I train biceps once a week as part of the following bodypart split:
|Wednesday||Biceps & Triceps
|Sunday||Cardio work & abs
I complete a heavy session in the morning followed by a lighter schedule
in the afternoon. I work a major bodypart in the morning, and then Monday
through Friday afternoon, I go back to the gym and do what I call touch up
work on certain bodyparts, the ones that I feel need a little attention.
The absolute cornerstone of my biceps training from the start has been the
routine shown in the accompanying chart. It's a routine that can be used by
beginners and advanced bodybuilders alike, within the boundaries of their
strength capabilities (the poundages shown in the chart are for informational
Don Long's Biceps Routine
|Standing dumbbell curls||1||16||2x45
|One arm cable curls||1||16||75
|Rope hammer curls||1||16||90
The range of exercises I employ ensures that every aspect of the biceps
muscles receive full stimulation: dumbbell curls for peak; barbell curls for
all around mass; one arm cable curls to enhance shape; and rope hammer curls
for forearm and brachialis tie in development.
My Top 10 Tips for Maximizing Biceps Development
I'm not too macho to admit that the descending reps design of the program is
one I first saw outlined by a woman bodybuilder. It made such good sense to
me that I immediately adopted it.
Benefits of Cable Work
- Prior to the actual biceps workout, stretch the target muscles, then
warm up thoroughly with a couple of light high rep sets. I have bone that from
day one and have never experienced any injury problems.
- Find your own strength levels in line with the descending reps program.
(Again the poundages shown in the chart are for informational purposes only.)
- For growth, you have to train as heavy as possible within the recommended
- For the first two sets (16 and 12 reps, respectively), use a weight that
allows you to just complete the required rep range without failure occurring.
- For the last two sets, use a weight for which failure occurs at the 10th
and eight rep marks, respectively.
- Don't go past failure into the forced rep zone. Not doing forced reps is
another reason (besides warming up thoroughly) why I feel I've remained
- Use strict style without bending your torso. During a real heavy set of
barbell curls, you may have to cheat a little to complete the last two reps
or so, but don't cheat until it's impossible to complete the set without
- As you complete each rep, visualize the biceps working, make mental contact
with the muscle as it rolls into a contraction, and form an image of the peak
- Particularly during the last two sets of each exercise, aim for the maximum
pump and a killer burn.
- Rest between sets only as long as it takes your partner to do his set. One
arm cables are an exception.
I use cables because they offer the opportunity to exert stress and, therefore,
greater muscle stimulation during the negative (downward) phase of a rep. During
this downward phase, you can control the weight and release it slowly in a way that
free weights just don't allow.
When I do my single arm cable work, I complete one set with my left arm and
then go straight back to my left and so on until I've completed four sets with
each arm. Basically, I'm curling nonstop. The rest periods allowed each arm
equate to only the time it takes to work the other arm.
Curling in this nonstop manner ensures that I get a great pump, and the
mechanics of the cable apparatus makes the rhythmic completion of sets very
easy to do. With free weights, I'd have to gather four sets of dumbbells around
me, but with cables, I just alter the pin in the machine and proceed from one
poundage to the next.
Going for the Peak
I attribute my biceps peak to the way I perform standing dumbbell curls. I
execute them in alternate style; one rep with my left arm, then one rep with my
right arm, back to my left arm and so on. At the start of each rep, my palm
faces toward my side. As my forearm approaches the point where it is parallel
to the floor, I rotate my wrist so my palm faces upward. I also lean a little
to the side as I complete the second part of the upward phase of the rep; this
really hangs the biceps 'out there' and makes it do all the work.
As I reach the midpoint of the rep, I push my elbow forward a little and then, while
visualizing the biceps peak rising, I flex the muscle for a full contraction.
This last action is like doing a one arm biceps pose while holding the dumbbell.
I have been doing standing dumbbell curls in the aforementioned style since I
started training, and I know that they're the reason I've developed my biceps
peak to the max.
If your biceps are a weak bodypart, don't be afraid to train them several
times a week. Getting the blood and nutrients into the muscle more regularly
will spur them into growth, and your mental desire to improve will outweigh
any considerations of not allowing what is normally considered to be
adequate recuperation time. Biceps are one of the smaller muscle groups,
and they don't need the same period of recuperation as a large muscle group
like quads or back. With regard to recuperation, I think the most important
factor is getting eight hours of solid sleep a night. The bottom line with
biceps; if you want them badly enough, you'll get them!