The Best Biceps Workout Ever
Want to build some bigger guns, ladies?
Who doesn’t. Not only do big biceps look aesthetically pleasing, they also allow you to dominate your lifts in the gym. And ladies, let’s be honest, they show the guys who’s boss. Right?
Let’s think about it together. What exercises utilize the biceps the most? Well besides small, accessory movement exercises like bicep curls that isolate the biceps only, the biceps assist with big, compound lifts as well.
For example, whenever you do a chin-up or a pull-up the biceps engage as you lift your chin up to the bar and flex the elbow (arm). Then on the way down they work eccentrically (during the negative) to keep it a slow and controlled movement. Yes, your back muscles are performing most of the movement but your biceps assist.
Another good example of how the biceps help with compound lifts is lat pull downs (the exercise where you sit and pull a bar from overhead down toward your chest). In fact, many back strengthening exercise engage the biceps. Yay for us!
Therefore, if we can get your biceps stronger, it will ultimately help you be stronger on back day (and have some banging guns at the same time).
In order for you to understand the bicep muscles better, I want to break things down for you. Let’s take it back to anatomy 101. That way you understand the muscles that make up the biceps, their actions, and how to strengthen them most effectively.
Don’t stop reading. I am going to share some bicep secrets with you that will be a-ha moments. I will also share “the best bicep workout ever”. Let’s do this. It’s all about those guns and buns, ladies.
The muscles in the front of your arm are made up of a few separate muscles, besides the biceps. They are the coracobrachialis, brachialis, biceps short head, biceps long head, and the brachioradialis.
Muscle anatomy & actions:
The Long Head of the Bicep runs from the top of the scapula down to the radial tuberosity (forearm bone). Its actions include shoulder flexion, elbow flexion, elbow supination. It also assists with shoulder adduction and internal rotation.
The Short Head of the Bicep runs from the coracoid process (bone at front of scapula) down to the radial tuberosity as well (forearm bone). Its actions are the same as the long head.
The Coracobrachialis muscle runs from the coracoid process down to the humerus and assist with these motions as well. It is deep to the pectoralis muscle.
The Brachialis muscle is deep to the biceps and wider. It runs from the middle of the humerus (upper arm bone) down to the ulnar tuberosity (forearm bone). Its action includes elbow flexion only.
The Brachioradialis muscle is at the elbow. It runs from the bottom of the humerus (upper arm bone) down to the bottom of the radius (at your wrist). It does elbow flexion and pronation.
As a whole, these muscles above perform shoulder flexion, elbow flexion, supination, and pronation (for the most part). So we always want to use different grips (overhand vs. underhand) to mix things up and be sure we are strengthening them all.
In case you didn’t know...
-Shoulder flexion means raising the arm forward or overhead
-Elbow flexion means bending the elbow to bring the hand toward the shoulder
-Supination means palms up/forward
-Pronation means palms down/backward (see pic below)
Now, look at the layers of the muscles that flex our elbow in the picture above. The brachialis is the deepest muscle that sits underneath the biceps.
I ask- If we strengthen the brachialis muscle, could it make our biceps appear larger?
Think about this example. Stephanie makes a bowl of ice cream for dessert with 2 scoops in it. Sally makes a bowl as well, but first she puts a brownie in the bottom before putting the 2 scoops of icecream on top. Whose bowl of icecream will appear larger? Well, Sally’s of course because there’s a brownie hiding underneath!
Fact: If your brachialis muscle (aka brownie) is larger, your biceps (aka 2 scoops) will appear larger.
So what do we do to build up our guns? We strengthen them both (brachialis and biceps) in order to see the most optimum results from our biceps! Taa-daa! Magic.
Here are the actions we want to perform to strengthen the biceps: shoulder flexion, elbow flexion, and elbow supination. Since the brachialis does elbow flexion only, we can then do bicep curls pronated or neutral grip (instead of supinated to target the biceps) to essentially turn off the biceps and put the focus on the brachialis muscle (and a little bit brachioradialis).
