If you’re planning on starting up a YouTube channel featuring your incredible workout abilities, you’d better make sure your future subscribers will be impressed. The last thing you want is to throw up a biceps pose online and get downvoted into the depths of the Internet.
And while almost every dude in the gym is passionate about filling out his shirt sleeves with muscle, a lot of guys make vital mistakes that prevent themselves from achieving that goal. Don’t be like those guys—avoid these six all-too-common bicep training errors and watch your arms grow.
6. Using Momentum
If you want a muscle to grow, you must force it to do work. In contrast, bending forward at the waist and swinging your so you can use more weight will only take tension off your biceps, which in turn will hinder your quest for bigger guns.
If you find yourself needing to swing your arms to get those dumbbells up, then trade down for a lighter pair. Using 25-pound weights is nothing to be ashamed of—but every experienced lifter at the gym will look down on bad technique.
5. Leaning Back
Leaning back as you curl not only takes that all-important tension off your biceps, but also puts you at risk of injuring your lower spine. Tension is what makes a muscle grow, so stay upright throughout the range of motion. Again, if you can’t complete the lift without leaning backwards, trade down for a lighter weight. Your spine will thank you.
4. Lifting Your Elbows/Shoulders
Some lifters think that they will get a better squeeze in the biceps if they raise their elbows or shrug their shoulders at the top of a curl. That’s simply not true. By lifting your arms and shoulders, you just recruit your anterior delts into the movement—and that just removes tension from the biceps and lessens the severity of their contraction. Stay disciplined.
3. Curling With Forearms
One frequent complaint from guys in the gym is that they get a better pump/burn in their forearms than in their biceps when performing all types of curls. For some, this is a case of having a strength imbalance between forearms and biceps that needs to be addressed/corrected. Guys with this problem should focus on training their forearms as well.
But for most guys, feeling the forearm burn is an issue of technique. Make sure you don’t start your curls by first contracting the forearms. Instead, keep your wrists in line with your forearms (or even bent slightly back) from stretch to contraction.
2. Training Biceps With Lats
There’s nothing inherently wrong with training lats and biceps on the same day. But if biceps growth is your top priority, then these two muscle groups are better done separately. Since lat movements involve pulling, they tax the biceps and thus compromise the intensity you can put into your curls, which will in turn hinder long term gains in arm mass.
1. Ignoring the Negatives
The eccentric (negative) part of a bicep exercise—the part when you lower the weights and your bicep extends—contributes greatly to anabolism (the processes that ignite hypertrophy) and should never be ignored when training your biceps. By lowering the weight over 3–4 seconds on every rep—even if you have to go a bit lighter—you’ll make gains a lot more quickly than if you simply let the barbell or dumbbells drop back to the bottom of each rep.