Top Bicep Training Mistakes That Hold You Back.

If you’re like most, there’s a chance, even though you won’t admit it, that having huge arms is on your list of agenda. It’s the ultimate show muscle, even if somebody never trains legs, we’ll still resent them for having huge arms. Granted, huge biceps won’t get you very far in the fitness community, but who’s ever asked to see you tense your lats or quads at the pub?

However, training the bicep efficiently has become a significant issue, many people don’t get the basics right and are not going to get bigger arms on account of it. Saying that, training biceps should constitute the minority of your arm training, after all, they account for only 35-40% of total arm muscle mass. If you want bigger arms in general, focus on triceps slightly more than you would biceps.

Bicep training Mistakes

Bicep Training Mistake #1: Cheating on curls.

This is a classic error: the bicep hip thruster that everybody knows at the gym. This shifts the focus away from the biceps and towards the front delts. Even though you’ll lift more weight, there’s really not much point.

Stricker reps help you build a mind muscle connection and ultimately give better contractions, which means more muscle.

Correct it:

  • Do strict reps until you reach failure, and then use the rest pause technique to get out the extra couple of reps. This is where you simply rest for a short 5-10 seconds then continue.
  • Seated curls remove the ability to cheat, and if you use an incline angle, you can hit the upper head better.

Bicep Training Mistake #2: Using just one rep range

Much like any other muscle group, the biceps do respond well to a variety of rep ranges contrary to popular belief: See our article on rep ranges here. If all you do is rep ranges in the 8-12 catergory, you’re certainly wasting your time.

The problem with this is that this rep range will never test maximal bicep strength, nor is it light enough to really increase nutrient uptake, especially if you’re cheating on your curls.

Correct it:

  • The majority of your workout should be in the 8-12 rep range when going for size, but it should be complimented by heavier sets of around 6-8 and you should try and end your arm session on a drop set, and push them beyond their normal boundaries.
  • The more variety you can add to a bicep workout, the better and faster they will grow.
Athlete: Dave Dreas

Athlete: Dave Dreas

Bicep Training Mistake #3: Neglecting compound movements.

So many people focus solely on isolation exercises when it comes to training biceps. This is a big mistake. Your arms respond incredibly well to properly targeted, heavy training. Ironically, when people train back and biceps together, most of the bicep growth comes from their back workout.

Correct it:

  • Close grip pull ups (palms facing you) are the best compound exercise for huge biceps. You won’t get them doing just curls in the mirror.
  • Cable rows are another extremely good compound exercise for biceps.
  • Try to include these in your back/bicep routine.
  • Use a thumb less grip when targeting the back (think hooks) and a firm grip to bring the biceps into more use.
  • Generally speaking, if your palms are facing the sky, you’ll be using your biceps more than if they faced the floor.


Bicep Training Mistake #4: Not enough variety.

Despite biceps being relatively small and simple muscles (only two small heads), you need to make sure that you completely exhaust the fibers beyond what they are used to. Too many people get in the habit of doing standing bilateral barbell curls, followed by unilateral dumbbell curls at the end of a back session.

Correct it:

  • Use bars, EZ bars, dumbbell, preacher racks and cables. Not just dumbbells.
  • Use reverse grip, hammer grip and standard grips each workout.
  • Use close grip and wide grip too.

bicep training mistakes image

Bicep Training Mistake #5: Not holding a contraction.

This is a real issue when it comes to arm training. Unfortunately, most people go in to train arms and just get through it as quickly and as heavy as they can. Most people aren’t concentrating on a good connection with the muscles, and you should aim to really contract and ‘flex’ the muscle at the top of each rep. This is what really focuses the muscle to squeeze and contract and ultimately cause the micro tears needed for growth. Generally, this is because they use too much weight and perform their reps far too hastily and with momentum over control. This contracting or ‘flex’ at the top of the movement was made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger as he described his training as ‘imagining his biceps were like mountain peaks’ as he squeezed each contraction to better facilitate growth.

Correct it:

  • Use a weight that trains your muscles not your ego, it is a competition with yourself, not others around you.
  • Curl slower and hold the contraction at the top of the rep.
  • Be slow on the negative (way down), about 2 seconds but be faster and more powerful when raising the weight, about 1 second.
  • Try to actually ‘flex’ the muscle at the top of the movement. This is actually a great tip for all muscles when it comes to bodybuilding.



  • Be slow on the negative (way down), about 2 seconds but be faster and more powerful when raising the weight, about 1 second.
  • Contract at the top and hold for a flex.
  • Vary the grip
  • Use big compound movements, especially a close grip pull up.
  • Use a series of rep ranges each workout.
  • Use a weight you can handle or do seated curls.


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