Biceps Training and Anatomy for Dummies


A lot of gym-goers’ understanding of bicep training is that curls will grow your biceps. This article will explain some of the functional elements of biceps training so that you can better understand how your training routine is building your biceps.

  • Both heads of your Biceps begin at your shoulder blade and end at your forearm
  • Your biceps functions as a tool to supinate your forearms, flex your shoulders, and flex your elbow
  • You must fully utilize all aspects of the biceps (flex & supination) to fully train it
  • Alternating dumbbell curls and barbell curls will help you to fully train your biceps
  • Cheat curls are a helpful tool to increase weight if you are an intermediate/advanced gym-goer
  • The amount of “peak” you can achieve is determined by genetics

Biceps Anatomy

The biceps muscle consists of two parts (known as heads). The first is the short head and the second is the long head. The heads of the biceps begin at the shoulder blade (the scapula to be exact) and end (insert) on the forearm. Proper biceps training requires that you get a full range of motion to hit both muscles.

Biceps Function

It is important to know where the bicep muscles start and end because it helps us to understand the purpose of the biceps. Although it is correct to say that the biceps contracts and extends the forearm to and away from the upper arm, there are two additional, albeit less significant, purposes that biceps play.

  • Forearm supination (which turns your palms to face upwards or downwards)
  • Shoulder contraction and abduction (such as shoulder raises)

Knowing the purpose and uses of the biceps is important to efficiently train the biceps completely.

Biceps Training

Full contraction of your biceps is key to getting the most out of your biceps, and there are a few exercises that will help you achieve this goal.

Here are two excellent bicep exercises that will make sure your elbow fully flexes and supinates (meaning you will get full range of motion)

  • Straight barbell curls
  • Alternating dumbbell curls

Holding the straight barbell curl will cause your forearms to be naturally 100% supinated throughout the whole motion of the exercise. This curl also will be the easiest to add the most weight on to, so you will experience a lot of muscle growth from this exercise.

When performing alternating dumbbell curls, try keeping your starting position with your palm towards your leg and then supinate (rotate) your arm as you curl upwards. It does not matter whether you are standing or sitting. Here is an example video.

What Are Cheat Curls And Do They Work?

If you haven’t heard of a cheat curl, it is essentially curling but with less focus on isolating the bicep. Although you may not be 100% targeting your bicep to get the barbell up, it has been definitely will help you to lift more weight and build muscle. Arnold was a big fan and advocate for cheat curls because of they allowed him to lift more weight and completely work your biceps.

However, you should be cautious while performing the cheat curl. If you are swinging too much, you will no longer be focused on hitting your biceps as you curl. As a result, it is recommended that beginner lifters avoid cheat curls. If your form is off and you are just starting to use weights, you can easily hurt yourself and do more harm than good. If you are interested in learning more about cheat curls, here is a good article about them.

Biceps Genetics

The amount of “peak” that you will achieve is largely determined by genetics. If you have a longer bicep, this means that the tendon connecting into your forearm starts later. The longer your bicep, the more gradual your “peak” will be. If you have a “short” bicep, you will see a very defined peak. With proper training, you can achieve a bodybuilder physique regardless of whether you have a “long” or “short” bicep.

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