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Build Your Biceps
This brief guide is to expose people to bicep exercises that I have found tough and rewarding to perform in the gym. If you don't like to feel tired or challenged then these exercises might not be for you.
I highly recommend experimenting with different workouts and exercises to figure out what works best for you. Don't be a complete follower. If something doesn't feel right or is simply boring then don't do it!
If you're ready to try something new and build a better, more intense bicep workout then I encourage you to read on.
Exercises Covered in This Guide
- Concentrated Curl
- Hammer Curls
- 21's (Variant of Bicep Curl)
- Rope Partner Curls
- Drop Sets
Concentrated curls are strictly a bodybuilding exercise, unless your sport or job requires you to use a lot of biceps. This exercise targets specifically the biceps and does so one arm at a time.
People usually do this exercise when they're looking to gain noticeable muscle as opposed to functional strength (although you could argue that for most bicep exercises).
This is one of those exercises that you can try to use relatively heavy weight with, and the part I like most about this one is that you can clearly see improvements in muscle strength and size specific to the bicep by the increase in weight lifted.
Negative Bicep Exercises
You know what a negative is right? An example of a negative -- when performing a bicep curl, there are two motions: lifting the weight up & lowering the weight gradually. The negative motion is the second motion (lowering the weight gradually).
Negatives are important to incorporate into your workout because they work your muscles in ways your body is not used to. It's like only partially doing an exercise. Why waste all that potential?
You can do negatives with practically any exercise you do from curls to pull-ups, and while you don't have to do negatives for every single exercise you do, adding it to 2-3 can be highly beneficial for an intense bicep workout. Again, don't just read this and take my word for it, do some research and do it yourself...it'll be worth your time.
Pull-Ups for Biceps?
Pull-ups are a great overall upper body exercise to be performing on a regular basis. They work your back, core, biceps, lats, traps, forearms, and probably more that I'm forgetting about. They should be included indefinitely into any good upper body workout.
So why did I specifically mention pull-ups for this article? I have found that pull-ups, while great for the overall upper body, work your biceps in a way unique to other concentrated exercises.
Pull-ups are also fantastic when done with negatives added in. Sometimes I prefer to do 5-10 pull-ups between full sets, and sometimes I do full pull-up sets (ex. 4 x 15 pull-ups).
Of course pull-ups don't specifically target your biceps; however, typically people don't do an entire workout based around these muscles, so adding this more full-body exercise can help give your biceps less stress.
I big thing while your trying to come up with new exercises to do in the gym is to simply experiment. Write up some different workouts, try them out, make a note of what works and what doesn't, and keep improving the workout and your body.
A hammer curl is basically a bicep curl with a different grip that utilizes slightly different areas of the bicep during the workout. The only real difference between hammer curls and regular curls is that you cannot use an EZ bar or barbell for hammer curls, only dumbbells.
Again try out this exercise with negatives. Being forced to use dumbbells for an exercise or two can help build core stability and functionality for the exercise. Always curl with the dumbbell vertical as shown on the video to the right.
Note: If you're having difficulty keeping a straight back try sitting in a chair or an adjusted bench at a 90 degree angle.
Keeping a good technique for hammer curls can be challenging if you choose to lift with heavy weights. Always remember that good form is essential to working the intended muscles. Also feel free to research other hammer curl variations such as the side hammer curl.
21's Bicep Curl Variant
The video on the right is the easiest way to explain this exercise. The reason I chose this exercise to be with this guide is due to the uniqueness as well as the intensity it can bring to your workout.
It doesn't take much weight for this exercise to become difficult, and it allows you to target specific areas of your bicep at a time. While more of a bodybuilding exercise, 21's are great to feel that burn and challenge your endurance.
If you're used to low-rep, heavy weight lifts, then 21's can be a great way to put some variety in your workout. Take the time to do it right, and you'll challenge yourself much more.
Bicep Drop Sets
Probably one of the most difficult and best bicep exercise to do is the drop set. Drop sets can be done with a variety of exercises with a variety of muscle groups; however, for this case we will assume the drop set for the bicep curl.
The idea of a drop set is to totally work your muscles until they cannot lift even the most insignificant amount of weight.
You start at a relatively high weight (based on your own strength) and do the exercise until failure. After that you bump down the weight and start over. Repeat this until you are left with a very low weight (determined by you).
The purpose is to hit every single fiber of your bicep and fatigue them to failure, thus maximizing your workout. Due to the nature and purpose of this exercise I tend to do drop sets at the end of my workout. If you do it at the beginning then it might be the only thing you do.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Benjamin