5 powerful exercises for biceps that will double their size

I often hear that it’s hard to train biceps, because they don’t grow, damn it! And those who do grow it are just genetically gifted.

That’s true about genetically gifted people. But the fact that it’s hard to train biceps and that it doesn’t grow well in mere mortals is a myth.

Let’s look at the issue in detail, starting with physiology and ending with the exercises themselves.

Biceps is as simple as five kopecks

In terms of biomechanics, when bending the arm, the biceps muscle of the shoulder is fully and completely strained. That is, there are no special movements for tensioning the inner or outer head of the biceps. And there are no special exercises to create a biceps peak like the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The shape of the arm is genetically determined. A biceps peak is either present and pronounced, or it is weakly pronounced or absent at all. You just have to deal with it. In any case, well-developed arms look great regardless of their genetically determined shape.

Most importantly, it is not difficult to develop them if you do it wisely both in terms of physiology and the training process.

What factors make muscles grow

Before we move on to exercise, let’s review the main factors of muscle growth. This is necessary for a clear understanding of the appropriateness of the exercises that we will discuss below.

To put it as simply as possible, muscle development requires building material (amino acids), energy (glucose), hormones (the body synthesizes them in response to exercise stress) and muscle tension, which is what initiates growth. And it is sufficient muscle tension that is the main factor, without which there will be no progress, even when the accompanying conditions are met.

Accordingly, to develop muscles, including biceps, effectively, it is necessary to create conditions, in which there is tangible muscle tension without unnecessary load on ligaments and tendons. This is achieved by proper exercise technique and understanding of its biomechanics.

In the case of biceps muscle of the shoulder it does not matter, for example, the width of the grip of the bar in a classic biceps lift. Let me remind you that at any bend of the arm both heads of the biceps are always strained. Thus, the grip must be comfortable for maximum muscle tension with minimal strain on the hands and elbows.

This is much more effective than trying to pump up the external and internal heads of biceps separately, varying the width of the grip. You will waste more time, and because of too wide or too narrow grip you overstrain joints and ligaments, which does not allow you to create sufficient muscle tension. Progress in increasing the load and, therefore, in adapting the muscle to the load by means of its growth will stop before the biceps size begins to please you.

The most effective exercises for biceps development

There are only five of them, and in reality three is enough. Additional exercises are only necessary to diversify the training process.

In fact, a barbell and a pair of dumbbells are sufficient for the effective development of the biceps brachii. And you can in principle do with barbell only and train big biceps by means of one exercise. Let’s start with this one.

  1. The biceps barbell lift (BOB)

A favorite exercise of all young guys just getting to the gym on a par with the bench press. And both of these exercises are usually done incorrectly, which nullifies any progress.

The main mistake is that the elbows are moved forward, and there’s no way to do that. Elbows should remain in place, as shown in the video above. In this case, the load is on the biceps muscles of the shoulder, and there is no moment of their relaxation in the peak position.

If the elbows are under the bar, the load will go to them (force vector is directed downwards), and the biceps will relax. Naturally, we don’t speak about the peak contraction. It is impossible to do it in this position.

As for the grip, take the bar at approximately shoulder width, so your hands do not bend horizontally. Also, do not bend your hands toward you in the upper position of the bar. They always remain in the same position.

As you raise the bar to the top position, pause for 0.5 seconds, “squeezing” the muscle in peak contraction. When lowering the weight down, do not relax your arms and do not completely straighten them out.

I also recommend using a curved bar that allows the hands to remain in their natural position, turned inward by about 45°. This practice will prevent them from overstretching as the weight of the weight increases.

  1. Lifting dumbbells on biceps while sitting on an inclined bench

Just as effective an exercise as the PSNB and complements it well on arm day.

The angle of the bench is 45°. The main condition for the correct performance of the exercise is to keep the elbow in place while lifting the dumbbell on the biceps.

The biomechanics of the movement is exactly the same as in the dumbbell biceps lift. When the elbow stays in place the whole load is in biceps muscle of the shoulder and you can achieve peak contraction.

