Summer's coming and you want bigger biceps. Or, you've been lifting weights for months and your biceps aren't getting any bigger.
Either way, you're looking for pointers on how to bulk up. Marc Santa Maria, regional group fitness director - New York for Crunch, is here to help with five ways to boost your biceps.
1. Challenge Your Muscles. Whether you’re using weight machines, free weights, or resistance bands, always use positive and negative resistance in your exercises.
“You should do it in a way so that you’re not just working the muscle on the way up, but also on the way down,” Santa Maria said. “Just taking that control with the weight will make the move more efficient.”
2. Load Up. Lifting lighter weights can be good for toning, but heavier weights are needed to build a bigger bicep.
“You want to load up and do some heavier weights, even if you can’t do as many reps,” Santa Maria said. “You have to be working the muscles to the point of exhaustion.”
3. Change It Up. “Don’t do the same weights and the same sets every week so that you just maintain,” he said. “If you want to bulk up, you must increase the weight load you’re carrying, but you also want to vary your sets.”
Santa Maria said you can do this by switching each set, doing heavy weights for one set and lighter weights for the next, then repeat. He said you can also vary weekly, lifting only heavy weights for one week and then only light weights for the next.
“The body is so great at adapting you want to change it up,” he said.
4. Practice Good Form. “If you need help stabilizing, machines give you a stable surface to do that on,” Santa Maria said. “Free weights are cool, and you can pick the weight up and watch yourself in the mirror. It sounds cheesy, but it can be inspiring and help you work harder.”
Free weights also allow for more maneuvering — allowing you to twist and turn the lift to isolate the muscles you really want to work, he said.
5. Rest the Muscle. As important as it is to push your muscles, resting them is equally important. Take time off as needed, especially if you’re feeling especially sore.
“You want to let the muscle rest and repair itself,” Santa Maria added. “Give it time to heal.”