How to Get Bigger Biceps

Before I answer the age-old question of “How do I get bigger biceps,” let me just emphasize the importance of training the rest of your body. The pursuit of bigger arms needs to be accompanied by a well-rounded training program. There was a time when I did not even perform arm exercises as a part of my training. As an athlete, bigger arms did not coincide with being better at my sport. Through improved strength in pushing movements like bench and overhead press and pulling movements like rows and pull-ups, I was able to pack on a decent amount of size. Your biceps really only need to be trained directly once per week (twice at the most). What I mean by training the biceps directly is performing exercises that isolate the biceps muscle like curls. Regardless of how many days per week you are going to the gym, that will leave a substantial amount of time to ensure that you don’t end up looking like this guy:

Everybody has seen those “He Skipped Leg Day” memes all over the internet. This is one of my all-time biggest pet-peeves. I’m not sure who said it first, but “you can’t build a house on stilts.” End of story.

Now that I have addressed that, here are 3 tips on how to get bigger biceps:

1.) Train for Strength

In order to change the shape of the muscle, you must get stronger. Now, there are a number of ways to do this: You can increase the amount of weight, you can increase the amount of reps, you can increase the time under tension, etc. 

The most effective method that I have come across in increasing size is (for any direct biceps work) perform 3 sets of 4 to 6 repetitions while lowering the weight for 3 seconds. Be strict with the 3 seconds and you will be thrilled with the results. If you can complete 6 reps with proper form, move up in weight. If you can’t complete 4 reps, move down.

The same applies for women. The only change I would make is regarding the repetition range. Women should do 8 to 10 instead of the 4 to 6. The focus will still be on strength, but the 8-10 rep range will lead to that more toned look women are after.

2.) Fatten the Grip

Utilizing thick-handled grip increases the number of muscle fibers being activated, which is optimal for increases in muscle size and strength in the forearm, the upper arm, and the rest of of the upper body.

Not everyone has access to thick-handled training implements. They are very expensive and can usually only be found a elite level gyms. The affordable option I would recommend is purchasing a pair of FatGripz. They slide right on to any barbell, dumbbell, pull-up bar, and most cable machine attachments.

Throw these on as many exercises as you’d like during a workout. Disclaimer: It does decrease the amount of weight you can lift. If you’re goal is to lift as much weight as possible for your primary exercise for that workout, leave the FatGripz for your secondary movements like dumbbell rows or biceps curls. 

3.) Bloodflow Restriction Training

This one if for the advanced lifter. For a beginner, Tips #1 and #2 will be effective enough.

Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) Training for the biceps is performed by placing a cuff or an elastic knee wrap around highest portion of the biceps possible. 

BFR does not allow the blood to escape the veins, while arteries continue to deliver blood to the muscle. This makes for an insane pump. You are deceiving your body by getting it to recruit more muscle fibers while using light weights. The result is muscle growth. 

This is typically done as a finisher on a day where you have already trained biceps. Here is what I would recommend: 1 set of 30. Rest about 30 seconds. Then try to get another 30 reps with that same weight. Start with 10lbs if you’ve never done it before. It does not take much weight here.