Blasting Biceps: Heavy Metal!

Visualize the intricate bicep development of Robby Robinson or Albert “Peak“ Beckles. The awe inspiring mass and power of Arnold and Lee Haney, and the complete overall arm development of the man many consider possesses the most admired “Guns“ in the history of bodybuilding, the first Mr. Olympia, Larry Scott. In bodybuilding, nothing is as visually motivating as a well-developed set of arms stretching the limits of a short sleeve shirt.

Developing immense biceps, with peaks like mountains and veins as thick as garden hoses are a top priority for many beginning bodybuilders, as well as the most advanced competitor.

Back to the real world. Many of us, regardless of the number of dumbbell and concentration curls we do, will never achieve the arm development of the celebrated champions mentioned above. Genetic makeup plays a major role in determining how well your body responds to weight training. Genetics aside, there are no excuses for not working hard and giving it your best effort. Through dedication and developing a “winners attitude,“ you can develop a set of awesome arms.

So, let’s get down to business. The biceps are a small muscle group that comprises only 30% of your upper arm while the triceps comprise 70%. Since the biceps are so small they are very easy to over train and should not be worked more than twice per week. Also, in order to increase your arm size an inch, you will have to consider gaining between 10-15 pounds in your overall body weight. Since there are a variety of arm exercises to pick from, it’s important to focus on the basic exercises that will help you achieve the arm development you desire. We all have our favorite exercises for developing what we hope to be eye-popping biceps. The key to growth is finding exercises you enjoy, being constant with your training, and varying your routine.

Some of the best exercises are barbell curls, EZ-bar curls, alternate dumbbell curls, preacher curls (using an EZ-curl bar) and dumbbell concentration curls. Descriptions of some of these exercises can be found later in this article. One of the rules for success in achieving your goal of increased arm mass is “leave your ego at home.“ If you're trying to impress your workout partner by pushing heavy weight and you are using improper form than you run the risk of injuring yourself and should seriously reevaluate the reason you work out.
Let us now look at a more detailed description of several exercises that you can incorporate into your biceps training routine. Let's begin with the most basic mass builder, standing barbell curls. Use a shoulder width grip with knees slightly bent (bending the knees relieves pressure on the spinal column), and body erect. Slowly begin to curl the weight paying close attention to form. Lift the weight up in 2 seconds and lower the weight in 3-4 seconds. Research shows that the eccentric (lowering of the weight) component greatly enhances muscular growth. As you increase the weight also increase your rest period. Between each set, rest approximately 1-3 minutes, which allows for both the nervous system and muscular system to recover and prepare for the upcoming challenge. It’s important to remember if you don't fully recover, you will suppress the immune system and hinder your progress.
The second biceps exercise is the low pulley bicep curl: Stand in front of the low pulley with the pulley lining up with the arm and shoulder. Keep the elbows tucked into your sides throughout the movement and keep the wrist straight. Your goal is to perform 3-5 sets in strict form. Use the same timing in this exercise as the previous exercise, moving on the concentric portion of the exercise in a 2-second count and the eccentric 3-4 seconds. Let's move on to preacher curls, made famous by Larry “Great” Scott. The preacher curl is a great exercise for putting total stress and tension on the biceps. This exercise is also great for adding to the overall shape and peak of the biceps. Remember, put your total focus into this exercise. Squeeze out each rep and avoid using momentum (cheating) to move the weight. It's vital to stimulate as many muscle fibers as possible and completely exhaust the bi's. Use a 2-4 second count in raising the weight, holding the weight in a contracted position for another 2-4 seconds, and lowering the weight as slow as possible (2-4 seconds). Each intense rep can take 6 to 12 gut-wrenching seconds, however, once you've completed your sets, your confidence will continue to swell as you get closer to achieving your personal best.
The final exercise in this heavy metal biceps blasting routine is eccentric chins. With your palms facing you, slowly lower yourself from a chin bar taking 45-60 seconds to reach the bottom position. Make sure you lower yourself all the way so that the arms are completely straight. As you lower yourself, make sure to flex your biceps and fully visualize the bicep peak this exercise will help create.

In conclusion, heavy, intense weight training is extremely tough. According to the greatest bodybuilder of all-time, Arnold Schwarzenegger, weight training provides you with discipline, self-esteem, and the motivation needed to accomplish any goal you have in life, be it in the gym, classroom, or in the business world. Blasting biceps—heavy metal style requires your full dedication and commitment. Come to the gym ready to push your body through new mental and physical obstacles. Challenge yourself and make your next bicep session the most intense 60 minutes you’ve ever spent in the gym!


These resources are for the purpose of personal trainer growth and development through Continuing Education which advances the knowledge of fitness professionals. This article is written for NFPT Certified Personal Trainers to receive Continuing Education Credit (CEC). Please contact NFPT at 800.729.6378 or [email protected] with questions or for more information.