If there is one muscle group that gives gym goers sleepless nights, then it is the biceps. For some reason, biceps can’t seem to grow fast enough to the liking of a huge percentage of gym enthusiasts.
Why are your Biceps not growing? Your biceps are not growing mainly because you are not consuming the correct amount of nutrients required for growth. That comprises of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Failure to take in a sufficient amount of calories makes your body to be at a caloric deficit rather than a caloric surplus, hence increasing the chance of hitting a plateau.
The American Dietetic Association reports that one requires a caloric surplus of not less than 200 calories daily to build muscle. Using a calorie counter tool, such as MyFitnessPal, is extremely essential if you are to achieve your caloric needs for the day.
A healthy diet consists of lean meats, fresh vegetables and fruits, low-fat dairy, seeds, nuts, and more. Such a diet helps to ensure the body receives a sufficient amount of healthy fats, protein, carbohydrates, and more.
That said, there are other reasons that could make your biceps not grow:
Insufficient Rest or Sleep
If there is one factor that building muscle is highly dependent on it is time Therefore, it doesn’t help to work out your biceps every single day without taking the much-needed rest. A solution to this issue is to schedule your bicep exercises on non-consecutive days.
For instance, you could embrace the popular program of working out your upper and lower body on separate days. This ensures that you don’t overexert a given muscle group, such as the biceps, a phenomenon that is known to minimize muscle growth/gain.
When you work out your biceps, the muscle tends to tear and break. It only increases in size and strength during repair, which occurs during rest. Therefore, the best course of action is not to continually hammer your biceps but to dedicate specific days to work them out.
While it’s important to set aside sufficient time for sleep — at least eight hours —, we’ve got to admit that it is quite a challenge for the average person. Juggling between work, family time, hobbies, and more just adds to the already massive strain.
Improving your time management skills as well as enhancing efficiency in all your engagements helps to ensure you have plenty of time for rest and sleep. ‘Getting Things Done’ by David Allen offers useful tips on how to manage your time effectively and perform tasks efficiently so you not only have peace of mind but also enjoy the convenience of having plenty of spare time to do what you love.
This also means cutting back on the time you allocate for activities that don’t add much value, such as watching TV or just lazing around.
You mostly see this with newbie lifters but even the best of us could get it wrong once in a while. It’s even worse if an experienced lifter has improper form because it’s much harder to undo. It makes totally no sense to do mammoth reps/mammoth sets with bad form and expect results. Your biceps won’t grow. Period.
While biceps are among the easiest muscle groups you can target, improper form is sure to get in the way.
If while performing bicep workouts you fail to stress the muscles enough — due to improper form/technique —, you won’t realize enough muscle breakdown sufficient to stimulate growth. For instance, you won’t achieve the full benefits of a bicep curl if you don’t complete the exercise slowly through a full range of motion.
The next time you go to the gym, take a video of yourself performing your bicep workouts. Watch the video when you get back home and critically analyze your form to identify areas of improvement. Also, make sure to watch (and consult) advanced lifters to learn the correct form for each exercise.
YouTube is also a great (and free) online resource to polish your form and learn other fantastic exercises.
Bicep curls, rows, chin-ups, and wrist curls are examples of exercises that, if done correctly, could result in bigger biceps. If it’s within your budget, you could also consider hiring a personal trainer to guide you on how to best perform these exercises. Sometimes with rows and chin-ups is to helpful to wear grips that will help you to perform complete reps, I recommend the Versa Grips (link to Amazon).
It’s harder to achieve your goals —as far as building bigger biceps is concerned — if you’re not consistent with your training, rest, and nutrition. For instance, inconsistency with your gym attendance as stipulated in your program makes it difficult to do all that is necessary to advance in your training.
What’s worse about inconsistent gym attendance is not even that you’ll plateau. It’s that instead of progressing, you’ll actually be regressing. The need to regularly drop weight, sets, reps, etc. means you’ll have to start over every time you miss your workouts.
Consistency with rest and sleep means you have to set aside sufficient time for rest and sleep every day. You could be doing all the correct workouts, eating all the right foods, but if you’re not getting enough rest, your progress is sure to be slow.
You’ve seen the guys who spend all their time in the gym but don’t seem to get any bigger. They could be the ones lifting the heaviest weights, doing the most reps and sets, but the fact that they don’t set aside sufficient time for rest and sleep cancels out a significant amount of the hard work they put in.
Consistency is also vital when it comes to nutrition. There’s no way you could be eating your broccoli and lean meat on one day and indulge in beer and pizza for the rest of the week, then expect to grow bigger biceps while at it. It’s just impossible.
The best way to enhance consistency with nutrition is to adopt a suitable meal plan. Of course, you’ll have a few cheat meals here and there but the rest of the time you must religiously follow your meal plan to a tee. If this is an area you haven’t been paying much attention to, then you already know what to change.
Consistency with multi-vitamins is also a good practice, I recommend Centrum for Men (link to Amazon).
In summary, consistency is employing all the right factors to develop an optimal environment for your biceps to grow.
Performing the Same Workouts Over And Over Again
Muscles tend to get used to particular exercises if done repeatedly. Therefore it helps to switch things up a bit every now and then. Be sure to divide your bicep exercises appropriately — use a wide, medium, and close grip bar. Additionally, pull from the upper pulley as well as from the lower pulley.
You’ve seen guys at the gym who perform the exact same exercises every time, to an extent where you can almost predict what they will be doing each time they walk in.
What do these people have in common?
Correct. They don’t exhibit much muscle development. They do a million bicep curls, but their biceps don’t grow any bigger.
Some of the bicep exercises you should consider adding to your repertoire include:
- Incline dumbbell hammer curl
- Preacher curls
- Incline inner-biceps curl
- Standing concentration dumbbell curl
- EZ-bar curl
- Wide-grip standing barbell curl
- Zottman curl
- Regular-grip barbell curl
- Dumbbell biceps curl
- Hammer curl
- Overhead cable curl
You can add more to the list and design your workout program such that you alternate exercises every few weeks. That’s assuming you already have a program. If you don’t then that’s exactly where you should start.
Make sure to consult your personal trainer to help you craft one. You could also do your own research on the matter, or consult your buddies at the gym, especially the ones who seem to know what they’re doing.
Growing bigger ‘guns’ is every guy’s fantasy. The truth is that it’s neither too easy nor too hard. It takes a lot of work, discipline, grit, commitment, and more. Nonetheless, proper diet and calorie intake, consistency, sufficient rest and sleep, proper form/technique, should get you there sooner than the average lifter. Sometimes the smallest things have the biggest impact.
This is true for the gym as it is for other areas of life. Just be patient and hang in there. If others have done it why shouldn’t you?