Arms, specifically biceps

What are some favorite bicep builders around here. Im expecting “deadlifts” and “chins” but what else does everyone around here use

Recently, I’ve been using the ‘perfect curl’ and ‘drag curl’ presented in the last Thibaudeau article - Violent Variations.

Powerlifters do not have better developed biceps than bodybuilders, so don’t let anyone fool you into believing that chins and deadlifts are all you need to do. If you do your back exercises properly, you shouldn’t even feel them in your bi’s anyway. Hit your biceps directly with curls of all varieties. The more varied the exercises, the more fibres you will stimulate.

I see hammer curls being neglected more and more. Grab a bench and some freeweights. Put the bench at a 45 degree angle and do a set, then raise the bench up and do another, and so on.

Also Zottman curls. get on a preacher set-up and do a curl, but at the top, turn your wrists inward and lower.

I don’t know the name for my favorite but set up like you’re doing cable crossovers, but put the handles higher up and do curls(the finished position looks like a double biceps pose)

Can you honestly say you don’t get pumped in your bi’s while doing rows?

Do heavy close grip chins. When you get too fatigued to be able to do anymore get a chin/dip belt and strap some weight on and just do close grip eccentric only chins. They will blow your bi’s up. Take like 5-10 seconds or so to lower yourself.

Bosshogoutlaw: Never!!!-If I did, I know i’m doing something wrong, but that never happens. I’m not trying to boast, it’s just a fact. I’ve been training for about 12 years and have learned to have amazing control of my muscles. I can get a pump in my lats from rows after only 2-3 reps, total! The only thing that would get pumped other than my back are my forearms, from having to hold big weight(using straps can avoid this). Concentrate on pushing the elbows back, not pulling the weight in. My motto(and it’s written on my business card) is “Train with your head, not your ego!”.


Sorry Charlie, when you do Chin-ups (palms facing you), you get a tremendous bicep workout! And this can even be further manipulated to give you an incredible bicep workout!


I am with you on this one. Back exercises done for the purposes of training back should not fatigue the biceps at all. Sorry Zeb I can perform my chins without affecting strength on curls.

I can also perform chins as a bicep exercise and can see their value but if you are training back and getting a pump in your arms, you’re not training back.

If you have subscribed to CT’s newsletter you will find an article on building your arms and it gives a good routine, which i will try out in the near future.

Send an email to CT and i am sure he will send u the newsletter.


There is a way to perform Chins, (not Pull-ups) where you train both back and biceps. there is also a way to perform Chins where you train virtually all biceps!

However, whichever way you train, if you use an underhand grip,(Chins), and hang from a bar and pull yourself up you will use a significant amount of bicep muscle. There is no way around it. Furthermore, Chin-ups (Performed in certain ways), are one of the best bicep developers around!

Sorry to argue, loopfit, but Charles Poliquin denotes chins as one of the BEST bicep builders around.

And I agree with CP… My biceps are getting very well developed, without any direct work at all; just increased weight in rows and chins and they’ll get bigger!

In fact, since I started doing my chest/back workout twice a week and eliminated ENTIRELY any direct arm movements, my biceps have been getting stretch marks all over them, as well as my pects and lats. I get an incredible pump in them as well as forearms and lats when I do my chins.

It is well known through MRI results that Rows and Chins strengthen the whole chain of muscles from forearms through biceps to the lats and other back muscles.


I am curious as to what set/rep system you are following relative to the Rows and Chins that you perform.

Chins hit my biceps really really hard. But if I were going after as much hypertrophy in my biceps as possible, I would throw in other exercises for my biceps as well. I train Westside, and he hammer the hell out of our triceps, with a lot of the work being for hypertrophy purposes. No reason to treat bis any different to get them to grow.

ZEB: my back regimen is very instinctual.

I normally stick around 5 sets and 5 reps. But, I also do heavy triples sometimes, and up to 8 reps other times. I switch specifics up often to confuse my muscles, but stick to certain classics (chins, tbars) to gague my strength over time.

