Hulking Biceps

The workouts that crafted Lou Ferrigno's world-class 23" arms.


Incline dumbbell curls are my favorite biceps exercise. I like the full range of motion and the stress in the biceps from the bottom of the movement all the way to the top. I get a really good stretch at the bottom, although I never let my elbows lock out. I believe you can do damage to your elbow joint if you let it lock each time you lower the weight. I also like to lift with my arms in unison, as opposed to alternating them, as there’s too much opportunity to cheat when doing them one arm at a time.

In the movie Pumping Iron, I do incline dumbbell curls with a pair of 100s. I don't go quite that heavy anymore, but I can still get 80s up for reps. This exercise is a great overall biceps builder.

Barbell curls and incline dumbbell curls are basic mass movements. I try to go as heavy as I can for these, while maintaining strict form. My third exercise, however, will be an isolation movement, such as standard preacher curls or spider curls, which are done hanging over the end of a high bench. I lighten the weight and return to an eight- to 10-rep range, concentrating on slow, steady motion and really contracting my biceps at the very top of the movement.

For my last exercise, I like either 21s or concentration curls, both of which give me a great burn to end my workout. If you'’ve never heard of 21s, they'’re an old standby. Not many people do them anymore, but I'’ve always liked them.

"Joe Weider calls it the Muscle Confusion Training Principle, and I a’m a strong believer in it."

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To perform 21s, choose a barbell that'’s about half the heaviest weight you normally occasion. Joe Weider calls it the Muscle Confusion Training Principle, and I am a strong believer in it. I can'’t emphasize enough how important it is to use good form. It'’s just not worth the risk of injury to compromise form to try moving a weight that'’s too heavy. For example, when doing barbell curls, you want to take a shoulder-width grip, keep your chest high, your shoulders back and, as with seated inclines, never completely straighten your elbows at the bottom of the movement. You also want to keep the motion steady throughout. A mental trick I'’ve used is thinking of the motion as if I were playing a violin, keeping the same pace both in the positive and negative portions of each rep. You should also make sure that you are squeezing the biceps throughout; there should never be a point during a set when your muscles relax.

Some people pair biceps with back because the two groups work synergistically. Others put tris and bis together in an arm day. I prefer the latter, because I find that back training incorporates the biceps so much that they'’re burned out by the time I get to them. When I train arms as a whole, however, I get a great which makes a total of 14 sets. The biceps aren'’t a big muscle group and they don'’t require the same number of sets as for chest, back or thighs. For me, 14 sets or so does the trick for biceps.


Although I have a few favorites I stick with time after time, I do inject variety from workout to workout by changing up the order. The sample workout I just outlined is the default order for my biceps training. If I were to do the same routine every workout, my biceps would eventually adapt to the exact kind of stresses I'’m putting on them and not respond. To combat that, I'’ll reverse the order, swap out different exercises for my usual ones or just mix up the entire workout on pump and the biceps workout actually prepares my triceps for their training by pushing blood into the entire upper arm.

Train your biceps twice a week following my suggested routine (see the sidebar), keep the intensity high and the form solid, and I am confident you'’ll maximize your arms’ growth potential just as I have my own. - FLEX




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