AccordingSince I was a little kid in elementary school I remember one way of showing your strength to your friends was to make a muscle. You would always raise your fist in the air, tightening your arm as much as you could, squeezing that round ball shaped muscle in the front of your arm. Yes, that is the biceps; otherwise know in the medical world as the biceps brachii. When I was younger I even recall the cartoon, Popeye â€œthe sailor manâ€ eating a can of spinach and seconds later his arms grew enormously and he was able to conquer tremendous physical feats. The basic idea is that your arms, otherwise known as your guns, are crucial for almost any activity we encounter from the work place to the sporting arena. Use of the biceps is also necessary to engage in almost all activities of daily living. This article will provide invaluable training tips and a biceps workout that should be followed in order to achieve bigger, stronger biceps.
To begin, it is imperative to understand the anatomy and natural function of the biceps. The biceps brachii is a two headed muscle that got its name from Latin, which simply means two heads. (Get it, Bi-ceps). The biceps muscle assists in countless upper body movements but in isolation, it flexes the arm at the shoulder, it flexes the arm at the elbow and also supinates the forearm (this means turns the palm face up) Understanding these actions can give rise to the foundation of exercises that can make up a complete work out. This means not matter what, all these movements must be incorporated into a training regimen in order to feel confident that you are truly working out this muscle group. We will talk about the specific exercises later but for now I want to address frequency and intensity of training of the biceps.
Following resistance training, the body adapts by increasing muscle cross sectional area through an increase in the SIZE of actin and myosin filaments. This results in the addition of sarcomeres (the basic contractile package) to existing muscle tissue. It should be noted that there is probably no increase in the actual number of muscle fibers, but rather only an increase in their size. Furthermore, these increases occur in a selective manner primarily to fast twitch muscle fibers and may take as long as eight weeks to become evident.
I have done many exhaustive literature searches to find out what the optimal frequency and intensity is of resistance training a specific muscle group and the bottom line is that there is no bottom line! There are hundreds of conflicting researchers to this day debating optimal reps, sets and frequency of training. What I intend to do is explain many of the ideas purported and hopefully this gives you enough info to make your own decisions on this topic.
Letâ€™s talk a little about muscle physiology. Hopefully at this point in your training, you are well aware that the goal of weight training or resistance training is to target the fast twitch muscle fibers. These fast twitch fibers are the muscle fibers that have a greater ability to grow in size/hypertrophy and they are not recruited by fast movements as some coaches think. According to the size principal, muscle fibers get recruited from slow twitch to fast twitch in an orderly fashion and are recruited in response to the intensity of exercise. You can think of this in two ways, one can lift 100 lbs. one time or lift 1 lb. a hundred times. In each of these situations you may recruit fast twitch fibers but it is far better for hypertrophy to work for the former. A hundred repetitions of anything will enhance more of the slow twitch/endurance fibers to a greater degree. So in essence, the number of repetitions performed to fatigue is an important consideration in designing a strength/hypertrophy training program. The greatest strength gains appear to result from working with 4-6RM but many studies also advise the 6-8RM. Fleck & Kraemer in 1996 promoted a repetition range from 6-12RM for hypertrophy and moderate increases in strength. Increasing the number of repetitions from 12-20RM without a doubt favors an increase in muscle endurance. One set of 4-6RM performed 3 days a week is a typical strength training program. The optimal number of sets of an exercise to develop muscle strength remains controversial. In a number of studies comparing multiple set programs to produce greater strength gains than a single set, the majority of studies indicate that there is not a significant difference. Some do believe in increasing the volume of training to promote greater hypertrophy. Volume is most easily defined as the number of sets of an exercise multiplied by the number of repetitions (sets x reps). In other words, performing three sets of 10 repetitions would result in a volume of 30. This is the simplest way to track resistance training over a period of days and weeks. Implicit in this volume discussion however, is the fact that a set of 10 is performed with a resistance that allows no greater than 10 repetitions to be completed and is not merely terminated because an arbitrary goal number of repetitions have been reached.
Anatomy Basics (biceps brachii)
Origin Short head: Tip of coracoid process of scapula
Long head: Supraglenoid tubercle of scapula
Insertion Tuberosity of radius and fascia of forearm via bicipital aponeurosis
Action Supinates forearm and, when it is supine, flexes forearm Innervation Musculocutaneous nerve (C5 and C6 )
Arterial Supply Muscular branches of brachial artery
- Full Extension Is A Must.
- Slow Controlled Movement Is Optimal.
- . Volitional Fatigue Is Imperative.
- Intensity is Key.
- Your Own Squeeze Upon Full Contraction.
- Eccentrics or negatives promote more muscle breakdown than concentric.
Pearls of a complete bicep workout
Key exercise to incorporate
- Standing barbell curl
- Preacher curl
- Supination curls on Incline bench
Review the Bodhiforce Principles on this website to further fine tune you Biceps routine