Who doesn’t want an impressive set of biceps? Let’s face it, impressing those around you is part of what motivates you to train. Because of their high visibility, nothing impresses quite like a set of huge biceps. However, it can be very difficult to obtain those elusive superhero arms that you’ve always wanted.
With this in mind, we present to you some of the most common mistakes that amateurs make when training their biceps. Most of these mistakes are based on a lack of knowledge, which makes them relatively easy to correct.
Some Detailed Information About This Muscle Group
You don’t need a detailed knowledge of human anatomy to build your muscles. However, it can be helpful to understand your muscles when you are planning your workouts and to evaluate new methods.
The biceps are actually called biceps brachii (as opposed to the biceps femoris muscles, which are in your leg). These muscles play a big role in the flexing and bending of the arm, due to their central location between the shoulder and forearm.
One interesting thing to note is the fact that your biceps are actually stronger when your arm is extended. When your arm is flexed all the way, there is a slight decrease in strength, as this study shows.
Because this muscle is used for so many common tasks, it is important not to strain it during training. A strained bicep will be a constant irritation for at least a day. A severe strain could even do permanent damage. This study will give you some idea of how and why bicep strains occur.
The 7 Most Common Bicep-Building Mistakes
Without any further ado, let’s get down to business. Here are the 7 most common mistakes made by those seeking to pump-up their biceps.
1. Turning The Wrists Improperly
When you do your bicep curls, you almost have to do a turn of the wrists in order to raise the weights. Stand in place with a dumbbell in each hand. Notice that your wrist wants to turn so that your thumb is in the front. When you raise the weights, however, your wrists need to turn so that the thumbs face outward. If you don’t do this, it’s called a hammer curl, which is an entirely different exercise.
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Some people just start from an awkward wrists-up position so that they don’t have to turn. This is wrong, as the turn of the wrist provides more flexion and should not be omitted. Some others will turn their wrists before raising the dumbbells. This is also wrong, as it is not a smooth motion. The correct way is to turn and lift at the same time.
2. Gripping Dumbbells In The Middle
It might seem that you need to grip your dumbbells right in the middle so that they will be balanced and easier to lift. The problem is, you don’t want to make it easier. In fact, we want to do the opposite. By holding your dumbbells far to the outward side, you produce more resistance and a harder workout for the bicep. The weight of the dumbbell will want to dip inward and down, making you work harder to overcome the extra resistance.
3. Dropping The Weight Too Fast
This is perhaps the most common mistake. This mistake is common not only to bicep training but to all weight training. When you raise the weight, you don’t have an option to cheat. However, when you lower the weight, it is tempting to relax your arm and let it fall. This is bad for several reasons.
The first problem is that you are making your workout easier. When it comes to weight training, cheaters never prosper. When you cheat at something like this, you are simply wasting your time. Your workouts will not produce maximal results, so why even bother cheating?
The key to building your biceps is constant tension. If you are having trouble with this aspect, we suggest that you try some cables, as they do a good job of maintaining tension throughout the lifting cycle.
4. Confusing Alternating Vs. Simultaneous Curls
Some people like to do their dumbbell curls one arm at a time, and others like to use both arms at once. Depending on the body you have and the results you want, you will have to make a choice as to which is better for you.
If you are trying to focus only on your biceps, and nothing else, use one arm at a time. This will focus most of the strain on that muscle group for maximum growth. If you are trying to work on your arms as a whole, use both arms at the same time. When you use both arms, it forces the other muscles of your arm to get in on the act, making for a complete arm workout.
5. Not Bringing The Weights High Enough
Another common mistake is to avoid raising the weights high enough. When you are nearing the end of a set, and your arms are starting to feel like spaghetti, it is very easy to get lazy and only bring your arms halfway up. This is a mistake that should be avoided. Make sure that, with every rep, you raise the weight all the way up to shoulder level.
As we mentioned before, a strained bicep is a real drag. However, there are other reasons to avoid overdoing it with your lifting. Proper recovery time is essential for the growth of these muscles. Since these muscles are almost never fully at rest, you need to wait a day or two between bicep workouts.
Also, taking a two-day rest will allow you to hit your biceps even harder when you hit them again. You will be more motivated, knowing that you won’t be working on this muscle group again for two days.
7. Leaning Back As You Lift
This is another common method of cheating. When you do dumbbell curls with your back straight, you are working against gravity. Sometimes, a person will lean backward as the weight comes upward. This makes the exercise easier because it puts more of the weight on your back, and less of the weight on your arms. Although this little trick might be good for impressing people at the gym, it is useless for any other purpose. As we said, you want your workouts to be harder, not easier.
As you can see, there are a lot of pitfalls that can keep you from attaining the arms that you desire. If you are making one or more of these mistakes, it is likely that you have been unable to get the bicep gains that you want. Perhaps you have even wondered if there was something wrong with you! However, you should remember that anyone can build an impressive body if they know how it is done. This is yet another example of the power of knowledge. We hope this article has been helpful to you, and that you are able to build the massive guns that you want and deserve.