T Nation

I Have the Worst Biceps. Help


Hey guys,

Looking at today’s progress pic… I’m fed up: My biceps are about as full as MC Hammer’s bank account.

I have a ridiculously short tie-in, and from the rear, by delts have more peak.

I’m 6’3", 250, up from 210 when I started lifing. The rest of my body has responded to pretty much standard split training, nothing fancy, yet my biceps remain pathetic.

I’ve tried never working them, working them with 6 sets, 16 sets, once a week, twice a week, supersets, heavy-low rep, light-high rep…

Any assistance would be great.

Unless you have tried already, you could try incorporating some high intensity methods, forced reps, negative only sets, rest pause sets etc.

honeslty at 6’ 3’’ and 250 thats not terribly huge, you will probably need more weight to see gains on the arms, being 6’ 4’’ myself that shit takes a long time to fill out. what are youre other lifts like? Also your triceps look just as ‘small’ so its not just the bi’s man you just need to work the arms and gain all over.

Yeah, the arms are only 17 1/2 inches. My tris don’t see a whole lot of heavy weight as my right elbow simply hurts too much. EZ-Cirl skull crushers with a 45 each side is about all I can handle.

I consider my other lifts pretty solid from where I started. I never max any lifts, but my back and legs are the strongest, completing bodyweight pullups for reps, 260 bent over/yates row for reps, 125-135 DB one arm row, 950-1000lbs leg press for reps. I don’t squat, and today I got out 255 for 8 good ones on the bench.

[quote]bignate wrote:
honeslty at 6’ 3’’ and 250 thats not terribly huge, you will probably need more weight to see gains on the arms, being 6’ 4’’ myself that shit takes a long time to fill out. what are youre other lifts like? Also your triceps look just as ‘small’ so its not just the bi’s man you just need to work the arms and gain all over. [/quote]

Yeah, the arms are only 17 1/2 inches. My tris don’t see a whole lot of heavy weight as my right elbow simply hurts too much. EZ-Cirl skull crushers with a 45 each side is about all I can handle.

I consider my other lifts pretty solid from where I started. I never max any lifts, but my back and legs are the strongest, completing bodyweight pullups for reps, 260 bent over/yates row for reps, 125-135 DB one arm row, 950-1000lbs leg press for reps. I don’t squat, and today I got out 255 for 8 good ones on the bench.

[quote]nudecyberdude wrote:

[quote]bignate wrote:
honeslty at 6’ 3’’ and 250 thats not terribly huge, you will probably need more weight to see gains on the arms, being 6’ 4’’ myself that shit takes a long time to fill out. what are youre other lifts like? Also your triceps look just as ‘small’ so its not just the bi’s man you just need to work the arms and gain all over. [/quote]

Yeah, the arms are only 17 1/2 inches. My tris don’t see a whole lot of heavy weight as my right elbow simply hurts too much. EZ-Cirl skull crushers with a 45 each side is about all I can handle.

I consider my other lifts pretty solid from where I started. I never max any lifts, but my back and legs are the strongest, completing bodyweight pullups for reps, 260 bent over/yates row for reps, 125-135 DB one arm row, 950-1000lbs leg press for reps. I don’t squat, and today I got out 255 for 8 good ones on the bench. [/quote]

you can see my arm peak in my avatar and im 225 @ 6’ 4’’, but i didnt get them from what i do now as im pretty injured, but in my early logs when i got to 225x10-15 on close grip bench, which you should be alot of if u cant do alot of extension movements, this shit will pack fucking meat on those arms, i would do 5x10 2x a week for about 2 months and it seemed to worked. I really like seated curls with a solid hold at the top, maybe youre not fully using your biceps? If you have a strong back i suspect they are also strong but maybe youre not activating them? Also i dont really like skull crushers either but when i do them i put my elbows back almost beyond the forehead and then i go down at an angle so it stretches the upper head and doestn leave to much tension on the elbows. Hope some of that helps.

