Weakpoint experiments part 1: Biceps

Take a glance around any major bodybuilding forum online and you’ll discover just how many young guys feel frustrated with the rate of their biceps growth. Now, sparing you guys the classic advice on focusing on the triceps – followed by some strangely arbitrary claim of said muscle making up 2/3rd of your overall arm size – i’ll leave that part out and focus just on the biceps this time around.

The bros’ way of doing biceps

The most common training routines for doing biceps seem to be hitting them either once or twice a week with anything from 9-20 sets in the first and 3-9 sets in the latter case. This fits in conjunction with most classic once-a-week-bodypart 4 or 5 splits and the increasingly popular push/pull/legs (PPL) and it’s variants, usually in a 3 days on 1 day off fashion. 5 day splits has worked for thousands of bodybuilders throughout time, especially with these low frequency high volume dogmas becoming increasingly popular during the 80’s and 90’s. Luckily, most initiated trainees with any sort of online presence know by now that a frequency greater than once-a-week is most likely superior for 99 % of the common lifting population. Without high doses of steroids “artificially” ramping up and extending heightened muscle protein synthesis rates, most experts on the field today will feel comfortable telling you that, no, no matter how many excruciating dropsets you mutilated your biceps with on Monday, your arms will not be growing throughout the week. In fact, if you’ve been lifting consistently for years, chances are any growth has stopped within 24 hours. So, by Wednesday morning, your biceps aren’t growing no more. Why wait til next Monday before inducing a training stimulus again then?

biceps dorian.jpg
If there is one man who might have been able to burn out the CNS from doing arms, it would have been Mr hardcore himself, Dorian Yates. For us mere mortals, it won’t happen.

Of course, there is more to recovery than just looking at elevated muscle protein synthesis, and you’ll never see me recommending doing high intensity deadlifts 7-days a week. Soft tissue, ligaments and the central nervous system are all aspects of recovery. However, you’d have to do the most insane heavy whole-body cheat barbell curls imaginable if your intent was to burn out your CNS through biceps training. It’s a small muscle, and curls are relatively easy on the system.

Try a high frequency approach

There’s a place for specialization routines in any bodybuilders arsenal, so if biceps if truly a weakpoint you wish to improve on, it’s time to prioritize it. One change which for most will be pretty drastic is to greatly increase the frequency at which you stimulate your biceps. If you keep most sets around an RPE of 8.5-9, basically never hitting mechanical failure, you will allow for optimal adaptation to the increased frequency and thereby be able to manipulate overall weekly volume with greater ease than on a more traditional arm training regimen. I find that hitting 30 sets of biceps during a week is much more manageable if spread out over many workouts as opposed to one or two super high volume bouts, where the last half of the sets will be with a greatly lowered intensity anyways. That the high frequency approach by most accounts is better for hypertrophy as well; that’s where the value is for #teamupperbody!

As mentioned, overall systemic fatigue from training biceps is relatively low, making them a perfect fit for a high frequency approach, without too much worry about injuries, strains and whole-body overreaching. To further build on this advantage, i recommend picking exercises that really isolate the biceps. Think plenty of unilateral dumbbell and cable work. 

Here’s a sample of how a high frequency setup could be incorporated into a cookie cutter PPL routine;

Week 1-2;

  • – Day1 ; Push
  • – Day 2; Pull + Heavy Biceps 3 sets of 7-12
  • – Day 3; Legs + Light Biceps 4 sets of 14-20
  • – Off
  • – Day 4; Push
  • – Day 5; Pull + Heavy Biceps 3 sets of 7-12
  • – Day 6; Legs + Light Biceps 4 sets of 14-20

Week 3-4;

  • – Day1 ; Push
  • – Day 2; Pull + Heavy Biceps 4 sets of 7-12
  • – Day 3; Legs + Light Biceps 5 sets of 14-20
  • – Off
  • – Day 4; Push
  • – Day 5; Pull + Heavy Biceps 4 sets of 7-12
  • – Day 6; Legs + Light Biceps 5 sets of 14-20

Week 5-6;

  • – Day1 ; Push + Myo-reps Biceps 1 set 20+5+5+5+5
  • – Day 2; Pull + Heavy Biceps 3 sets of 7-12
  • – Day 3; Legs + Light Biceps 4 sets of 14-20
  • – Off
  • – Day 4; Push + Myo-reps Biceps 1 set 20+5+5+5+5
  • – Day 5; Pull + Heavy Biceps 3 sets of 7-12
  • – Day 6; Legs + Light Biceps 4 sets of 14-20

 

As illustrated, weekly volume increases from 14 sets on 4 workouts during week 1 and 2- to 18 sets on 4 workouts during week 3 and 4 – and 16 sets on 6 workouts during week 5 and 6.

Naturally, there are many ways to implement progressive volume and frequency schemes, this is just one example, which i have no doubt would be effective if the aforementioned rule of staying away from failure is adhered to. But overall, the increase in volume will (hopefully) also occur from the strength gains. I’ve personally utilized a similar frequency/volume setup (and higher) with good results (compared to a more traditional setup), so i recommend it to anyone looking to expand some sleeves!

dawdaw

Hope this inspired and/or helped someone!

 

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