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Building Bigger Biceps By Changing Your Reps

squatster

AnaSCI VET
Mar 27, 2014
3,589
5
38
The Fix For Slow Gains
Altering your rep scheme is one way to jump-start your training, because it hits the muscle fibers with a novel stimulus.

Let's say you're stuck at 105 pounds on the EZ-bar curl, a weight you can handle for 10 reps. Rather than try another set with 105 pounds, load 125 pounds onto the bar. You might be able to lift it for only 5-6 reps with good form, but don't worry; you've just applied an altogether different stimulus to your biceps with a heavier load!

Sets done for reps of fewer than 6 normally are usually better for gaining strength than size, but as you become stronger, you can take those heavier loads and work toward doing more reps, which is how you build bigger arms.

One common, proven method to building strength is a scheme called 5x5, meaning 5 sets of 5 reps. This protocol was popularized in the 1970s by the late Bill Starr, a legendary strength coach. You shouldn't use the 5x5 technique with barbell curls, however; it's more effective with multijoint exercises than single-joint exercises. Instead, we'll choose the weighted chin-up, which uses an underhand grip and stimulate the biceps tremendously.

Build Bigger Biceps By Changing Your Reps
The goal is to take a given weight and complete 5 sets of 5 reps, resting 2 minutes between sets. The best place to start in terms of load is with your 6RM—that is, a total weight (body weight plus added plates) that allows you to complete just 6 reps. Your 6RM should equal 85 percent of your 1RM.

The right load is one that lets you complete the first 2 sets of 5 reps—but not the third. (Do just 5 reps, even if you can do more.) Adjust the load accordingly if that's not the case. Over time, once you're able to complete all 5 sets for 5 reps, add 5-10 pounds to the load and start again.

Even a scheme like 5x5 can become stale over time, so there are other options to consider. Choosing a weight at which you fail at 8 or even 12 reps also offers a marginally different training stimulus. Concurrently adding a fourth set to increase the training volume allows you to vary the stimulus even more.
 

Obscured78

New member
Nov 29, 2020
3
0
1
The number one exercise for me in growing my biceps has been straight bar curls. I rarely see anyone at the gym doing them. Everyone uses the EZ bar. I highly recommend incorporating the straight bar into your bicep routine.
 

Elvia1023

AnaSCI VET / Donating Member
Oct 28, 2007
5,777
9
38
I think anyone when training over time should do with maximum effort (training to failure) in a variety of rep ranges (5-8, 10-12, 15+). Everyone is different and everything works if you are training hard but I find most do best with bi-ceps by really focusing on form/contraction with higher rep ranges and it's also much safer. At the same time going all out for 5-8 reps for bi-cep curls has it's place as well but people (especially when older) need to be careful with that as bi-cep tears are common and it usually happens when pushing load in lower rep ranges.
 

BelaDublin

New member
Mar 10, 2022
2
0
1
Hey man, changing your repetition pattern can help you because it's the first way to restart your strength training program. After all, then the muscle fibers start getting new stimuli. Let's say you're used to lifting the EZ bar on your biceps at 40 pounds, doing 10 reps each. Instead of doing another set with 40 kg, increase the weight of the barbell to 50 kg.