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Biceps Builder

As Arnold was becoming popular in the 1970s, a particular photo of him was becoming iconic. This was his biceps pose photo. It was spectacular, and millions of guys imagined themselves sporting something like that.

Even today, the biceps remain the primary measuring stick by which most guys (and some gals) evaluate physical prowess. While it's not an accurate stick, it's used nonetheless. And we all want impressive arms.

Unfortunately, most of us approach this quest by simply doing more reps with the same old routine. Maybe preacher curls or something similar, but whatever it is, the body has already adapted to it and more of the same won't matter.

An arm routine alone won't give you big guns (you need to raise your testosterone by doing a really hard workout, like front squats). But a good arm routine that is new for you will do much more for biceps growth than the same old routine warmed up like old leftovers.

With that in mind, we offer this biceps workout.

We're going to use the hammer curl. This develops the biceps brachialis, which lies mostly under the biceps brachaii. That huge vertical bulge in Arnold's biceps pose? He had that due to an enormously developed biceps brachialis.

Keep in mind that Arnold's biceps brachialis was enormously developed not because he moved a weight in a certain way, but because he worked hard during each repetition. He didn't spend all day with pansy weights, either. Every contraction counted, and in your workouts every contraction must count also.

For the first set in the following workout, use half the weight than you normally use for a regular curl (assuming you do curls), so that you learn how to do this well. Then, increase the weight. If you try to learn this with too much weight, you'll just cheat and not get what you came for.

Begin with a dumbbell in each hand. Turn your hands so your palms are facing each other, as if you were holding a hammer in each hand and are ready to strike nails. It's a hammer curl, remember?

You're going to work both arms at the same time.

  1. Raise the weights at a 2-second speed, all the way to your shoulders.
  2. Hold for one second and squeeze hard. Very hard.
  3. Lower the weight at a 4-second speed. Really. Take a full 4 seconds.
  4. Lower all the way down, not just sorta to the bottom.

Since you're learning this with half the normal weight for that first set, don't count the first set as part of your workout. Consider it a warm-up, albeit a very important one if you want subesequent sets to produce results.

On subsequent sets, you are going to work one arm at a time. In these sets, use enough weight and tension that you hit muscular failure at 6 reps. If you can do more than 6, add weight. If you can do no more than 4, remove weight.

You want to do a total of 24 to 30 reps across all of these sets. Take care you don't get into counting sets and reps at the expense of actually doing them properly. This is probably the number one reason people don't train effectively.

Note also that it's the negative (lowering) that produces the greatest adaptation response. If you need to cheat to raise the weight to complete a given set, fine. Just don't cheat on the lowering of it. You want to fight that weight as you lower it. This is what will trigger the muscle to adapt and grow.

When you hit 24 reps in whatever set you're in, finish that set. You might finish at 24, or it might take you more reps to finish it. Do however many reps it takes to finish.

Now you're ready for the pain that produces the most gain. You're going to do some one-rep sets, after resting for a full minute.

Your arms are pumped and your arms feel wasted. This is the perfect time to blast those arms to the next level.

Raise the weight on a 2-second speed, or a little faster if it's too hard to raise. But lower it over a full 20 seconds. That's right. Take a full third of a minute. This is excruciating, and odds are you won't be able to last 10 seconds on that first try. Just remove a little weight for the next time, if that's the case.

Rest two minutes. Then, repeat. Do four sets. Follow this with a workout recovery drink.

If you'll use this biceps workout for a full month, you will notice that your arms are larger. Of course, this assumes you are allowing for sufficient rest between biceps workouts. At a minimum, that's 3 calendar days.

  • If you follow the traditional bodybuilding pattern of working a different muscle group on each of your 5 or 6 training days, then you've got this rest period built in.
  • If you follow the 3 workout a week system, you need to make a choice here. Do you want convenience or results?

Now, you may be asking what makes this routine work. The intensity of those last four reps is obvious, as is the fact that you're working the part of the biceps most folks neglect to work.

But recall that we emphasized the negative portion, and we emphasized it greatly by the very long contraction cycle and the "cheat to raise it" part. This is called super negative training, and super negative recruits the Type 2 fibers. These constitute a fair amount of a given muscle (varies by individual), but few people ever challenge these fibers sufficiently to make them grow. This failure of a sufficient challenge holds back not only the Type 2 fibers but all fibers.

Now after this hammer curl workout, you can do your regular curls to also work the same fibers you usually work. Just don't do this same deep workout on the other biceps muscle during this session, or you'll overtrain.




Article Authorship

The articles on this site are authoritative, because:

  • Every contributor is an expert in his or her field.
  • The articles comply with the accepted principles of the bodybuilder literature.
  • The articles comply with the teachings of such luminaries as 8-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney.

 Where an article is not bylined with a specific author's name, it was written by Mark Lamendola (see photos on home page and elsewhere on this site). Mark is a 4th degree blackbelt, has not been sick since 1971, and has not missed a workout since 1977. Just an example of how Mark knows what he's talking about: In his early 50s, Mark demonstrated a biceps curl using half his body weight. That's a Jack LaLanne level stunt. Few people can even come close. If you want to know how to build a strong, beautiful body, read the articles here.

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