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The Best Science Based Bicep Workout for Maximum Muscle Growth

Build bigger and stronger biceps with the perfect arms workout.

This science based bicep workout has been designed by Jeremy Ethier and will help you to add mass, definition and strength to your arms.

Firstly, it is important to understand the anatomy of the biceps.

Anatomy of the Biceps

The biceps, short for biceps brachii, is a muscle group located in the upper arm. It is composed of two distinct muscle heads with different attachment points and functions:

Source: Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

Long Head of the Biceps: The long head is the outer head of the biceps, and it originates from the supraglenoid tubercle of the scapula, which is a bony prominence on the upper part of the scapula (shoulder blade). The long head runs down the arm and inserts at the top of the radius bone near the elbow joint.

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Short Head of the Biceps: The short head is the inner head of the biceps, and it originates from the coracoid process of the scapula, which is a bony projection on the front of the scapula. The short head runs alongside the long head and also inserts at the top of the radius bone near the elbow joint.

The primary function of the biceps brachii is elbow flexion, meaning it contracts to bend the elbow joint. Additionally, the biceps also play a role in supination of the forearm, which is the motion that turns the palm upward. When both heads contract simultaneously, the biceps can contribute to lifting and carrying objects, as well as a variety of pulling movements.

The biceps brachii is a relatively small muscle group but is often a focal point for individuals looking to develop their arm muscles for aesthetic or functional purposes. To target and strengthen the biceps, exercises like curls, chin-ups, and other pulling movements are commonly used.

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It’s also important to remember that while bicep development is important, balanced upper body development should include attention to other muscle groups, such as the triceps, shoulders, and back, to maintain overall strength and muscle symmetry.

The Best Bicep Workout

These exercises are designed to stimulate the long head, short head and brachialis muscles in different ways, presenting you with a full bicep workout.

Chin Ups

  • Compound movement
  • Heavy weight can be added
  • Stimulate type 2 fibres

Incline Dumbbell Curl

  • Emphasises the long head muscles of the biceps.
  • However, both heads are worked
  • Shoulder is in hyperextended position, which stretches the biceps whilst they lift. This is great for muscle activation
Biceps-and-AthletesSource: Stevie D Photography

Concentration Curl

  • More emphasis on the short head of the biceps
  • Turn wrist out to maximise activation
  • Lowers the activation of the front (anterior) delt

Reverse EZ Bar Curl

  • Works on brachialis

Reps and Sets

Perform 3 sets of each exercise. Go heavy for 6 – 8 reps per set.

Perform them in the following order.

  1. Chin Ups
  2. Incline Dumbbell Curl
  3. Dumbbell Concentration Curl
  4. Reverse EZ Bar Curl

Video

Check out the video where Jeremy Ethier breaks everything down in greater depth.

How Do Chin Ups Build Bigger Biceps?

Chin-ups are a fantastic exercise for building bigger biceps because they target the biceps brachii muscle, which is the primary muscle responsible for flexing the elbow. Here’s how chin-ups help in bicep development:

Bicep Activation: During a chin-up, your palms are facing you (underhand grip), and you pull your body upward by flexing your elbows. This motion directly engages the biceps, which is different from pull-ups, where the palms face away from you.

Isolation: Chin-ups isolate the biceps to a significant extent, as they involve less assistance from other muscle groups. This focused effort on the biceps helps to stimulate muscle growth.

Overload: Chin-ups are a compound exercise, meaning they involve multiple muscle groups working together. The biceps are recruited to handle a significant portion of the load when you pull your body weight. This overload can lead to muscle hypertrophy (growth) over time.

Biceps-and-Dan-BaileySource: Photos Courtesy of CrossFit Inc

Variations: You can vary the width of your grip on the pull-up bar. A closer grip targets the biceps more directly, while a wider grip engages the back muscles more. A medium grip offers a balance between the two. By adjusting your grip, you can manipulate the level of bicep engagement.

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Time under Tension: Performing chin-ups with controlled, slow movements can increase the time under tension for your biceps. This is a key factor in muscle growth. Slow and controlled chin-ups, with a focus on the eccentric (lowering) phase, can maximize bicep activation.

Progressive Overload: As you get stronger, you can increase the difficulty of chin-ups by adding weight using a weight belt or a weighted vest. This additional resistance challenges the biceps further, promoting muscle growth.

To optimize bicep development with chin-ups, ensure proper form, perform them with a full range of motion, and incorporate them into a well-rounded workout routine that includes other exercises for comprehensive upper body development. It’s important to remember that a balanced workout regimen, including compound and isolation exercises, along with adequate nutrition and recovery, is crucial for building bigger biceps and overall muscle growth.

What are the Benefits of the Incline Dumbbell Curl?

The incline dumbbell curl is an effective resistance exercise that primarily targets the biceps brachii, the muscle responsible for flexing the elbow joint. It involves performing bicep curls on an incline bench, which offers several benefits:

Targeted Bicep Engagement: Incline dumbbell curls isolate the biceps, allowing for concentrated targeting of this muscle group. This exercise places less emphasis on the shoulders and back, which can be more active in standing or other curl variations.

Variation and Muscle Confusion: Adding variation to your workout routine is important for muscle development. Incline dumbbell curls provide a different angle and movement compared to standard curls, which can stimulate muscle growth through muscle confusion.

Strength and Muscle Development: Like other bicep exercises, incline dumbbell curls help in building strength and increasing muscle size (hypertrophy) in the biceps.

Full Range of Motion: This exercise allows for a full range of motion for the biceps, which can be particularly beneficial for developing the entire bicep muscle, including both the short head and long head.

