Two Steps for Big-time Biceps

Chinup
 Westend61 / Getty Images

The barbell curl isn’t anywhere near as multifunctional as the bench press, deadlift, or squat. But there’s no denying that the curl will always rank among guys’ favorite exercises. The more weight you can handle on them, the bigger your biceps can potentially grow. To add pounds to your curls and inches to your arms in the shortest possible time, follow this plan.

Do more chinups

Perform a set between sets of every other exercise you do, no matter what the workout. “Do 3-5 perfect reps each set, getting your chin over the bar,” says Jim Smith, C.S.C.S., owner of dieselsc.com. Chinups (palms facing you) allow you to work your biceps against your bodyweight—which is far more than you could ever curl—so doing more of them significantly increases the stimulus on your biceps.

Slow down

Take 3-5 seconds to lower each rep. You’ll often hear this portion of a curl rep—returning to the starting position—referred to as a “negative”. A controlled negative “teaches reversal strength at the bottom of the lift,” says Smith, meaning it will translate to a stronger curl motion, or “positive” portion of the rep.