3 Easy Tips for Building Big Biceps Fast!
10 quick steps to build bigger biceps
Craving to sprout bodybuilder biceps without endless hours in the gym? Want the toned arms that a UCLA found will make you more attractive to her? Well, you’ve come to the right place. We spoke to expert personal trainers and to give you the complete lowdown of how to get big biceps. Prepare to fire.
1. Take a weight off
You have to load the barbell until it bends and then grunt 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 actuallyuses uptestosterone, so push your body too hard and you’ll actually deplete your body’s best muscle-building chemical. Take a leaf out of Jason Statham’s training tips and don’t overdo it.
(Related:Are you testosterone deficient?)
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.
Dumbbell Bicep Curls
- 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.
(Related:The 16 best exercises for bigger arms)
But don’t worry, some occasion 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 of a 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, are 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.
(Related:The ultimate guide to building up your muscles and burning fat with HIIT)
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 makes 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.
(Related:10 easy ways to build up your pecs – fast!)
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.
- 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.
Keep your core locked and glutes squeezed to ensure your back stays straight with no hip sag.
- 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.
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
- 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.
Use a fat barbell to push your forearms further.
5. Don’t neglect the little guys
No, not those. If you want to max your biceps and keep your arms in one piece then boost your stabilising muscles. You’ll unlikely to hear a girl 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.
Reverse Grip Bicep Curl
- 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 maximizing 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.
Cable bicep curl
- 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.
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 theMHexperts! “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.”
- 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.
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.
(Related:The five most annoying guys at your gym. Yes, even him)
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. It’s no wonder why bodyweight moves will be hanging around (literally) on our list of top health crazes for years to come.
And the best bodyweight bicep builders? Here’s our top three.
Diamond push up
- 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.
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
10 quick steps to build bigger biceps
Not got a bench? Your staircase is an easy substitute.
- 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.
(Related:The 7 most common protein shake mistakes)
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.
Video: How to Get Bigger Biceps (5 Mistakes You’re Probably Making)
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