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Tips for Great Biceps


BodybuildingPro.com Articles Database Articles by Writer Articles Written by Matt Canning Tips for Great Biceps



Tips for Great Biceps

If there is one body part that every bodybuilder wants developed, it's definitely the biceps. Chest and abs are important too, along with the question "how much do you bench?" These are some of the most common goals of bodybuilders - big chest, washboard abs, a powerful bench press, and of course - monstrous guns. Below are some tips to help you develop your biceps to their full potential

Tip 1 - Warm Up Properly

The elbow joints are prone to injury easily and that is something that you want to avoid at all costs to promote your bodybuilding progress. A great way to warm up your biceps before starting a set is to perform to light sets before performing your working sets. For example, if you are performing the standing barbell curl exercise, you can grab a barbell that has a light weight on it and do two sets - keep the reps around 15 or 20 to get the blood in the muscles. This way, when you finally go on to perform the same exercise with a greater weight, your body will be adjusted for the range of motion and warmed up properly - with that, the chances of injury are greatly reduced.

Tip 2 - Use a Variety of Exercises

One thing you don't want to do is get used to certain exercises and stick only with them. Your biceps are like any other muscle and need stimulation. Pick from a variety of exercises - you might want to include standing barbell curls, seated alternate dumbbell curls, seated incline curls, preacher curls or machine curls. Remember - your body is highly adaptive and the last thing you want is for your body to get used to a specific exercise and stop growing from it. Constantly shock your muscles with new set and rep schemes and new exercises and this can be avoided.

Tip 3 - Focus on Form

This is fundamental. It's along the lines of warming up properly. The last thing you want to do is become an ego lifter. Don't train your ego on your arms - or anywhere in the gym if you can avoid it. Don't get me wrong, weight is important - but as long as you are progressively challenging your muscles with heavier weight and a variety of exercises over time, you will make progress. There's no need for you to max out on a weight that you can handle and risk an injury. Furthermore, if you cheat too much, you don't include the full range of motion for optimal growth. What you want is to feel the exercise through the entire range of motion. This takes a bit of discipine because you need to avoid showing off, but remember - if you keep this tip in mind, you'll make far more progress in the same period of time than if you don't.

Tip 4 - Pyramid the Weight Up

Again, this goes hand in hand with focussing on form and avoiding injury. Always start with a lighter weight and work your way up - don't start with a heavier weight and work down. Many top bodybuilders including Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman advise this technique. And look at Ronnie - he is 40 years old, six times Mr. Olympia, and has managed to go all this time with no serious injuries. This is especially mind boggling when you consider the fact that he deadlifts and squats over 800 pounds for more than one rep and could compete as a powerlifter with these lifts - but with the condition of a bodybuilder. It's amazing he's done all that, but he's done it by listening to the simple bodybuilding rule of pyramiding up, as well as other training strategies. Start light and work your way up, as you decrease the number of reps. This will save you from injury as your muscles will have time to adjust to the exercise being performed

Tip 5 - Take Your Exercises to Failure

Whether you are on your lightest set or your heaviest set, you should always try to take each exercise to temporary muscular failure - that is, your final rep should be the final one you are able to perform with strict form. Remember, the final few reps leading up to failure are half the workout. That is when you are pushing your muscles to their limits and forcing growth - keep that in mind and hopefully you'll be motivated to take it to failure. Yes, it's difficult, and very intense, but if you can do it safely over time, your progress will be a great reward. Remember to be safe, and you'll be pleased with the results.

Tip 6 - Don't Overtrain

Overtraining is a big problem with some beginner bodybuilders. Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, and everybody wants to be a bodybuilder YESTERDAY. People grow impatient waiting to see progress tomorrow or the next day or week or month or year. People want fast results, so the result of this will be to train heavily more often. Unfortunately, overtraining is a concern. Always be sure to give your muscles a sufficient amount of rest. If you train a muscle when it is sore, you are just going to break down muscle fibers which are already broken down and in the process of rebuilding. Not good. Also, don't train when you are sick - give your body and your immune system the rest it needs. If you don't, you might be sick for longer, and this will further stall your progres. Patience. It's a virtue, but keep it in mind - again, your progress will be the reward if you do.

Tip 7 - Remember Nutrition

Some say overtraining is the leading cause of stalled progress for bodybuilders. I believe the biggest problem is poor nutrition. I try to stress as often as possible the importance of nutrition. And you know something? It's really not so difficult for the beginner. Even for the advanced trainee, it's not a complicated science. You should focus on eating six meals a day. Eat one gram of protein per pound of body weight and drink about one gallon (3.8 litres) of water per day. Simple enough? Sure, this doesn't cover the exact breakdown or give you a sample diet, but the basics are there - a high protein, low fat, moderate carbohydrate diet is the way to go. Eat smaller meals and be consistent. Plan your meals and your food budget beforehand and make nutrition a top priority. Now get to the kitchen - chow down.

Tip 8 - Use a Training Log

You would be surprised how much better you can be at anything if you stay organized. Rather than go into a bodybuilding program with the attitude of "lift as much as possible" and "eat as much as possible", try not to overwhelm yourself. Set specific goals, in the kitchen and in the weight room. Keep a weight training log with you and write down how much you are lifting each day. Compare your new progress with your old progress from one week to the next. A good goal is to try to gain 5% in strength each month - of course this isn't possible for everyone and you might hit a plateau, but it's a good guideline. Just try your best and keep track of it - no doubt about it, you'll get stronger if you keep everything consisten. You can then reflect on your past lifts and the progress you made. This is exactly the kind of motivation that will keep you going.

Tip 9 - Apply a Training Intensity Principle

Just in case you do reach that plateau, there are a lot of ways you can get out of it - specifically you can apply a training intensity principle. Check them out. These are some sure fired ways to shock your muscles into new growth.

Tip 10 - Believe in Yourself

All you can ever be is you. Period. You can't be Arnold Schwarzenegger and somebody else can never be you. You are YOU. Be proud of that and make it a goal to do your personal best. Don't try to emulate somebody else or set unrealistic goals, because you may just be setting yourself up for failure. Be yourself and be happy with that.

Some Sample Routines

Sample Routine #1
Exercise Sets Reps
Standing Barbell Curls 2 12,10,8
Seated Incline Curls 2 12,10,8
Preacher Curls 2 12,10,8


Sample Routine #2
Exercise Sets Reps
Seated Alternate Dumbbell Curls 3 12,10,8
Standing Barbell Curls 3 12,10,8


Remember - your biceps are a small muscle, so it doesn't take much for them to grow. Six sets is plenty - try it and see how you progress. If you don't see any progress, then you can decide to increase the number of sets or change a part of the program. Listen to your body - it won't lie. I generally recommend working out biceps once a week, but more is ok depending on how fast your body recovers. If you are taking a supplement such as glutamine, you might experience decreased recovery times and you might be able to train more than once a week. Again, listen to your body. Never train when your muscles are sore, and always try to get 72 hours of rest.

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