What Is The Best Bicep Routine That You Have Used?

The topic: What is the best bicep routine that you have used?


TOPIC: What Is The Bicep Routine That You Have Used That Gave You The Absolute Best Results?

The Poll:

    What Is The Best Bicep Routine You've Used?
    4 - 6 Reps Per Set.
    8 - 10 Reps Per Set.
    10 - 12 Reps Per Set.
    Other.

The Winners:

      Prizes:
      The best response will get $50 in credit to use in our online store!

1st Place - AJbuilder

I voted other.

It is ridiculous to assume that any rep range will work for a given individual all the time and for all lifters. It's in total contrast to the principle of individual differences. The principal states that the capacity for a given individual to adapt to exercise training is genetically determined on a degree of basis. Recovery abilities, response to the exercise stimulus, muscle-fiber makeup, and on a lesser scale, the tolerance of certain macro and micro nutrients all fit into the principle.

One person might do well with 8-10 reps while another will grow best with 4-6 reps using higher tension methods and loads because that person is more able to recruit a large number of motor units synchronously and asychronously. But no one will ever do best by using just one single rep range. When we are doing bicep work, it's very often that a beginner will train with less intensity due to the fact that he/she is able to recruit a minimal number of motor units to stimulate growth.

The person would obviously use higher repetitions( 10-12 reps) to do more work and in the case of using this higher density method, the lifter will be able to overload the muscles to grow. With proper nutrition, that person will experience dazzling newbie gains.

But as the person gets more advanced, he/she will be able to recruit motor units at a higher threshold which mirrors maximal and anaerobic strength gains as well. Now the person will and should employ repetition ranges in the 4-6 bracket and will soon find that works best at that point in his/her training career. After a while of training with 4-6 reps while using various free-weight exercises like incline db curls and standing bb curls, the body will gradually get accustomed to the 4-6 range.

And the reason for your body adapting to this rep range is due another principle: the principle of accomodation.

 
 
The principle states that your body will accomodate and adapt to the training stress if you continually apply the routine over and over again.
 
 

The routine of doing 4-6 reps will eventually be less and less challenging for your body because it has already become a habit.

Habituation results in plateaus. When the habit kicks in, there is a gradual reduction of response coming from the body. The body stops responding. Of course the next step would be to do micro-loading and increase the weight on the bb curls every week so you can progressively overload. But then we have to come back to the principle of accomodation.

Your body accomodates to the overload and soon you'll hit dead on into a plateau. The 4-6 rep range will not be effective anymore. And that's why we must jump back to a different rep range for your body to get out of the rut and grow again. This explains why growth isn't exactly a linear process all the time. It's got it's ups and downs for most of us.


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It's much wiser to use different rep ranges for cycles of your training. On a hypothetical 8 week cycle of training you may employ an volumization phase in which you do high volume work with standing bb curls as in using more reps (10-12 or 12-15) with the load kept moderately in range of 60%-70% of 1RM or so. Then after the 8 weeks are up you may switch to an intensification phase in which you do loading sessions using higher intensity, intensity with respect to the loads 1RM.

You may now do more sets of bb curls and lift with 80-90% of 1RM using the 3-6 rep range. The body actually responds quite well this way as it keeps the body from the accomodation and habituation trap. This is just one example of Periodization and there are many different ways to set up training cycles while employing different rep ranges.

One way to really get the biceps to grow is actually through doing heavy compound back work. The biceps get worked very heavily on close grip chinups, pullups, lateral pulldowns, barbell bent over rows, db rows, seated rows, and all its variations. You do close grip chinups and you will definitely involve the biceps. Apply this to common sense and you'll start to think that if you can strap 135lbs. to a chinning waist belt and do chinups for 5 reps, you'll have a big back and also big biceps.

You can't have just 12 inch arms and be able to do chinups with so much weight. And you don't see a guy that can chin 135lbs. having small puny flat biceps either. A big back usually comes with big biceps. Direct work on the biceps are not always needed. Most guys often do insane amounts of sets and reps for the bi's day in and out. Before they sleep, they've already overtrained big time, creating a deficit that needs to come back to a base level.

But that's not to say that we should always eliminate bicep work completely. It's nice to have a delicate balance in which one would focus on the heavy compound back movements, especially the lifts that require the person to move through space (chinups), and supplement with some direct work using curls.

