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3 Dumbest Bicep Training Mistakes


Posted by Scott_Herman - November 15th, 2017

In today’s article, we’re talking about biceps. Or rather, what you’re doing wrong if you can’t seem to get them to grow! And even if your biceps ARE growing, we’re still going to be addressing a few points that might help accelerate their growth and MAXIMIZE your time in the gym!

Mistake #1 - Not Understanding How Gravity Works

You don’t need to be Sir Isaac Newton to get your bicep training right, but for the majority of you the most detrimental mistake you’re making when training your biceps is simply not understanding how gravity works. It might sound funny to you, but bare with me for a second. Stand up straight with your arms hanging naturally by your side. Gravity is naturally pulling them towards the floor. Now, there is no bicep engagement here! There is no stretch, there is no contraction, they are literally just hanging out doing nothing. Now, try picking up a dumbbell and doing the same thing. If you just hold the dumbbell with your arm in the same position, there is no tension.

Now your hand, or grip, might get tired eventually, but not because of your bicep fatiguing, but rather your fingers and forearms giving out. But let’s now perform a bicep curl. If your elbow stays back by your side, or in line with your hips, you’ll get a solid bicep contraction when reaching the top of the movement.

However, when going down, the tension starts to decrease as you lower the weight back down to the bottom where there is NO tension. But that isn’t totally true either. If your palms are facing in there is no tension in the biceps, but if you keep your hand supinated with your palms facing forward we can keep the biceps activated at the bottom of the movement.

This is a good time to mention for those of you who are told fully extending is useless, remember that the sticking point of a bicep curl is the initial PULL at the bottom. So if you never fully extend your arm, you are essentially skipping the hardest part of the exercise where your biceps have to work their hardest to move the weight. So skipping that is just a waste of a time.

Now, the way to FULLY maximize your biceps activation during ANY curl is to keep your elbows locked and slightly in front of your torso. Next, as you curl the weight up, you still get maximum contraction, but as you lower the dumbbell back down you can keep more tension on the biceps even when the arm is fully extended, because your upper arm is not pointing directly towards the floor anymore.

It is at a slight angle, and what this does is allow you to keep a nice STRETCH on the biceps at the bottom of the movement. And if you take into consideration the fact that the most amount of muscle damage occurs during the negative, it’d be a shame to waste that opportunity, simply because you’re letting your elbows travel behind your hips as you lower the weight.

Remember that your body doesn’t care about bicep growth, it is always seeking out the easiest path to move the weight you are lifting. So that’s why you will naturally WANT to bring your elbows back and the dumbbells closer to your body as you lower the weight, and even as you curl it up.  BUT, don’t be confused because in the past we have talked about DRAG CURLS, which are performed by bringing the elbows back on the way up.  

That is a different exercise and if you want to learn more about it check out my recent video on Drag Curls Vs Spider Curls to target the biceps PEAKS! So to wrap this up guys, if you want to maximize any biceps curl, start the movement by holding the weight with your palms facing forward, your elbows slightly in front of your hips, and as you bring the weight up focus on squeezing your biceps as hard as you can, and control the negative so that your elbows stay slightly in front of your hips the entire time.

Mistake #2 - Not Training The Biceps Frequently Enough

The second mistake has to do with the frequency of your training. Remember that your biceps and every other muscle in your body respond to progressive overload. This means that as long as you’re consistently making progress in terms of how much weight you’re lifting or how many sets and reps you’re doing with a given weight, your biceps WILL grow. However, if there is too much time between your bicep workouts, your biceps may not be receiving the amount of growth stimulus they need which could result in less muscle growth or often, NO MUSCLE GROWTH once you have plateaued.

Most people tend to train their arms once a week and they usually have a dedicated arm or bicep day. They utilize this day to BLAST their biceps with 10 different exercises until they can’t even hold their bottle of water anymore! So if this sounds like you, you need to stop what you’re doing right now.

Instead, you need to focus on hitting your biceps 2 or even 3 times a week and divide the volume across multiple sessions. Why? Well, after you‘ve trained a muscle group, it will start recovering and rebuilding the damaged tissue. This recovery and regrowth process or “anabolic window” will only last about 24 or 48 hours, if you’re lucky. So, if you’re training your biceps every 7 days, there are still 5 days in a week that your biceps are receiving ZERO stimulus and that means there is ZERO “potential” growth happening. On the other hand, if you were to train your biceps 2 or 3 times a week but with less volume per session, your biceps would be growing practically every day of the entire week. Understand the difference?  

Also, remember that the anabolic window changes DRASTICALLY when you are FULL NATTY versus on Steroids.  If you are on drugs you can get away with training muscles groups once a week, or “bro-splits” and you will see MASSIVE GAINS because your testosterone levels are 4 – 5 times higher than normal levels. As a FULL NATTY, you can still see progress doing bro-splits, but your progress will be much slower because your anabolic Window is MUCH smaller. This is why you need to train the same muscle groups multiple times a week to hit multiple growth periods. But I want to move on to the 3rd and final mistake so if you guys would like to watch my video that fully explains the anabolic window, just click HERE.

Mistake #3 - Being Too Strict Or Too Loose With The Form

Balance is everything guys! Today you might hear me say slow controlled form is key to muscle growth, and tomorrow you might see me advocating the use of a bit of momentum to cheat to overload your muscles like with my “Cheat & Recover” training technique. So am I constantly contradicting myself? Well no, it’s just that you need to get the best from both worlds!

Of course, there is a time for slow controlled form and that’s when you need to work on developing your muscle-mind connection or when you’re trying to pre-exhaust or fatigue a muscle group.  But when it comes to busting through a plateau to gain a bit more size and strength sometimes the best course of action is to utilize some cheat reps so that you can lift MUCH HEAVIER WEIGHTS and focus on controlled negatives because you can always handle up to 40% more weight in the eccentric portion of a movement versus the concentric portion.

But when we’re talking biceps growth specifically exercises like concentration curls, spider curls and preacher curls are OK to do, especially towards the end of your workouts, but you need to focus more on exercises like the barbell biceps curl, the incline dumbbell curl and weighted chin-ups. All these exercises are perfect to use a bit more momentum and utilize the negative to stretch and force your muscle fibers to grow bigger and stronger.


Recently many of you have been asking me when bicep curling with dumbbells, is it better to alternate one arm at a time or curl them both together? Well, the straight answer is that it depends. Neither form is superior or inferior to the other, and they both should be variations in your exercise arsenal!  It just comes down to what you’re trying to do. In my opinion the main reason why I would even consider doing a standing dumbbell curl is so that I could focus on curling as much weight as possible with each arm.  If you go grab some heavy dumbbells right now, you will quickly realize that you can curl MORE weight, even if it is just 5 pounds, alternating your arms versus trying to curl both at the same time.  This is because, whether standing or sitting, it will be easier for your core to stabilize one dumbbell instead of two because technically it is HALF the weight.

I understand however, that many of you are worried about “losing tension” and “wasting time” because when your left bicep is working while the right one is resting and vice versa. This type of backwards thinking is just LAUGHABLE. It’s CLICKBAIT BS that is just confusing and honestly this talk of “losing tension” is starting to get REALLY OLD.  Let me explain. Do you really think that for the few seconds that one of your arms is not moving that the metabolic stress from your reps is canceling out?  

Now if you don’t know what metabolic stress, it is what happens when you perform exercises that rely heavily on anaerobic glycolysis for energy production. In simpler words, metabolic stress happens when you do lots of repetitions and sets with short rest periods. This is what gives you guys THE PUMP that you love so much and it is just ONE of the three mechanisms that is responsible for BUILDING MUSCLE. The other two are Muscle Damage and Mechanical Tension but we won’t get into those right now. If you want to learn more I have an article on my site that covers them all if you want to check it out HERE.

Simply put, “resting” one arm while the other curls the weight for 2 – 3 seconds isn’t enough time for your biceps to recover from the amount of stress being placed on them during the set. If it WAS, then you should be able to curl the weights from now until the end of time! And that goes for ANY exercise guys.  

Half reps for more “tension” is just a stupid excuse to look cool lifting more weight, period.  I guarantee you that no matter what exercise you do whether you are fully locking out your elbows or alternating your arms that you will hit a point to where you are fatigued and cannot possibly perform another repetition. So don’t be fooled by the clickbait. Personally, I don’t care about it, but what bothers me is that many of YOU are being fooled into training basically half assed, and are being promised “more gains” from it.

On the other hand, if you want your sets to take less time or if you have a muscle imbalance in your biceps with one bicep being smaller and weaker than the other, it’s probably better to curl both arms at the same time, as this way you can make sure that neither arm is going up faster than the other since they’ll both be going up with the same speed.  But even with saying that, it might be better for you to just use a barbell at that point so you can have more control and lift more weight.


If you’ve been guilty of making these bicep training mistakes, it’s time to stop! If you can start utilizing all of the tips in this video, I guarantee you that your biceps will start responding with some good growth in no time!

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I defiantly noticed a difference going to 2-3 times a week bicep training vs total destruction once a week. Took me a long time to figure out why my biceps just stopped growing. 

Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

Yeah @adawg38 frequency makes a big difference! Got to make the most of that anabolic window 😁