I train, roughly:
M - 10 back sets (usually 5 sets say t-bars or barbell rows, and 5 sets chinup variants). My heavy U.back day.

W - Also, 5 sets heavy deadlifts on W hit my traps and lats and get them used to handling heavy weights.

F - 6 back sets (usually like 3 sets lawnmower pulls and 3 sets cable rows or machine rows). Like a back-off U.back day.

Kind of like having a heavy day and light day. As I said, though, rep schemes, TUT, rest intervals all vary according to my intuition.

My biceps usually get hit hard by the massive back work, no need for concentration curls baby yeah!

What’s yours like, ZEB?
What’s yours like, loopfist?

Hey Charlie, Bosshog asked me if I get a pump in my bicep when doing rows, not chins. there’s a difference. If you are getting a pump in your bicep when doing rows, your missing out. By the way, when I do my chins/pullups, I always do them pulling to my sternum(sternum chins/pullups), i squeeze my lats hard to get me up and only as far as my lats can get me, no further. Result: awesome tension in the back and NO pump in the bicep, even while doing chins. Sure if I wanted to, I could get a great bicep workout doing back exercises but that’s kinda stupid. That’s like using squats to train your lower back. Sure you could get a lower back workout doing squats, but that would just tell you that your form sucks. This analogy holds true for the upper back/bicep scenario as well. If your bi’s are getting tired/pumped/stimulated, then your form sucks.


For biceps I stick to close grip Chin-ups with a slow (down) negative on each rep, follwed by an explosive up rep. No more than four sets, sometimes only three.

I like the concept of changing things up to “confuse” the muscle. (Hear about the guy that decided to train at a different gym on Friday’s just to confuse his muscles? Okay sorry).


Actually, one reason that you train multiple joint movements is so you can train multiple muscles simultaneously.
This saves time and effort, and believe it or not is safer in the long run as most of the multiple joint movements are more natural to the body. (where in nature do you isolate your biceps to move something?). CW also seems to think it’s not all that important to train arms directly. Ever see his arms?

Squats, Deadlifts, Clean & Jerk, Pull-ups, etc. All good movements because they do train more than one muscle at the same time. If you get a “pump” in multiple areas while traing “back” for example, you are “missing out” on nothing. You are in fact gaining in other areas of the body.

I can understand why you may like to focus on one particular area, to “feel the pump,” many lifters feel that way. Everyone likes to train differently, efficiency is important to me, as it is not my desire to hang in a Gym all day, even if I do own it.

My personal training philosophy regarding exercise selection:

Squats over leg press machine.

Chin-ups over isolated curls.

Deadlifts over leg curls.

Clean & Jerk over tricep isolation.

Common sense and efficiency over wasting time and injury.

Charles Poliquin also feels that people with good teeth and who’s gums don’t bleed when they floss, almost always have the best bodies in the gym. This is a true statement that came out of his mouth! I like Poliquin, but keep in mind that he is in the strength training business. Most athletes train their biceps exclusively using variations of arm curls. This will have very little turnover to athletics so he substitutes these with a more functional exercise such as chins. This will get athletes away from doing curls, which will not help an NHL player’s slapshot, for instance. However, if you know of his methods for training bodybuilders you’d know that he uses curls almost exclusively. Different goals, different methods! Any tension you’ve put onto your bicep when doing chins, is tension lost from your lats. I’d rather put 100% tension on my lats when doing chins than 50/50 lats/bis. Make sense?

Ever see Arnold Swarzennegar’s arms? How about Larry Scott? How about Ronnie Coleman? How about J…you get the point. These guys all used massive amounts of isolation exercises exclusively to build some of the best arms ever. How about Pavel Tsatsouline, he swears by compound exercises only, no isolation work for him. The guy can do chins till the cows come home, yet he’s got 13inch arms.