I am sure you have seen people doing pronated bicep curls before, or even done them yourself. Now you know why! There’s a valid, scientific reason to it.
Using all that we have unveiled today, I want to share the best biceps workout with you so you can build those guns and scare off the boys by your strength!
Follow this workout 2x/week, performing each exercise the number of sets/reps listed below. Remember to have good mind-muscle connect with your biceps, as you should with all exercises whenever you’re lifting. Focus on shortening the biceps muscles and squeezing them as hard as you can with each and every repetition.
PS- You may notice you are stronger on your dominant arm. So feel free to do a few more reps on your non-dominant arm for each exercise.
After a few weeks, you should start to notice that baby bicep growing into some beautiful guns! Maybe try measuring your flexed bicep “before” versus “after” doing the best bicep workout ever.
Let’s build those two scoops, ladies!
“The Best Bicep Workout Ever” from Beautiful to the Core
Click on the exercise name to see my youtube video demo
Chin-ups (underhand grip to emphasize the biceps) for 4 sets of 4-6
Lat pulldowns (overhand narrow grip to emphasize the brachialis) for 5 sets of 7-10
Dumbbell bicep curls- supinated (to emphasize the biceps) for 4 sets of 7-10
Barbell bicep curls- pronated (to emphasize the brachialis) for 4 sets of 7-10
Dumbbell hammer curls (to emphasize the brachioradialis) for 4 sets of 7-10
Barbell bicep curls 2 step with shoulder flexion (to emphasize the coracobrachialis and the biceps) for 4 sets of 7-8
Incline dumbbell bicep curls (to emphasize the biceps in a lengthened range of motion) for 4 sets of 7-10
Barbell spider curls (to emphasize the biceps in a shortened range of motion) for 4 sets of 7-10
Optional: Dumbbell bicep curls utilizing BFR (blood flow restriction) training using the protocol below (see what it looks like here)
Wrap each arm
Perform 30 reps and rest for 30 seconds
Perform 15 reps and rest for 30 seconds
Perform 15 reps and rest for 30 seconds
Perform 15 reps and rest for 30 seconds
Unwrap the arms and rest for 1 – 2 minutes
Repeat the entire sequence above one more time
PS- the last two exercises (before the optional one) strengthen the biceps in a shortened versus lengthened range. What that means is the shortened range is when your arm is in a position that bring the muscles origin and insertion close together in all its actions. Whereas the lengthened range is when your arm is in a stretched position that elongates the muscles origin and insertion to start.
If you practice flexible dieting, enjoy 2 scoops tonight (guilt-free)!
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I now knows tons more information about biceps than I ever did before. Very good workout. Now to get those biceps looking good
Candy, glad you learned something yay!
This was a great article, I really enjoyed reading about the anatomy of the biceps and how to work them out. This will be really helpful to a lot of people
Elizabeth, glad you learned from it!
Thanks for your biceps workout tips. Am taking my notes now coz I want to achieve pretty biceps 😀
Blair, yes pretty biceps would be a plus 🙂
Great tips, targeting one area of your body. Easy to follow too from your clear descriptions
Tina, thanks so much for the compliment!
Finally, instruction that women can get and follow! Thanks for making this easy and doable. I’ve learned a lot!👍🏼 💕Evelyn, PathofPresence.com🦋
Evelyn, thanks for being so sweet. Glad you learned!
This one area I really do struggle! Thanks for passing on these bicep targeted exercises I was in need of change to my regular routine.
Andrea, well I hope these exercises help then 🙂
You have great biceps and I think I need to work on mine a little bit now as I get older, your tips are really clear and easy to follow
Oh thank you so much!
Nice reading the tips. They are super useful.
I used to go gym and its been a year since I left. Bookmarking these for future use. Thanks!
Chuck, hope you are able to try them!