Well looking past the issue of the high insertion at the elbow (an issue i share) which will ultimately limit how big they can appear, I’ve found mine respond well to work focused specifically around reps at full extension, bottom half deadstop reps on the preacher for instance, letting your elbow lock at the bottom before repping. This with hands deliberately wider than your elbows (should feel awkward) got me from 15.5 to 16.5 inches over 6 or so months (5"10). Just somethig that worked for me.

Thanks for the responses guys, I will certainly see how each suggested movement feels in my next few workouts.

Something I learned recently, which I would have preferred to have learned earlier, is that forcibly turning the pinky/forearm in at the top of dumbbell curls really ignites the peak contraction. Give it a try, if you don’t do this already.

My forearms always seemed to do more work than my biceps until I recently started curling with a fat bar. Now I can feel my biceps doing the work instead. If that’s ever been an issue for you, you might try that.

Question: How much can you dumbbell curl? Or BB curl? Just asking to see if there is a correlation between your strength/size.

[quote]cwill1973 wrote:
My forearms always seemed to do more work than my biceps until I recently started curling with a fat bar. Now I can feel my biceps doing the work instead. If that’s ever been an issue for you, you might try that.[/quote]

Good suggestion, I like fat bars/fat gripz a lot.

Unfortunately with the insertion and flatness of the muscle belly you’ll always struggle with size there, but keep hammering away…there’s still plenty of room to grow. Good luck man.

I feel your pain. Look into Meadows’ stuff.

when i began as a skinny skinny bastard, arms were my best responders inherently, as a result i trained thenmto death. this DID not help them grow, it make me think they were growing, I was always able to get a great pump, and hence they looked, at the gym, to be growing.

by completely over training them I keyed in on so many subtle variances in movement and range of motion. also, i trained them progressively heavier and heavier. all this overkill created a great “feel” and instinct for how to train them.

later on, i kept the mind part, the connection w/ the contractions, and decreased the frequency and volume and added more and more thoughtful and not so thoughtfully timed calories.

our best bodyparts are often trained w/ much instinct, wherein w/ other bodyparts we stick to sets, reps, structure. body parts we love to train are usually the ones that are our stand out parts. figure out how to love arm day.

over the few years i’ve been training, i like to warm up then heavy sets/exercises first only 1-2 heavy movements for biceps, then all pump/blood volume work. 3-4 total exercises for biceps, usually three. triceps a warm up movement then a heavy exercise or two (usually 2 heavy movements) then volume. my triceps respond way better to volume than my biceps, once my biceps are cooked/pumped real good i stop.

heavy pinwheel curls for my brachioradialis have helped w/ a nice forearm and fullness of the entire arm. drop sets on a plate loaded preacher bench have helped. knowing when to go heavy vs when to chase the pump are key to successful arm training, those drop sets are great for just taxing and pumping.

all of us have things we respond best to, all of us have variance in muscle fullness, insertions, limb length. all that said, you’re a big guy so to fill out long arms it does take size. genetics determines a lot but i’d say you’ve got more size there if you push. cheers.

[quote]nudecyberdude wrote:
EZ-Cirl skull crushers with a 45 each side is about all I can handle.
[/quote]

One thing I’ve heard time and time again from guys like Stu, is some movements just don’t agree with/your joints. Ditch the skullcrushers, they bother a lot of peoples elbows and it’s not like there arent any replacements… Sorry no bicep advice except maybe try a “Specialization” phase hitting them 3x w/ different rep ranges each session.

