Biceps are one of the muscles we can all easily show off in tank tops or short sleeves, especially when we work hard to get those arm muscles. However, if you are like me, it’s hard to see progress in your biceps, and it can become super frustrating. Luckily, my friend, Kelsey Tonry, who is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer knows the struggle and is here to help us see the arms we want.
If you are reading this, then you want to see more definition too. I understand your frustration, we all want those arms to look good when flexed.
So what can you do to see those biceps?
1. Pay Attention To Your Form
According to Kelsey, curls are obviously the move to go to when it comes to training your biceps, but she has seen so many people make the same mistakes with curls. Whether you are doing dumbbell curls, barbell curls, or even cable curls, there are a few rules she says you have to keep in mind.
Don’t swing your body
Swinging your body to curl that weight from point A to Point B will start to use both your lower back and your shoulders. By keeping your body still, you are forcing only your biceps to work. A good solution for this is to sit down on a bench or lean up against a wall.
Paying attention to TUT
TUT stands for “time under tension” and it is extremely important if you are trying to build muscle. People tend to sacrifice not only form but also TUT to impress others in the gym by curling 70 lbs dumbbells when they probably would benefit more from curling 55 lbs dumbbells and increasing that TUT. Kelsey suggests making your lifts from point A to point B a total of 4-5 seconds for each rep.
One of the most important things Kelsey emphasized when she worked with me and my bicep muscles is squeezing your arm muscle. She says a strong peak contraction at the top of your curl is vital to growing your muscles. Take a moment to flex and squeeze your biceps when you are at full contraction because this will force your body to fire off more muscle while also increasing the lactic acid burn.
2. Create a Day For Just Arms
Even for Kelsey, who is a personal trainer, had trouble with her biceps for a long time and recently made a change to her workout routine to help see better results. She use to train her biceps the same day she trained her back muscles, and has now switched and gives her arms their own day to train.
Isolating your focus on only your arms is extremely beneficial because you have the opportunity to work your biceps much harder as they aren’t becoming fatigued by your back workout. Spending more time on aspects such as sets, reps, and overall volume when working your biceps will force your muscles to grow more than what you might be seeing now.
3. Don’t Be Speedy with Your Reps
A lot of times those who lift never properly learn the technique one needs in order to build muscle. We tend to observe others without gaining the knowledge first hand by a trainer or expert. During exercise, your muscle growth state, which is called hypertrophy, occurs 40 seconds into your exercise. Thus, it is important to have slow controlled movements, if you are banging out 8 reps in 20 seconds, you won’t reach the muscle growth state, which you need in order to see results. The slower and more controlled your reps are, the more time your muscles are in the state of growth.
4. Focus on The Right Nutrition
You won’t see results strictly from what you accomplish in the gym. One of the most important things Kelsey would say was she could only help me so much with seeing results when we were in the gym. It was up to me and my nutritional routine to fully see results- my biceps wouldn’t grow solely from the workouts she had me doing.
Also, Kelsey emphasizes the notion that, “you must eat to grow muscle.” Having a protein shake after your workout, or a protein packed meal is a huge step in the right direction, because that protein will immediately enter your system to help repair your muscles- leading to growth. Check out this protein packed shake to help build your biceps.
Your pre and post eating habits are really important to stimulate muscle growth. Your pre-workout meal/snack should be focused towards a healthy amount of carbs, to help energize you for your workout, so you can push yourself. The post workout meal should consist of protein and carbs.
Also, something which a lot of people don’t realize is you should be having your post meal snack/meal as soon as you can after your workout. You should try not to wait longer than 45 minutes after a workout to eat. Furthermore, carbs are really important to have after a workout because they restore muscle glycogen, and without that, your body might start breaking down your muscle tissue rather than your fat.
5. Exercises You Should do
The standing barbell curl is one of the best exercises. You can use the most weight with this exercise, and it targets both the short and long heads of the bicep. Need help on proper form? Check out this guide on the perfect standing barbell curl.
Another great trick, try turning towards doing less reps within a set, but with heavier weight. For example, try doing 6 reps of bicep curls or another exercise but with heavier weight than what you can do with 8-10 reps. By increasing your weight and doing less reps, you are actually increasing your strength building stimulus.
Also, never let your arms get use to routine. Try changing your hand placement during barbell curls with every set. Try a wide hand placement for one set, narrow hand placement for another and then shoulder width apart as well.
Lastly, if you can, try to go past failure for 1-2 of your sets. There are a bunch of ways to go past failure, which can be crucial to your arm definition and will help you see the results you want in order to show off those arms this summer.
6. Motivate Yourself
Most important, stay motivated. It will take a while for you to see the results you want, but it will happen. Keep a routine schedule, and don’t lose confidence. Stay consistent, work hard and it will pay off.