13 Quick Steps to Build Bigger Biceps

<span class="caption">13 Quick Steps to Build Bigger Biceps</span><span class="photo-credit">Westend61</span>
13 Quick Steps to Build Bigger BicepsWestend61

Craving to sprout bodybuilder biceps without endless hours in the gym? Want the toned arms that will fill your favourite white t-shirt? Well, you've come to the right place.
We spoke to expert personal trainers Phil Sims and Ollie Frost to give you the complete lowdown of how to get big biceps, quick. Prepare to fire.

Top Tips to Build Bigger Biceps

1. Take a weight off

You have to load the barbell until it bends and then grunts like Sharapova with a megaphone to forge bigger biceps, right? Absolutely not. Rather than trying to reach your personal best with each rep, load the bar with weights you can comfortably lift 12 to 15 times, says Frost. Why? Each massive rep actually uses up testosterone, so push your body too hard and you’ll actually deplete your body’s best muscle-building chemical.

If you want to build your mirror muscles before a big night out then try 12-15 reps of bicep curls before taking a 45-second break and starting over. Complete three rounds and you’re arms will be pumped for tearing up the town.

Try This: Dumbbell Bicep Curls

Weights, Exercise equipment, Shoulder, Standing, Arm, Dumbbell, Joint, Human leg, Sports equipment, Biceps curl,
Weights, Exercise equipment, Shoulder, Standing, Arm, Dumbbell, Joint, Human leg, Sports equipment, Biceps curl,

How:

  • Hold two dumbbells by your thigh, palms facing outwards.

  • Use your biceps to lift the dumbbells until they are at shoulder height, then lower back down and repeat.

2. Train less

When it comes to boosting your biceps, playing hard to get is your best strategy. In fact, you should only give your mirror muscles full attention 20-30 mins per week for best results, according to Sims. Any more will overload your cannons, tearing down the recovering muscle fibres you worked to build up.

But don’t worry, on some occasions bicep flirting will keep them onside, even though you’re not spending every evening with them. Why? If you are keeping correct form with all your other workouts then your show muscles will get a secondary hit. That’s because every major pushing and pulling motion will work your biceps and triceps in a way that won’t push them too close to the edge, but still provide enough stimulus to deliver your tickets to the gun show.

3. Go hard or go home

If you want to come equipped with a couple of sleeve-rippers then you have to work for them – but not for very long. Short 20-minute bursts of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) are the best way to blow up your bis as they target your larger muscle fibres.

Confused? Let us explain. Your body has two types of muscle fibres: fast and slow twitch. Small slow twitch muscle fibres are great for endurance, but they’re unlikely to fill out your t-shirt anytime soon– unless you’ve accidentally shrunk it in the wash. Fast twitch, on the other hand, is larger and used for power movements. And not only will HIIT target your fast-twitch show muscles, but researchers at the Department of Clinical Physiology in Stockholm found intense training is an effective way of transforming fibres from slow to fast.

But wait, it gets even better. Thanks to our HIIT home workouts using dumbbells, kettlebells or your own bodyweight, you don’t even need to fork out for a gym membership to fast-track the growth in your guns. Don’t say we don’t do anything for you.

4. Use your brothers in arms

The worst tactic to deploy in the arms race? Focusing on the biceps alone, says Frost. The muscles you love the most only make up a third of your arm; your triceps are twice as big and your forearms too large to ignore. The answer: compound exercises that hit all your arm at once. The simple reason: the more muscles you hit then the harder you work, the more calories you burn and the more toned you look.

Remember, parents have got their favourites (you, obviously), but like any good father, you’ve got to love equally for best results. But how? Here are three of the best compound moves that will treat all your arm muscles equally.

Try These: Military Press

barbell, shoulder, free weight bar, exercise equipment, overhead press, arm, weightlifting, physical fitness, weightlifter, deadlift,
barbell, shoulder, free weight bar, exercise equipment, overhead press, arm, weightlifting, physical fitness, weightlifter, deadlift,

How:

  • Get down into a press-up position with your hands placed shoulder-width apart and your elbows tucked in close to your body.