Stability and Control: The incline bench provides a stable support for your upper body. This stability can help you maintain good form, reduce cheating or swinging, and isolate the biceps effectively.

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Prevention of Elbow Strain: Incline dumbbell curls can reduce strain on the elbow joint compared to certain barbell curl variations. The supine grip and the ability to adjust wrist positioning can be gentler on the elbows.

Muscle Balance: Inclusion of incline dumbbell curls in your routine can help maintain a balanced, well-developed upper arm appearance by targeting the biceps effectively.

Variability: By adjusting the angle of the bench (increasing or decreasing the incline) and using different dumbbell weights, you can tailor the exercise to your needs and progressively increase the challenge as you become stronger.

Aesthetic Benefits: Well-developed biceps can enhance the aesthetics of your arms, which can be particularly appealing for those interested in bodybuilding or improving their physique.

To maximize the benefits of incline dumbbell curls, it’s important to use proper form, maintain a controlled tempo, and choose an appropriate weight that challenges you without sacrificing your form. Additionally, incorporating a variety of bicep exercises in your workout routine can lead to well-rounded bicep development.

Why is the Dumbbell Concentration Curl an Effective Exercise?

The dumbbell concentration curl is an effective exercise for targeting and developing the biceps, and it offers several advantages that contribute to its effectiveness:

  • Isolation: The concentration curl is an isolation exercise, which means it primarily targets a single muscle group – the biceps brachii. This isolation allows you to focus specifically on the biceps without significant involvement of other muscle groups, such as the back or shoulders.
  • Full Range of Motion: The exercise allows for a full range of motion for the biceps. This can lead to better muscle engagement and development by ensuring both the short head and long head of the biceps are worked throughout the entire movement.
  • Strong Mind-Muscle Connection: The nature of the concentration curl, where you support your arm against your thigh or a bench, encourages a strong mind-muscle connection. You can really feel the biceps working during the exercise, which can help with muscle growth and development.
  • Reduced Cheating: When properly executed, the concentration curl minimizes the potential for cheating or using momentum to lift the weight. This helps ensure that the biceps are doing the majority of the work, promoting better muscle engagement and growth.
  • Control and Form: The exercise forces you to maintain control and proper form, as any deviation can cause discomfort or inefficiency. This emphasis on good form helps prevent injury and ensures that you’re working the biceps effectively.
  • Adjustable Resistance: You can easily adjust the weight for the concentration curl, making it suitable for a wide range of fitness levels. This allows for progressive overload, which is essential for muscle growth. As you get stronger, you can increase the weight you use.
  • Convenience: The concentration curl can be done with minimal equipment – just a dumbbell and a bench or sturdy surface to rest your arm on. This makes it a convenient exercise for home or gym workouts.
  • Time Efficiency: The exercise doesn’t require much time to perform, making it a quick addition to your workout routine if you’re looking for an efficient way to target your biceps.
  • Aesthetic Benefits: Well-developed biceps are a common goal for those interested in improving the appearance of their arms. The concentration curl can help you achieve this goal by specifically targeting the biceps.

To maximize the benefits of the dumbbell concentration curl, ensure you use proper form, focus on the mind-muscle connection, and choose a weight that allows you to perform the exercise with good control.

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Incorporating this exercise into a well-rounded arm training routine can lead to more balanced and aesthetically pleasing arm development.

What is the Reverse Grip EZ Bar Curl?

The Reverse Grip EZ Bar Curl is a strength training exercise that primarily targets the biceps brachii, similar to regular EZ bar curls. The key difference is the hand grip and the way the exercise targets different parts of the biceps and forearms.

Here’s how to perform it:

Equipment: You’ll need an EZ curl bar, which is a barbell with a zigzag or wavy shape that allows for multiple grip options. You can typically find this bar at most gyms.

Set Up: Start by loading the desired weight onto the EZ curl bar. Make sure the weight is evenly distributed on both sides.

Grip: Unlike the regular EZ bar curl, where you use a supine (palms-up) grip, the reverse grip EZ bar curl involves using a pronated (palms-down) grip. Stand in front of the bar, shoulder-width apart or slightly narrower, and grasp the bar with both hands palms facing down. Your grip should be closer than shoulder-width apart, and your palms should be facing your thighs.

Stance: Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your back straight and maintain a slight bend in your knees.

Execution:

a. Begin with your arms fully extended, letting the bar hang in front of your thighs.

b. Slowly curl the bar upward by flexing your elbows. As you lift the bar, keep your upper arms stationary at your sides. Focus on using your biceps to perform the curling motion.

c. Continue to curl the bar until it’s close to your chest or just below your chin.

Contraction: At the top of the movement, squeeze your biceps for a moment to maximize the contraction.

Lowering: Slowly lower the bar back to the starting position, fully extending your arms.

Repetitions: Perform the desired number of repetitions. The recommended rep range for muscle growth is typically between 8 to 12 reps, but this can vary depending on your goals and fitness level.

Sets: Complete your sets, typically ranging from 3 to 4 sets, with a rest period of 60-90 seconds between sets.

The reverse grip EZ bar curl is an effective exercise for targeting the brachialis, a muscle beneath the biceps, as well as the outer portion of the biceps. It also engages the brachioradialis muscle in the forearms.

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This exercise is commonly used by individuals looking to develop a well-rounded and aesthetically pleasing arm appearance. Like any strength training exercise, it’s important to use proper form, gradually increase weight as you progress, and include it in a well-rounded workout routine for optimal results.

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