Almost everyone in the gym is trying to get big biceps. Most people are actually overtraining them as they are a small muscle group that do not need to be hit with crazy volume.
It can be confusing how often and with what frequency they should be trained so I’ll break it down it for you.
How Often Should I Do Bicep Curls?
How long you’ve been training in the gym will be the main determination of how often you should be training your biceps. I’ll break it down for you, explain how to use correct form and the best bicep exercises to be doing for maximum growth.
Depends On Your Fitness Levels
If you’re just starting out in the gym, it’s better to start out slow so that you don’t over train your biceps and cause them to get too sore.
Body parts should be trained twice a week for maximum muscle growth. Strength training twice a week has been shown to stimulate more muscle growth than just working out once a week.
It’s also important to note that the biceps are a smaller muscle group and don’t need to be trained with crazy intensity or heavy weights.
For beginners, 2 to 3 bicep exercises per bicep workout is plenty. Do 4 sets of each with 8-12 reps. Don’t just aim for 10 reps and then stop. Stop once you cannot complete another rep with proper form.
As you get more advanced, consider increasing and throwing in a drop set or super set in for your 4th exercise of the set.
Consider hitting all heads of the bicep. Have one exercise that hits the entire bicep such as the standing barbell curl or zottman curl. Then have one that will hit your bicep brachii such as hammer curls. Make sure to also have one that will focus on the short head such as preacher curls.
More advanced lifters can do 4 exercises of 4-5 sets per bicep workout. They can also increase the intensity by increasing weight, decreasing rest times, and doing more reps than last time.
Note that your biceps are also somewhat trained when you do back. Barbell rows, pull ups, and dead lifts are all back exercises that also target and grow your biceps.
Use Correct Form
You cannot get big arms if you are swinging around dumbbells that are too heavy for you. Proper form and contractions are key for not only building the biceps, but preventing from wrist or elbow injury.
For a standing barbell row, grip the barbell just outside your hips and keep your elbows tight against your sides. Start lifting your hands up and contracting your biceps. Lift the bar up to your shoulders and squeeze for a second before slowly returning to the starting position.
Keep your chest up and back straight throughout the movement. Make sure to not swing your body back and forth. This will use momentum to swing the bar up, rather than your biceps.
Keep your shoulders pulled back as well to further place the stress on the bicep. If you start to slouch them forward, it will place stress on the front delts.
Make sure that your elbows don’t shoot up. Instead, they should slightly drift out in front of the body.
Think about curling up and out, as if you were lifting your pinky higher than your other fingers. This will help you further activate the biceps.
Choose a weight that allows you to use proper form and fail in the 8-12 rep range.
Benefits Of Bicep Curls
To start, having more muscle on your body leads to an increase in fat burning and helps fight against diseases. It will increase confidence and allow you to be stronger in everyday life.
The biceps are a very visible muscle. Big biceps can be seen through shirts and can really change someones appearance.
Although the biceps are the main target of curls, you are also building your forearms. Your back and shoulders also play a role as stabilizer muscles.
Everyone performs the action of flexing their arm at the elbow joint frequently throughout the day. Bicep curls allow all of these movements to feel easier. They also play in role in lifting heavy objects.
The biceps play a role in assisting the rotator cuff with shoulder stability. Healthy rotator cuffs prevent injury and pain and also allow full range of motion through the shoulders.
Strong biceps will also help with other big lifts such as dead lifts, pull ups, and barbell rows.
Best Types of Curls
Okay, so which curls should you be doing to see maximum growth?
The incline dumbbell curl is great for isolating the long head of the biceps.
It forces you to keep your arms hanging while you are seated so there is no way to use momentum. This results in only your biceps performing the movement.
Set a bench at about a 45 degree incline and sit with your back against the pad, with dumbbells in your hands, hanging straight down. Bending your elbows, curl the dumbbells up as close to your shoulder as possible. Slowly return the dumbbells back to the starting position.
You will feel a lot more bicep activation than standing curls. You will also notice that you cannot use as heavy of weight as it is only your biceps doing the curls.
The zottman curl is great for targeting your entire bicep and adding some forearm activation. If you’re in a pinch for time, these are a great option for targeting all heads of the bicep.
Stand up straight with light dumbbells in your arms and your palms facing forward. Contact your bicep as you curl up towards the shoulder. When you reach the top, turn your palms forward by twisting the dumbbells in towards your body. Then let your hands drop back down slowly. Your palms will now be facing backwards.
They key for these is to use light weight and really squeezing your biceps.
Spider curls are an awesome way to isolate the bicep.
Lean on an incline bench with your chest. on the pad and your head slightly above the pad. Yours arms will be hanging straight down.
Curl up towards your shoulder, squeezing the bicep and then returning slowly. Similar to incline curls, it’s very difficult to use momentum, forcing the biceps to do all the work.
The pump you feel from these will far outweigh any standing dumbbell or barbell curls.
When Is It Overtraining
If your biceps are always sore, it’s smart to listen to your body and cut back the arm training. The biceps only need to be trained 20-30 minutes per session for growth. Anything more is just adding unnecessary discomfort.
Your muscles need rest to grow and if they’re being overt trained, they cannot grow properly. Wait 48 hours after training biceps before training them again. This ensures that they are fully healed and ready to be broken down again.
Lots of people are overtraining their biceps in the gym. This is because everyone wants bigger arms. However, 2 sessions a week are all they need for growth. Anything more is just wasting your time that could be used to grow another body part.