When you move the elbow forward and actually place it under the dumbbell, the entire load is transferred from the biceps to the joint. The biceps muscle relaxes, peak contraction cannot be achieved and the muscle tension is lost completely.

To place the elbows in the correct position, it is enough to sit on the bench and simply put the arms with dumbbells down. This is the starting position and the elbows should remain in this position during the entire exercise.

The technique of performance is for the most part the same as in the PSNB: peak contraction at the top, do not relax your arms at the bottom. You can lift both arms together, or alternately. In the latter case, keep the “resting” arm slightly bent, keeping a slight tension in it.

The only difference from PSNB is the supination of hands. That is, in the lower position, the dumbbell is parallel to the body, in the upper position, the hand is turned outward.

  1. Dumbbell biceps curl with “Hammer” grip

This exercise is mainly aimed at developing the small muscle between the biceps and triceps – the brachialis.

It gives the arm a more spectacular, athletic shape, if I may say so, increases its thickness and has a good effect on the development of overall strength of the shoulder and forearm.

Exercise is done standing, with shoulder blades together, elbows in natural position, not moving forward, peak contraction at the top, do not relax hands at the bottom.

You can lift both arms at once or alternately without unbending them completely at the bottom. In the latter case, keep a slight tension in the “resting” hand.

  1. Lifting dumbbells on biceps while standing

An alternative to the dumbbell biceps lift while sitting on an inclined bench.

The technique of the exercise is similar to the dumbbell biceps curl with “Hammer” grip, but there is supination of the hand in the upper position.

Shoulders are brought together, elbows at body level, do not move forward, make a peak contraction at the top, do not relax hands below.

You can lift both arms at once or alternately without unbending them completely at the bottom. In the latter case, keep a slight tension in the “resting” hand.

  1. Working in a biceps machine

Another alternative to the classic biceps barbell lift. Often people prefer this exercise, considering it more effective because they “feel the muscle” in it better.

In fact, it’s just a question of rigid fixation of the elbows and a clearly defined amplitude that does not give freedom of movement to perform the exercise incorrectly. If you perform PSHNB with the technique described above, you will feel the muscle just as well.

Nevertheless, there are a few important rules when working in a biceps machine. For example, your shoulder must rest fully on the pillow, avoid only resting on your elbows. To do this, choose the right height of the seat.

Also, don’t straighten your arms fully, keeping them tense. Do not bend your arms toward you in the upper position, they remain straight all the time.

How to train your biceps

Biceps is a small muscle, but it works actively in almost all pulls as a synergist. That is, it helps the muscles of the back, for example, in the barbell pulling to the stomach or in the block pulling to the chest. Consequently, it is easy to overtrain if this factor is not taken into account. In a permanently overtrained state, of course, nothing will grow.

For effective development of any muscle group it is desirable to give it enough time to recover and then load it with a certain frequency. The average recovery time is 48 to 72 hours.

In the case of biceps a great option is when on one workout in a weekly microcycle they are loaded only as synergists, and on the second one – a separate workout of the arms with a couple of exercises directly on the biceps muscle.

There are many schemes in fact, both for the 3-day split and the 4-day split. It is important to understand the principle, which I will describe on the example of the microcycle below.

DAY 1: Back + Triceps


DAY 3: Feet + Shoulders


DAY 5: Chest + Biceps



On the first workout day, the biceps works as a synergist in the back exercises (plus the rear delta), while also fully rocking the triceps.

On the second training day we load the legs and shoulders to give the arms a good rest.

On the third training day triceps works as a synergist (plus front delta) in chest press exercises, and biceps is fully trained (NLSI + dumbbell sit-up + hammer). This way the arms are worked twice a week and still have time to recover well.

As for the training protocol, vary the number of repetitions in biceps exercises from 8 to 15, the number of sets – up to three working sets. Do not forget about a good warm-up, a gradual increase in load and cycling.