The biceps workout is one of the most popular things people can do with weight. Ever notice that it’s more likely to see someone doing bicep curls in the squat rack and not squats? That’s because biceps are fun and easy for most people to train. All one has to do is curl the weight and the arm is believed to magically grow! The biceps are infact show muscles, and have little to no athletic function.
Why all this work for a non-functional muscle? Because women seem to really like big arms on guys. And it takes like ZERO effort to train your biceps. Considering that arms are exposed more than any other part of your body save your head it’s a logical choice to invest more time into arm training as its the most bang for your buck in regards to attracting women per units time and energy invested.
The Bicep Brachii is a fancy way of saying two headed arm muscle. This muscle has 2 origins and 1 insertion. One head starts on the humerus and the other head, the long head, starts on the front of the shoulder blade called the coracoid process. This tendon slips through a groove on the humerus and gets inflamed easily causing shoulder pain. Many times you get a shoulder injury this tendon will eventually become inflamed. Pec insertion pain and rotator cuff impingement alike will eventually lead to bicep tendon inflammation. Proper stretching will prevent this issue and staying away from the flat bench if you’re not keeping your shoulders tucked back.
Easily one of the least important muscles in the body. So unimportant in fact when many “Sports Medicine” Orthopedic surgeons perform rotator cuff surgery they cut the bicep tendon and don’t reattach it because it takes time to reattach. The reason they give for destroying the biceps muscle: It isn’t necessary.
The biceps supinate the wrist and flex the arm at the elbow. But it is neither the main supinator of the wrist nor the main flexor of the arm.
What is supination you ask? Your arm extended with the palm facing the ceiling is a supinated palm position.
Flexion is when you bend your elbow decreasing the angle of the arm. Other flexor compartment muscles are the Brachialis and Brachioradialis, Both are very important muscles. These brachialis muscles are the MAIN flexors of the arm. Likewise the supinator is the main supinator of the wrist.
Despite the biceps being a useless muscle for athletic and activity purposes, Women have a strong biological reaction to large arms. Since attracting girls is important to healthy straight teenagers, many of us start our weight lifting lives with biceps workouts.
To workout the bicep its really quite simple they think: SImply curl the weight from an extended position to a fully flexed position. Different angles emphasize different heads and different range of motions and tempos have different effects but there is only one way to curl an arm.
If you curl but don’t supinate you’ll build your brachialis more than your bicep. This builds mass but not peak. You should initiate all curling motions except for hammer curls with supination. Supinating the wrist is the KEY to bicep development.
Keep your elbow tucked into your side. This prevents you from bringing your elbow out in front of you which is shoulder flexion. Shoulder flexion reduces load on the bicep and just results in the bicep tendon impingement we discussed above.
Barbells allow you to cheat and use more weight but guarantee a fixed plane. This doesn’t allow for supination through any range of motion, only isometric supination. Additionally the strong side will help out the weak side. This results in your weak side staying weak and small relative to your strong time which grows faster. The advantage is you can use more weight.
The Three Positions
There are 3 different positions to work the muscle: 2 weak positions and its 1 strong position. Stretch, Contracted, and Strength respectively.
The Bicep is in its fully stretched position when the arm is extended behind you and your elbow is locked. Locking the elbow can be harmful to the inserting bicep tendon called the Bicipital Aponeurosis. Either the incline dumbbell curls or even better is a hard to explain cable exercise I learned from watching Ben Pakulski videos on Youtube. With the incline curl the direction of force isn’t exactly 90 degrees from the fully stretched position, but with cables you can SEE the direction of force: the cable is a visible representation of where gravity would be pulling if you were using free weights.
Contracted is hard for the bicep. To fully contract the bicep you have to have your elbow almost by your ear. The crucifixion curl is ideal for this especially when the cable is set as high as possible. If you could sit down on an incline bench with your head against the cable station it would be ideal.
Strength is best accomplished by using the preacher bench. This has gravity loading your muscle maximally when the elbow is 135 degrees. Additionally using the preacher bench backwards works the muscle maximally when the elbow is in the 90 degree angle.
With these 3 exercises you hit all the requisit positions, now you just have to worry about angles. As described above in order to activate teh biceps you need wrist supination. Having a neutral hand position (Hammer curls) works the brachialis and reverse curls are when you have a pronated wrist position (palm down when the arm is outstretched) which works the brachioradialis.
When your hand arm is close to your body its more long head of the biceps and when your hands are wider grip on a Barbell or EZ curl bar it’s more short head. By alternating the grips between sets you help develop a split between the muscles in theory by stimulating them to fire separately.
Doing these 3 basic exercises with alternating grips and angles and adding in Reverse Curls and Hammer curls will give you a complete biceps workout!
Nothing in this article or on this site should be considered medical advice or as an endorsement to violate any law of the country in which you reside. The information given is for fun and entertainment purposes only. All claims are 100% dependent upon proper diet and exercise. Please consult a medical practitioner prior to any diet and exercise program.