  • Lower your torso, keeping your elbows close to your sides throughout, until your chest is an inch from the ground.

  • Explosively drive up by fully extending your arms.

Expert tip: Keep your core locked and glutes squeezed to ensure your back stays straight with no hip sag.

Dips

shoulder, arm, weightlifting machine, gym, standing, exercise equipment, joint, physical fitness, exercise machine, room,
shoulder, arm, weightlifting machine, gym, standing, exercise equipment, joint, physical fitness, exercise machine, room,

How:

  • Grab the bars of a dip station with your palms facing inward and your arms straight.

  • Slowly lower until your elbows are at right angles, ensuring they stay tucked against your body and don't flare out.

  • Drive yourself back up to the top and repeat.

Expert tip: You may want to know how to get big biceps, but a larger tricep is just as important and will accentuate the guns. To hit the triceps, keep upright with your elbows tucked in.

Close grip bench press

exercise equipment, barbell, free weight bar, weight training, physical fitness, arm, bench, weightlifting, leg, bodybuilding,
exercise equipment, barbell, free weight bar, weight training, physical fitness, arm, bench, weightlifting, leg, bodybuilding,

How:

  • Lie back on a flat bench holding a barbell with a narrow, overhand grip.

  • From the starting position, breathe in and lower the bar slowly until it skims the middle of your chest.

  • Push the bar back to the starting position explosively as you breathe out. Focus on pushing the bar using your chest muscles.

Expert tip: Use a fat barbell to push your forearms further.

5. Don’t neglect the little guys

If you want to max your biceps and keep your arms in one piece then boost your stabilising muscles. You’ll unlikely to hear anyone wooing over your rotator cuffs any time soon, but these tendons are vital in getting your arms from scrawny to brawny without injury from major muscle imbalances. Target them and keep your arm-pumping programme in full swing by introducing the reverse grip bicep curl after the main event.

Try this: Reverse grip bicep curl

Shoulder, Exercise equipment, Weights, Standing, Arm, Human leg, Joint, Leg, Knee, Dumbbell,
Shoulder, Exercise equipment, Weights, Standing, Arm, Human leg, Joint, Leg, Knee, Dumbbell,

How:

  • Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and hold two dumbbells at your thighs with an overhand grip.

  • Raise your forearms, keeping your upper arms close to your body, so that your palms face forward and the dumbbells are shoulder height.

  • Slowly return the dumbbells and repeat.

6. Get a grip

Turns out maximising every rep is easy squeezy. Seriously, squeezing your bis during any move while keeping the tempo slow is the best way to activate your arm’s muscle fast twitch fibres. It’s why PTs like Frost swear by bicep cable curls, which keep tension on the muscle throughout the exercise.

Try this: Cable bicep curl

Human body, Human leg, Shoulder, Standing, Joint, Chest, Elbow, Wrist, Knee, Physical fitness,
Human body, Human leg, Shoulder, Standing, Joint, Chest, Elbow, Wrist, Knee, Physical fitness,

How:

  • Hold a cable bar with underhand grip, shoulder width apart.

  • Use your biceps to flex your elbows and raise the bar to your shoulders.

  • Lower it back down to your thighs and repeat.

Expert tip: Cable machine taken? You can squeeze the most out of any free-weight rep by flexing throughout, says Sims. Just make you don’t do this in front of a mirror – it’ll be impossible to concentrate on your form with the impressive muscle pump you’ll see.

7. Hit the bar

Barbells and dumbbells: both effective tools at building up incredible bulk. But which is best? There’s only one way to find out: FIGH- erm, ask the MH experts! “It’s a draw in my book,” says Sims. “Sure, barbells allow you to lift bigger weights, which is great for seasoned gym-goers, but dumbbell exercises like the dumbbell uppercut can attack your arms at different angles.”

Try this: Dumbbell uppercut

Human body, Human leg, Shoulder, Elbow, Wrist, Standing, Joint, Shorts, Knee, Chest,
Human body, Human leg, Shoulder, Elbow, Wrist, Standing, Joint, Shorts, Knee, Chest,

How:

  • Stand holding two dumbbells at shoulder height with an underhand grip.