The key area here is to watch out for excessive volume of the bb and db curls. Most folks will not benefit from the overload of too much volume in a given session, except for those of the genetically superior and gifted.

In the past I've had periods where I do direct work for the biceps as well as no direct work at all, relying just on heavy back compound lifts. When I started lifting I would do lots of reps with bb and db curls and shortly my biceps grew but eventually I fell into the accomodation trap like all of us do and plateaued. I started using different rep ranges, rep speeds, and different exercises as well.

The biceps grew little by little but didn't respond much at all in terms of measurable progress. With some message board advice I decided to drop direct bicep work for a while and focus on heavy back work. I'm still not working the bi's directly as of today and have seen almost a fourth of an inch growth already. The gains are coming in slow but at least that just proves that you don't really need direct work all the time for the biceps to grow.

A lot of us may very well be overtraining our biceps anyway so by eliminating some direct work, you will be able to let the body catch up to prior training stimulus and overcompensate to recover and grow again. This is just one tactic to consider as well as the periodization technique I mentioned above.


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Changing The Mechanics Of An Exercise Can Also Do Wonders For Bicep Growth:

  • Use underhand grip on bb bent over rows
  • With bb rows, row to the chest and you may feel the biceps getting more worked.
  • Instead of conventional shoulder-width chinups or pullups, do close grip chinups/pullups to place more stress onto the biceps
  • Maintain a more upright position when doing chinups and pullups
  • On the eccentric (lowering) portion of a curl, try tensing and contracting the triceps as you resist against the lowering of the weight. Tense the whole body, squeeze in the buttocks, grip the bar tightly. You'll most likely be able to hammer out one or two more reps this way. This is the employment of tensile strength and hyper-irridation popularized by Bruce Lee and former Russian Special Forces Trainer Pavel Tsatsouline.

Those are just some of the creative ways to get the most out of your exercises. It's fun.

One great tip for the newbie is to learn proper form on all exercises. If you want your biceps to grow then you must learn the proper form to maximize tension through a sound muscle range of motion. The key to doing a proper bb curl is to monitor your elbow placement. When you lift the weight on the concentric phase, make sure your elbow does not travel more than 2 inches forward.

If it does, you will be redirecting the stress onto your connective tissues and anterior deltoids rather than your biceps. The biceps brachi fibers are what you're trying to stimulate so watch that elbow and make sure they don't travel too far forward. The movement, from the bottom eccentric position to the top contraction position should be a slanted straight line rather than a half circle so take good note of this observation.

When I started perfecting my bb curl form, I used a piece of equipment called the arm blaster. The arm blaster straps around your neck and chest and minimizes elbow placement to teach the newbie lifter proper form on execution of free-weight curls. It was a good investment for me since I work out at my own home gym.

One bicep exercise that, in my opinion, is most effective is the incline db curl. When performed correctly, it will hit both the biceps brachii muscles and the underlying brachialis muscles to a great extent. Incline db curls also allows for a greater stretch. It gives an awesome pump as well and who doesn't love a pump? Most lifters don't do this exercise anyway so it's a nice change of pace for the body.

If you haven't been using incline db curls and haved just switched to it, the biceps may grow again because the body just isn't used to the stress applied at the incline position. It's well worth a try. An effective school of thought to consider is to do exercises that you've never done before or do something unconventional for certain periods of time.

That will get your biceps or any other body parts to grow again. Incline db curls are also fun. If one were to just stick to bb curls year round then the accomodation trap will kick in and that spells P-L-A-T-E-A-U.


AJBuilder's Sample Workout:

Here is the workout routine that i have personally used that never fails to give me some progress. All movements are basic exercises, nothing fancy here.

They are in four week cycles, and every four weeks I rotate them, I may sometimes combine them with back movements like rows and rack deadlifts.

Routine A:
(used for the four weeks)

Click here for a printable log of AJBuilder's Bicep Workout - Routine A.

  • This is the volumization routine in which more volume is used, different from intensification routine B. This may be too much volume for some lifters . if they don't recover well, reduce the number of sets.

  • Workout to be done once a week only if it is incorporated into heavy back movements. If they recover well and can see size/strength gains with 2x a week, then do so. train within your ability to recover.

  • The negative part of the exercise lasts a true controlled 2-4 seconds. Most people do lower the weight with 1 second only and i have done that too, comparing 2-4 s with 1s i have personally gotten much better results in terms of size gains with 2-4s negative.

