Building Bigger Biceps — 4 science based tips that can maximize your results.

Four tips from scientific studies point the way to maximizing your gains if you are interested in increasing your arm size as efficiently as possible!

Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

1 — Train your arms first.
While conventional workouts typically follow the larger muscles first, then smaller muscles, multiple studies have shown that muscles worked first get worked harder.
In particular, a study in Brazil compared having men train with arms first (biceps, triceps) vs arms last (bench press etc. first).

The results were quite clear. The group that trained their arms first grew their arm strength at nearly 2x the group that trained it last.

G2 group is the group that trained arms first. Both biceps and tricep strength increased at nearly 2x the arms last group (G1).

Thus, if you want to maximize your biceps, train them first in your workout, not last.

2 — Train with multiple angles:
While many exercise routines include dumbell curls and call it good, a study at the University of Tampa in 2019 showed that varying the joint angle of a biceps routine produced significantly more muscle activation based on EMG analysis even with volume held the same.

EMG comparison with volume held constant between single arm exercise vs varied angle exercises.

For biceps, instead of say 3 sets of biceps curls, consider one set each for mid-range, extension and contraction to vary the main stress and arm angles.

Thus a set of barbell or dumbell curls with the arms at neutral angle, then a set of incline dumbbell curls to focus on extension (which puts the arms at a negative (behind the body effectively) angle), and finish with a set of concentration curls with arms in front (positive angle) to emphasize the peak contraction.

our findings suggest that varying joint angles during RT may enhance total muscle activation and can potentially induce more strain without negatively affecting volume load within a training session in resistance-trained individuals.

From a practical application standpoint, resistance-trained subjects or bodybuilders trying to maximize the training stimulus of each session should utilize multiple exercises that vary joint angles.
This may lead to a greater internal stimulus (muscle activation) while performing the same amount of total work (volume).

3 — Train your biceps with your leg workout to maximize anabolic growth response.

Maximizing the results of your arm training also means maximizing the anabolic hormones available to translate the growth stimulus into muscle. Your largest hormone response (GH + Testosterone) maps to training the largest muscles, namely your legs.

Two studies put this concept of leveraging the hormonal response to leg training to the test with similar results, showing that people who trained their arms along with their legs, grew both larger and stronger biceps vs those who trained arms alone.

This effect mapped to increased testosterone and GH after the combined arm + legs workout vs just the arm workout.

4–Train with 5 sets of total bicep exercises.

Finally, maximizing your arms size maps to total exercise volume. A 2015 study compared the response of exercising 3x week while doing 1 set per workout, 3 sets per workout or 5 sets on each exercise.

The results were very clear and convincing — 5 sets was the winner, which outperformed the muscle size increase vs 3 sets, and 3 sets outperformed the muscle growth of 1 set.

Biceps and Triceps results from using 5 sets vs 3 sets vs 1 set for 6 months.

Summary:

Leveraging the knowledge from these 4 studies in your workouts should results in much improved muscle growth vs approaching things with the typical exercise routine.

The recommended changes are 5 sets of bicep exercise per workout, combine your bicep workout with leg workout, work your biceps first in the bicep + leg workout, and make sure to vary the angles of your biceps exercises and not just repeat the same one for all 5.

Enjoy your newly improved arms!

Source links:

1 — Influence of exercise order: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1440244008001898

2 — Effects of exercise angle:
https://www.mdpi.com/2075-4663/7/9/204

3 — Maximize bicep growth with leg workouts:
https://www.ergo-log.com/wantbiggerbiceps.html

4 — Physiological elevation of endogenous hormones results in superior strength adaptations:
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21327794/

5 — Dose response of 1, 3,5 sets:
https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2015/05000/Dose_Response_of_1,_3,_and_5_Sets_of_Resistance.25.aspx

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