The BEST-Ever Training for Big Biceps & Triceps – 3

Programming for Best Biceps & Triceps Training

Providing the listing of exercises is not of any use unless particular programming specifications are prescribed along with. It is just like a doctor telling the patient only the name of the medicines without telling him the appropriate dosage, timing, and any interactions.prescription

With that said, programming is formatted with the lifter and his performance in mind. A cookie-cutter program may or may not apply to you. To get the most out of programming, it needs to be individualized according to a person’s requirements.

Programming the biceps and triceps training for an intermediate or advanced lifter focusing on aesthetics requires following considerations:

For Biceps:

1. Good thickness but lack of peak.

sergio-oliva
Sergio Oliva “The Myth” had massive and thick biceps but lacked peak.

The most common problem with this type of lifter is the underdeveloped brachialis muscle. One may need to choose specific exercises to hit this part of the arm musculature. Another common problem is the lack of the full development of the long head of biceps brachii.

For many of the lifters who lack peak is due to the genetic structure of their body. Still, all hope is not lost for these lifters. These lifters may still see some improvements with the dedicated long head and brachialis work.

2. Good peak but lack of thickness

The lack of the development of short head of biceps is likely the culprit here. Spending some time trying to maximize the development of the short head throughout the complete spectrum of force development is advisable here. Also, intermittent use of power exercises for biceps like Cheat Curls with barbell or dumbbells at the end of biceps training is also helpful.

3. Short muscle belly

Franco Columbu’s biceps had a noticeable gap from the forearm.

Again this problem is genetic like the lack of peak in some people. You need to work with what you’ve got. You definitely can’t add an inch to the length of your biceps brachii through any of the stretching exercises or stretchening routines, whether loaded or not! This is a myth many young bodybuilders believe which in the end only leads to utter dismay at best or biceps tear at worst.

In this situation, the best solution for you is to work up to improve your brachioradialis muscle. This muscle when fully developed creates an illusion of a longer muscle belly. Also, if the lower part of your biceps is underdeveloped, exercises which stress the bottom range of motion for both biceps brachii and brachialis could be beneficial.

Refer to Part 2 to learn about the Best exercises to correct the respective weaknesses for biceps and triceps.

For Triceps:

1. Triceps lacking thickness with good shape

If the development of your triceps is fairly good from all sides, but still it misses the bodybuilder-esque depth or thickness, then you need to focus on the development of the medial head of triceps. Since the medial head is below the long head, and when it is fully developed it pushes out on the triceps muscle lending it great depth.

As we know it’s nearly impossible to isolate medial head, a good strategy here is to choose exercises which exclude the long head. A combination of heavy compound exercises and high rep isolation work is recommended.

2. Good long head development but poor lateral head

If your biceps look good from behind, but do not come out to the sides when viewed from the front and lacks the coveted 3D look then the under-development of the lateral head is to be blamed.

The solution in this scenario is also similar to the one above, choosing a combination of compound and isolation exercises which exclude the long head. Also, it is a good idea to include a heavy overload exercise like Bench Press lockouts from pins. Lateral head responds really well to heavy loads.

3. Lack of “Hang”

If during a double biceps pose your arms look flat on the bottom instead of having a swooping arch or “Hang” then, it indicates that you had neglected the long head for far too long.

It is a common problem with lots of powerlifters because pressing exercises, in general, do not hit the long head of triceps well, leaving them underdeveloped. The exercises which stretch the long head of triceps like overhead triceps extensions are a good choice. Isolation elbow extension exercises should not be loaded heavily as they put the elbow joint in a vulnerable position. And we’ve seen more people go out of action due to heavy triceps extension than heavy presses. So choose your loads wisely, in general, a 12 RM load is a good choice for isolation triceps extensions of any kind.

Scheduling the Best Training Routine for Big Biceps and Triceps

A training routine is scheduled according to a lifters needs, situation, and goals. Based on the many common requirements of a majority of the lifters, below we had categorized them into three categories, turned to their specific requirements and, addressed them with appropriate solutions.

Category 1

This category consists of athletes in the off-season or intermediate to advanced level bodybuilders with lagging development in arms. This category of lifters is looking for an entire block or mesocycle of training to be devoted to improve their weakness in the arms department.athlete vs bodybuilder

So, for these lifters, the best solution is to perform an arms specialization phase in which everything else is put on the backburner besides biceps and triceps work. The reason for the reduced priority to the other big muscles is to allocate the recovery resources in the favor of arms development. Off-course you’ll be performing some lower body work along with lats and back because doing only curls in the gym is not at all the sign of sanity. But volume for everything else will be minimum.

Here’s a free sample program of a 4-week block for a lifter looking to improve the peak of the biceps along with triceps thickness:

Monday:

PAIRINGEXERCISESETS X REPS
A.Front Squats5 X 5
B.Back Squats (same weight as above)1 X 10-20*
C.Romanian Deadlifts3 X 5

Notes:

The notations A, B etc. denotes straight sets, means you first complete all the sets for exercise A, and then move onwards to exercise B.

