How to build your biceps

By Marwan / July 9, 2014

Biceps are one of the muscles that are coveted by the opposite sex.  I am sure all of you are familiar with the words “Guns for the Sun” and “Curls for the Girls”.  The ‘Guns’ Are Of A Man’s Most Prized Possessions.

Do you remember the teenage years when you used to carry dumbbells in the boot of the car to do curls before heading off to the beach just to give you a pump?

Thankfully those days are well over!!  There is nothing like filling out your tshirt with muscular arms.  What you need to remember is that the bicep is only one third of the arm.

I wanted to talk to you guys about some do’s and don’ts with regard to bicep training.

Before we do that here is some boring science stuff you need to know about the anatomy of the biceps.

bicep image

The word “bicep” means “double” in Latin.  The bicep muscle has 2 heads, the short head known as The Brachialis and the Long Head known as Bicep Brachii.

The function of the bicep is to flex the elbow and supinate the arm.

Let us start with some Don’ts for Bicep Training.

1)    Cheating – Curls are the easiest exercise to cheat on.  Any time you are using momentum as a balance you are not initiating with the target muscle.

(Do seated curls for dumbbells.)

You know by now that I am an advocate of creating tension on the target muscle.

Muscles will only grow if there is sufficient tension being placed on them causing trauma.  When you keep muscles under constant tension you will get optimum muscle stimulus and optimum growth.

2)    Dumbbells can only exert force in one direction –  This can be your best or worst enemy.  The same applies to the bar.  Look at the object in relation to where the muscle is and you will get an idea of where the tension is being created.

3)    More is not always better – Stop picking on the little guys man.  Your biceps are tiny in comparison to your lats or chest.  Focusing on increasing the weights on rows, pull ups and chin ups and I guarantee you that your biceps will come along.

They have fewer fibers, fewer motor neurons.   Doing too much can lead to over training the muscle and even reverse gains.

4)    Not using sufficient variety – The biceps might be a simple muscle, but you still need to use a different variety of exercises to tax all the muscle fibers from the different angles.

5)    Don’t wing it –  Keep elbows tucked in.





Here are some things that you should be doing…

1)    Contractions are the crucial component of a curl – Flex your bi’s against resistance.  Squeeze the muscle throughout the movement, both on the eccentric for extra tension and concentric parts of the lift.  .

2)    Biceps grow better with time under tension rather than using plain heavy weights – Perform the rep slowly, 3 seconds down and 1 second up.   Remember 21’s?

3)    Use a variety of rep ranges to engage all the muscle fibers

4)    Train your muscles through its entire range of motion –  Squeeze at the top and hold for a 2 second count.  Not training through the entire range of motion means missing out on growth of potential muscle fibers.

5)    Overload on all parts of the strength curve –using bands and chains can maximise this.

6)    Create an image of how you want your biceps to look like whilst performing the rep, play tricks on your mind – Arnie used to think of his guns as mountains.

7)    There is no such thing as training your lower biceps – Preacher curls work the lower strength curve but they do not work the lower biceps nor does any other exercise! Muscles work on an “all or nothing” principle.  That means that they all contract or not at all!! You cannot “isolate” one part of the muscle over any other, but you can SHIFT THE EMPHASIS onto the target muscle.

8)    Your girlfriend was right, position matters!!  Switch up the grip every workout.  Narrow grip will work the long head more whilst the narrow grip will work the short head more.  Make sure your shoulders are neutral, not internally rotated.

9)    You are only as strong as your weakest link – Train your forearms for more curl poundage.  Use Fat Gripz.

10)  When setting up for arm exercises choose seated over standing.  Electromyography studies have shown that seated bicep exercises produce greater involvement of the elbow flexor.  Performing the exercise seated will also put a greater involvement of the biceps, the body will no longer have to worry about stabilising you whilst standing.

11)  Lean forward from your torso to maximise the involvement of the bicep brachii.

12) Perform a thorough warm up before, working your ENTIRE BODY.  It’s not just your biceps that will be doing the work, the little guys (stabilizers) will also be working if they’re not warmed up they won’t do their job efficiently.

13) Cables are awesome for variety and constant tension – Dumbbells and barbells can only exert force in once direction, down.  This is your best and worst enemy.  Cables on the other hand produce tension throughout the entire range of motion

A few things to note…

During the initial part of the lift the majority of the work is done by the brachioradialis (the forearm muscle).

The shape of your bicep is dictated by your genetics.  It is all about the insertion of the tendon from the elbow.

You cannot “grow” the muscle longer as this is what I call genetics.  It is what you are born with.  You can “grow” the muscle bigger.

I hope you guys enjoyed this article, as ever any comments leave them below.

Train hard and expect success.




About the author


Hi, my name is Marwan and I set up this site to help skinny guys and girls just like you to end their frustrations and have the body of their dreams. I believe there are no limitations to what mankind can achieve.