You should be able to work your biceps in 30 minutes which leaves plenty of time for some cardio training or you may want to work your triceps immediately following your biceps routine. I like to work my biceps and triceps during the same workout each week. I hit biceps first for 30 minutes and then I hit my triceps for 30 minutes and then there is no need to work arms until the following week.
Many people like to work each body part 2 times per week but I feel that is not necessary for the average person. When you exercise with weights you are tearing down your muscles which requires a lot of rest for them to recover and grow.
Your muscles do not grow in the gym, they grow and become stronger when they are being rested outside of the gym. Because our biceps are being torn down they need protein to grow and become stronger. You will need to eat a fairly healthy diet high in protein and moderate carbohydrates to fuel your muscles so that they will grow and become stronger.
For the average person we should be ingesting around 1 gram of protein per body pound each day. This mean that if you weigh 160 pounds you should try and eat 160 grams of protein per day. Eating 1 gram of protein per body pound each day is not difficult once you see what foods are high in protein. You can easily accomplish this by drinking a couple protein shakes each day along with a couple meals.
You will want to rest in between each set for roughly 60 seconds. In some of the more advanced routines you will take very l.little rest in between sets and at times you will perform multiple sets with no rest at all. With the beginner routine below I would grab a pair of 20 pound dumbells and curl them for 2 sets of 15 reps. This will warm up your biceps and elbows for workout.
As with any fitness activity the key to avoiding injury is to warm up properly. Now that the warm up set is done I would move onto the work sets. I would load a straight curl bar with a weight that I think I could get 8 reps with. Don’t worry about being precise on your estimate of what weight you should start out with. If you start your 1st set with a weight that is too easy then adjust the weight accordingly on the 2nd set.
I would then make sure I was wearing a weight belt and then I would lift the straight bar and curl it 8-12 times before putting the bar down. If you find that you are able to do 12 reps with that weight then you will need to increase the weight on the next set.
If you find that you cannot do 8 reps with that weight then you need to reduce the weight for the next set. Routines with 3-6 reps per set are more for power lifters and we are trying to achieve strength gains along with gains in muscle mass which is why we shoot for 8-12 reps. Ideally this is how your first set of the beginner bicep workout should go.
Lets say you load 50 pounds on the straight bar and you are able to get 12 reps on the 1st set. You rest for 1 minute and then you put 60 pounds on the straight bar and you are able to get 10 reps. You then rest 1 minute and put 70 pounds on the bar and you are able to get 8 reps. That would be a good set because you increased the weight with each set and you stayed within the 8-12 reps with each set.
A not so good set would be where you load 50 pounds on the straight bar for your 1st set and you are only able to get 6 reps. you then put 60 pounds on the bar for your 2nd set and you can only get 5 reps.
You then reduce the weight to 40 pounds and you get 10 reps on your 3rd and final set. If on my 1st set I was unable to get 8 reps I would start over and lower the weight 20 pounds. After a few workouts you will be able to estimate your starting weight for each exercise with ease.
So far we have done the warm up set and 1 work set which was the standing barbell curl. The standing barbell curl is the best exercise for building strength and mass in the biceps which is why we do it as our 1st work set.
Because it is an important exercise we want to do it as the 1st set when we are fresh and rested. Now for our 2nd work set we will do the preacher curls with dumbells. The preacher bench can be a seated or standing piece of equipment depending on the manufacturer.
I prefer the seated preacher bench because the standing preacher bench feels awkward to me. In this exercise we are using dumbells instead of the barbell. You will want to grab a pair of dumbells that you think you can curl on the preacher bench for 8-12 reps.
With the preacher bench you want to make sure your elbows are not hanging off the end of the pad. The preacher curl is great for shaping the bicep and this should movement should never be left out of a bicep workout. Do a total of 3 sets on the preacher bench using the same principles that we used with the standing barbell curls.
The 3rd and final work set in the beginner bicep routine is the hammer curl. The hammer curl is a great exercise that will hit the lower part of your bicep. The hammer curl is done with dumbells using the same weight principles as described above.
Do 3 sets of hammer curls and you are finished with your biceps for this week. Now would be a good time to do some cardio or work your triceps to complete your arm workout for the week. Your goal each week will be to increase the weight for each of these exercises. Don’t get discouraged, you will get stronger and be able to increase the weight in no time.
After 4 weeks of this routine you will be ready to change to the beginner bicep routine # 2. Our muscles are smart and they learn to adapt to the routines that we put them through so we have to change up our workouts from time to time.
Incorporating new bicep exercises means that we will be hitting our biceps from different positions and angles which will cause further muscle growth and development. I advocate tweaking your bicep workout every 4 weeks for beginners. Tweaking your bicep workout can be as simple as removing 1 exercise from your routine and adding something new.
For the beginner workout I would stop doing the hammer curl at week 4 and start doing the dumbells concentration curl. I would then switch the dumbells preacher curl with the barbell preacher curl and then switch the standing barbell curl with the standing cable machine curl.
After a few months of the beginner routines you may be ready for the more advanced bicep workouts which will be listed below. You may be tempted to work your biceps more than once per week as you start to see some gains but don’t do it. You can easily over train the biceps which will severely reduce your strength and mass gains and lead to an injury.
Beginner Bicep Routine
- Warm up with 2 sets of standing dumbbell curls for 15 reps each set
- Standing barbell curl – 3 sets for 8-12 reps each set
- Preacher bench dumbbell curls – 3 sets 8-12 reps each set
- Hammer dumbbell curls – 3 sets 8-12 reps each set