*The 10 to 20 rep range on Back Squats is prescribed to take into account the individual differences based on training experience, strength levels, and day to day variance of strength.

Tuesday:

PAIRINGEXERCISESETS X REPS
A1.Cross Hammer Curls with both arms4 X 10
A2.Dumbell Curls4 X Max.*
A3.Hammer Curls, alternating arms4 X Max.
B.Incline Curls4 X 10
C.Hercules Curls3 X 8**
D.Supinated Triceps Pushdowns5 X 10-12
E.Close-Grip Bench Press4 X 6-8
F.Decline Triceps Extensions4 X 10-12

Notes:

The notations A, B etc. denotes straight sets, means you first complete all the sets for exercise A, and then move onwards to exercise B.

The notations A1, A2 etc. denotes the alternate sets, means you complete a set of exercise A, and then perform a set of exercise A2 and so on till all the number of sets are completed.

*On exercises A2 & A3, Max. denotes the maximum number of reps you’re able to complete with the same weight as A1.

**Perform in drop set fashion. Do 8 reps, reduce weight do 8 reps, reduce weight 8 reps. This is one drop set.

Thursday:

PAIRINGEXERCISESETS X REPS
A.Back Squats5 X 5
B.Chin-ups15 minutes X EMOM*

Notes:

The notations A, B etc. denotes straight sets, means you first complete all the sets for exercise A, and then move onwards to exercise B.

*EMOM denotes Every Minute On the Minute training for 15 minutes. It means that at the start of every minute you perform a set of chin-ups for as many reps as possible till the total time of 15 minutes is over. You rest for whatever time is left during the minute after completing your set and, again restart the next set at the beginning of next minute.

Saturday:

Repeat Tuesday’s training

Category 2

This category of lifters has a single glaring weak point which they wish to bring up to the par with some dedicated effort without devoting an entire block of training towards it. The best solution for a lifter in this situation is to perform staggered set training for the particular weak point.

Staggered Sets involve doing a number of sets of a body part you want to train with increased intensity in between other exercises throughout your workout. For example, when I decided I need extra effort on my calf training, I would come into the gym, do a few sets of calves, then go do Bench Presses, then a few more sets of calves, then Incline Dumbbell Presses, back to calves for a few sets, and by the end of the workout I had done 25 sets or more for calves - really giving them a workout. The next few days I would do my normal calf workout and then train with Staggered Sets again to really bomb and blast them.”
── Arnold Schwarzenegger

With staggered set technique, you don’t have to drop your regular biceps/triceps training or modify your workouts. You just interject the weak point work inside your normal training in a way that it doesn’t impact the performance of the remainder of your training. Doing this intelligently allows you to improve your weakness through carefully planned additional work without interfering with the rest of the training. The biceps work can be inserted in the chest and shoulders work, and triceps work can be inserted in the back and legs work.

lee priest biceps
Lee Priest’s legendary arm development

Let’s say your biceps are lagging behind and you want to address this weakness through staggered set training. The best way to approach it in this situation is to perform 8 to 10 reps of a biceps exercise before every set of chest and/or shoulder exercises. Load on the biceps exercise should be kept low and reps should be performed in a controlled fashion with constant tension to elicit a maximum pump effect. The way this type of training arrangement works for biceps is through three mechanisms:

(i) Increased training volume

You are able to provide your lagging biceps a lot of stimulation through this technique. This overload of volume forces your body to boost recovery in the targeted area which results in more growth.

(ii) Occlusion effect through constant tension

The use of constant tension creates an occlusion effect in the biceps. Blood is not able to enter the muscle during the constant tension set which leads to the accruement of lots of lactate, fluids and cellular waste in the biceps. When you end the set lots of blood rushes into the muscle to clear all this waste and supply oxygen and nutrients to the muscle. This induces a huge pump in the muscle creating an overall anabolic environment for hypertrophy.

(iii) Loaded Stretching

During pushing exercises like Bench press or Shoulders Press, your triceps contract and biceps stretch under the load. Performing these exercises when your biceps are pumped with blood stretches the fascia of biceps thus increasing the sensitivity of muscle towards the growth factors.

Category 3

Sony Bill Williams
Sonny Bill Williams

The third category of lifters constitutes of the in-season athletes or off-season athletes preoccupied with lots of skill work. These athletes can’t include any type of extra work in their training without hampering their recovery capacity and performance. Moreover, forcing extra work can lead to overuse injuries.

If a lifter in this situation needs to overcome any weakness in their biceps or triceps, it should be tackled through manipulating the compound work already present in their training. Part-1 covers this problem in detail along with a free sample program.

Click to read Part 1, and Part 2.

5 thoughts on “The BEST-Ever Training for Big Biceps & Triceps – 3”

  1. This is the most interesting piece I’ve ever read about biceps-triceps training.
    REAL quality content. I’m now officially joining your fan club.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *