Trainer tips to build your biceps

by Oliver Brown on Thursday 09 February 2023

4 min read

Meet our Northern Beaches Personal Trainer, Oliver Brown. Oli began his fitness journey at the early age of 14, heading to the local gym with his dad most days. The equipment was limited, but offered a humble free weight area, which was all that was needed to spark his passion for living and breathing all things health and fitness. Oli has been a member of the Virgin Active team for over 4 years now and has countless coaching sessions under his belt. He is here to inspire us with his best training tips to build your biceps.

Tips from a Personal Trainer

When it comes to training your biceps, we often think that curls are the only way for them to grow. However, just like other muscles, sticking to one exercise can hinder our progress by missing out on key components of training that will assist in achieving our goals. For example, working on your triceps will actually help to build your biceps!

I suggest beginning your workout with dominant movements that require the most muscle support. A dominant movement uses more than one muscle group to execute an exercise. For example, a barbell curl is usually a dominant movement supported with both arms (bilateral). This typically allows you to curl with heavier weight, maximising hypertrophy. Let’s compare this to a dumbbell bicep curl. This is a singular exercise that isolates the muscle. By loading one arm at a time, it allows for a greater range of motion, muscle control and engagement. As we can see – both are great!

Now we’ve covered dominant and isolated exercises, let’s combine them into a superset workout. A superset is two different movements performed back-to-back and sometimes with a short break in between. Supersets are generally used as a push/pull sequence to fatigue the opposing muscle group. In this case, when training biceps, the triceps would be the opposing muscle group. You can combine, for example, the dumbbell curl, which works the bicep, with a tricep extension, which engages the triceps - both working in unison to build your arm muscles.

This is an example of my arm workout

A1. Barbell Curls

A2. Tricep Extensions

B1. Dumbbell Hammer Curls

B2. Tricep Cable Bar Pushdowns

C1. Pronated Barbell Curls

C2. Tricep Skull Crushers

D1. Rope Bicep Curls

D2. Single Arm Cable Push Downs

Here are my 4 favourite bicep exercises and tips for you to try at your next workout

Barbell curls

Begin with a dominant movement that requires a lot of support and strength when performing. Keep your shoulder blades retracted and as you curl, keep your elbows down, without them moving away from your ribs.

Dumbbell hammer curls

This is a great unilateral strength exercise for the bicep. It targets the long part of the bicep tendon (outside section of the muscle). Be sure to keep your shoulder blades retracted. Maintain a controlled motion when extending the arm down.

Pronated barbell curls

This movement is great for developing a strong forearm grip and overall development for the bicep. One thing to note for this movement, is to make sure your grip is evenly placed, shoulder width apart. Curl up to about 90 degrees and add a nice squeeze at the top, as well. This one is a bit of burner… good luck!

Cable bicep curls

I love to use this exercise as my workout ‘finisher’. Hold the rope using a neutral grip. Slowly lower whilst maintaining muscle control to achieve a full extension. When you pull up into the chest – be sure to give the bicep a nice squeeze at the top. I usually get creative with my last exercise and do some drop sets. If I’m aiming for 4 sets, I will include 2-3 drop sets to create a good muscle burner sensation. Keep the same rep range but drop the weight each set around 20-30% from what you started with. For example, if I’ve started with 30kg, I’ll drop to 20kg and then to 15kg.

Don't overcomplicate it

When training your biceps, don’t overcomplicate it. Test new ways of moving with these exercises and see what works best for you.

If you want to get the most out of every workout, our Personal Trainers can help you reach goals, create a custom program, hold you to account and motivate and support you through your journey. You can find Coach Oliver at Virgin Active Northern Beaches.

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