Big Biceps Biceps Blueprint

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Admit — you want bigger, more jacked arms. Pipe cleaners be damned. 

You’re not alone. Poll hundreds of dudes and you’re unlikely to find anyone satisfied with their biceps development. Dudes do multiple workouts delegated just for their biceps, chasing the famous predator handshake, yet they never get close.

What’s the problem?

biceps blueprint
http://www.flickr.com/photos/wscullin/3770015203/

It’s simple, too much focus on isolation exercises. Those 5 exercises done for 3 sets 12 to pump your bi’s aren’t getting it done. Really, they’re probably the last thing you need.

Rather than give a complicated run-around I’ma provide a Blueprint to get you sleeve-splitting biceps.

Get Stronger

You must focus on getting stronger at compound exercises. When I say compound movements, I mean exercises that involve multiple joints, allow you to use the most external load, and give you the most bang for your buck. Squats, deadlifts, cleans, presses, rows, and pull-ups should be the focus.

Why?

Building strength is the biggest step towards building muscle, and the body likes to grow in proportion.  Adding weight to the bar stimulates the body to grow, creating a stimulus and foundation for optimal development… like errrg… for the biceps.

In addition to your squats, deadlifts, and presses heavy pulling exercises like the chin-up and supinated bent-over row will emphasize your biceps. Supinating your grip – having your palms facing up places greater muscle building tension on those pythons.

High Frequency

When it comes to skill acquisition high frequency is best.

Bach Performance Big Biceps
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For example, If you’re trying to learn a new language what works best:
Practicing one day per week for two hours, or 30 minutes six-days per week? 

I’d assume you’d say  six-days per week, rather than one.

Building your body is no-different. 

Pick a few exercises per day to hammer the biceps, rather than a 1-day blitzkrieg. The consistent stimulus will challenge the biceps to adapt and grow, while the volume will be low enough each day for optimal recovery.

Isolation and Varying Reps

Isolation exercises are needed for maximal biceps growth. When programmed in concert with heavy, compound lower body and upper body work isolation exercises will add extra size to the arms.

But hold the phone. We need cover some basics.

There are two primary ways to categorize muscle fibers in the body–fast twitch, and slow twitch. Fast twitch muscle fibers are primarily used during explosive, requiring high intensity exercises. These muscle fibers rely primarily on the phospho-creatine system for muscle contractions.

Slow twitch muscle fibers prosper in longer-duration, lower intensity exercises.  These muscle fibers rely on glycolytic and oxidative energy systems

 to maintain muscular contractions.

Going any deeper into these systems is outside the scope of this article, so here’s the cliff-notes version.

Fast Twitch Muscle Fibers= High intensity strength and explosive exercises, generally 8 or fewer reps with a significant load. Think compound strength exercises. 

Slow Twitch Muscle Fibers= low-moderate intensity exercises lasting a longer duration under moderate load. Think timed sets, chasing the pump, and isolation exercises like curls. 

To maximize muscle growth all muscle fibers must be attacked. That means heavy weight with low reps, moderate weight with moderate reps, and low weight with high reps are part of the game plan.

Multiple sets between 2-8 reps performed as explosively as possible will stimulate fast-twitch muscle fibers. Focus on proper form and maximal weight *without form breaking down. Rest should be sufficient for heavy weight, at least 90 seconds.

*Note:This emphasis on perfect form is termed technical failure.

Slow twitch muscle fibers don’t respond as well to high intensity exercises, but thrive in higher-rep endurance exercises. To fatigue slow-twitch fibers higher reps that require oxygen as an energy source are required.This means longer duration sets that provide the “burning” sensation in your muscles fit the bill.

Isolation exercises work best for pumping the biceps specifically, the slow-twitch fibers. Sets between 10-20 reps with incomplete rest are best. My favorite exercises are fat-grip barbell curls, hammer curls, incline dumbbell curls, zottoman curls, and cable curls.

Yes,  you will still be chasing the pump. I’ll let Arnold Schwarzenegger explain.

 

Booyah!

By hitting all rep ranges more muscle fibers are stimulated, creating maximal muscle growth.

 

The Workout

Woah. So how do we put all these concepts together?

Don’t spend the entire winter on getting huge arms. You need to get strong first, remember?

Choose a few 4-6 week periods throughout the next few “blast” the biceps and make them grow. This will “shock” the muscles and then allow a time period for recovery and growth.

Here’s a sample 3-day total body workout program to build big, sleeve splittin’ biceps. 

Day 1:


1a.Barbell Deadlift 5×3-5

1b.Plank x30-60 seconds

2.Chin Up 5×4-8 reps (Low/Moderate Reps, high load)

3a.Dumbbell Bench Press 3×10-12

3b.Dumbbell Walking lunge 3×10-12

4.Dumbbell Biceps Curl 4×10-15 (moderate/High Reps, moderate load)

5. Move, Do Conditioning for the love of God

Day 2:

1a.Barbell Bench Press 5×5

1b.Glute Bridge x30-60 seconds

2.Barbell Supinated Bent Over Row 5×4-8 reps (Low/Moderate Reps, high load)

3a.Barbell Biceps Curl 3×10-12

3b.Dumbbell Step Up 3×8-12

4. Dumbbell Hammer Curl Curl 4×10-15

5. Move, Do Conditioning for the love of God

Day 3:

1a.Barbell Front Squat 5×5

1b.Side Plank x30-60 seconds

2.Dumbbell 1-Arm Row 5×8-12 reps  (moderate, moderate-high load)

3a.Push Up 3xMaximum

3b.Lateral lunge 3×10-12

4a.Incline Dumbbell Curl4x10-15 (moderate/High Reps, moderate load)

4b. ab wheel rollouts 4×8-12

5. Move, Do Conditioning for the love of God

 

Big Biceps
http://shotcontext.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-flexshake.html

Wrap Up

Despite what the fitness-bullies say, proclaiming that you want to have big, veiny-triumphant arms isn’t silly, non-functional or immature. Those critics are just frustrated at their own lack of success stretching shirt sleeves.

Remember, just because jacked biceps is the goal doesn’t mean your programming should consist of 39 different curl variations.

Your biceps won’t grow if the rest of the body isn’t strong and stimulated to grow. Apply what you’ve learned in this blueprint and start stretching shirt-sleeves.

 

P.S. for your own highly individualized biceps building program contact me here.

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photo credit: Will Scullin via photopin cc

photo credit: CelebMuscle via photopin cc

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