You are here

5 Ways to Trick Your Biceps for Bigger Arms

Standard barbell and dumbbell curls are both great choices for biceps growth. But you can emphasize different parts of your peaks with a few twists, flips and tricks.

 

If you have been doing the same ol’ same ol’ for your biceps and they just don’t seem to respond the way you want, it may be time to mix things up a little and recharge your biceps with a new spark. And if they have responded with some growth, you are in a prime position for some additional specialization. The biceps two heads can be emphasized – but not entirely isolated – by making a few simple tweaks to your wrist and arm angles.

These five exercises can help you put in extra work for that meaty inner head (most visible from the front in a biceps pose) as well as that higher outer head (most visible from the back during a biceps pose).

Toss one or two of these moves into the mix with your staple mass-builders and you’ll have a tricked-out set of biceps that are bellowed out from origin to insertion.

1. Two-Arm, High-Pulley Cable Curl

Muscular Emphasis: Biceps Brachii Short Head

This is a good finishing exercise to cap off that peak in your biceps after you have banged out your usual battery of heavy sets. You can do this exercise with one arm at a time if you cannot get access to both sides of the pulley station at your gym. The higher you set the pulley, the shorter the range of motion, so don’t go too high above a shoulder height. This is a good exercise to use slightly lighter loads and hitting the 12-15 rep range, attacking that inner short head with higher volume and filling the entire region with growth-giving blood and nutrients.

Tip: You can get the same kind of short-head action if you perform high-pulley curls with a straight-bar set at about eye level. Just keep your upper arms parallel to the floor.

2. Incline Dumbbell Curl

Muscular Emphasis: Biceps Brachii Long Head

This is one of the truly great arm builders if you can handle the fact that you may need lighter weight. This exercise taxes both heads of your biceps but hits your outer head to a greater degree because of the pre-stretch placed on it. Because of the start position, which stretches your bis as well as your delts, you typically cannot lift as much weight. Put this early in your biceps program to maximize its value on overall arm development. Drop the reps to the 8-10 range for this exercise and focus on really squeezing every rep.

Tip: Keep your palms up for the entire range of motion to keep the focus on the biceps. Starting neutral then pronating will recruit other muscles such as the brachioradialis.

3. Spider Curl

Muscular Emphasis: Biceps Brachii Short Head

Performed on the vertical side of a preacher bench or lying prone on an angled bench, this is a tough exercise to find a good balance point. It will require some experimentation with bench angle but start at about a 60-degree incline and go from there. Start with a neutral grip at the bottom position and rotate outward (supinate) on the way up if using dumbbells. Avoid swinging and keep your elbows from flaring out. This exercise can be placed in the middle of your routine after a good barbell curl and should stay in the 10-12 rep range up to the point of failure. For the ultimate pump, use a straight bar and squeeze tight at the top and make this your finishing move to pack on the muscle.

Tip: Don’t swing your arms. Instead, let the true weight of this exercise do its thing and get your arms fully extended at the bottom so your biceps get a stretch and a squeeze on each rep. You may want to lighten the load to get the full range of motion.

4. Concentration Curl

Muscular Emphasis: Biceps Brachii Short Head

Though it can be done for heavier sets, this is really a finishing move for a quick pump. Since the range of motion is generally shorter and the focus of this exercise is on the short head of the biceps (along with the brachialis), make sure to hit some big mass gainers before adding this exercise. It is best done as a final exercise or near the end of your routine with a load that will give you 12-15 reps as you feel the surge of blood pushing that end-of-routine pump.

Tip: Focus on the very end portion of the movement and flex hard at full contraction to accentuate your biceps peak.

5. Standing Two-Pulley, Low-Cable Curl

Muscular Emphasis: Biceps Brachii Long Head

As with the incline dumbbell curl, anytime you can put a prestretch on the long head, you’re going to hit it harder. Step into a cable station, grab a D-handle from each low-set pulley and take a step forward. Keeping your elbows down and slightly behind your body, you’ll curl in line with your arms for reps, smashing that peak-perfecting outer head.

Tip: If you opt for the single-arm version, you can slightly alter the angle of your arm to your body which gently changes the feel of the move. The main effect is had by the starting tension and stretch it places upon the biceps.

Comments