RNT Body Part Series, Part 7: Two Tips To Double Your Biceps Gains

When to focus on building arms in your training progress.

Akash Vaghela Akash Vaghela · 02 Jan 2018

Training Intermediate
5 Mins

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Everyone wants bigger guns. It’s why most of you start training, right?

When I first started training, I was 127lbs at the age of 18 with 11-inch arms. So I know all about the quest for bigger arms and the desire to fill out your T-shirt.

The problem is, most of you will dedicate far too much time in your beginner years training arms. If you haven’t built your first 20lbs of muscle, you’ve got no real business spending 30 minutes on every session bombing biceps.

Instead, your focus should be on getting stronger on compound lifts like chin-ups and rows. These should be your bread and butter.

When you progress past being a beginner, that’s when dedicating more time to direct arm work becomes important and useful.

For most of you as intermediate lifters, training biceps twice a week in moderate to high rep ranges, for 3 to 6 sets a day, will work very well. You don’t need to overdo it – this will do the job providing you’re maximising each and every set.

Which brings us onto today’s instalment of the RNT Body Part Series, and the two tips to get the most out of your biceps training…


1. Tighten up your form


Biceps curls may be the most butchered exercise in the gym. If you walk into any commercial gym, most people are doing some form of bastardised deadlift/shrug/row blended into a ‘curl’.

All the stress and tension is going to every muscle but the biceps, which is essentially rendering most of your effort as a waste.

If you want to truly isolate your biceps, it all starts with the right technique:

  • Set your shoulder blades back and down
  • Lock your core in and stay rigid
  • Keep your elbows by your side
  • Squeeze your biceps to lift the weight
  • Slowly lower while thinking about doing a reverse pushdown with your triceps
  • Squeeze your triceps at the bottom and immediately contract biceps again to lift the weight

By following this technique for your curls, you’ll be able to create maximal tension in the biceps and be in a position to apply progressive overload to get them growing again.

2. Go lighter


One thing I notice when training in commercial gyms is that the guys with the smallest arms are always those lifting the heaviest weights.

I see it all the time. A guy who’s at most 135lbs will be ‘curling’ the 25kg dumbbells, while the guy who’s 175lbs and lean will be using at most 15-17kg.

A lot of this has to do with technique, and the 175lbs guy’s ability to really dial into his biceps so that they’re taking all the stress.

I used to be that 135lbs guy. After a few weeks of pushing the loading too hard on curls and letting my form slip, my shoulders and elbows (especially) would always start playing up – which would then mean I’d have to skip curls altogether.

Remember, the biceps are still working hard during your back training, so if you’re going hard and heavy on your chins and rows, the need to go heavy on your curls is redundant.

Instead, lighten up the weight, increase the rep range to 8 to 15, and focus on trying to isolate as much tension into the biceps as possible.

Your logbook progression won’t be as exciting, and the performance gains will come slow, but that’s normal – small muscle groups take a long time to build muscle and strength.

This is something I changed in Adam’s training too, whose biceps are one of his weakest body parts. Instead of training with heavy-duty progressive overload like the majority of his workouts are based around, we decided to take a different approach and focus entirely on maximising the pump through methods such as drop-off sets and occlusion training. As someone who’s used to dealing with elbow pain from curls, these methods resulted in zero joint stress and instead, sore biceps for the first time in years!

Chase That Pump


You’ll rarely hear me say this but for biceps, go chase that pump. You don’t need to go crazy and download Kai Greene’s arm workout. That’s useless for most of you.

What I want you to take from this is that when training bis, shift your mindset from loading to pumping. Your joints will thank you, and more importantly, your biceps might start finally growing!

Akash VaghelaAkash Vaghela

Akash Vaghela has spent 10+ years transforming bodies and lives around the world, and in May 2017, founded RNT Fitness to serve this purpose. His vision is to see a world transformed, where ambitious high performers experience the power of the physical as the vehicle to unlock their real potential. He’s the author of the Amazon best-sellilng book Transform Your Body Transform Your Life, which explains his unique and proven five-phase methodology, is host of the RNT Fitness Radio podcast, has been featured in the likes of Men’s Health and BBC, whilst regularly speaking across the world on all things transformation.

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