[quote]cyruseven75 wrote:
when i began as a skinny skinny bastard, arms were my best responders inherently, as a result i trained thenmto death. this DID not help them grow, it make me think they were growing, I was always able to get a great pump, and hence they looked, at the gym, to be growing.

by completely over training them I keyed in on so many subtle variances in movement and range of motion. also, i trained them progressively heavier and heavier. all this overkill created a great “feel” and instinct for how to train them.

later on, i kept the mind part, the connection w/ the contractions, and decreased the frequency and volume and added more and more thoughtful and not so thoughtfully timed calories.

our best bodyparts are often trained w/ much instinct, wherein w/ other bodyparts we stick to sets, reps, structure. body parts we love to train are usually the ones that are our stand out parts. figure out how to love arm day.

over the few years i’ve been training, i like to warm up then heavy sets/exercises first only 1-2 heavy movements for biceps, then all pump/blood volume work. 3-4 total exercises for biceps, usually three. triceps a warm up movement then a heavy exercise or two (usually 2 heavy movements) then volume. my triceps respond way better to volume than my biceps, once my biceps are cooked/pumped real good i stop.

heavy pinwheel curls for my brachioradialis have helped w/ a nice forearm and fullness of the entire arm. drop sets on a plate loaded preacher bench have helped. knowing when to go heavy vs when to chase the pump are key to successful arm training, those drop sets are great for just taxing and pumping.

all of us have things we respond best to, all of us have variance in muscle fullness, insertions, limb length. all that said, you’re a big guy so to fill out long arms it does take size. genetics determines a lot but i’d say you’ve got more size there if you push. cheers.[/quote]

Insightful, thanks mate.

[quote]MAF14 wrote:

[quote]nudecyberdude wrote:
EZ-Cirl skull crushers with a 45 each side is about all I can handle.
[/quote]

One thing I’ve heard time and time again from guys like Stu, is some movements just don’t agree with/your joints. Ditch the skullcrushers, they bother a lot of peoples elbows and it’s not like there arent any replacements… Sorry no bicep advice except maybe try a “Specialization” phase hitting them 3x w/ different rep ranges each session. [/quote]

I second this. I have never been able to do any kind of heavy overhead extension or skullcrusher comfortably due to my shoulders. however, pushdowns feel ok, so I learned how to activate different parts of my triceps with that one movement.

what do your arm sessions look like OP?

OP, I’m gonna say the main problem is that you just need to get stronger. And for heaven’s sake, use elbow sleeves and stop doing skullcrushers…I thought it was common knowledge that they’re rough on almost everybody’s elbows, so I’m not sure why you’re doing them AFTER acknowledging your elbows aren’t the best.

I get it, you’re a tall-ish guy…but at 250 lbs, with your numbers, you shouldn’t really expect to look impressive. Just being honest with you. Having said that, pick 2-3 MAIN exercises for arms that you feel the best without joint pain, and focus on getting stronger at those over the next year.

[quote]hungry4more wrote:
OP, I’m gonna say the main problem is that you just need to get stronger. And for heaven’s sake, use elbow sleeves and stop doing skullcrushers…I thought it was common knowledge that they’re rough on almost everybody’s elbows, so I’m not sure why you’re doing them AFTER acknowledging your elbows aren’t the best.

I get it, you’re a tall-ish guy…but at 250 lbs, with your numbers, you shouldn’t really expect to look impressive. Just being honest with you. Having said that, pick 2-3 MAIN exercises for arms that you feel the best without joint pain, and focus on getting stronger at those over the next year. [/quote]

Yes, well beginning at 6’3 and 190, I find where I’m at impressive. I am out of the n00b gains period, so the 2 exercise beginner workout has run it’s course.

Check out some of Dave Tate’s workouts in his training log. He’s getting his workouts from John Meadows and I’ve been stealing some for my own workouts… it works quite well. Here’s an example from his log:

Super Set #1

Incline Curls with Extreme Fat Gripz (testing new product)

  • 2 warm up sets
  • 4 work sets of 10 reps

V-Bar Push Downs with Grip4orce Stiff

  • 2 warm up sets
  • 4 work sets of 10 reps

Super Set #2

Barbell Curl with Grip4orce

  • 2 warm up sets
  • 4 work sets of 8 reps

Seated Dips

  • 2 warm up sets
  • 4 work sets of 15

Superset #3

Machine Curls

  • 2 warm up sets
  • 4 work sets of 10 reps

Tricep Machine with elitefts? Short Bands

  • 2 warm up sets
  • 4 work sets of 15 with elitefts Pro Short light band