If you’re interested in how to build bigger biceps by benching, you might be wondering whether it’s even possible to build big biceps by bench pressing. And then there are the people who will tell you that the only way to build bigger biceps is with isolation exercises. In this article, we clear up some of these common myths and give you a full-spectrum guide to building bigger arm muscles with free weights.
1. It’s Possible to Build Big Biceps by Doing Full-Body Exercises Like the Bench Press
Your biceps are involved in almost every upper body pressing exercise. To target your biceps, make sure you’re contracting them at the top of each rep of your bench press. You can also use the hammer grip to target the biceps even more.
Because your biceps are involved, avoid pumping lunges. They’re too difficult for your arms to pull the same amount of weight. Walking lunges are done from the knees, don’t recruit as many muscles in the legs.
To work your pecs and triceps with free-weight bench presses, you’ll need to perform several reps and then rest in between sets. One rep of a set of 10 dumbbell bench presses can make your pecs and shoulders tired and ready for the next set, You can structure your bench press sets to push your muscles to their limits.
When doing toroidal width techniques (bench presses with hands wider than shoulder-width apart), effectively squeeze the bench, ensure your shoulder blades are stacked, and crush all of the pec minor and minor of the latissimus dorsi. This won’t have them fatigue as quickly, but it will have them activate their top capabilities much better.
Next, crush the middle of the bench with your chest, arms, and shoulders.
Grab the bench with palms facing up. Push your legs through as high as you can while keeping your feet flat on the floor, knees bent and hips extended. In this position, your arms should be directly over your hands. Don’t let your shoulders flare out. This gives your external rotators (the muscles beneath your shoulders) the most work. This is also a great exercise for your shoulder joints.
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2. You Can Build Bigger Arms with Free Weights, Even if you Want to Focus on the Biceps and Triceps
I’m a big believer in free weights for working out overall strength and muscle mass. But my top pick is the bench press.
The bench press is a back-to-front barbell movement that works the front of your chest. Some people choose to use a barbell for this exercise, while others prefer to use plates, which helps them lift more weight.
Like many exercises, the bench press starts with your arms about a foot off the ground and slightly bent. Using free weights helps you improve stability and make the exercise more advanced without stressing your joints too much.
Install the cable machine as if you were using it in a real gym. To do this effectively, ensure your elbows are locked out about halfway (about 30 degrees) from your body, your arms are close to your body, and there are no other cables, pulleys, or other metal attachments in the way.
Holding the weight in your hands puts a tremendous amount of tension on your arms, shoulders, and triceps. Your core supports the movement by keeping your hips and knees in a straight line.
Keep the bar low enough that you feel the tension in your abs. Keep your elbows locked as you press the bar straight up.
Keep your elbows locked out at all times — don’t let them sag in your chin — and use the controlled function of your arms to help you push the barbell as high as possible.
Pressing the bar straight up increases the amount of time you spend at the bottom of the rep. If you press straight up for more time at the bottom of a bench press, it will be harder to go back up to take the bar off the rack without grabbing it.
3. Bench pressing is a great exercise for building bigger arm muscles and strength
The bench press is a great exercise to build strength and muscle mass in your arms. It works several muscle groups, including the triceps, which are located on the back of the upper arms, and the pectorals, or chest muscles. To do the bench press properly, lie on your back on a weight bench.
1. YOU NEED TO HEEL-TO-TOE ON THE bench
Hold the weight directly above your head. Don’t use your toes or arms as a balance; hold the weight directly above your head.
2. YOU NEED TO SQUEEZE YOUR ARMS
Your core has to work overtime to keep you in position on the bench. You can squeeze your arms harder by extending your legs and squeezing your glutes.
3. YOU CAN’T IMPROVE YOUR BENCH PRESSING WITH LIMBS OR LEG EXTENSIONS
If either your back or your legs are weak, both of your main muscles are at their limits for the bench press. Limiting your bench press with leg extensions is like forcing yourself to drive a lawnmower with just one or two powerful strokes.
4. YOU CAN’T BUILD BODYWEIGHT STIR-THE-POT
You can use fancy equipment to help your bench press, like kettlebells. And if you have access to gym equipment, it’s worth investing in a barbell for competition. But the guy with the barbell, who can squat 200 pounds or more, is almost always a better bench press competitor than the guy with a J-curve. Before light training, you might bench press fairly well (or slightly better) with a barbell. But once you become stronger, you need to use heavier weights.
5. YOU CAN’T USE BENCH PRESS MACHINES TO BUILD A LONG BELLY
If your goal is to add muscle to your belly, you need bigger biceps.
6. YOU CAN’T THICKEN UP OVER TIME
When you bench press, you create micro trapezius muscle fibers, which create bigger, thicker biceps.
To build bigger biceps you need to challenge your arms with compound exercises, like the bench press—not isolation exercises like curls. Lifting heavy weights will help you get big arms by increasing your muscular size and strength.