The Best Biceps Workouts for Mass

The Best Biceps Workouts for Mass

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Build eye-catching biceps with a mix of compound and isolation exercises.

Jerod Harris/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Biceps muscles are relatively small in comparison to other muscles in your body, like your glutes or pecs. Nevertheless, big biceps are one of the most coveted assets of bodybuilders and gym trainers alike. While your biceps are worked indirectly when you train the rest of your upper body, adding in an extra biceps-specific, mass-building session once or twice a week can do wonders for your gains.

Combining Compounds and Isolations

Your biceps are worked whenever you flex your elbow joint. This means that there are different variations of biceps curls that are best for working your biceps. Curls are an isolation move, and while these certainly have their place in your routine, compound moves can build big biceps too. Chin-ups target every part of your biceps muscle, as well as working your back, notes trainer Bryan DiSanto. Grip the bar with your hands about shoulder-width apart, and once you can complete a set of 12 repetitions, start doing your chin-ups weighted. If you struggle with chin-ups, substitute in lat pull-downs instead. Always start your biceps workouts with a compound move.

Mission to Mass

Alongside compound moves, barbell curls are your best bet for adding biceps mass, according to Kevin McMillian of Fitness Black and White. These come in two forms -- regular standing straight-bar curls and preacher curls. Preacher curls involve sitting with your triceps resting on a preacher bench and may even be a better option than standing curls, as they force you to keep your form strict and maintain tension on your biceps.

Leave Your Ego at the Door

The key to a great biceps workout is focusing on form and mind-muscle connection, not weight. If you're having to swing your whole body into each repetition, you're not really working the biceps, so lower the weight. Aim to take one second to lift each rep, pause for a second at the top and then count to three as you lower it all the way down. If you can't pause at any point during the movement, you need to go lighter.

Get Fatter

To achieve optimal biceps development, you need to work your forearms, and the best way to do this is with fat-grip training, according to athletic consultant Anthony Mychal. If your gym has thick-grip dumbbells, use these on one or two exercises per session. If not, wrap a towel around the bar when doing curls. Mychal recommends thick-grip barbell curls and thick-grip dumbbell hammer curls, performed with your palms facing inward, as the best two biceps moves.

Sample Workout

No one workout will ever be best for building biceps mass; you have to experiment to find what you respond to best. That being said, Jedd Johnson of Diesel Crew Strength and Conditioning suggests alternating between two workouts. In workout one, work both your biceps and triceps. Perform three sets of five on the close-grip bench press, five sets of 10 pull-ups with a towel wrapped over the bar, three sets of 12 reverse curls and three maximum-plate pinch holds. For your second session, perform four sets of six JM presses -- a mix between a close-grip bench and a triceps extension; two sets of 15 thick-grip dumbbell curls; and two sets of 20 dumbbell-crush curls. Finish with three sets of 15 triceps push-downs and three two-handed plate holds for maximum time.


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