How to Get Bigger Biceps – 7 Myths About Training Your Arms

father and young son flexing biceps

Peter Han |

How to Get Bigger Biceps – 7 Myths About Training Your Arms

If someone asks you to “flex” or show off  your muscles, you’ll likely do a double-biceps pose or flex one arm without hesitation. Even little kids seem to know how to strike this muscle pose. This pose covers magazines and is iconic of bodybuilding, strength, and a fit physique. Men tend to compete on the size and strength of their biceps, and it’s one of the most common exercises you’ll see performed in any gym.

But is training your biceps the only way to big arms? And are you training them correctly for maximum gains?

Here are seven of the most common myths about training your biceps, and the truth behind them that may help you get bigger biceps faster!

Father and son flexing their biceps

Myth #1: More is always better

Truth: Sometimes less is more. So many gym goers work their biceps way too much without adequate rest time in between sessions. Any muscle in the body needs about 48 hours to recovery properly, as this rest time is when the actual growth happens. Additionally, packing on the weight too much is also a big no-no. With correct form, adding weights will increase the potential of yielding more results. However, most gym goers increase weight by too much, too quickly, causing their form to suffer and increasing the potential of injury. An injury, of course, will decrease any growth for a period of time.

Myth #2: Exercising my back will adequately work my biceps

Truth: Yes, your biceps do engage when working out your back, but not enough to allow them to develop to their full potential. If your main goal is functional training, then you're probably not worried about the maximum size of your biceps, so long as they can help you achieve more pull-ups or row a boat or carry heavy bags. But if you're going for big, strong biceps that impress the ladies, then set a bicep or arm day in your regiment. Any muscle you want to grow is going to need more volume in your workout routine.

Myth #3: If you want big arms, you need to work out your biceps

Truth: Exercising your biceps is definitely one part of the equation, but many people, men in particular, tend to forget about their triceps. There are three heads on the tricep (the back of your arms), making it a much bigger muscle than the bicep. So if you want big arms bulging out of your t-shirt sleeves, you need to spend as much time, if not more, working out your triceps.

 Drawing of how to do a tricep push down with a rope



Myth #4: Hand placement will better target your inner and outer bicep heads

Truth: There is a myth about how changing the placement of your hands, either closer or further away from each other, will work the inner or outer bicep heads. But you can't lengthen one head without lengthening the other, and vice a versa when it comes to shortening the muscles. Placing your hands closer to each other while curling will increase stress on the wrist joints and put your elbow out of alignment, but will not provide an adequate change in how the bicep muscles are engaged. There may be a slight change, but it is so small it can be considered negligible.

Myth #5:  You can train your lower and upper bicep separately

Truth: There is no such thing as separately training parts of your bicep, because the bicep is one muscle. There are two heads, hence the "bi" in "bicep", but it is one muscle which makes it impossible to engage just an upper or lower section.  Engaging the "upper bicep" will automatically engage the "lower bicep", so don't worry about trying to specifically train certain areas.


 Prosource - drawing of how to do a seated preacher curl with a barbell


Myth #6: You can spot train your arms to make them look more shredded

Truth: This is a widely believed myth on which a lot gym goers base their workouts. Doing a thousand curls will not make your arms look more shredded. Looking "shredded" generally comes down to two things: fat loss and maintaining muscle mass. Fat loss - not weight loss - is achieved from a caloric deficit, and maintaining muscle mass is a result of a well-balanced workout program. So it's not the bicep curls themselves that will make your arms look shredded, but a combination of other elements like nutrition and cardio in addition to lifting. 

Myth #7: Sore biceps = An effective workout

Truth: This is such a big misconception, not just for the biceps, but for all body parts. Soreness is mostly due to lactic acid, which is produced in the muscle during the eccentric movements. The eccentric portion of an exercise is when the muscle is lengthening. Part of your body not feeling as sore the next day can be taken as a sign of growth, or your body adapting to the exercises. Soreness may be used to gauge how good or bad a workout was, but it is also a very incomplete gauge. Many things such as hydration level, supplementation, and stretching can impact soreness. Keep an accurate journal of your workouts and use that to determine growth, not the level of soreness.

Now that you now truth from myth, what can you do to build those biceps?  Read The Best Workout for Bigger, Stronger Biceps to get a full 5-exercise bicep routine you can try today! 

 ProSource Infographic - 7 Myths and Truths about Training Your Arms and How to Get Big Biceps

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