Isolation Exercises to Improve Size And Strength
These exercises will help you to grow stronger and more muscular arms. This will help with the workouts above as well.
If you haven’t been training biceps directly, then no direct biceps work is needed to keep your gains, so long as you’re doing plenty of pulling work. But if you’re used to training biceps directly, 4-6 direct sets per week are recommended to keep the size on.
Most intermediate-advanced lifters need at least 8 sets of direct biceps work per week to make gains. However, you might be able to gain bicep size on even lower set numbers if your program has lots of pulling work for the back.
Most people respond best to between 14 and 20 weekly sets on average.
While the biceps are involved in shoulder flexion (and can thus get pretty sore from chest flys, for example), and can be taxed significantly through close grip pulling during back training, their direct work is based on a large variety of curls of different kinds.
As a rough rule, arms are split in 2/3 triceps and 1/3 biceps. Both need to be trained to achieve balanced and strong arms that are effective for performance. Check these 7 exercises out:
Arm Workouts – Overhead Cable Curl
Two arm overhead cable curls are an excellent isolation exercise for adding definition to your biceps. Cables have the advantage of providing constant tension during the movement and they provide resistance to help build strength in the upper arms. This exercise targets the biceps brachii (2 heads of the biceps), brachialis (middle of the arm in between the biceps and triceps) and the brachioradialis muscles (forearms).
This is a great exercise to get a full stretch in the biceps on the “negative” which is the eccentric portion of the movement when the muscle elongates or lengthens.
- Fix up one cable station on either side of your shoulders, at a height slightly higher than your shoulders. Attach a stirrup type handle to each pulley.
- Select a weight that is comfortable to you, and make sure you attach the same weight on both sides of the machine.
- With your feet at a distance of shoulder’s width apart, stand between the two machines.
- Stretch your arms to their respective sides and gab the handles with an underhand grip of your hands.
- Keep your arms and shoulders in a straight line.
- Curl your arms towards your shoulders by flexing your biceps. Exhale as you do so.
- Curl until your forearms touch your biceps. Hold there for a count of one.
Incline Bicep Curl
Concentration curls prevent you from cheating and force you to perform each rep with perfect form. Although that maximizes the focus on the biceps — especially the long head — it can limit the amount of weight you can curl. So leave concentration curls for later in the workout — after you’ve gone hard and heavy with barbell and other dumbbell curls.
- Take a lighter weight as you would use for standing curls.
- Sit back on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand held at arms length. Keep your elbows close to your torso and rotate the palms of your hands until they are facing forward.
- This will be your starting position.
- While holding the upper arm stationary, curl the weights forward while contracting the biceps as you breathe out.
- Only the forearms should move.
- Continue the movement until your biceps are fully contracted and the dumbbells are at shoulder level.
- Hold the contracted position for a second.
- Hinge forward and position your elbow near the base of your knee.
- Place your free hand on the other knee to stabilize yourself.
- Using a supinated (palms facing up) grip, take a deep breath and curl the dumbbell towards your shoulder.
- Once the bicep is fully shortened, slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
Arm Workouts – Close Grip Barbell Bench Press
- Bring the barbell to your lower-pec/upper-ab region while keeping your elbows in tight to the torso.
- Hit the close-grip bench press early in your triceps routine when your muscles are freshest.
- Doing so will allow your triceps to endure as much stress as possible, safely.
- If you don’t have a spotter, try this in a Smith machine or power rack.
- Using a close grip, lift the EZ bar and hold it with your elbows in as you lie on the bench. Your arms should be perpendicular to the floor.
- Don’t hold your hands too close, this will only affect your wrists.
- If your spread thumbs touch it will be your starting position. Keeping the upper arms stationary, lower the bar by allowing the elbows to flex.
- Pause once the bar is directly above the forehead.
- Lift the bar back to the starting position by extending the elbow.
- Grab the bars and jump up.
- Balance yourself with locked elbows.
Lower your body by bending your arms.
- Lean your torso slightly forward.
- Go down until your shoulders are below your elbows at the bottom.
- Lift your body back up to the starting position by straightening your arms.
- Balance yourself with your shoulders over your hands. Lock your elbows.
Arm Workout – Kick Back
- Start with your palms facing your torso.
- Keep your back straight with a slight bend in the knees and bend forward at the waist. Your torso should be almost parallel to the floor.
- Your upper arms should be close to your torso and parallel to the floor.
- Your forearms should be pointed towards the floor as you hold the weights. There should be a 90-degree angle formed between your forearm and upper arm.
- This is your starting position.
- Now, while keeping your upper arms stationary use your triceps to lift the weights until the arm is fully extended.
- Focus on moving the forearm and let the elbow tight to your Body.
- Arm-Workouts: Photos Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.