We are sure most people are completely aware of all the health benefits of engaging in regular physical activity. However, for some, physical appearance is still the primary reason for hard training. And there is nothing wrong with that attitude if the training is based on the harmonious development of the whole body, and not just the muscles for the beach. Such an approach can easily lead to various muscle imbalances that can cause various injuries.
Big biceps are often the reason many men go to the gym. However, it often happens that despite countless repetitions, their biceps still do not grow at the speed they would like them to grow. For that reason, here are some of the potential reasons why your biceps still aren’t what you’d like them to be.
Here are the eight reasons why your biceps are still small and aren’t growing as you would like them to grow:
1. Bad technique
High repetitions with heavy weights will do no good if your technique is not correct. Starting position, performance of the exercise, range of motion – all these are factors that affect the correct performance of a particular exercise. If the technique is not correct, there is a possibility that other muscles will be activated, which will take over the role of the primary performer of the movement and will not allow the biceps to come to the fore.
The biceps is a muscle that is very easy to activate, but due to its shape and position on the body, almost all exercises with which we hit it come down to various types of flexion, so the technique is extremely important. Some of the most common technical mistakes are:
- Swinging the arm. It is necessary to do the exercise in such a way that only the biceps are activated. Swinging the arm in order to get momentum assistance leads to additional activation of the deltoid and lower back muscles, which take the main role in performing the movement. Momentum is always counterproductive in weight training because it decreases the work a muscle does, thereby decreasing the effectiveness of the exercise.
- Wrist movement. During the performance of the exercise, the wrists should be in the extension of the forearm and should not move so that the biceps works throughout the movement. If the wrist moves up and down too much, the forearm flexors are activated and then we hit those muscles more than the biceps. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep you wrist joint completely rigid when completing bicep curls.
- Performing repetitions too quickly. The high speed of performing the movement allows the use of heavier weights. However, this will not overly help in building strong and large biceps. A better option is to use lighter loads so that we are able to perform the movement at a slower pace and thus extend the time during which the muscles work under greater tension (time under tension). Therefore, instead of doing one whole repetition in just 2 seconds, you should slow down the movement and do a 2-second lowering phase and a 2-second lifting phase.
- Active contraction (skipping the squeeze at the peak). By skipping the active contraction at the end of the concentric phase, we lose an important aspect for achieving maximum results. Stop in the upper position of the curl and consciously make an additional biceps contraction.
As you can see, there are numerous factors in the performance of the exercise itself that can be the reason why your biceps simply do not grow as they should.
2. Too much weight
The ego is something we all struggle with. More isn’t always better, and the biceps curl is a great indicator of that. Of course, you can lift a heavy weight in the biceps curl, but the question is which muscles primarily perform the movements. Are they still the biceps, or did the heavyweight activate other muscles that take away part of the activation of the biceps and thus only reduce its ability to grow?
There is a limit to the load that a muscle can lift without the help of other muscles. It is better to use less weight and thus ensure the work of the biceps only. What good is a 50 kg biceps curl if you’ve done 10 bad reps?
Considering that the biceps are a small muscle group compared to other parts of the body and that they participate in the work during many multi-joint (compound) exercises of the upper body (especially exercises for the back muscles), it will be enough to do a few sets of isolation exercises to do a good biceps workout.
Muscles have a great ability to adapt, and they get used to performing a certain type of movement very quickly. It’s necessary to change the way you perform the exercise from time to time. It can be difficult to achieve variability if the movement we perform is already limited by the type of joint (the elbow is a joint that only bends the forearm).
There are a number of different variations of the biceps curl: classic biceps curl, hammer curl, concentration curl, Zottman curl, etc. Regardless of which type of curl you use, the movement will always be performed in the elbow joint, and it is necessary to change some other parameters.
In addition to the classic changes in the number of repetitions and sets that you perform in training, try to replace dumbbells with a bar, change the width of the grip on the bar, change the position of the body in which you perform the exercise, do a few cycles of curls on the cable machine.
And don’t forget: focusing exclusively on the biceps won’t be enough for a large and harmonious upper arm, so you should pay equal attention to the triceps.
4. Not starting workouts with bicep exercise(s)
If your goal is to grow your biceps, you should begin your workouts targeting your biceps. This of course refers to the case when you train several different muscle groups in one training session. That is when your muscles are fresh and you can lift the heaviest load, which is imperative for muscle growth.
5. Recovery time
No muscle will grow if you train it every day. Adequate rest is the key to muscle growth. When you exert stress on your muscles, it damages the muscle fibers, causing micro-tear. Once these occur, the body sends good nutrition and good blood to the area to heal. This, in turn, is how you grow musculature. Performing exercises for a particular muscle group too often without allowing enough time for it to adequately recover will get you nowhere.
This is especially true for smaller muscle groups such as the biceps because they cannot handle as much stress as larger muscle groups. Designate one or two training days in your training cycle and train your biceps on those days.
As we have already mentioned, the biceps participates in the performance of a large number of multi-joint exercises for the upper body, and through them, it receives a great stimulus for growth. By adding a large number of isolation bicep exercises, we achieve the opposite effect from the one we would actually like.
Being a small muscle group, the biceps cannot handle large amounts of load like large muscle groups. This is why a large amount of additional isolation work on it will leave it worn out and tired. Another potential problem that leads to a lot of muscle fatigue is the training program you are doing.
If you follow a training program in which the biceps are significantly involved day after day, there is a possibility that on a weekly basis, you will work the biceps much more often than you actually think. A good part of that time the biceps will be tired and weak to receive stimuli because they did not have enough adequate rest.
7. You don’t meet the conditions for muscle growth
In addition to high-quality training stimulus and the already mentioned rest and recovery, nutrition is another important factor in muscle growth. If your training program is arranged in an adequate way, the problem may lie elsewhere.
A healthy routine includes enough sleep and a diet that is arranged according to your goals, and if any of these are not in place, the reason for poor results may be in these items.
No matter how much we want to lose weight or gain muscle mass, the body is an organism that works proportionally at the level of the entire system. If you want big hands, you have to be all big.
8. Too much cardio
Cardio is great for building endurance, improving your cardiovascular capacities, and burning off extra calories to lose weight. To build and grow your biceps, you need to be in a caloric surplus. If you do too much cardio, there is a chance you are burning off the necessary calories that would be used to grow your biceps.