You’ve got to admit that no muscle group or body part seems to garner more attention than a bulging pair of biceps. Although triceps make up most of the mass of your upper arms, about 75%, it’s the biceps most people refer to when they admire “a great set of guns.” Let’s examine biceps this week and how to take them from puny to scary big (Photo by Andres Ayrton)

For maintenance, work biceps once a week for 20 minutes. To increase size and build peaks, work them out twice to three times a week for the same amount of time. Make sure to rest muscles 48 to 72 hours between workouts. This gives broken down, exhausted muscle fibers a chance to recover and grow thicker. When performing reps, never jerk or swing the weight because the biceps can tear and snap like any other muscle when your form is clumsy and careless. Always make sure to stretch between sets and exercises to expedite recovery and incur growth. I like to combine biceps with chest, shoulders or even legs, but never with back because any decent back routine is going to tax biceps, thus preventing you from really giving them your all.

Here are my four favorite exercises for building biceps. Do three sets of eight to twelve reps of each exercise.

Cable Curls: These are a nice alternative to barbells and dumbbells. Attach a straight bar to the lower cable assembly and grasp the bar with a medium-width, underhanded grip. Stand upright with the arms straight and the bar resting in front of the thighs. Keep your upper arms tight at your sides, bend the elbows and curl the bar up to the chin level. Pause briefly, squeeze the contraction and lower the bar back down slowly to starting position. Perform 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

Standing Dumbbell Curls: Here’s a way to isolate each bicep. Stand upright, holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides in a palms-in grip. Keep the upper arms motionless as you bend the elbows and curl the weights upward turning the hands so that the wrists face the shoulders at the top. Pause, squeeze and lower back down twisting to the palms-in position. Perform 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps and feel the burn!

EZ Curls:Standing with knees slightly bent, grip an EZ curl bar (this bar is made explicitly for biceps training, it is bent in the middle to facilitate your grip) with palms facing up, shoulder-width apart. Curl the bar by flexing your arms at the elbow. Your elbows should remain close to your sides. Lower the weight in a controlled manner to starting position. Perform 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps and flex those guns! Remember to hold a powerful contraction at the top and slowly lower the weight down on the negative.

Incline Dumbbell Curls: Sit on a bench at a 45 degree incline. Keep your back straight, feet flat on the floor and arms at your side. Curl the dumbbell by flexing arms toward the shoulders. (You can do single alternating arms as well.) Slowly lower dumbbells in a controlled motion until your arm is extended. Perform 3-4 set of 8-12 reps.