By Garry Bartlett
A basic principle to adding size to the arms is that you must gain overall muscle throughout the body. It is very hard to add mass to any particular area if you don’t increase your bodyweight! This is even more important when building arms as they only contribute a small amount to the overall weight of the body. It is not unheard of that a gain of ten pounds of solid bodyweight could result in a gain of one inch on your arms. Keep in mind that arm size is made up of both the triceps and bicep muscle. For optimum results the triceps muscle must be equally trained. I am not going to get into triceps training, as I want to devote this article to building those big biceps you guys all crave!
When you specialize on a body part you must first construct a basic bulk building program with specialization exercises added for the muscle group you want to bring up. The idea is to increase your overall bodyweight with basic bulk building exercises. You must perform less sets and work very hard at increasing your strength. The biceps will be trained with more exercises and sets and should result in increased size and shape after six to eight weeks on the routine.
Building Mr. Canada Biceps the Old School Way!
1. One Arm Pulley Concentration Curls: Try a few sets of One Arm Pulley Concentration Curls to prepare those biceps for the intense demands ahead! Grab the pulley handle, and very strictly bring the handle up and across your chest and try to touch your chin with your little finger. Try to cramp and peak the bicep at the top of the movement. Perform the movement very slow and deliberate stretching the arm fully at the bottom of each curl. Do two sets of 15 reps for each arm with a comfortable weight.
2. Standing Barbell Curls: 3 sets x 8 reps. Nothing new here, just good old basic Barbell curls, which is the grand daddy of building biceps mass and size. There isn’t any top bodybuilding champion for the past 50 years who hasn’t specialized and worked hard building their biceps doing heavy barbell curls. Begin by slowly curling up the barbell from a dead hang and trying to touch your chin.
3. Alternate Dumbbell Curls: 3 sets x 8-10 reps. Try and perform the movement as strict as possible keeping your arms pinned against per sides and end of dumbbells facing forward. Now slowly curl the dumbbells upward while rotating the wrists trying to turn your little finger upward. This guarantees that the bicep gets a good contraction. At the top of the movement try and squeeze the bicep as hard as you can before letting the dumbbell drop back down. Make sure to lower the dumbbell very slowly to the starting position and repeat.
4. Flat Bench Machine Scott Curls: 3 sets x 10 reps. If you want to really hit the lower bicep try using a flatter level on the bench than standard, which really hits the lower bicep. This exercise does a lot to lengthen the bicep with the idea of filling the gap between it and the forearm. If you suffer from a large gap between your bicep and forearm then work hard on this exercise. If you use a machine or bench keep your arms flat while performing the curl.
5. Incline Dumbbell Curls: 2 sets 10 To really add that final growth kick, I suggest you finish off with a couple sets of incline Dumbbell curls. Incline curls also hits the lower bicep and is a great double whammy hit to that area following the Preacher curls. Keep your elbows close to your sides with your thumbs pointing outward as you curl the dumbbells slowly upward trying to touch your little fingers to your ears. At the top forcibly contract every muscle fiber until cramping and then lower.
That should just about do it for the biceps. The key is to work hard and really concentrate on building up the intensity of your training. Always keep strict form in mind with cheating minimal. The only one where you might want to use a little less perfect form is in the barbell curl but don’t cheat so bad that you look like you are performing a clean. Work on this routine for about two to three months and then take a break by training lighter. Take stock of your progress and determine if you want to repeat it again for another six weeks.
One Arm Pulley Concentration curls: 2 sets x 15 reps (warm-up)
Standing Barbell Curls: 3sets x 8 reps
Alternate Dumbbell Curls: 3 sets x 8-10 reps
Scott curls (bench or machine flat): 3 sets x 8-10 reps
Incline Dumbbell Curls: 2 sets x 10 reps
Garry Bartlett is a legendary Canadian writer/photographer who has covered the Canadian bodybuilding & fitness scene for about 30 years. Garry’s work has been published in many of the most prestigious bodybuilding and fitness magazines.