A question that I have heard a lot over the years is “why won’t my biceps grow?” Most recently, a friend of mine asked me this question and added that his nutrition is fine because he is growing muscle everywhere else. He has also increased his weight, but for some reason, his biceps still are not growing. I took a step back and thought about the possible solutions to this problem. Ruling out the nutritional aspect of his fitness regimen, there were only two other reasons that I could think of for his bicep problem without actually seeing him work out. After hearing this question a bunch of times, I realized that it was time for a post on non-responsive biceps.
My number one rule for bicep training is to lift with good form. This piece of advice goes for every exercise that you perform and more strongly affects your bicep workouts. The most important bicep exercise out there is the curl, whether it is a barbell curl, EZ-curl bar bicep curl, or the classic dumbbell curl. While some will argue dumbbell curls are useless, I am definitely not of that thinking. Many will insist that mass can only be added by barbell curls, but that is just crazy talk.
A proper curl, be it barbell or dumbbell, uses a full range of motion without swaying your arms. When you sway your arms to bring the weight up, you start to use other muscles to assist in the lifting of the weight, which is the opposite of what you want. While compound exercises are great for exercises like the bench press or bent over row (which work the biceps as well), you want to specifically target the biceps when you do a bicep curl. By full range of motion, you want to start with the weight down and your arms straight with your elbows in front of your thighs. As you bend you arms to lift the weight, your elbows should remain stationary during this lift. This now takes us straight into the second reason that your biceps will not grow.
Too Much Weight
The human ego can be a fragile thing that we refuse to let down. We want to think that we can do barbell curls with 150 pounds without breaking a sweat, but the fact of the matter is that, when we use too much weight during a bicep curl, we are affecting our number one point – using proper form. With too much weight comes very sloppy bicep curls. We use secondary muscles to help lift the weight. Our bicep exercises need to target the biceps first and foremost. If we are using too much weight, we will use bad form. You can do a YouTube search for gym fails and see many people using far too much weight.
If you are not feeling the burn in your biceps after your sets of bicep curls, then you are doing something wrong. Your biceps should burn like it is nobody’s business after each and every set. If you finish the set without a bicep burn, then it was not a proper set. If you finish a set of bicep curls with a sore back or pain in the forearms, then we failed. The biceps are such easy muscles to stress, which also make them a very easy muscle to grow.
During your next round of bicep exercises, think about these points and watch those guns get a lift.
Here is my bicep workout that I am currently doing once per week. On this day, I work biceps, forearms, grip, and abs.
|Exercise||# Sets||# Reps (to failure)|
|Barbell Drag Curl||3||10|
|Close Grip Preacher Curl||3||10|
|Dumbbell Concentration Curl||3||10|