Getting The Best of Your Biceps


Written by Andy Chasse’ in Exercise
Viewed by 44 readers since 06-11-2009

The biceps may be considered by some to be a rather complicated muscle group, but don’t worry, it’s not that bad! This group is made up of the biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis. Don’t be scared of the big bad scientific names. They aren’t important right now. Just understand that each of those muscles contributes to movement of the front side of the upper arm. The back side is overseen by the triceps brachii, but that’s another story entirely.

There is plenty of controversy over which particular biceps workout is the best for growth, strength, and overall health. It’s just not worth the fight, so this piece won’t be taking that route. Instead, let’s look at a series of biceps routines, as well as their pros and cons.

Here’s the criteria – a solid Biceps workout should:

  • Contain balance
  • Not overwhelm

Pretty simple, right? Moving on…

The Typical High School Workout

Biceps Curls, 4 sets of 15 Hammer Curls, 4 sets of 15 Concentration Curls, 3 sets of 20

Wrist Curls, 2 sets of 50

Stopping right there…What’s wrong with this? First off – it’s just too much work. Point #2 said not to overwhelm. Too much work simply isn’t beneficial. In exercise, less is usually more. The muscles can only take so much of a beating before the benefits shut down. This is a prime example of how not to structure your workout.

The Growth-Based Balanced Route

Biceps Curls, 3 sets of 12 Chin-ups, 3 sets of 12 Row Variation, 3 sets of 12

Concentration curls, 3 sets of 12

This is balanced, with a focus on growth through the high rep range. Higher reps have consistently shown a greater increase in muscle growth over time. This particular selection contains a “row variation” which is simply your choice of rowing movement. Believe it or not, rowing actually involves the biceps a great deal. Whether dumbbell rows, barbell rows, or machine rows, they will do your biceps some good. In addition, we see chin-ups in the list. Chin-ups are actually a vertical row variation and put a great deal of stress on the muscles of the upper arm.

The Strength-Based Balanced Route

Hammer Curls, 2 sets of 15 Pull-ups, 3 sets of 8

Row Variation, 3 sets of 8

Here’s a set for the athletes out there. The lower rep range has consistently shown a greater increase in strength over time. Similar to the growth-based routine, rows are again included. Pull-ups are used in this instance simply because they are generally a more difficult exercise. This difficulty causes the recruitment of more muscles throughout the body than chin-ups. This recruitment is exactly what is desired in strength training. The addition of hammer curls serves as a safety exercise for the elbow.

The primary job of the Biceps is to flex the arm at the elbow joint. Over time, this stress can spark pain around the elbow. Hammer curls are implemented to combat this onset of pain, as they involved the brachioradialis, a biceps muscle just below the elbow that is extremely important in the maintenance of elbow health. And once again, the less is more issue is seen. One exercise is eliminated because as the reps decrease, the difficulty and stress increase. This compensation is simply a safety measure.

These three sets of biceps routines shed light on the acceptable way to structure a biceps workout, and ways to avoid. Just remember that balance is key – growth, strength, and elbow health are all equally important.


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