T Nation

Biceps training

I’m having a problem with my bicep training and looking for some advice as to how to address it. When I am doing any bicep movement, my front delt/traps seem to become overly involved in the top half of the movement as I approach failure. This is robbing me of precious contractions and a good deep burn. My arms are currently stuck at 18" cold, and I am determined to make them grow. I currently train Bi’s and tri’s on shoulder days. I train biceps first every other workout. I’m doing nine sets for both bi’s and tri’s. I base my routine around 1 basic movement such as barbell or dumbell curls, and two auxillary movements such as hammers, preachers, cable curls…ect. Any suggestions would be appreciated as always.

Spider curls, incline bench curls

What else are you doing in your workout routine? It sound like you are over training them. You should only train them twice a week max. They need time to heal just like any oher body part.

Your forearms could be the weak link. Run a search of the previous issues for Poliquin’s “Can’t add size to your biceps?” article. Also, I assume that even though you say auxiliary, you don’t mean sissy movements like high cable curls, one arm concentration curls, etc. Stick with the proven mass builders. Also, I know Poliquin has often recommended completely avoiding direct arm work and focusing on the compound movements as a way to make them grow. Lastly, make sure that there is adequate rest between your biceps and back workouts. You could also try an Ian King specialty program (Great Guns).

Try this: NO direct bicep training for awhile (try a month), and just work on your compound movements. Remember, when you work your back, your also working your biceps - since biceps are assistant movers with back excercises. AND then try just one excercise for 3-sets. Try the less is more approach.

What are spider curls?

I hear ya brother, I have the same problem. I’m guessing your a fairly big bencher. Every guy I know with a good bench has this problem. I’m quessing It’s from all the front delt involvement in bench which then gets easily activated when doing bicep movements. This also seams more prevelent in guys with stockier builds and shorter limbs. This has been my observation anyway. Incline db curls are good. What works best for me however is preacher curls lying on a decline bench face down with my arms hanging off the bottom which is actually the high end. (might be tough to get a mental image,sorry) I also find that I have to use lighter weights in most of my bicep movements to keep front delt activation to a minimum. I always us strict form but my delts will take over if the weight is heavy.

Thanks to all. I’m working on improving my forearms, and yes Magnus, I am a big bencher. My front delts are a strong point. I too, use lighter weights and strict form, but I’m trying to bust that 18’ plateau. Constantly attacking the weak links…that’s the name of the game. Thanks to everyone for your quality input as usual.

Yeah, what are spider curls? Drax you found any info on that yet? Sounds sweet as hell, but i have never heard of it.
Vain

We have a spider bench at our gym. My boss built it himself. Basically, it is an elevated pad that you brace your body against (like in a T-Bar row, except parallel to floor). There are pads at the front for each elbow. You do one arm at a time and the upper arm remains completely stationary (basically an exaggerated Scott Curl that feels a lot like a concentration curl). It’s a good finisher because you can’t move much weight. Personally, I think they suck; that’s just my two cents, though.

I am with Patricia on this one. It sound like you are over training your arms. Go for about a month without doing any direct arm work. Once you hit a certain level your body will only grow in spurts it seems like to me. Try increasing volume for one or two body parts to promote growth while at the same time doing only maintaince work for the rest of the body.
Max

Dr.D, you might want to check out the “Pop 'Em Out Muscles” article by John Paul Catanzaro. The reverse curl was a great addition to my workout (make sure to keep the eccentric slow), and I have seen results in both my forearms and biceps. Also, you might be hittin your arms a bit much I would concentrate on them once or twice a week max. Good luck

Like Patricia said, maybe do the compound thing and rest up your direct biceps work. When you come back to direct work, I think you should do maybe only 6 sets. This keeps the bis fresh yet strong. On bar curls, keep your shoulders back slightly, and as you come up in the contracted position, only go as high as the peak “ball of muscle” contraction. You can easily see this, as if you go any higher, the bicep muscle actually flattens, taking the work off of it. Your wrist should be held as far back and facing forward as possible, an old Arnold trick. Hold for a count or so with that ball of muscle contracted. On the down, stretched part of the curl, go as low with the bar as you can, that gives the stretch there, and increases the biceps “full muscle belly” look when just standing there with your arms hanging down naturally. Also, after each set of each biceps sets, immidiately pose your double biceps hard to continue the burn on it, then straighten your arms out at shoulder heighth, palms facing forward for a natural stretch.

I take the seat out of the preacher bench and use it backwards for spider curls. Use the flat part of the pad to rest the tricep on so your body is hanging over the top… I always thought that was a spider curl, but I know it burns like hell.

what ryno said