This New Way To Build Your Biceps Will Seriously Pump Up Your Arms | Men's Health Magazine Australia

This New Way To Build Your Biceps Will Seriously Pump Up Your Arms

 Without even looking at you, we’re confident that your arms aren’t as big as they could be.

How do we know?

Because most men – seasoned lifters included – make one critical error when working their biceps. “Most guys approach their sets backwards,” says physiologist Chad Waterbury, author of Huge in a Hurry. “They lift so that the hardest part comes at the end of the set. But to hit your largest muscle fibres, which have the greatest growth potential, the toughest part needs to come first.”

The Science of Exertion

Whenever you contract your biceps – whether you’re lifting groceries or curling iron – your muscle fibres are recruited in an orderly fashion from smallest (type I) to largest (types IIa and IIb).

“And those big type II fibres respond only to high levels of force,” says Waterbury. “So if you’re lifting slow and steady – as you do when you fatigue at the end of a set – all you do is exhaust your smaller fibres.”

Your larger, more powerful muscle fibres never come into play.

The Big-Arms Breakthrough

“Front-load your sets, exerting maximal force when your fibres are fresh,” says Waterbury. You can apply this principle to boost growth in any muscle, but you have to tailor it to your target. For biceps, high-tension isometric exercises work best, he says.

In practice, that means starting each set by holding the hardest part of the move – the top of an inverted row, for example ­­– then banging out a handful of regular reps. Waterbury knows that hitting “pause” bucks conventional wisdom – that to get big you have to lift big. His reply: “Rings gymnasts have the biggest biceps on the planet – and holds are all they do.”

Try it by adding one of the moves that follow to each of your weekly workouts for six weeks. “You’ll hit your biceps,” he says, “and also your brachialis (beneath your biceps) and your brachioradialis (in your forearms), optimising your overall growth potential.”

Monday: Inverted Row (overhand)

MUSCLES TARGETED: biceps brachii and brachialis

Secure a bar at waist height and hang below it at arm’s length using an overhand, shoulder-width grip (above left). Your body should be straight from head to ankles and your heels on the floor. Pull your shoulderblades back, then pull with your arms to lift your chest to the bar. Hold this position for five seconds, squeezing your biceps as hard as you can. (Imagine you’re trying to crush the bar between your hands, but don’t actually move your hands.) Now do five fast reps. Rest for 10 seconds and repeat; this time hold the top position for four seconds then do four reps. Rest for 10 seconds again, then hold for three seconds and do three reps. That’s one set. Do three sets in total, resting for three minutes between each.

Wednesday: Decline Hammer Curl

MUSCLES TARGETED: biceps brachii and brachioradialis

Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie with your chest against a bench that’s set to a 70º incline (above middle). Let the dumbbells hang at arm’s length with your palms facing each other. Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and curl the dumbbells as close to your shoulders as you can. Hold this position for five seconds, squeezing your biceps as hard as possible. Now perform five fast reps. Rest for 10 seconds and repeat, this time holding the top position for four seconds, then doing four reps. Rest for 10 seconds again, then hold for three seconds and do three reps. That’s one set. Complete a total of three sets, resting for three minutes between each.

Friday: Inverted Row (underhand)

MUSCLES TARGETED: biceps brachii

Secure a bar at waist height and hang below it at arm’s length using an underhand, shoulder-width grip (above right). Your body should be straight from head to ankles, your heels on the floor. Pull your shoulderblades back, then pull with your arms to lift your chest to the bar. Hold for five seconds, squeezing your biceps as hard as possible. (Again, imagine you’re trying to crush the bar between your hands, but don’t actually move your hands.) Now do five fast reps. Rest 10 seconds and repeat; this time hold the top position for four seconds, then perform four reps. Rest for 10 seconds again, then hold for three seconds and do three reps. That’s one set. Complete three sets, resting for three minutes between each.

By Mens Health Staff

More From