The best bicep workout for arm size is refreshingly simple. Much is made of the bicep, possibly the most well-known muscle of all time – and there have probably been more exercises invented for the bicep alone than for the rest of the entire upper body.
However, the bicep is a small muscle with a simple function – flexion of the elbow. When the bicep contracts, the angle between your upper and lower arm decreases.
Bicep training is pretty simple, really – do anything that involves bringing your forearm and upper arm closer together, under resistance.
Not all bicep exercises were born equal though, and there’s a good reason for why some people develop huge arms, while others can do set after set of curls each week and not really get anywhere.
The Best Bicep Workout for Arm Size
Many people struggle with their biceps because they’re either training them WAY too often, or they’re doing stuff that doesn’t really stimulate much growth – either due to bad form, or choice of exercises. This workout is effective for two simple reasons:
It’s built on the right exercises – i.e., the most effective bicep mass builders
It’s the right volume of training – i.e. significantly less than what most people will do in a week
So without further ado, I give you the best bicep workout for arm size.
Exercise #1: The close-grip chin-up.
The close grip chin up is an exceptional mass-builder for the biceps. Contrary to popular belief, it’s the most important exercise for bicep development. Here’s why.
The close grip chin up is a closed chain exercise – i.e. an exercise in which the hand or foot (in this case the hand) doesn’t move, but the rest of the body does. Other examples would be the pull-up and the barbell squat.
Closed-chain exercises have been scientifically proven to be the most effective type of exercise for the stimulation of hypertrophy. The subject warrants an entire article (or series!) but the short story is, your body just seems to take them “more seriously” and adapts to the demands of closed-chain exercises more extensively.
What does this mean for your bicep training? If you do one exercise, do the close-grip chin-up. It’s far and away the most effective for building mass.
Exercise #2: The Barbell curl
The barbell curl is the best of the free-weight exercises available for bicep growth. The most important thing to remember with the barbell curl is strict form. That is: a shoulder width grip on the barbell with arms hanging straight down.
No swinging, jerking or movement of the shoulders, back or legs(!). Your body should be a statue, with the only movement occurring at the elbows. Provided you maintain good form, the barbell curl will hit your biceps hard.
It helps to keep your wrists straight while you lift. Also, keep the mental focus on the biceps and deliberately squeeze them at the top. This helps reduce swing from your back or shoulders.
Exercise 3: Cable bicep curls
These are a good final exercise for growth in the bicep. Although free weights are superior to cables for many reasons, cable curls have the advantage of maintaining tension on the biceps all the way through motion of the lift.
You’ll feel this most at the top of the lift, where you have to squeeze harder than with barbell curls. On their own they aren’t enough, but as part of this workout cable curls compliment chins and free weights very nicely.
So there you have it, the best bicep workout you can do for hypertrophy. This workout is designed to be part of a bodyweight split, so you’ll benefit most from performing it once every 5-6 days, probably combined with another bodypart. A typical split would be something like:
Monday – Chest & Triceps Wednesday – Back & Biceps Friday – Shoulders & legs
Be wary of training biceps too much more than once per week, as compared to the rest of your body they are a small muscle, and to really grow as a whole you have to train your body in proportion.