Full Spectrum Bodybuilding: Biceps

If exercises are like ingredients then workout programs are the recipes. Here’s your recipe for bigger, stronger biceps.

January 28, 2013

By Nick Tumminello

Just as how you put the ingredients together determines how good a dish tastes, how well you put together exercises can determine how much return (i.e. the results) you get from your training efforts.

This article will show you how to apply the Performance U Full Spectrum Bodybuilding method as your recipe for building bigger biceps.

4 Types of FSB Exercise Classifications for Biceps

NOTE: If you’ve been following my previous FSB articles (all linked at the conclusion of this article), I’ve stated (in those articles) that there are “3 types of FSB exercise classifications.” However, “technically” there are 4 exercise classifications when we consider that in each FSB article I state, “each FSB workout also includes a CAM machine-based exercise”, which some readers have rightfully taken me to task on.

So from now on, to prevent any confusion and make things as easy to understand as possible, CAM Machines will be listed as the forth category, which they always have been and I should have done all along.

In the FSB system we categorize exercises into 4 types based on how they create a Point of Maximal loading on the muscle (PML). This classification system includes compound and isolation exercises with free weights, plate loaded machines and cables.

1. Exercises that create the most load (PML) on the muscle (or muscle group) in the lengthened position. These exercises create the most muscle damage. That’s a good thing!

2. Exercises that create the most load (PML) on the muscles in the mid-range position. These exercises aid in increasing motor unit-recruitment!

3. Exercises that create the most load (PML) on the muscle (or muscle group) in the shortened position. These exercises tend to create the best muscle pump!

4. Exercises on weight-machines. In each FSB workout, we not only incorporate at least one exercise from each of the first 3 categories above, we also include at least one exercise using a weight-machine. Because these machines are designed with a CAM setup, these apparatuses provide a consistent resistance throughout the entire range of motion. Unlike free weights or cables, CAM machines aren’t dependent on a single load vector. In other words, with CAM machines there is no specific PML, which is a unique benefit that provides more time under tension on the target muscle group. It’s for this reason that we’re sure to include CAM machines as a one of the four pillars in the FSB training system.

Here's a list of the best biceps exercises in each FSB category:

Exercises that create a PML on the biceps in their lengthened position:

Low Cable Curls (Facing Away from the Cable)
Preacher Curls
Incline Bench Biceps Curls

Exercises that create a PML on the biceps in their mid-range position:

Barbell Curls (underhand or overhand grip)
Dumbbell Curls
EZ-Bar Curls
Low Cable Curls (Facing the Cable)
Suspension Biceps Curls (High Elbow)
Band Biceps Curls (60/30 Protocol)
Dumbbell Concentration Curls

Exercises that create a PML on the biceps in their shortened position:

Forward Leaning Biceps Curls (w/ Barbell, Dumbbells or EZ-Bar)
Mid-Cable Bicep Curls
Suspension Biceps Curls (Low Elbow)

CAM Machine:

Biceps Curl Machine

Properly Performing the FSB Biceps Exercises

Here’s how we recommend performing the exercises listed above. I’m only providing descriptions for the exercises you may not know and for the variations we use on classic moves.

Low Cable Curls (Facing Away from the Cable)

Grab one or two cable handles that are positioned low, walk out about a foot in front, then perform curls while facing away from the cable as shown in the pictures.

Remember, due to the force vector this unique exercise creates, the hardest part of the biceps curl is in the very beginning while your elbows are fairly straight.


Suspension Biceps Curls (High Elbow & Low Elbow)

If you have access to suspension straps - this video will show you how to use them to perform two biceps curls variations: high elbow and low elbow.

Band Biceps Curls (60/30 Protocol)

You may not think that rubber resistance bands offer much in the way of an intense workout. That'll change if you try this high volume protocol.

Using only medium level resistance bands, attempt to perform 60 (speed) biceps curls within a 30 seconds timeframe.

If this all sounds unrealistic or a little hokey to you, my reply is simply: “don't knock it until you’ve tried it!”

This video shows you how to effectively perform this protocol.

