After you've built a good base of support using all of the major core lifts that target in to work the greatest number of muscles at once such as the squat, deadlift, row, shoulder press, and bench press, you might want to shift your focus and start concentrating in on the smaller muscles that you now wish to bring up and really get to a high level of definition.

For many of you, this is going to be the arm muscles - the biceps in particular. For a lot of guys, the biceps are the muscle that shows how hard you have been working in the gym, and therefore, are the primary muscle you want to be absolutely sure you're maximizing with your workout program.

Using some smart muscle-building techniques along with ensuring you are able to get enough rest at the same time, you will hit the biceps hard and stimulate them to their full potential.

Barbell training is a very effective method due to the nature of the loading force on the joints and the intensity of the movement.

Here's how you can build an effective biceps workout using barbells.

Start Off With The Bigger Movements First

Clean and Press

The first thing you want to be doing when planning out your barbell biceps workout is starting with the bigger exercises first that will utilize the greatest number of muscle fibers. Doing so will help ensure that you are able to generate a maximum amount of force on the exercises that will deliver the greatest results.

The main exercises to include here will be bent-over barbell rows, reverse barbell rows, pull-ups (to make this exercise considerably more difficult if you were strong enough you could strap a weightless barbell to the legs while performing this movement). Doing so would also work the abs to a larger extent as they would have to balance the barbell down at the feet.

For those who are into powerlifting movements, you could also perform the snatch or the clean and jerk.

Work Your Way To Isolation Exercises

E-Z Bar Curl

After you've finished with those exercises, then it will be time to move on to the isolated movements that are really going to zero in and hit the biceps hard. Here, you will want to primarily focus on movements such as barbell bicep curls, EZ bar curls and close grip barbell curls.

You do not want to be doing all of these variations in one single session, but rather you should be alternating between them as the weeks go on.

So, for instance, do barbell curls for two or three weeks until you have reached a plateau on that movement, then switch it up with EZ bar curls instead. By adding small variations such as this, you help really squeeze out as much strength and growth out of your biceps.

Factor In Total Reps And Sets

When it comes to total sets and reps for your bicep workout, this is another thing you must pay close attention too.

The biceps are one of the faster recovering muscles in the body, but even still, it's important that you are not overloading them too much otherwise they are not going to grow at all.

This is actually a critical mistake that many people make - they don't allow enough recovery time for their bicep muscles, which only causes further tissue breakdown each time they go into the gym.

They go in there, break the tissue down, don't let them fully recover and get stronger, then go in and pound them again, breaking down the tissue even more. Then they wonder why they are not seeing any signs of growth.

If you want your biceps to grow, you need to give them that time to rest and regenerate. If you don't, the muscle fibers are not going to be growing back stronger or larger.

Incorporate The Program In With Your Overall Workout Schedule

Finally, the last thing you need to do is incorporate these movements into your overall workout program.

Some people will still choose to do a body part split, and therefore may have a full day dedicated to arms training. In this case, they will most likely be pairing their bicep workout with some tricep movements, as these two muscles are antagonistic to each other and work well when paired together.

For others, you may want to incorporate this movement into your current four day upper/lower split. If that's the case, since you are already going to be working the back when doing your rows and pull-ups, these exercises would work well put in on the back upper body days as well.

A Sample Workout
A high rep, lighter weight set to fully deplete the bicep muscles before the end of the workout.
Bent Over Barbell Row
4 sets, 5-8 reps
+ 4 more exercises


  • 2,500+ expert-created single workouts
  • 3,500+ how-to exercise videos
  • Detailed workout instruction
  • Step-by-step workout tips
  • Training at gym or at home
  • Access to Workout Plans
  • Access to Bodyfit App
  • Store Discounts

What comes with BodyFit?

  • Instructional Videos
  • Don't risk doing a workout improperly! Avoid injury and keep your form in check with in-depth instructional videos.

  • How-to Images
  • View our enormous library of workout photos and see exactly how each exercise should be done before you give it a shot.

  • Step-by-Step Instructions
  • Quickly read through our step-by-step directions to ensure you're doing each workout correctly the first time, every time.

A high rep, lighter weight set to fully deplete the bicep muscles before the end of the workout


By planning your bicep workout ahead of time and making sure you are constantly monitoring progress and making adjustments you can ensure that you are get the best results from your training time.

About the Author

Shannon Clark

Shannon Clark

Shannon Clark is a freelance health and fitness writer located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

View all articles by this author