Put More Size on Your Bis
by Jonathan Lawson
Although balance is key for both aesthetics and overall strength, most trainees are always on the hunt for big guns. There aren’t too many people who will look at themselves and want to sacrifice arm size just for the sake of aesthetics. If you’re one of the many who want big arms, there’s a good chance you’re probably doing more work than you need.
Granted, everyone has different recovery abilities, but just three sets of barbell curls can use up more than 70 percent of the glycogen stored in the biceps muscles. Keep in mind, that’s an exercise that doesn’t even offer continuous tension.
If you’ve followed my daily training blog, you’re likely already aware of the 3D POF approach I use which involves a midrange exercise, a stretch-position exercise and contracted-position exercise. For those of you who aren’t familiar with 3D POF, it just boils down to training a muscle group through its full range by utilizing the three specific positions of flexion (POF) separately so that you can attain maximum fiber recruitment with minimal sets, such as with the biceps exercises listed below.
With barbell curls, your arms are slightly in front of your torso to best isolate the midrange movement, often referred to as compound movements because of the muscle synergy involved in moving the weight. Incline curls maximize the stretch position by keeping your arms back and behind the torso. Lastly, concentration curls allow you to full hit the contracted position because your arms are out and up close to your head. By breaking out each of these specific positions into three exercises you can use just a few sets to build full and impressive biceps.
As an example, if you start with two sets of curls, you then move to incline curls for two sets and then finish the biceps off with a couple sets of concentration curls you will have depleted most of the muscle glycogen from your biceps and will have also hit most of the growth fibers in the muscles.
Of course, if you really want to supercharge your biceps routine in order to completely guarantee that you get the most out of your workout, you can also add in some end of set X Rep partials as described in my last blog post. One thing to remember, however, is that biceps get hit indirectly during back training as well, so even if you only do biceps-specific work once a week, you’re still technically working arms pretty hard twice per week if you train back and arms separately.
As a big selling point to this philosophy, one of Arnold’s favorite biceps routines was barbell or dumbbell curls, incline dumbbell curls and concentration curls. Sounds like maybe he was on to something, as he had some of THE best biceps around in the ’70s, and they’d still hold up just as well today at his peak… Pun intended.
About the Author
Jonathan Lawson has been working in the health and fitness industry for over 20 years; weight training for 21 years, competed in numerous bodybuilding competitions, worked for IRON MAN Magazine for 17 years, co-owns X-Rep.com where he has co-published over 15 e-books and writes a daily training blog. He has appeared on the covers of, and been featured in, dozens of international magazines, books and e-books.
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