Posted on June 2, 2019 at 2:15 PM
Biceps are one of the quintessential muscle groups that define a good-looking physique. They create that athletic delineation between the upper arm and shoulder and add texture to your whole profile. To put it modestly, having a well-proportioned body of muscle between your elbow and shoulder is comparable to the essence of victory itself. Ok. That may be overstating its importance but still so many of us start at biceps training as we set out on our grand fitness journey. Why is that? What makes the biceps so special? It’s hard to say but here are 5 reasons why your biceps training may not seem to be working.
Diet is one of the key factors in increasing the muscle-building benefits that you get from resistance training (i.e. weight training). One of the foundational studies in the field of exercise science found that amino acid (the building blocks of protein) bioavailability increases the body’s metabolic processes associated with muscle protein synthesis by nearly 50% after resistance training when compared with only resistance training alone. Put in another way, you could be losing out on 50% of bicep gains just because amino acids weren’t available after your workout!
The classic bicep exercise that always pops up is the humble bicep curl. There’s nothing like gripping the dumbbells and staring yourself down in the mirror as the pump develops in your arms. While everyone focuses on the concentric portion of the bicep curl (the part of the exercise where you lift the weight), less emphasis is placed on the eccentric portion of the bicep curl (the part of the exercise where you lower the weight). In fact, the eccentric part of the exercise actually disrupts and breaks down the muscle fibers in the biceps almost 50% more when compared to only focusing on the concentric part of the exercise. To sum it all up, lower the weight in a controlled, focused manner.
The road to forging your best self is one of patience and persistence. You can’t expect to get to your ideal look after a week of working out because your body can only build and reshape muscle so quickly. One study found that 12 weeks of training produced about 3.5 lbs of lean body mass in untrained individuals. Given that the biceps are such a small muscle group in comparison with some of the other larger muscle groups in the chest, back, and legs, it will only get its proportion of those gains in lean body mass. In other words, patience is a virtue.
Unfortunately, we sometimes have to come face-to-face with our own limitations. It’s just plain easier for some people to grow their biceps than others. The simple reason is due to the cellular anatomy of the biceps: it is composed of hundreds of thousands of muscle fiber bundles whose number stays relatively constant throughout life. While this fact confers a small advantage in terms of biceps growth, the good news is growth in the size (rather than the number) of the muscle fibers is a much larger contributing factor to increasing the size of your biceps. So some people may have it easier but you can still maximize your potential with the knowledge that resistance training will increase the size of your biceps’ muscle fibers and allow you to shape its overall look.
We get it. Sometimes you just feel like lifting by yourself, in your own little world. However, the truth is that we are social creatures and, while we don’t always show it, even a small word of encouragement can change your outlook. In an admittedly funny study, researchers found that verbal encouragement produced a 5% increase in peak force generated from the biceps. So go lift with your friends!