They may not be the biggest or the strongest group on your body, but your biceps are arguably the best “show” muscles.
Functionally, the biceps are pretty straightforward—they just flex the elbow—yet humankind has come a long way since the days of hoisting a club. Today, there is a dizzying array of movements to bring out every vein, bulge, and peak.
Here are a few of my personal favourites that you can try the next time you are at the gym.
The incline bench position increases the stretch on the long head of the biceps, while the neutral grip increases emphasis on the brachioradialis and brachialis. But the “hammer” takes some of the tension away from the long head, negating the benefit you gain from sitting at an incline.
Test this yourself by simply placing your right hand on your left biceps. Move your left hand from palm up to palm sideways and you can feel the tension change in your biceps.
Concentration curls place the arm in front of the body with a rotation in the shoulder. While this decreases recruitment of the long head, it potentially increases biceps thickness and peak by better short head and brachialis recruitment.
I recommend placing your free hand on your off leg to support your body weight. When you hit failure using a supinated grip, switch over to a hammer grip and burn out a few extra reps.
Many find the EZ bar significantly more comfortable than a straight bar. It shifts a little bit of the load from the biceps brachii to your other elbow flexors, so an argument could be made that the EZ bar curl is the best all-around biceps builder.
The classic! If you did only this movement for biceps, you would still come out ahead. Since the amount of wrist rotation helps determine how much work our biceps brachii work, it makes sense to maximize supination in a movement where we can load fairly heavy.
Play around with your grip width. It may reduce discomfort that some experience with a barbell, as well as emphasize a different part of the biceps. A narrower grip will emphasize the long head; a wider grip, the short head.