So you want bigger arms? Join the club.
Every dude wants a pair of sleeve-popping biceps (and yes, some ladies do too). So it’s safe to say that biceps curls are among the most common exercises performed in the gym.
But what are the best exercises/training methods to build biceps that no shirt can contain?
I don’t like to label any exercise or program as “the best” because there’s no such thing. The fact of the matter is, what works for you may or may not work for someone else. So when it comes to choosing exercises for your program, it’s dependent on your individual training/injury history and goals.
With that being said, there are some preferred exercises I use in my programming that have been proven to build SERIOUS biceps.
Here are three of my top biceps-building exercises.
Warning: You may need to buy new shirts after doing these.
Some form of chin-ups or pull-ups should be a staple in most programs.
Not only do they build what’s known as relative body strength (how efficiently you can move your body in relation to your weight), they’re a great way to pack on size and strength in your biceps.
While you can “cheat” dumbbell curls by swinging your arms and using momentum to your favour, it’s much harder to compensate your form during chin-ups. You either get up or your don’t.
Note: No. “Kipping” chin-ups will NOT build bigger biceps! Dead hang and strict chins only! Sorry CrossFitters.
2. Overcoming Isometric Barbell Curl
All credit goes to Joe DeFranco for this one.
This is my favourite way to perform barbell curls. I call it the 3D curl because you’re utilizing all three types of muscle contractions: concentric, eccentric, and isometric.
You start the curl by performing what’s known as an “overcoming isometric”. This is when you’re trying to move an immovable object by applying maximal force against the rig (as shown in the video above).
By doing so, you’re recruiting a higher degree of muscle fibres and establishing a greater “mind-muscle connection” to your biceps before performing curls.
How to do it:
- Press up against the rig as hard as you can for 10-12 seconds (make sure your elbows are bent at roughly 90 degrees).
- Back away from the rig slightly and perform 10-12 full range of motion barbell curls.
- Rest 2 min and perform for 2-3 total sets at the end of your workout.
Note: You’ll feel this in your abs too 😉
3. Tilted Barbell Curl
Anytime you can add an EZ bar into the mix is a good time because it takes a lot of the stress out of your elbows given the inward angle of the handles.
Remember what I said about swinging your arms during curls? This tilted variation doesn’t allow that to happen. So be warned, you won’t need to go as heavy as you think.
By tilting your weight forward slightly and “gluing” your butt to the wall, you eliminate any tendency to thrust your hips forward and swing the weight up.
Note: Take a close look at the video and you’ll notice I’m flexing my triceps as I reach the bottom of the curl. This helps overall stability in the elbow joint and allows for a greater contraction in the biceps (the prime mover of the curl).
Second note: Pause for 1-2 sec at the peak contraction of the curl for added hell.
So, there you have it. Three of my top badass biceps-building exercises.
Give ’em a shot for yourself and buy your tickets!