Before you finish this sentence, pause and flex your muscles. Did you lift your arms and flex your biceps?
Probably the first muscle to come to mind when you're told to flex, the biceps play a big part in building strong, sculpted arms. And while muscles grow and develop at different rates for different people, all you need is a week to kickstart a new biceps-building routine.
Building Bigger Biceps in the Gym
All muscles need resistance training (aka strength training) to grow, and your biceps are no exception. If bigger biceps is your goal, incorporating some arm exercises can help you increase your muscle strength and size.
But don't settle for the same old biceps curls. If you're looking to build your arms as quickly as possible, meet the concentration curl, your new best friend. After testing various curls, researchers with the American Council on Exercise (ACE) found that concentration curls promote the most biceps activation.
Other arm exercises to try include cable curls, chin-ups and barbell curls. As you perform these moves, make sure to use as little momentum as possible and minimize the swing in your arms. This will ensure your muscle is actually doing all the work.
- Begin seated on a bench, holding a dumbbell in your right hand, letting the right arm rest between your knees.
- Place your left hand on your left thigh for stability and press the back of your right arm against your right inner thigh.
- With your palm facing forward, bend your right elbow and curl the dumbbell up, keeping your right elbow steady.
- Squeeze the biceps at the top of the movement and release the arm, straightening the elbow.
While you perform this exercise, keep your curling arm pressed against your inner thigh the entire time. Limit any swing in your arm.
Once you've mastered some biceps exercises, you'll need to engage in what's called progressive overload if you really want your arms to grow — in other words, you'll systematically increase how hard you work your muscles over time, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).
There are many factors you can tinker with to progress: You can complete more sets and reps, you can lift more weight — you can even lift weights faster or slower, according to the ACE. Altering any (or all) of these measures week after week will keep your biceps growing.
Arm Workouts We Love
Building Bigger Biceps in the Kitchen
The time you spend in the kitchen is just as important as the time you spend in the gym when it comes to building muscle. Eating enough protein, carbs and fat in each meal is a big part of the formula for your bicep goals.
Protein is especially crucial — and you'll want to eat more than the recommended daily intake to support muscle growth. Generally, you should aim to eat about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. But to build your biceps, you'll need to increase that value to about 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For a 150-pound person, that's about 81 to 115 grams of protein each day.
Are You Getting Enough Protein?
But protein is only one piece of the puzzle — your carbs matter, too. Carbs are converted into glycogen, which your muscles store and use for energy during your workouts, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Prioritize healthy whole-grain carbs (like brown rice or quinoa) and starchy vegetables (like sweet potato or squash) for fuel.
Healthy fats are also a source of energy for your body. About 20 to 35 percent of your total daily calories should come from healthy fats, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Olive oil, avocado, nuts and fatty fish are all great options to add to your plate.
Read more: Your Ultimate Guide to Gaining Lean Muscle
Building Bigger Biceps in the Bedroom
Sleep and recovery are important parts of any well-rounded training regime, even if bigger arms is top priority. To build biceps efficiently, you also have to give those muscles time off.
Poor or too little sleep can actually hinder your muscles' ability to recover and grow, according to the National Sleep Foundation. While you sleep, your body produces human growth hormone (HGH), which supports muscle growth. Blood flow to your muscles increases and your body spends time repairing damaged tissues, especially during non-rapid eye movement sleep.
So, Can You Build Bigger Biceps in One Week?
You probably won't notice a major difference after just seven days, but sticking with these three healthy habits can set you up for the flex of your dreams.
- ACE: "How to Select the Right Volume and Frequency for Your Clients"
- NASM: "Back to the Basics: Hypertrophy"
- ACE: "ACE Study Reveals Best Biceps Exercises"
- American College of Sports Medicine: "Protein Intake for Optimal Muscle Maintenance"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "4 Keys to Strength Building and Muscle Mass"
- National Sleep Foundation: "How Sleep Adds Muscle"