A Bicep Workout for

Shirt Busting Arms!

Everyone is looking for the best bicep workout. Why? Well, it's simple.... We all want bigger arms!

What do you notice first about an impressive physique? It's likely that a bulging, shirt filling, upper arm is first on the list. For most guys learning how to build biceps is a top priority.

When you think of big arms you usually think of the biceps. The truth of the matter is that the biceps account for only about a third of arm size. The triceps make up the other 2/3d's but this is not our focus here.

Your biceps may not make up the majority of your arm, but they do make the biggest impression on most people. Think about it. What do you flex when someone asks to see your muscles? You flex your biceps! So let's get to the business of building those suckers.

Two Considerations in Building Biceps

The best bicep workout takes into account two important factors. They are the proper function of the biceps and the fact that they are a small muscle group with limited recovery ability.


First of all, the biceps function to raise the lower arm and for supination of the wrist. That is the twisting of the hand from a palms facing down to a palms facing up position.

This supination action means that the bicep is not fully contracted until the palms are facing you and rotated completely. When the bicep is fully contracted the pinky finger is pulled as far inward towards the bicep as possible.

Try this test and see for yourself. Raise your right arm to do a standard bicep pose. Now turn your wrist out so your right hand is facing away from your body. Put your left hand on the bicep muscle and feel it as you try to flex. As you flex, slowly twist your hand back towards your body. Notice how the bicep contracts more and more as the hand supinates or twists towards the body? Twist until your pinky finger is as far in as it will go. That will give you maximum contraction.

Because of this supination function, bicep workouts built around exercises with the palms facing inwards (easy curl bars, hammer curls) or down (reverse curls) are not directly working the biceps properly.

As you turn the palms in and away you are deactivating the biceps somewhat and the smaller brachialis muscle, which can't be deactivated, is then worked more. This also begins involving the muscles of the upper forearms.

Of course, for full arm development, you should build these smaller complementary muscles. However, this should not be the bulk of your arm work. If your goal is big arms, then work the biceps directly and correctly! Do most biceps exercises with the palms facing up.

Recovery Ability and Overlap

The biceps muscles are a small muscle group when compared to the legs and back for instance. They can't take as much direct work as those muscle groups. Also, consider the work your arms already get when doing any pulling motion back exercise.

Most back exercises involve the biceps and work them quite hard. This is the reason for much frustration in bicep development. If you are pushing the limits on back work while also doing multiple biceps exercises your arms will suffer and not thrive. You'll be doing twice the amount work for the smaller biceps than the larger back muscles. They just won't be able to keep up.

You must take these factors into account when planning a bicep workout. You want them to grow, not to lag behind form overwork. On some days you may need to skip any direct bicep exercises and just let your back work stimulate them.

OK, we now know how the biceps function and that we should be careful not to overdo it. So what are the best exercises for making them grow?

Direct Biceps Exercises

These should make up the majority of your bicep work

Standing Barbell Curls (straight bar)

Dumbbell Curls (palms up and rotating out)

Machine Curls (Palms up)

Preacher and Spider Bench Curls (Palms up)

Concentration Curls (Palms up and rotating out)

Indirect Biceps Exercises

These hit the brachialis muscle, which underlies the biceps, as well as the forearms

Standing Curls with an Easy Curl Bar

Dumbbell Hammer Curls

Reverse Curls

Machine or Preacher Bench Curls using a palms facing inward grip

For full arm development do approximately two direct bicep exercises to one indirect bicep exercise. This will ensure that the majority of the work is direct bicep stimulation. It also allows for developing the underlying brachialis and upper forearm muscles for an overall impressive look. After all, what good is filling out your sleeves only to have string bean forearms hanging down?

On to the bicep workouts...

Effective Bicep Workout Program

Week 1

Workout 1
Standing Curls (Straight Bar)
Concentration Curls
Reverse Barbell Curls (barbell)

Workout 2
Standard curls only. Machine, barbell, or dumbbell in a palms up fashion.

Week 2

Workout 1
Dumbbell Curls (palms up and rotating out)
Preacher or Spider Bench Curls (palms up)
Dumbbell Hammer Curls

Workout 2
One Arm Machine or Dumbbell Curls (Palms up)
Concentration Curls or Spider Bench Curls (Palms up)

Week 3

Workout 1
No direct bicep work. Give you biceps a chance to recover from heavy bicep work and the overlapping back workouts. You'll come back stronger in the next workout.

Workout 2
Preacher or Spider Bench Curls (palms up)
Dumbbell Curls (palms up and rotating out)
Dumbbell Hammer Curls

Week 4

Workout 1
Standing Barbell Curls (straight bar)
Concentration Curls (Palms up and rotating out)

Workout 2
Machine or Preacher Bench Curls (Palms up)
Reverse Machine or Preacher Bench Curls

Bicep Workout Tips

*If you prefer volume training perform three sets of each exercise and pyramid up in weight. Make the first set fairly easy, the second harder, and the third very hard to complete but stopping short of failure. Start with 8-10 reps each set. When you can perform 12 reps on all three sets, add 5-10lbs and start the process over.

*If you prefer HIT training, this is a one set to failure routine. Make sure your arms are warmed up properly and shoot for 8-12 properly performed reps to positive failure. When you can do 12 or more reps add 5-10lbs. Consider reducing the exercises down to 1 to 2 per workout since your intensity will be very high. Negatives, forced reps, and extra sets should not be needed and will most likely stall your progress.

*When performing Dumbbell Curls grab the dumbbell with the thumb side of your hand against the inside of the weight plate. This leaves space between your pinky finger and the other plate. An offset grip like this will add resistance against the supination action of the bicep increasing the effectiveness of the exercise.

*Make sure you are getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night and keep hydrated throughout the day. Hydration is especially important on workout days. Even slight dehydration can kill your strength and drive for training.

*When the workout calls for no bicep training take it seriously. This is a scheduled break that your biceps should need if you've been workout out hard. You will not shrink from lack of exercise, but you may grow from the extra rest!

Perform this bicep workout for two months and give it your all. You should see your arms improving quickly and steadily. Afterwards you may want to fine tune it to suit your particular needs or liking.

The biceps are one of the most impressive muscles of the body on the beach or in the right shirt. Everyone wants to have their arms admired. Hit this routine hard and be prepared for more flexed arm requests!

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