How to Get Bigger Biceps: 5 Tips That You Need to Know

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: June 19, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
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As an experienced Health and Performance Coach, I've witnessed many clients grappling with the challenge of building bigger biceps.

Recognizing this common struggle, I've crafted this article, drawing from my extensive experience in fitness coaching and the successful strategies employed by my clients.

In this guide, you'll discover the five most effective tips and the best bicep exercises, meticulously selected to help you achieve the muscular gains you desire.

Whether you're a beginner or an advanced gym-goer, these insights are tailored to elevate your bicep-building journey.

Quick Summary

  • For bigger biceps, focus on exercises structured for the biceps, like chin-ups, cable bicep curls, incline dumbbell curls, and hammer curls.
  • For maximum gain on your biceps routines, stretch and warm up properly before training.
  • To avoid strain or injury, rest for 60-90 seconds between sets.
  • From my perspective, the combination of diverse bicep workouts offers the best approach to enhancing both strength and aesthetics.

How to Get Bigger Biceps

In my years as a Health and Performance Coach, I've consistently seen two strategies work wonders for clients aiming to build bigger biceps; calorie surplus and progressive overload.

Let's examine them closely.

1. Calorie Surplus

Muscle growth needs more calories in than out. Check your daily needs with a TDEE calculator. Aim for a surplus of 250-500 calories daily, but don't overdo it – too much leads to fat, not muscle.

Adequate nutrition consisting mostly of protein, but also including healthy fats and carbs can fill this calorie gap and help your muscle growth and recovery after workouts.

2. Progressive Overload

To beat plateaus and maximize gym time, gradually increase your weights.

I've seen clients break through bicep growth stalls this way. It's tough, but as you up the ante each week, your biceps will grow stronger and bigger.

Anatomy of Bicep Muscles

flexing muscles

Your biceps, or biceps brachii, sit atop your upper arm, comprising a 'short head' and 'long head' that bend your forearm toward your upper arm.

Beneath it lies the brachialis, crucial for elbow flexion and actually more powerful than the biceps brachii as per Study.com, despite the latter's prominence [1].

Training your biceps isn't just for looks; it synergizes with your triceps, shoulders, and back, enhancing functionality for activities involving grabbing, pulling, and lifting.

8 Best Biceps Exercises

chin up workout

Note that while performing these exercises, focusing mentally on the muscle being worked, known as the mind-muscle connection, can increase muscle activation and growth.

I've seen this technique dramatically enhance workout effectiveness, leading to better strength and muscle development for my bodybuilding clients.

  1. Chin ups: Use an underhand grip on a pull-up bar. Pull up until your chin is above the bar, then lower slowly. Use a spotter or assisted machine if needed.
  2. Regular grip barbell curl: Stand with feet shoulder-width, holding a barbell underhand. Curl to chest height, then lower.
  3. Reverse grip bicep curl: Use an overhand grip on a barbell. Curl from hip to shoulder height, then lower.
  4. Cable bicep curl: Use a cable machine with a curl bar. Curl from hip to shoulder level, then extend arms to lower.
  5. Dumbbell preacher curl: Use a dumbbell and a preacher bench. Curl from extended arm to shoulder height, then lower.
  6. Incline dumbbell curl: Sit on an inclined bench with dumbbells. Curl from sides to shoulder level, rotating palms, then lower.
  7. Hammer curl: Stand holding dumbbells with palms inward. Curl to shoulder height, then lower.
  8. EZ bar curl: Use an EZ bar with a wide grip. Curl from extended arms to shoulder level, then lower.

2 Best Biceps Workouts

ez bar curl workout

Here's a simple weekly biceps workout routine, ideal for pairing with shoulder, chest, and back exercises for a full upper-body workout.

Remember to leave two rest days between sessions for muscle repair and growth. Rest 60-90 seconds between sets to prevent strain and assess weight or posture adjustments.

1. Workout A - Monday

  • Chin-ups (weighted): 3 sets of 4-6 reps
  • E-Z bar curls: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Dumbbell hammer curls: 3 sets of 8-10 reps

2. Workout B - Thursday (Or minimum 48 hours after workout A)

  • Barbell curls: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Dumbbell curls: 3 sets of 6-10 reps
  • Incline dumbbell curls: 3 sets of 8-12 reps

5 Workout Tips To Maximize ​Gains

stretching

Maximize Your Workout Gains with These 5 Tips:

  1. Warm-up and stretch: Kick off with a warm-up and stretch. Good sleep is also crucial for muscle growth and recovery. Warming up increases heart rate and blood flow, enhancing your workout. This advice is supported by the American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation [2].
  2. Choose the right weight: Avoid lifting too heavy to prevent injury and too light to ensure gains. Determine your one-rep max and use an online calculator for the ideal weight range.
  3. Train to failure wisely: Pushing until you can't do another rep is great for muscle building, but don't overdo it. Reserve this for simpler exercises and use it to finish your workout.
  4. Maintain proper form: Proper form is key, especially for the biceps. Keep elbows steady and move your arms correctly to target muscles effectively and avoid injuries.
  5. Avoid overtraining: It's easy to overtrain the biceps, triceps, and deltoids. Rotate your routine between different body areas and include rest days to prevent muscle breakdown, promote growth, avoid bicep injuries, and maintain bicep health.

Diet & Calories

making a diet list

From my coaching experience, I've learned that muscle growth needs a calorie surplus, but not excessively.

Exceeding 3,500 calories often leads to fat, not muscle, as Weekand reports [3].

I advise using fitness trackers and calorie counters to tailor your diet to your activity levels

Protein Is Key

protein-food

I always emphasize the importance of protein to my clients. It naturally slows digestion, creates muscle, and stabilizes blood sugar.

It also supports weight loss because muscle tissue burns more calories, making it easier to keep up with your meal plan.

If you’re hungry between meals or after a workout, grab a protein-rich snack to hold you through.

Supplements To Boost Muscle Growth

food supplements

According to Livestrong, creatine is a substance naturally found in your muscle cells and helps produce energy during strenuous exercise [4].

I recommend these supplements in smoothies, tailored for pre and post-workout needs.

Pre-workout, blend in simple carbs, protein, and fiber for energy. After, include carbs and protein to replenish and rebuild muscles

FAQs

1. How Many Times a Week Should You Train Biceps?​

You should train your biceps two times a week for maximum muscle growth. Allow a period of at least 2 days between bicep workout sessions to give your muscles time to rest and repair.

2. How Long Does It Take to Build up Your Biceps?

How long it takes to build up your biceps can depend on a variety of factors including your age, genetic makeup, and past exercise history.


References:

  1. https://study.com/academy/lesson/brachialis-muscle-function-location-nerve-supply.html
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10671188.1966.10614762
  3. https://www.weekand.com/healthy-living/article/body-store-excess-calories-18004633.php
  4. https://www.livestrong.com/article/460724-does-creatine-give-you-energy/
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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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