How to Create a Bicep Workout

Three Parts:Focusing on FormCreating a Balanced Workout RegimenFocusing on Staples for Developing Bicep Mass

The biceps are two muscles that run from your shoulder to the front side of the elbow joint, forming a peak when you flex your arm.[1] Biceps are one of your most visible muscles. Therefore, though they make up a small part of your total muscle mass, they are what people will often use to judge the sort of shape you are in. A good bicep routine requires balance, planning, and variety.

Part 1
Focusing on Form

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    Stretch and warm up. To prepare for a major work out and prevent injury it is important to warm up and stretch. For a warm up you should do one set of approximately 15 reps at half of your maximum capacity.[2]
    • To stretch your biceps, lift your arms out to your sides at shoulder height. Open the palms up towards the sky and continue turning the palms backwards. Anatomically, this places the muscle in the most elongated position. Hold for at least 30 seconds.[3]
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    Don't cheat much. If you put too much swing into your motion or use your back and legs to help get momentum, your biceps won’t actually get much of a workout. However, some experts now say that a little bit of cheating toward the end of a workout can be helpful.
    • If you are at the end of your workout and are trying to get a few additional reps, cheating can add to the intensity of your workout. However, you should only use it to extend your workout.
    • To prevent cheating, you can do the exercise against a wall or sitting down. You may also adopt a staggered stance so one foot is slightly more forward, the other slightly more back. This is a great position to prevent swinging the back.
    • Cheat at most on the last two or three reps in a set. If you begin experiencing muscle fatigue earlier than that, consider reducing your weight load.[4]
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    Flex your biceps. You should be sure to get the full upward motion of your curl. Part of this consists in focusing on your movement and the other part consists in keeping your weight resistance at a reasonable level.
    • Do a slow curl. Take two seconds to raise the weight, hold for a second, and then take two second to lower it.
    • Flex your muscles at the end of curl.
    • During some workouts, you should perform a curl in which you twist your arms so that your palms are facing toward you at the beginning of the curl and facing up toward the ceiling at the end.[5]
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    Vary form occasionally. There are some techniques that can be used on the last rep of a set to extend your workout and make it more intense. You can use these at the end of one or two sets per workout.
    • Try a partial rep. To get additional reps, only do part of the range of motion at the end of the set.
    • Bring in outside force. Have a partner help you complete the motion or cheat by bringing in additional muscles and picking up momentum. Do this only at the end to extend your workout.
    • Try a drop set. As soon as you have reached muscle exhaustion pick up lighter weights and work until exhaustion. Then pick up even lighter weights and try again.
    • Try a rest pause. Weight for approximately 20 seconds during your set for you biceps to recover. Try to get in more reps than you would otherwise be able to do.[6]

Part 2
Creating a Balanced Workout Regimen

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    Plan for muscle imbalance. It is common for one arm to be stronger than the other. If you find that this is the case, consider working the weaker arm a little bit more.
    • It is tempting counteract muscle imbalance by increasing the weight your weaker arm. However, this will cause it to reach exhaustion too early. Try to do additional sets with the weaker arm.[7]
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    Don’t overwork your biceps. If you don’t give muscles sufficient time to recover they won’t develop. Because biceps are relatively small and you tend to work them when during other upper body exercises, you need to be especially careful that you don’t overwork them. Exercise them at most twice, preferably once a week.
    • Because you should not overwork your biceps it makes little sense to work them to the exclusion of other muscles. Try some cardio; it will reduce the fat on your arms, increasing muscle definition. Triceps and shoulder exercises can also improve the appearance of your arm.
    • It makes sense to do back exercises the same day as arms, because many back exercises will also work your biceps. If you exercise these groups separately, you will hinder your biceps ability to recover. You should do your back routine first, because it is always best to start out with larger muscle groups.[8]
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    Do an optimal number of sets and reps. For maximum muscle growth, you should try to do eight to 12 reps per set. The number of sets you will want to do varies with the level of your muscle development. Try not to overwork you biceps.
    • Beginners should generally do six sets: three sets of two different exercises.
    • Intermediate weightlifters should do nine sets: three sets of three different exercises.
    • Experts can consider doing as many as twelve sets, varying the ratio of sets to types of exercises.[9]
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    Vary the types of exercises you do. Your muscle fibers will get acclimated to doing the same workouts repeatedly. The biceps are less complex than many of your other muscles, making it difficult to incorporate too much variety. However, you should aim to try a new exercise occasionally and progress to different types of exercises during the course of your workout.
    • Try one barbell or EZ-bar exercise, one dumbbell exercise, and one machine exercise each workout.
    • Alternatively, try one exercise standing, one seated, and one with the angle of your curl altered by either your body or the bench.[10]
    • It used to be thought that isolation exercises could change the shape of your bicep. This is now largely dismissed. However, there are some minor muscles in your arm that can be built separately, changing the shape of your arm. The brachialis, which is exercised with hammer curls, runs along the side of the arm to the lower end of your biceps, near the forearm.[11]

Part 3
Focusing on Staples for Developing Bicep Mass

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    Perform standing barbell curls. The most basic of bicep exercises, this move will also strain the greatest percentage of your muscle fibers. To perform this motion, simply take a barbell and curl your arms upward toward your body with your hands facing up toward the ceiling.[12]
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    Perform one arm preacher curls. This is performed by placing your arm on a surface that keeps your elbow at approximately a 45 degree angle relative to floor. Perform a curling motion with dumbbells on both arms. Lift a barbell with one arm and then the other.
    • This motion will isolate certain segments of your bicep, creating greater diversity in your regimen.[13]
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    Perform hammer curls. The hammer curl is performed by doing a standard curl motion standing up with dumbbells. However, instead of having your palms facing up toward the ceiling during the motion, they will face inward toward you.
    • This will work the brachialis, rather than the biceps proper. However, this muscle is important to the development of the shape of your arm. Performing hammer curls will create more diversity in your routine and limit muscle exhaustion.[14]


  • The biceps can get pretty tight and pull the shoulders forward based upon their insertion. Always use proper form, keeping the shoulders pulled back and the chest lifted. If this is not done correctly, a great imbalance may occur including a lot of tension created in the traps and noted worsening posture.
  • If you really want to increase your muscle mass you should do at least four sets of an exercise.

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Categories: Building Muscle & Strength