The calves may take top billing as the body’s most stubborn bodypart, but the biceps aren’t far behind. Seriously, when was the last time you experienced noticeable growth in your bi’s? You’re probably aware that the triceps make up two-thirds of your upper-arm size, which in theory means the biceps (a measly one-third) have that much lower of a ceiling for potential size gains. But does this mean you should throw in the towel on your biceps training and just focus on the horseshoes on the backs of your guns? Don’t even think about it.
Your biceps size ceiling hasn’t been reached yet, and a few basic (yet aggressive) tweaks to your training program might be just the thing to bring up this stubborn area. To provide such modifications, we enlisted Rocky Rogers, a personal trainer at Iron City Gym Hardcore in Cypress, Texas — and owner of 20-inch pipes himself — to offer his most effective biceps-boosting strategies to help get yours growing.
Rest Your Guns
More frequent training won’t necessarily lead to bigger biceps. What your arm-training program might be lacking is simply more rest days. “Biceps is a muscle group that’s overtrained in most men and women,” Rogers says. “People try so hard to make them grow but never give the muscle enough time to fully recover. You need at least two to three days off between workouts for a full recovery, and most people forget that they’re working biceps as a secondary mover on back day, and that counts, too.”
Following this guidance, if you trained either back or biceps (or both) on, say, Tuesday, you’d want to wait until at least Friday to hit either body-part again. Holding off until Saturday or Sunday probably wouldn’t be a bad idea, either.
When You Train Biceps, Hit ’Em Hard
Scheduling ample rest days between workouts means that you have to exercise intensely enough to warrant the time off. When Rogers trains biceps, he throws anything and everything at them: six to seven exercises total and four sets each with a pyramiding rep scheme of 15-12-10-20. “I’m also a true believer in the old-school 21s technique to finish every biceps workout,” he says. “This will take them to complete fatigue and hit whatever part of the biceps you haven’t hit up to that point in the workout.”
Machine preacher curls (an exercise Rogers highly recommends) are a great choice for 21s because they provide superior isolation and the ability to conveniently decrease weight midset, if necessary.
Curl With Cables
Rogers calls cable work his “main secret” for building bigger biceps. “Cables give you the constant tension needed to tear down your biceps,” he says. His exercises of choice include standing EZ-bar cable curls, rope cable hammer curls and, his favorite, seated cable curls. He performs the latter at a seated cable row station (facing the weight stack) using a wide grip on an EZ-bar attachment. Keeping his elbows elevated so his arms are more or less parallel with the floor, he curls the bar to his forehead while making sure his upper arms remain stationary throughout. “This exercise will help develop the main peak of your biceps,” Rogers says.