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Building the Biceps

  • Written by Al Kabia

Al KabiaQ: Hi Al,

I can see from the video with you on YouTube that you’ve got incredible arm development. Can you tell me how you train your biceps? What exercises? How many sets? How many reps? How many times per week?

Thanks!

. . . Jeremy

A: Aaahhh, the biceps question! The body part that every guy wants to increase, and no matter how massive you get them, you still want them bigger. I call it the biceps syndrome and I am definitely not immune from it. I have tried many exercises and muscle combinations and finally came up with a routine that I guarantee will not disappoint.

I train my biceps twice a week and here is my little secret: I train my biceps with my triceps instead of the old chest-and-triceps combo, which I’m sure works for some of you out there, but didn’t for me. For every elbow flexion exercise I do, I alternate elbow extension exercises, making sure both sides of my joints are equally loaded with optimal training loads. Yes, it’s going to hurt and you are going to feel like your arms can’t move or your muscles are going to explode or rip through your skin. But trust me, and even though it feels like this, remember to squeeze and breathe.

I start by doing a heavy set of 8 reps of a biceps exercise. I take a break for 15 seconds and then switch to a different biceps exercise, decreasing the weight by 20 percent and doing 12-15 reps. I break for another 15 seconds and then switch to a triceps exercise and follow the same set/rep routine. Finally, I switch back to a biceps exercise, decreasing the weight by 20 percent again and doing an agonizing 25 reps, and then I do the same for my triceps. After my first group of sets like this, I rest for two minutes then repeat the cycle three more times, making sure I do all the exercises listed below.

Al Kabia

It doesn’t matter what exercise you start with, but make sure the pauses are no more than 15 seconds, and they can be shorter if you don’t think your muscles are overstretched. I switch the muscle order (biceps/triceps to triceps/biceps) every month.

This routine has helped me develop my biceps and triceps and I’m hoping it will do the same for you. Remember, no pain no gain!

Biceps exercises:

  • Preacher curls with an EZ bar on the Scott bench
  • Reverse preacher curls using a straight barbell
  • High cable curls
  • Close-grip pull-ups
  • Dumbbell hammer curls

Triceps exercises:

  • Rope pressdowns
  • Reverse-grip pressdowns
  • Cable overhead triceps extension
  • Cable kickback triceps pull
  • Dips

. . . Al Kabia, IDFA Pro

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Art director: Karen Fanas

Contributors: Denis Pedneault, Dave Paul, Steve Duperre, Francois Beauregard, Erik Alstrup, Al Kabia

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