  • Adopt a fighting stance and punch upwards with your right arm, pivoting on your right foot as you do so.

  • Return to the start position and repeat on the other side.

Expert tip: So, what’s the best solution to this bar standoff? Use both. And if you’re already a gym-goer then switch between both variations every two weeks to maximise your muscle gains, says Frost.

8. Keep your form

You know the guy. The one screaming out his ‘bicep curl’ reps as he arches his back and swings the weights like a pendulum on steroids. Well, you guessed right: he’s a douche. And that’s not just because of his woolly hat; if you want to build muscle quickly then focus on lifting your weight without leaning back or forward and working through full range of movement. Anything else is doing harm to your arm.

Why? Poor form shifts the work away from your biceps and towards your joints and tendons, ruining muscle growth and increasing your potential of injury. Bottom line: Loading up the bar with the heaviest plates in the gym might look impressive at first, but it’ll look a lot less cooler in A&E.

9. Use yourself

No gym? No problem. Building up Arnie arms can be done with your bodyweight alone. And it’s got a key advantage over free weights: you can use them anywhere. Instead of wasting hours queuing for dumbbells, you could complete an effective arm bodyweight circuit and be back home admiring your growth.

3 best bodyweight bicep building exercises

Diamond push up

Arm, Abdomen, Press up, Shoulder, Joint, Muscle, Trunk, Elbow, Leg, Chest,
Arm, Abdomen, Press up, Shoulder, Joint, Muscle, Trunk, Elbow, Leg, Chest,

How:

  • Get in a press-up position and place your hands together so your index fingers and thumbs form a diamond.

  • Keep your back straight as you lower until your chest almost touches the floor then push back up to the start position.

Pull-ups

exercise equipment, weightlifting machine, exercise machine, gym, leg, shoulder, arm, room, bench, joint,
exercise equipment, weightlifting machine, exercise machine, gym, leg, shoulder, arm, room, bench, joint,

How:

  • This move isn’t strictly equipment free, but it’s easily done with a Men’s Health door bar.

  • Grab the handles of the pull-up station with your palms facing away from you and your arms fully extended.

  • Your hands should be around shoulder-width apart.

  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together, exhale and drive your elbows towards your hips to bring your chin above the bar. Lower under control back to the start position

Decline press-ups

press up, arm, shoulder, leg, fitness professional, joint, physical fitness, exercise equipment, chest, muscle,
press up, arm, shoulder, leg, fitness professional, joint, physical fitness, exercise equipment, chest, muscle,

How:

  • Place your feet on a bench with your hands planted on the floor in front of you. Lower your body down until your chest almost reaches the floor.

  • Press your body back up to the starting position while squeezing your chest.

  • Pause briefly at the top before repeating.

10. Supply your armoury

Put simply: if you want larger arms then you’ve got to fuel them properly. And by fuel, we mean protein. If you’re looking to bulk your bis then you need 1.6-2.0 grams of protein per kilo of bodyweight per day if you want to bulk up. This means if you’re the UK average of 83kg, you need at least 133 grams of protein each day.

And it’s not just protein you need to think about. Eat too many carbs, the wrong sort of fats or not getting enough vitamins could break your training plan.

11. Work your back

Hear us out. Exercises like row and lat pulldowns, moves that are predominantly associated with building up your back muscles, also work the biceps effectively.

Not sure how to perform lat pulldowns correctly? Here's our complete guide to nailing it.

12. Think your way to bigger biceps

The muscle/mind connection is more important than you think, and is a technique inspired by the old-school bodybuilding philosophy. Think about the muscle – the bicep – doing the work as you perform your exercise. Concentrate on the pulling the bar up into your body rather than just lifting the weight.

13. Track your progress

Unlike your deadlifts, making massive gains on your biceps will take time. But that's not to say you shouldn't track your progress. By seeing improvements and writing them down each week – no matter how small – will increase motivation and help tailor your exercises, reps and technique to keep you progressing.

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