To build impressive, sleeve ripping biceps, you need to understand the structure of the muscle group and how to target each area. To train biceps effectively, you need to target three areas: the biceps brachii, the brachialis, and the brachioradialis. Knowing function, and how to train each muscle for maximum results, can help you sculpt the exact look you want.
Biceps actually means "two heads" and refers to the short head, which originates from the front of your scapula and inserts at top of the radius, (the forearm bone on the thumb's side) and the long head, which also originates at the scapula and inserts in the radius, but takes a longer path. Despite originating and inserting is relatively the same place, you can actually target one head without hitting the other, so don't assume you're building even strength and size. If you only have a strong long head, your biceps will only look big from the side, but if you only have a strong short head, your biceps will only look big from the front. The goal is to build both at the same rate to get that softball look from all angles.
How to hit it: A supinated grip will target both heads, but your elbow position will change which one is targeted. Exercises where your elbows are in front of your body, like during preacher curls or even classic bicep curls, will target the short head. To target the long, do exercises that move the elbows behind the body, like incline dumbbells curls.
The brachialis runs from the midpoint of your humerus, or your upper arm bone, to your ulna, the forearm bone on your pinky side. It's main function is to help flex the elbow joint.
How to hit it: The brachialis does not help to pronate or supinate your arm, yet it is best targeted when your hands are in a pronated (palms face down) position. For even strength, your pronated curling strength should be around 80% of your supinated curling strength. If it's not, target the brachialis with reverse curls and eccentric pronated barbell curls, being sure to keep your elbows tight by your sides during the eccentric phase and power cleaning the bar through the concentric.
Your brachioradialis is a long forearm muscle, originating from the humerus and attaching at the end of the radial bone. Building the forearm finishes the bicep shape and gives you a nice bulge.
How to hit it: The brachioradialis is targeted when your perform curling exercises with the hands in the neutral and pronated position, because it puts the biceps at a mechanical disadvantage, forcing the brachioradialis to take the brunt of the work. Hammer curls are going to be your go-to.
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