Forward leaning Biceps Curls (w/ Barbell, Dumbbells or EZ-Bar)

This is simply a subtle variation on traditional standing biceps curls that makes for a big change in the training stimulus the biceps receive.

Instead of standing upright while doing curls, simply soften your knees, hinge your hips and perform biceps curls with your torso leaning slightly forward at an angle.

Be sure to keep your back straight and your arms in line with your torso, as demonstrated in this video.

Mid-Cable Bicep Curls

Cable biceps curls are traditionally performed with the pulley position at its lowest point, which is a great exercise. That being said, by raising the cable to around your belly button level and performing curls in the manner demonstrated in this video below, you can focus the point of maximal loading on the biceps when it’s at its peak contraction.


Not only are chin-ups (underhand grip pull-ups) a very effective way to train your back, they’re also proven biceps-builders. Nuff said!

FSB Biceps Workouts

You’ve been given the methodology and the exercise applications. Now it’s time to put everything together into practical application!

Below are 4 sample FSB biceps workouts. But first, a few quick program design notes on these routines:

  • In each FSB arm workout, we go for a total of 8-15 total sets per muscle per week.

  • We’ll choose at least one exercise from each of the 4 categories above in each FSB workout.

Workout 1

PML in Mid – Dumbbell Biceps Curls, 3-4 sets x 8-10 reps
PML in Stretch – EZ-Bar Preacher Curls, 3-4 sets x 6-8 reps
PML in Short – Suspension Biceps Curls (Low Elbow), 2-3 sets x 10-15 reps
CAM Machine – Biceps Curl Machine, 2-3 sets x 10-15 reps

Workout 2

PML in Short – Chin-Ups, 4-5 sets x max reps
PML in Stretch – Low Cable Curls (Facing Away), 3-4 sets x 8-10 reps
PML in Mid – Suspension Biceps Curls (High Elbow), 3-4 sets x 10-12 reps
CAM Machine – Biceps Curl Machine (slow eccentrics), 2-3 sets x 6-8 reps

Workout 3

PML in Stretch – Incline Dumbbell Biceps Curls, 3 sets x 8-10 reps
PML in Mid – EZ-Bar Bicep Curls, 3-4 sets x 8-10 reps
PML in Short – Mid-Cable Bicep Curls, 2-3 sets x 10-12 reps
CAM Machine – Biceps Curl Machine, 2 sets x 12-15 reps

Workout 4

CAM Machine – Biceps Curl Machine (finish the last rep with a 10 second isometric hold at the bottom position), 2 sets x 10-12 reps
PML in Stretch – Incline Dumbbell Biceps Curls, 2 sets x 10-12 reps
PML in Short – Forward Leaning Biceps Curls (w/ Barbell, Dumbbells or EZ-Bar),
3 sets x 10-12 reps
PML in Mid – Band Biceps Curls (60/30 Protocol) x 2-3 sets

Additional FSB Biceps Workout Notes:

Feel free to mix up grip styles (neutral, overhand or underhand) when doing any of these biceps exercises to add training variety from workout to workout.

DO NOT CHEAT on your biceps exercises by throwing your lower back into it. Remember, you’re in the gym to build strength NOT to demonstrate it!

Check out these other Full Spectrum Bodybuilding Articles!

Full Spectrum Bodybuilding: 101

Full Spectrum Bodybuilding: Chest

Full Spectrum Bodybuilding: Quads

Full Spectrum Bodybuilding: Shoulders

Full Spectrum Bodybuilding: Hamstrings

Next Up in the FSB Series…

As a compliment to this article, my next installment to this series will cover Full Spectrum Bodybuilding for TRICEPS!

Nick Tumminello is known as “the trainer of trainers.” He’s the owner of Performance University International, which provides hybrid strength training & conditioning for athletes and educational programs for fitness professionals all over the world. Coach Nick lives in Fort Lauderdale Florida were he trains a select group of athletes and teaches mentorship. Check out his DVDs, seminar schedule and very popular fitness blog at NickTumminello.com.