Why Won’t My Biceps Get Any Bigger?

Feb 4, 2022 mindpump

Building our biceps can be somewhat frustrating. Maybe you’ve felt you’ve tried everything lately, and don’t see any inches adding onto those arms. Today I’d like to go over what may be holding you back from growing your biceps, and how you can put yourself in a position to get bigger biceps.

Volume and Frequency

What you might be doing wrong:

Part of the reason your arms may not be growing may be due to frequency or volume. Some people do all their bicep work in only one day.

What you should do:

Instead of trying to do all your volume in one day, try splitting it up into 2-3 days. It allows you to hit the same volume fresh, allowing for heavier weights or more reps to be performed allowing you to get more volume in.

For example, instead of doing 10 sets on arm day, do 5 sets over two days.  

If you are already doing this, and still not seeing growth, try increasing the total amount of weekly sets by 2-3. You can add it into your current days or add a third day. Choose whatever you prefer.

More Isn’t Always Better

I know this sounds contradictory to what I just said. The purpose of adding sets is an AS NEEDED basis. You aren’t just throwing in more sets because a program says to. You are only adding it because you hit a plateau with your current workload and are trying to provide a new stimulus.

Rep Quality

The other factor when it comes to current lack of progress is asking yourself what your current set looks like. When I do 3 sets of biceps, they are scorched. Quality matters. Having the muscle just burn overall doesn’t equate muscle growth, but you DO need to feel that muscle working.

What you should do:

If you are doing 8-10 sets of biceps and don’t feel that tired in your biceps directly, there is no need for added sets, and I would definitely recommend lightening the weight, or choosing exercises that have a high stimulus to fatigue ratio. Meaning, they hit the target muscle well and don’t tire out other areas quicker.

Work The Angles

Not quite as important as the previous listed points, but you still want to make sure you are stimulating the muscle at a variety of angles. Doing 3 sets of preacher curl, spider curl, and barbell curl will all stimulate slightly different aspects of the biceps head and thus give you the potential for more growth then just doing barbell curls for all those sets.

You don’t need to go crazy on variety. Just make sure you’re aware and using different angles in your program.

Full Range of Motion

As we push the weights heavier, we tend to shorten our range of motion for the sake of hitting new records. Pay attention to your form! Muscle grows best when it is taken through a FULL range of motion. Partial reps will never provide the growth a full range does. Let the muscle get fully exhausted by taking it through a range that stimulates growth.

Focus on the Negatives

This can also potentially help with achieving full range. When lowering the weight try to do it in a slow, controlled manner. Shoot for 3-4 seconds lowering to full extension. A lot of muscle damage, and thus muscle growth occurs in the eccentric portion of the lift yet so many of us just drop the weights. If you are not controlling the weight when lowering any of your bicep exercises you are leaving gains on the table.

Include Compounds for Bicep Growth

Include chin ups and rows to stimulate some new growth in the arms. Most people don’t think of compound work when it comes to arms, but the biceps play a secondary role in both movements. Isolated exercises like curls are good for direct work, but don’t always allow for a lot of weight. Heavy pulls will allow you to stimulate your biceps with much heavier weight tapping into more of those fast twitch muscle fibers.

Important Notes

  • Only add weight when you can keep that steady, flexed pace throughout the full range of motion, at a given weight for 6-15 reps. The moment you can’t stay constantly squeezed for the entire range of motion is when you’ve reached technical failure.
  • You should feel a little sore the next day. If you are so sore you can barely curl your arms, pull back 2 sets. If you don’t feel soreness at all, add 1-2 sets. A little soreness is a good sign. It means you are now hitting the target area with sufficient intensity signaling growth.

Biceps Exercises: barbell curl, dumbbell curl, preacher curl, concentration curl, cable curl, hammer curl, EZ bar curl, reverse grip curl, etc.

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