It’s the goal for (almost) everyone that visits the gym: big, bulging biceps that stretch the sleeves of your shirt. A fully developed biceps shows your strength and your muscular physique. Your biceps needs to be represented!
This biceps workout plan for building muscle mass is going to do exactly that: grow your biceps to their biggest form ever and make sure that everyone will notice them. This biceps workout needs to be performed in a gym and includes dumbbell, barbell and machine exercises.
So when we talk about ‘the biceps’ what exact muscles are we talking about? The musculus biceps brachii is located at the front of the upper arm. Its main function is to flex your elbow. Bicep literally means ‘two-headed’ (bi is two). Both heads of the muscle connect to the shoulder blade (scapula) and run down the upper arm. They attach to the upper part of the forearm near the elbow joint.
The biggest muscle is called the long head and is located at the outside of the upper arm. The smaller muscle is called short head and lies on the inside of the upper arm, closest to the body. Both muscles work a single muscle.
Before we get started I want to address the 3 most frequently asked questions when it comes to the building big and strong biceps.
1. What is the best exercise to build biceps? I prefer free weights (barbell and dumbbells) to machines. Working out with free weights is more versatile because they allow for more variations in the range of motion. Because you have to balance more you also activate the muscles that are located around the joint.
Some of the most effective bicep exercises are dumbbell curl, barbell curl, cable rope curl, close grip pull ups and the different hammer variations of these exercises.
2. How long should a biceps workout be? That depends. When you train your back and then start with your biceps routine you will be able to reach muscle failure in your biceps relatively fast. Since the back and the biceps are both ‘pull’ muscles you also use the biceps when you work your back. 3 exercises can already be enough to completely destroy your biceps and reach muscle failure.
When you start fresh with a new biceps workout I include at least 4 exercises and more often 5 or even 6 exercises. For these routines I perform 3 sets per exercise. If I feel that my biceps starts to give up at the end of the workout I might decrease the number of sets per exercise to 2. A biceps workout routine like this will then take about 45 minutes.
3. How can I get big biceps fast? An important question! There are multiple answers to it due to the fact that there are different types of workouts and exercises that you can include. This is my blueprint for building big biceps:
This workout plan consists of 6 different exercises that target both the central part and the upper part of the biceps muscles. You have to perform this workout for 5 weeks to achieve maximum result. In the first week you will start with performing 12 reps per set. As the weeks progress the number of reps goes down and the number of sets goes up. The primary focus is a rep range of 8 to 12 reps per set.
It’s important that you select the right weight per exercise to perform an effective workout. This means that you have to select a weight that allows you to perform the prescribed number of reps. But at the same time you shouldn’t have a lot of energy left over after finishing the set. Especially for the last exercises your last set should be (close to) muscle failure.
SEATED DUMBBELL CURL
CABLE BAR CURL
1-ARM CABLE CURL
SEATED HAMMER CURL
CABLE ROPE CURL
Working up a sweat in the gym is just step 1. Step 2 is even more important: eating the right things to fuel your body! Without the right nutrition you will not see any results, no matter how hard you train. So what should you eat in other to grow?
The most important nutrient is protein. The second most important nutrient is protein. And the third most important is protein. Just remember PROTEIN.
Protein is a key resource for your body. Your body uses protein to build and repair (muscle) tissue. Protein is made up of amino acids. When you work out you are making little tears in the muscle fiber. The amino acids surround and fill these tears, making the muscle bigger and stronger.
Your body also uses protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. That’s why it’s one of the most important nutrients of all!
How much protein do you need on a daily basis to grow? A normal male adult should eat 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass. An 80-kilo male should therefore eat 64 grams of protein per day. But for optimal muscle growth, the National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass per day.
This means that a 80-kilo male should eat 120 to 160 grams of protein per day.
Products that contain high amounts of protein are white meats, eggs, nuts and seeds (almonds, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, hemp seed, pistachios), legumes, vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, artichokes, chickpeas), fruit (avocado, guava), beans (black, kidney, lima), oats, dairy (cottage cheese, yoghurt, milk) and fish (tuna, salmon, mackerel, squid, shrimp, halibut).
There is a lot of debate about whether or not carbs should be part of an athlete’s diet. I eat a carb-rich meal after every workout because I see the results. Keep in mind that I’m talking about complex carbs! I stay far away from simple carbs that are in candy (sugar), baked goods, sodas, cookies, energy drinks, ice cream etc.
Examples of foods that I eat are tuna, whole grain pasta, brown rice, avocados, bananas, oranges, apples, quinoa, sweet potatoes and corn.
You can use fitness supplements to boost your protein intake. Protein shakes are a great way to do so. The most complete form of protein is whey protein. Whey proteins come in 3 different types: whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate and whey protein hydrolyzate. The most pure form, and with that the best variant, is the hydrolyzate. Whey hydrolyzate consists for 99% out of pure proteins.
Buy your whey protein here: