This is the third part of a five part series called The Guide to Real Women’s Arm Toning. The full series is PART ONE, TWO and THREE, FOUR and FIVE. In this post we will be looking at the biceps. I know this is a favorite muscle of many of our readers so this should be a goodie!
Specifically we will be looking at:
1. Why training the biceps is a good idea for women.
2. What exactly are the biceps.
3. The best biceps exercises
4. Some tips and hints for biceps training.
Discuss this article: Real Women’s Fitness Forum.
An arm toning reminder for all women
This series is about arm toning so I firstly need to refresh a few important principles:
1. You cannot tone your arms with weight training alone.
2. You need to lose fat on your arms if you want them to look toned.
3. Diet and cardio are about 60% of the arm toning equation.
When you read through this series on arm toning you should keep in mind that the exercises in here are dealing with the weight training aspect of arm toning only. You will not get toned arms by just doing these exercises; you need the other stuff too. That being said, weight training exercises are a vital part of toning your arms.
Introduction to Women’s Biceps Training
Some women love training their biceps, other women are terrified of training their biceps. In this post I want to not only show you how to go about toning your biceps but I want to show you why training your biceps is a good idea. There is no need to be afraid!
Many women feel that if they train their biceps they are going to get massive bulky arms. This is not true. While it is possible for a woman to develop big arms (if they do all the right things) the majority of women will find that their arms become tighter and more defined by weight training.
The biceps are an area of the arm that can look a little bit soft on many women. As most women never train their biceps the muscle is underdeveloped and the arm doesn’t look complete. Once you start training your biceps you will find that the muscle develops and makes your arm look more complete giving you the overall apperance of being very fit and healthy. Many women will find that their arms will become thinner by training the biceps.
Where exactly are the biceps?
It might seem silly but I have found it is very important to show exactly where a muscle is when talking about it with someone. Many times I have told someone to do a tricep exercise and seen them working their biceps. Not good.
As you can see the biceps are the muscle at the front of the arm which tie into the shoulder at the top and the forearm at the bottom. The biceps are used for motions where you must bend the arm or pull things upwards. It is very important to know exactly how the biceps work as it is easy to slip into the habit of letting other muscles assist the biceps during weight training.
The best biceps exercises
The biceps have inspired so many different exercises throughout the generations. There are simple ones and complex ones. The best biceps exercises, however, are the ones that allow you to isolate the muscle without bringing any others into play. They are simple to do and have a minimal risk.
1. The barbell curl
The barbell curl is the oldest, simplest and most effective exercise for building the biceps. It is used by beginners and experts and always brings results.
The barbell bicep curl has some traps and pitfalls though. For example, one must make sure that the elbows stay still throughout the movement as moving them can cause the shoulders to come in and start assisting. This takes the weight off the biceps and slows down progress.
You must also find the correct grip – too wide or narrow and you will lose emphasis again.
2. The concentration curl
The concentration curl is an amazing exercise as it helps you build the muscle and master your biceps curling technique at the same time. You might thank that that is an obvious statement to make – of course it helps with your technique, every exercise does! While that is true you will find that the concentration curl is particularly good for mastering the curl because the seated position forces you to use your biceps and allows you to spot “cheating” easily.
Make sure you keep your upper torso over your arm during the exercise. Don’t allow yourself to lean back as this takes the weight off the biceps completely. Keep the movement smooth and slow and really focus on the contraction in your biceps.
3. Hammer curls
The hammer curl is an excellent exercise because it works out your forearms at the same time without taking the emphasis off of the biecps. Again, make sure you keep your elbows still in this one and avoid the temptation to lean back as you hoist the weight up to your shoulder. If you need to hoist the weight at all it is too heavy. Pick a weight that allows you to use a smooth movement without having to rely on any cheating momentum.
If you rely on these three exercises you will get a quite well rounded and total bicep workout. By mastering these exercises you will find that all other biceps exercises are easy to perform.
Tips for women training their biceps
If you want to get the most out of your biceps workout there are a few little tips and tricks that you should know.
1. Go slow
Make sure each repetition that you do is slow and controlled. The faster you go the more likely it is that you are going to cheat. Take it easy and keep an eye on your technique.
Make sure you stretch your biceps before, during and after your workout. This will help you learn how to contract the biceps as well as keeping them flexible and healthy.
3. Minimal rest
Do not rest for too long at the bottom of each repetition. Try and keep the tension on your biceps and don’t let them slack off for too long. There is a big temptation to rest at the top and bottom of each rep – avoid it.
The biceps really are pretty easy to train. Getting the right exercises is an important part of toning your arms and with these three you will find you have a pretty good biceps workout going on. Make sure your technique is always perfect and that aren’t overtraining the biceps by working them out more than once a week.