Biceps are like burgers. Everyone loves them. Ask a child to make a muscle and he or she will strike a biceps shot. Bi’s are not only synonymous with posing, but also with exercise and after your first year in the gym, you’ve probably read, heard or absorbed so much about curling that you’re tempted to skip ahead. Don’t. This article is for you, because it’s likely you’re making at least some of the following errors.
#1: Lack of extreme focus
This is one of the hardest things to get down but once you do, the pay-off is big. Don’t go to the gym with other things on your mind and if they are block them out. You want the mindset that it is just you and the weight. Focus on nothing else but you biceps filling with blood in every contraction and getting bigger.
Getting the right mentality and KNOWING your getting bigger can actually help you get bigger both mentally and physically. (You release a ton of productive hormones when you feel accomplishment).
#2: Ignoring your triceps
Keep in mind that the biceps are actually only 1/3 of the total upper arm! Where is the other 2/3? Your triceps make up the majority of your upper arm so if you totally neglect your triceps you will never have a full look to your biceps.
It’s amazing how much bigger your biceps will actually look when you have full blown triceps to back them up. Think of it as an optical illusion that your triceps add to your biceps look. Just make sure you are actually building those biceps properly as well.
#3: Not warming up properly
Warming up is essential in any workout and I don’t mean cardio. This goes along with the SAID principle which states to truly warm up in any activity, you need to warm up in an activity close to that which you will be performing.
In this case performing light barbell bicep curls prior to your heavy sets is needed. Try to do 2-3 warm up sets at 15-20 reps to get the blood into the biceps, bring nutrition to your arms, and start getting higher sympathetic activity going (increase heart rate, etc.)
#4: Utilizing high reps and low weights
This is not necessarily a mistake unless you know what you are doing. I am a true believe that everyone is different and there are varying extremes in what reps work for one person may not for another. Have you ever wondered where the “standard 8-12 reps per set” comes from? This is the ideal range because it works both strength and mass equally in, listen closely, the MAJORITY of people. So it is safe to say slightly higher reps may be right for you- just not likely.
Try training 8-12 rep range first and if you don’t notice any progress move to either higher or lower reps. Just don’t go past 15 reps as this is not going to give you the bigger biceps you have wanted and turns into a more endurance type exercise. I can’t help you out further with this one because everyone is different. Find your own optimal rep range and thrive.
#5: Avoid compound bicep exercises
This is just plain ignorance and a good example that separates a serious, experienced, and dedicated lifter to someone inexperienced or who wants the easy way out. Start your bicep training with the bigger exercises first!
So if you are going to do standing barbell bicep curls, standing dumbbell curls, and standing hammer curls which should you start with? That’s right, the barbell bicep curls requires the most muscle groups to come into play and therefore the best choice when selecting your compound exercise.
Use this rule of thumb: If it feels harder to do, odds are it is a bigger compound exercise than the one that feels easy. Always incorporate at least 1-3 compound exercises with 1-2 isolated exercises. A few examples of isolated exercises are: concentration curls and dumbbell bicep curls.
#6: Your Nutrition sucks
How an you possibly hope to achieve 22 inch arms when your eating like a squirrel? Start eating a surplus of calories for your body. Here is a calculator to give you a rough idea of how many calories you need daily.
You will need a great breakdown of the macro nutrients as well somewhere around 40% protein, 40% carbs, and 20% fats. It does you no good to get the correct amount of calories if they are coming from all fats, carbs, or proteins exclusively.
Also try to split your daily calories into 5-6 meals spaced 2-3 hours apart to keep you nitrogen balance in check so muscle breakdown does not occur.
#7: Giving arms the day they deserve
While it is not a bad thing to have a back + biceps split, your arms need their own day once in a while to really thrive. If your arms are always second rate when it comes to your workout, your other body parts will soon be overdeveloped leaving your biceps in the dust.
I would say switching your split routine once every 4-8 weeks should do you well between back + biceps and an exclusive arm day.
That is to say:
Weeks 1-4: Back + Biceps (same day) and Week 5-8: Arms (one day) Back (Another day)
Training Mistake #8: Overtraining
In my opinion the biggest grandaddy mistake of them all! You can have everything right down to an exact science but if you are over training you are doomed to fail. As counter intuitive as it seems, you must give your arms time to rest! I have outlined a few basic concepts to help you avoid overtraining:
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep
- Get a surplus of calories
- Train Biceps 2x weekly. MAX.
- Don’t add on exercises during your workout.
- Keep free from stress.
- Take 1 week off every 12 weeks of training.
- Don’t always train for strength or always mass.
Source: Healthy Food Cabin.com