When I work out my biceps I do 4 exercises, 3 sets per excercise (12 sets all together). Now I was curious since I read somewhere that people thought 12 sets for biceps was way too much. Anyone have any opinions on this? I haven’t been making any significant gains in bicep mass or strength since I started and was wondering if overtraining could be the problem.
First off, you’re doing too many exercises. Four exercises for any particular body part is generally speaking, too many. Two exercises is probably optimal.
If you're on a serious bulking cycle, then no, I don't see a problem with 12 sets. If not, it's too much.
What does your diet look like (i.e. total calories; protein/carbs/fat)?
Having said that, if you are just training your arms thinking that they are going to grow, then forget it. You need to be doing some heavy compound work for your back and traps, and bicep growth will follow.
What kind of training are you doing for the rest of your body? If you are doing 4 exercises per body, I would think that you are doing mainly isolation-type exercises. No good for growth. What kind of compound movements are you doing? Like i said, one compound movement per bodypart for moderate to high volume, and then one isolation type exercise to fatigue a given group (2 exercises) is plenty of resistance work to spur growth.
How long have you been training? You say you havn't noticed a difference; just how long has it been?
Are you supplementing pre-post workout with a protein/carb/amino complex?
Please provide some more information so that we can better help you.
Way too much. Biceps are very small in comparison to the rest of the muscle groups. However, people love to train them and blast the shit out of them. Personally, I blieve this leads to “shoulder” problems later on. Anyway, if arm girth is what your after most trainees lack triceps.
Do you deadlift? Squat? Do pull-ups and dips? Rows? Those are the important mass builders. Give us more details. Hopefully you’re not one of those “bench and biceps” teenagers.
first of all how many days rest do your biceps get? doing 12 sets once a week is not too much but 2 or 3 times a week is pushing into overtraining. dont forget to note when bis get worked with other muscle groups like when training back. if you ad all this volume together it could prove to be too high.
secondly what rep range are you working in? lower reps with longer rest inbetween sets cause more damage and require more rest days.
are you ingesting enough calories and protein?
it could also be excerxise selection. try close grip chin ups with palms facing you and reverse barbell curl.
have you neglected triceps? a strength imbalance could be preventing progress. the same goes for your traps if there weak they could inhibit bicep growth as explained in the T-mag article “booming biceps”.
since you said that you made no gains in strength i defintely believe your sets are too high. its time to cut back volume and excercises and work on a strength cycle for about 5 weeks.
pick only one bicep excercise and do 4 sets of 8, 6, 4 and 3 reps. go to failure each set and rest 3 minutes inbetween sets. (my biceps respond well when rep speed is fast and explosive but warm up first). each week aim to do one more rep on any of the sets, or add a little weight to any of the sets. this will be your strength gain! keep doing this untill progress stops then switch back to a higher volume multiple excercise program where average rep range is 8 to 12
Biceps/Triceps are the only body parts I do isolation exercises with.
When I do chest I will generally do Push ups, Bench Press Barbell, Bench Press Dumbbells, Lying Rows (switching this up every now and then of course). Squats, Lunges, Leg extensions, and Leg curls for legs. etc
Of course I have noticed much better gains in my legs and chest, and especially triceps, than in my biceps (reason I assume is that Triceps are a lot more involved in compound movements than my biceps).
I believe my diet is in order, I shoot for 2500calories 40P40C20F.
Been training off and on the passed 2 years. Been training consistently the passed 5-6 though. Last noticed any real gains in biceps around January.
And yes I do take post workout protein/carb/amino supplements.
However I think you may have hit it with the isolation exercises. When I think about it, I don’t believe i’ve ever done any compound movements that involved biceps. Any suggestions on compound exercises that work biceps well?
i don’t believe that you are overtraining…however, i do think you may need to stimulate your biceps more…i personally perform (depending on the weight)…about 20 sets altogether from my four main exercises…try alternating exercises, even postitions perhaps to hit the muscle for optimal results…overtraining though is something you should be very aware of and if ever feel the need to rest extensively, feel free.i hope this may be of some help.
My Bi’s got bigger and stronger once I incorperated direct forearm training, seriously! give it a try. Also, always do some sort of hammer curl when training Bi’s, I usually do about 3 sets of a hammer variation per session.
Rik? Is that you??
Your results will tell you if you are overtraining. If you are getting bigger and stronger doing that then keep doing it. If not consider not working arms at all. I hardly do any direct arm exercises. I, instead, focus on pressing and pulling movements.
I do 3-4 exercises for arms.That brings me to about 12-13 sets. I only do them once a week. Plus I do back on the same day. I am bulking right now. In a few weeks I am going to drop Number of sets and exrcises and increase reps. Before I was bulking I usually did 2-3 exercises at 6-9 sets. At max 10 sets. One of my favorite bicep exercises is hammer curls with the pulldown rope. That will get them guns burnin’.
I agree 100% with Goldberg. My arms and everyone that I train respond better to lower volume when it comes to arm training, especially bi’s. If you do 12 sets for your bi’s how many sets do you do for your back??? Hams???
Think of everything your doing, and do the opposite !