward to perform this exercise. Make sure to tense your abs. Then lift the dumbbell by bending the elbow while keeping your upper arm and shoulder unmoved. Bring the dumbbell up so that it touches the shoulder, and then lower it back to the starting position.
You can raise both dumbbells simultaneously, or alternate between both dumbbells.
‘Preacher curls’ is another exercise that targets biceps and related muscle groups. You will need a preacher bench for this workout. It is a specialized bench with a seat and an armrest positioned in front that slopes away from you.
To perform the exercise, you sit down on the preacher bench and adjust the height of the armrest. The height should be so that your armpits touch the top when you extend your arms across the armrest.
You can use a barbell, dumbbell, or an E-Z bar for preacher curls. Hold the barbell or dumbbell using an underhand grip with your arms fully extended in front. Then keeping your elbows and upper arms fixed, curl the weight up and bring it to your shoulders. Lower back the weight to its original position to complete one repetition.
Standing Barbell Curls
Standing barbell curls involve the use of a barbell. You can add any weight that you can easily lift. It is best to start small and then gradually move up.
Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and your chest up. Hold the barbell with an underhand grip, so that your hands are slightly wider than your hips. Now curl the barbell and bring it to your shoulders while keeping your elbows fixed and upper arms stationary.
Pause a second once the barbell is at shoulder height, and then slowly lower it back. This is a single repetition of this workout.
‘Standing barbell curls’ is a relatively tough arm exercise. It does hit the biceps very effectively, but it also carries a higher risk of injury. If you are new to standing barbell curls, make sure you perform the exercise under the supervision of a coach or trainer.
Reverse curls are a slight variation on the standard bicep curls. This bicep exercise involves lifting a barbell with your hands facing down instead of up as is the case in an underhand grip.
The great thing about reverse curls is that they target your biceps and forearms while improving your grip strength at the same time. You can perform the exercise using a barbell or an E-Z bar.
Hold the bar with a shoulder-width grip. Now bend the elbows and bring the bar slowly to your shoulder. Pause for a second, then lower the bar to its starting position.
Make sure you start with a smaller weight when performing this exercise. If you can perform barbell curls with a 10-pound weight, you should use a 5-pound weight for reverse curls because it is harder to lift the weight with a reverse grip.
A cable curl uses a cable machine instead of barbells or dumbbells. The great thing about using cables is that your arms face continuous resistance throughout each repetition. This helps you achieve better arm strength and training.
To perform a cable curl, use a straight bar handle attached to the bottom of the cable machine. Start with a smaller weight and then gradually add to it. You can use both underhand and reverse grips for this workout, although cable curls are mostly performed with an underhand hold.
Hold the bar with both hands, then pull it up to your shoulders by bending the elbows. Your upper arms and shoulders should stay put during the movement. Once you bring the handle to your shoulders, relax it slowly and go back to the original position.
You will feel continuous tension throughout the movement due to the weighted cable. This helps you engage diverse sections of your biceps.
Hammer curls are a great way to add bulk to your upper arms while working the biceps. These curls are different from the standard bicep curls in one, simple way – your hands face your body during each rep.
With your hands facing your body, lift barbells at each side and bring them to your shoulders. Then slowly lower the barbells back to the starting point. Hammer curls also target brachialis muscles, a group closely connected to the biceps.
Biceps are one of the most important muscle groups to train for overall fitness and strength. They are also easier to work with, as you can choose from a range of workout routines.
If you are a beginner or intermediate fitness buff, you can work with 2 to 3 bicep exercises with 8 sessions per week. The frequency and number of reps will vary, depending on your current fitness level and desired goals. However, 10 to 15 reps per exercise are enough.
If you are lifting heavy weights, you can do bicep workouts every third day. For lighter regimens, you can perform the bicep exercises every alternate day. When using heavier weights, make sure you maintain form and get real-time coaching. This will help you avoid over-stressing the biceps and prevent injuries.