“I was constantly playing tricks on my mind. This is why I began to think of my biceps as mountains, instead of flesh and blood. Thinking of my biceps as mountains made my arms grow faster and bigger than if I’d seen them only as muscles.”  –Arnold Schwarzenegger

Emulating Schwarzenegger’s mind, we are going to attack three unconventional movements that build perfect bicep peaks. These movements are intense, heavy and most likely unfamiliar, yielding the perfect storm to perpetuate the formation of perfect peaks.

Hercules Chin-Up

When prescribing exercises, it is important to look at the function of the muscle: the biceps supinate (palms facing you in a chin-up) and flex the elbow (bend the elbow on the way up). The chin-up involves both muscle functions and allows you to go heavy because of the supporting muscles involved.

When performing a chin-up, the back will assist you but the biceps flex the elbow, providing a huge biceps overload at the top portion of the movement, like a heavy cheat curl. But chin-ups are safer, transfer to real life situations better and enable you to handle greater amounts of weight. The overload we are after primarily occurs at the top of the movement. Enter the Hercules chin-up.

The Hercules chin-up is a creation of the Jailhouse Strong system that uses partial movements to build sleeve-busting biceps.

  • Grasp a chin-up bar with a supinated (palms facing you grip).
  • From a dead hang position, pull chin over the bar and hold it for two seconds.
  • Descend to the halfway point and hold for two seconds.
  • Repeat movement for the prescribed number of repetitions.

IFBB Pro Bodybuilder Cory Matthew Hitting Some Hercules Chin-ups 

Full range of motion for full development is a good guideline but like most rules, there are some exceptions. In this case, the partials are used to overload specific ranges of motions for strength building, allowing the biceps to handle very heavy weight at peak contraction. Keep in mind you need to start from a full hang and end in the starting position. Barring injury, keep the supinated (underhand) grip for the greatest bicep overload. 

Gironda Perfect Curls

Invented by bodybuilding pioneer and trainer, Vince Gironda, this may be the most effective biceps exercise ever invented. It provides a good stretch at the bottom of the movement but intense tension throughout the movement and even a good peak contraction at the top of the movement.

This is not a cheat curl; there should be no swinging of the torso. The concentric should take three seconds and the eccentric four. There should be a hold at the top position for one second.

It almost feels like doing a heavy overload barbell curl with an incline stretch curl.

Don’t let this oldie but goodie go the way of the leotard.

  • Start with a straight bar or EZ-bar as with a regular barbell curl.
  • Before starting the curls, bring your upper torso backward (shifting your weight toward the heels). The shoulders are now aligned behind the hips and knees, putting the biceps in a pre-stretched position.
  • From this position, slowly curl the weight. As you lift the weight, slowly bend the torso forward so at the end of the movement that shoulders are in front of the knees and the hips. Imagine a standing crunch movement building a perfect bicep peak.
  • Lower in the opposite motion back to the starting position and repeat for reps.

See more video demonstrations on next page. 

One-Armed Eccentric Barbell Curl

Study after study shows to maximally develop muscle, eccentrics are the call to arms (pun intended). Far too many people neglect heavy eccentrics when it comes to bicep training. We are going to leave no stone unturned in our pursuit of perfect peaks. Enter the one-armed eccentric barbell curl.

  • Sit or stand behind a preacher curl station.
  • Rest your upper arm on the pad in front of you, arms supinated.
  • Start at the top position of the curl.
  • Slowly lower the bar for a count of eight seconds to full extension.
  • Pause briefly at the bottom.
  • If you have a training partner, have him help you back up. If not, self-spot with the other hand.

IFBB Pro Bodybuilder Branch Warren Performing One-Armed Eccentric Barbell Curls

Final Thoughts

With each of the movements listed, you will want to go as heavy as possible. The use of cheat curls from time to time with these movements is permissible but you should never sacrifice technique for additional weight on the bar. Try these movements as heavy as possible, with perfect technique and your bicep-building stalemate will enter a period of unparalleled growth.