My biceps look great from the side, but from the front, they’re thin sticks. How can that be?


Your brachialis is the problem. Most bodybuilders, regardless of their experience and knowledge, neglect that very important muscle of the upper arm for two silly reasons: it’s located underneath and a bit to the outside of the biceps — out of sight, out of mind; and it’s not a marquee muscle, in that it doesn’t pop up pretentiously during posing.

That’s unfortunate. The brachialis is the only muscle that gives the upper arm width and circumferential girth. No matter how high the biceps peak and how majestic its sweep when viewed from the side, if the brachialis is underdeveloped, the arm will look like the edge of a penny when viewed from the front.

The brachialis is the reason the T-shirt was invented, so that, back in the ’50s, guys could roll a pack of cigarettes in its sleeve, exposing that thick cable of muscle bulging out the side of the biceps like some dangerous, predatory thing. Guys with a good brachialis had theirs tattooed, so that it read “sis” when relaxed but “Mississippi” when it flexed as they hung their elbow out the window of their ’50 Mercs, James Dean style, during cruise night on Van Nuys Boulevard. It won chicks and won contests.

Before you go to work on your brachialis, consider its kinesiology. The brachialis has one function: to contract the arm from a straight or near-straight position to an  approximate 90-degree angle with the upper arm (such as during the first half of a curl), and it does this best when your hand is pronated (palm facing behind you in the bottom position of a curl, or wrist turned inward), or in a neutral position (such as during hammer curls). Most bodybuilders don’t realize that the brachialis is developed simply from being forced to pull and bend the arm during back movements such as lat pulldowns and chinups (overhand grip), barbell rows, one-arm rows and seated pulley rows; and it’s worked even more directly by the brachialisspecific exercises of dumbbell hammer curls, cable rope curls and reverse barbell curls.

These facts should lead you to redesign many of your bodypart workouts to include exercises that involve your brachialis. For back, make sure you do all or most of the movements described above. Likewise, biceps: incorporate two of the aforementioned brachialis-specific exercises into each workout; three, if you want rapid “brach” growth. The more you develop your brachialis, the higher it will push your biceps, and the farther it will squirt out of the side of your arm, contributing even more to your arm’s impression of overall size. With that prominent stratum separating your biceps and triceps, you don’t have to rely solely on an awkward, behind-the-back, wristgrabbing, straight-armed pose to show your triceps, or an aneurism-busting squeeze to display your biceps. A great brachialis is such a unique badge of the serious training you’ve done, that all eyes will be on it, not on the pretty peaks of the wimps next to you onstage. – FLEX


  • Barbell Curls | SETS: 5 | REPS: 8-10
  • Dumbbell Hammer Curls | SETS: 4 | REPS: 8-10
  • EZ-bar Preacher Curls | SETS: 4 | REPS: 8-10
  • Cable Rope Curls | SETS: 4 | REPS: 8-10
    • superset with
  • Reverse Barbell Curls | SETS: 4 | REPS: 8-10