  • Rep ranges are higher here so lighter poundages will be used.

  • Only one set for each exercise is taken to concentric failure since volume is high, emphasis should always be on adding more weight to the bar progressively each workout using small half to one pound micro plates. Progression is so much easier to come this way and most will be able to keep it up for many weeks when they start to plateau. When strength gains come to a halt, i usually switch to routine B and for me it would come in 4-8 weeks. The time period to use each workout is individualistic, if they can continue adding poundage then don't change anything, if not , then time to switch

Routine B:
(used next 4-8 weeks, then switch back to volumization routine A)

    2 sets close grip chins - 3-6 reps
    (3 min. between sets)
    2 sets incline db curls - 4-6 reps
    (3 min. between sets)
    1 set hammer curl - 6-8 reps

Click here for a printable log of AJBuilder's Bicep Workout - Routine B.

  • This is intensification routine. All sets are to be taken only to concentric failure, no statics, no rest pause, no forced reps. If those are added, then use them sparingly.

  • Volume is reduced here as poundages are heavier working in the lower rep ranges with longer rest periods. Primary emphasis should be on overload as always.

  • Negative/lowering portion of the weight should last longer , about 4-6s, for injury prevention purposes and to reduce body momentum and cheating since heavy weights may force person to cheat or swing.

  • Again, routine can be modified on individual basis.

  • Incline db curls are used here because I believe they are an underrated exercise and most people don't ever use them simply because they feel it is an awkward movement. They also work the underlying brachialis muscles(the popup muscles )under the biceps brachii, a very great functional bi exercise if done with heavy loads.

  • Hammer curls are thrown in both routines to strengthen the extensor and flexor muscles of the forearms. Grip strength is elevated also. Forearms are a weak link to many lifters in curls and chin-ups as well.


2nd Place - Titania

After 12 years of experimentation, here's what I've found to work best for me:

Thumbs down EZ bar curls
Hold the bar with a regular grip then turn it around 180 degrees so your thumbs are at a lower height than your little fingers. This will feel a little odd at first but try a few reps. You'll really feel it isolate the bi's.

Make sure to keep your elbows firmly locked into your side (this grip will help do this anyway). This is a MUCH better exercise then regular EZ curls. Great for overall mass.

High pulley double bicep cable curls
Do these with a cable crossover machine with pulleys as high above your head as possible. Place a bench in the middle and curl (as if you're doing a double bicep flex), seated on the bench. Keep your elbows still when curling and don't bring them forward.

Low pulley double bicep cable curls
Do these with a cable crossover machine with pulleys at floor level, in a standing position. With arms straight at your sides, curl the weight until your hands almost touch at the top of the rep (they should end up at the centre of your chest). Once again, keep the elbows still.

This is a great exercise to bring out your bicep peak.

My rep range is usually something like this:

    Increasing weight each set:
    Set 1 - 12 to 14 reps
    Set 2 - 8 to 10 reps
    Set 3 - 6 to 8 reps
    Set 4 - 4 to 6 reps


Titania's Sample Workout:

    Thumbs down EZ bar curls - 12-14, 8-10, 6-8, 4-6 (4 Sets)
    High pulley double bicep cable curls - 12-14, 8-10, 6-8, 4-6 (4 Sets)
    Low pulley double bicep cable curls - 12-14, 8-10, 6-8, 4-6 (4 Sets)

Click here for a printable log of Titania's Bicep Workout.


3rd Place - UliqMadiq

I voted 'Other' as I believe I've personally had the most benefit from a pyramid routine. Of course you cannot stick with this the whole time without plateau-ing, but running it three-weeks-on/three-weeks-off has helped me put on a little over two inches since I began.

The idea is from a personal trainer friend of mine who has used it highly successfully with all his clients. Here's a rough outline of the routine, which may be altered slightly each time you run the cycle:


UliqMadiq's Sample Workout:

Click here for a printable log of UliqMadiq's Bicep Workout.

    The Benefits That I Have Noted Are:

    1. Volume of cable curls allows constant muscular tension
    2. You can hardly cheat on any of the exercises in this routine
    3. You definitely notice some 'bicep peak' development

    The Only Drawback I Can See Is:

    1. Volume is relatively high for a beginner (10 sets)

However, for an intermediate to advanced bodybuilder looking for better biceps, I think it's a definite winner.

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