A proper biceps workout for hardgainers would allow even the most difficult muscle to finally start growing, but what type of workout is proper for this specific population? Surely regular barbell curls thrown into a back training session isn’t cutting it, so you need to dig deeper and start isolating your biceps with more emphasis.
Biceps hypertrophy (growth) can be difficult for a lot of people because it’s a pretty small muscle group overall. A couple of other well-known issues are you don’t different training techniques, or you just do shitty repetitions that take time under tension away from your biceps.
The cold hard truth comes out, but this is actually a good thing because you can bypass the hardgainers phase and start having some nice solid biceps to show off on Flex Fridays or whatever else makes you desire them.
In this article we will cover:
- Specialized Training vs. Overtraining
- Things that Prevent Biceps Growth
- How to Maximize Your Biceps Contraction
- Top Different Exercises for Biceps Growth
- Full Biceps Workout for Hardgainers
Ready to get those pebbles turned into boulders? Let’s get this shit going then.
Note: I’m not going to get too crazy with anatomy and muscular hypertrophy. Please check out my other article for more in-depth knowledge.
Specialized Training vs. Overtraining
These are two very different concepts that you need to have a little understanding of being a hardgainer. Overtraining is when you literally train your muscles beyond their ability to repair.
This is actually very hard to accomplish since your body is capable of enduring a lot of physical movements.
The primary reason you reach the point of overtraining is because you’re not consuming sufficient amounts of nutrients to support the recovery process, thus overtime your muscles become over trained. The worst case scenario is catabolism, which is when your muscle cells are broken down. Talk about a shitty turnout for a hardgainer.
Instead of reaching this point and needing months to recover, you do the smart thing and eat plenty of calories to support your training. Then you allow proper time for your muscles to recover through protein synthesis.
The standard time it takes for protein synthesis to occur is 24-48 hours, thus the reason we always say at least 24 hours rest for targeted muscle after training.
In comes specialized training, which is the safe way to train specific muscle groups with more intensity each week. Specialized training usually only lasts for a month or two, but I’ve seen some bodybuilders push it to 3 months.
So what the hell is this anyways? Since you want to increase the size of your biceps, let’s use this muscle as an example. The average way to target the biceps is after back training, only through back pulling exercises, or on an “arms” specific day.
Instead of doing any of these, you will have a specific day for hitting your biceps, and then a better focus on your bi’s during back training days.
A bigger muscle group’s specialized training, such as for your pecs, would have 2-3 whole days dedicated to that muscle each week. But your biceps are not that big of an area to cover, and don’t need THAT much attention – even if you’re a hardgainer.
Things that Prevent Biceps Growth
#1 You need to utilize the full contraction from curls. Biceps growth may be difficult not only because you’re a hardgainer, but also because proper bicep exercise forms are just not being utilized. This is when we dive into those two terms “eccentric” and “concentric” contractions.
Long story short, eccentric contractions are when the muscle is being stretched, and concentric contractions are when the muscle is being shortened.
For example, the dumbbell bicep curl. When you curl the dumbbell up that is the concentric phase, and lowering the dumbbell is the eccentric phase. Both phases must be used properly to start seeing muscle gains more effectively.
So what does this have to do with you? I’d venture to guess from experience with clients that 9/10 people performing curls are not allowing the eccentric phase to properly occur.
Nice steady movements help the muscle contract during this phase, but people get into the habit of just quickly dropping the dumbbell down to do another curl. This is called the bicep swing and is a habit that needs to be broken.
Curl the weight up, and lower the weight back down allowing the resistance to come from going against gravity to prevent the weight from falling too quickly.
You’re not doing negatives and taking fucking forever to curl. Just nice clean movements where you have control of the resistance at all times.
#2 You may not be performing a full repetition. The bicep curl is when your lower and upper arm forms an angle beyond 90 degrees. Basically the dumbbells or barbell should be up towards shoulder level. If not you’re cheating your reps because the lower portion of your curl sucks i.e. is weak.
You can fix this by performing half reps. I know, sounds a bit counterproductive because now you intentionally don’t perform the full rep. But hear me out on this.
The biceps curl is easy because it has two separate movement sections. The first is moving the weight from below waist level and up to your midsection. The second portion is going from your midsection up to shoulder level.
Breaking these two sections up allows you to increase the strength of any weaknesses during the curl.
Easiest method is performing the biceps exercise 21’s. This is going to allow your lower, upper, and full motions to increase in strength. Perform 7 reps of going from low to midsection. 7 reps immediately after going from midsection to shoulder level. Then 7 reps immediately following of full biceps curls.
#3 Your repetition counts need to change. This is one of the primary reasons a lot of people cannot develop their biceps muscle. The common count is 12-15 repetitions with low resistance. Your biceps deserve more than this if your trying to do more than have slim upper arms. Your training programs should welcome change because it helps prevent your body from developing a habit.
On some training days your should perform biceps curls with moderate weight for 8-10 repetitions, or from time to time you could use close to heavy resistance for only 6 reps. Variation is key to muscle building, and this concept applies to all muscle regions honestly. Mix it up and see the development changes.
