Even if you are not interested in bodybuilding, you are instantly drawn into its appeal whenever you flex your biceps in the mirror. The phrase, "show me your muscles", is usually followed by a single arm front bicep flex. No experience, lessons or instructions are needed; we all instantly and instinctively know what to do. The biceps have been and will continue to be an indication of muscularity.
With the intrigue regarding biceps, it seems as though everywhere you turn, you are inundated with secrets to developing show stopping, eye turning 21-inch arms. Marketers and businessmen are constantly trying to cash in on the appeal of muscular arms. There are no secret formulas to developing muscular arms. Persistent, periodized and progressive training programs are the principles that helped develop our most recognized champions. Not everyone has the genetic potential or even the inclination to develop 21-inch arms, but everyone has the potential to transform their arms into eye-turning specimens. Through this article we will outline the specific functions of the biceps and how to properly train them for optimal result.
The flexors of the elbow are the biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis. The muscles that act at the elbow joint produce the motion of flexion in the forearm. The ulnohumeral (elbow) joint is a hinge joint, which allows motion to only occur in the sagital (median) plane. The biceps brachii is comprised of two heads, the long (outer head) and the short (inner head). The biceps brachii is involved in flexion of the elbow as well as supination of the forearm. The long head originates on the supraglenoid tuberosity of the scapulae.
The short head originates on the coracoid process of the scapulae. Both heads insert on the radial tuberosity and bicipital aponeurosis. The brachialis is also involved in flexion at the elbow. It originates on the anterior humerus and inserts at the ulna tuberosity and coronoid process of the ulna. The brachioradialis is also involved in flexion of the elbow. It originates on the lateral condyle of the humerus and inserts at the styloid process of the radius. Now that we have the basic functions of the muscles involved in elbow flexion we will discuss exercises that will optimize your biceps size.
Major Muscles That Act At The Elbow and Forearm
|Biceps brachii||Long head from tubercle above glenoid cavity; short head from coracoid process of scapula||Radial tuberosity and bicipital aponeurosis||Flexion at elbow; supination at forearm|
|Brachialis||Anterior humerous||Ulnar tuberosity and coronoid process of ulna||Flexion at elbow|
|Pronator teres||Distal end of medial humerus and medial aspect of ulna||Middle third of lateral radius||Flexion at elbow; pronation at forearm|
Depending on the position of the forearm and the rotation of the elbow, this will determine which portion of the biceps group you challenge the most. The biceps brachii is a stronger elbow flexor when the radioulnar joint is supinated (palms up). The biceps brachii is a stronger forearm supinator when the elbow is flexed. When the forearm is neutral or pronated (palms down) the brachioradialis and brachialis become more active.
When the forearm is pronated, the brachioradialis tends to supinate as it flexes the elbow. In a supinated position, it tends to pronate as it flexes. You can target whichever portion of the biceps group you want to train with any of the aforementioned variations. Since dumbbells allow for full supination or pronation of the forearm, we recommend their use to optimize your biceps potential.
Dumbbell Biceps Curl - View Exercise
Proper Technique: With the knees slightly bent, feet shoulder-width apart, and upper arms pulled to the side of the body, contract the biceps out and up through a natural range of motion with your forearm in a supine position. Isometrically contract the muscle at the end of the concentric contraction and hold for a second. Return to the starting position with the elbows aligned under the shoulders and slightly bent. Do not lock out the arms, as this will place more stress on your ligaments and tendons. Finally, avoid any twisting or rotating of the shoulders or elbows during execution.
Dumbbell Hammer Curls - View Exercise
Proper Technique: With the knees slightly bent, feet shoulder-width apart, and upper arms pulled to the side of the body, contract the biceps out and up through a natural range of motion with your forearms in a neutral position. Isometrically contract the muscle at the end of the concentric contraction and hold for a second. Return to the starting position with the elbows aligned under the shoulders and slightly bent. Do not lock out the arms, as this will place more stress on your ligaments and tendons. Finally, avoid any twisting or rotating of the shoulders or elbows during execution.
Dumbbell Concentration Curls - View Exercise
Proper Technique: Sitting on a bench, brace your working elbow along the interior of your thigh on the side being worked. With your bicep at a 70% angle to the floor, beginning in a neutral position, contract the biceps. As you contract the biceps, begin to supinate your palm and pull the lower arm out and up on a natural range of motion from the elbow as far as the forearm will go without moving the upper arm. Isometrically hold the contraction at the top of the movement for a full second, and then lower the weight to the starting position. Do not lock out the arm, as this will place undue stress on the ligaments and tendons.
Finally, avoid any twisting or rotating of the shoulders or elbows during execution. There are no secret formulas to developing muscular arms. If you develop a basic understanding of the function of the biceps group, and apply that knowledge to your biceps' training program, then you will undoubtedly be on your way to optimizing your biceps potential. Stay persistent and train hard.
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|Dumbbell Biceps Curl||3||10|
|Dumbbell Hammer Curls||3||10|
|Dumbbell Concentration Curls||3||10|
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Patrick Gamboa B.S.
ISSA Director of Technical & Educational Support