Biceps are the ‘go-to’ body part when people want to show off their gains for an Instagram photo. In the old days, it was the automatic silent response to, “Let me see you make a muscle.” But if you can’t seem to get those arms up to par, you’ll want to flex something else for that next bathroom selfie.
While biceps training has a basic formula that most people tend to stick with, there are certainly enough variations where you can avoid doing the same exercises week after week. And that is not only boring as hell, but it will also keep you from reaching your potential.
Here are some of the more common mistakes that people make in the gym when working their biceps.
1 – SAME EXERCISES, DIFFERENT DAY
Let’s get a little more detailed on what we just mentioned. Basically, if you do four movements for biceps, try to split them up with two each for standing and seated. That’s the first variation you should address. Let’s say that you’re doing standing barbell curls and seated dumbbell curls this time around. Switch it up to standing dumbbell curls and seated Scott bench curls.
You can also use a straight bar one time and an E-Z curl bar the next, as well as switching between alternate dumbbell curls and simultaneous curls – standing or seated. Use machines when they are available and even go as far as taking advantage of the bi and unilateral exercises that you can do on them.
2 – NOT FORM FITTING
We’ll say it a million times and keep drilling it into your head – using strict form with a lighter weight will be more productive than sloppy form with a heavier one. You can always use heavier weight once you get the form down.
The biceps are relatively small muscles and you don’t need to overload them with crazy amounts of weight on the bar or dumbbell. They will get enough work with 12-to-15 total sets per workout wit moderate weight doing higher reps (a minimum of 12).
Regular curls will get the shoulders involved but when you use a flat surface to lean on (such as a Scott bench or incline seat), it’s all biceps doing the work.
3 – TWO HEADS ARE BETTER THAN ONE
Your biceps are made up of two heads, hence the ‘bi’ part of the name. When your pinkies are even with or higher than the other fingers (like when using an E-Z curl bar), the short head, or the part on the inside of the arm, is recruited more. Another way of hitting the short head is using a wide grip.
When you have the thumbs higher, the outer, or long, head is engaged more. Same goes for a narrow grip.
A lot of people aren’t aware of how this works and will do mostly or even all of their movements hitting one or the other. So what you need to do is split these in half and do the same amount of exercises for each.