Maximize Biceps Workout Contractions
If you’re a hardgainer you need to be covering all areas for the movements that concern your biceps. Biceps contractions are quite easy because as you curl you squeeze the hell out of your biceps by clenching your fist. Each biceps curl you should see the whites of your knuckles.
Another way to maximize bicep contractions is through the supinated grip instead of neutral. Neutral is when your palms face in, so it would be hammer curls technically. The best is whenyou twist the dumbbell coming up making your palms face up and towards your body.
This is speaking in terms of contracting your bi’s nice and good. I’ll get more into the benefits of the hammer curl in the biceps exercise section.
Taking the seated biceps curl position every now and then is a good idea as well. This helps prevent the use of your upper body to sway back and assist with the curl. Keep your back against the pad and just use your arms to pull those weights up.
Top Different Exercises for Biceps Growth
The different exercises I’ve chosen to discuss are because they have something unique to them that a lot of soon to be fitness junkies never knew about. Regular bicep curls, preacher curls, and isolation curls are already a given, and I already mentioned 21’s earlier.
- Hammer Curls
Okay, now back onto discussing this exercise. The hammer curl help get your biceps mass going because they are targeting not only your biceps long head, but also doing a lot more for your brachialis. This muscle that often doesn’t get enough credit is located beneath your biceps.
When you perform a hammer curl, your hands being vertically up and thumbs pointed forward contract this muscle heavily, thus allowing two muscles in this region to grow more effectively.
- Ez-Bar Reverse Curls
Again, this is basically the same concept as hammer curls because you are targeting your brachialis and getting great emphasis on your forearm muscles and grip as well. I say Ez-Bar because you can hold the “humps” in the bar and squeeze more effectively for better contractions.
- Alternating Dumbbell Preacher Curl
This is one of my favorite exercises that helped me bypass being a hardgainer and popped my biceps out nicely. The normal preacher curl with dumbbells is performed when you have your palms facing towards you without having to twist in the process.
You will perform one repetition, but then once the dumbbell is back up to shoulder height, you twist your palm in and now perform a hammer curl. Twist again and back to performing a regular biceps curl.
You’re essentially switching from supinated to neutral in an alternating fashion and vice versa until you perform an equal amount of reps for both curl placements.
- Concentration Curls with a “Twist”…Literally
Concentration curls are when you keep your upper arm against your leg while you only curl the dumbbell up, thus isolating your biceps totally. Now let’s change this up a bit. When you curl the dumbbell up from the floor, make sure your wrist is completely straight and doesn’t curl in.
Concentrate on this and don’t let your wrist bend in. When you curl the dumbbell up, squeeze at the shoulder level while twisting your wrist from left to right. Watch how your biceps move in and out. Freaking exercise will give you insane bicep pumps.
Pulling Exercises Increase Bicep Muscle Growth
The most basic way to increase the size of your biceps is through pull ups with a supinated grip. Again, supinated grip is when your palms face up and/or face towards your body gripping the weight. Now, doing a pull-up with this type of grip greatly stimulates your biceps muscle.
The same concept applies to other pulling exercises with the same grip. So you could change your bent over row regular grip to reverse grip and get a nice back and biceps exercise. This is not to say the pulling exercises with pronated and neutral grips do nothing for your biceps. Instead it’s just a statement that supinated grip will always be more effective for hitting your bi’s.
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Full Biceps Workout for Hardgainers
Each exercise provided is intended for you to perform with moderate load settings. Basically the weight is not too light or heavy, and you can perform 8-10 repetitions. This workout is to be performed towards the end of your training week. I’ve provided an example below:
- Monday – Chest and Tri’s
- Tuesday – Legs & Glutes
- Wednesday – Back & Bi’s
- Thursday – Shoulder and Tri’s
- Friday – Biceps and Brachialis
- Saturday and Sunday – REST
This biceps workout should help and hardgainer develop nice “guns” assuming you eat enough nutritious calories and get plenty of rest. The word “superset” in the program below means your perform the second exercise right after first one and then finally rest.
Biceps Training Program
Exercise Reps Sets
Barbell Curls x4 x8-10
Alternating Dumbbell Mixed Preacher Curls x3 x8-10
Standing Biceps Curls x3 x8-10
Barbell Reverse Curls x3 x8-10
Concentration Curls “Twist” x4 x8-10
On a final note I did mention getting more specific with targeting your biceps during back training. First, you can reverse your grip during rows and notice your biceps get a lot more contractions while your back still gets hit hard as well.
Then during the isolation stage of training perform two different exercise movements after compound lifts have been completed. This gives them better time to contract before being to fatigued through all the pulling exercises.
So there you have it, a 1-2 months biceps workout to add into your last day of training. Be sure to follow me on my social media accounts to keep an eye on my progress, and shoot a message over any time you need assistance. Hope this full biceps workout for hardgainers helped you out. Strong Fit living. Do it. Live it.