Need some advice about my biceps.

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  1. #1
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    Need some advice about my biceps.

    When I train my biceps I usually always get a nice pump in the whole muscle. But for a couple hours after I'm done, I notice that the part of the bicep closest to my elbow is always hard as a rock and the further up I go toward my shoulder the softer the muscle is. So I'm wondering if that's normal or am I doing something wrong? Also I don't know if it makes a difference, but that's the only part of the muscle I ever get doms in.

    So is it possible to target more of the upper bicep closest to my shoulder?

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    What's your typical session like right now when you train biceps?

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    How long have you been training?

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    First of all everyone had this issue to a certain degree and it has absolutely nothing to do with your training.

    What your feeling closer to the elbow is tendon. Tendons are harder and more dense the closer to the bone and softer as you move toward the belly of the muscle. They have much less blood and fluid then muscle. Tendon fibers are very thick and that is why they are more prone to injury. Especially where it attached to the bone. Training will harden muscle but it will never be as hard as some huge tendons.

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    The "DOMS" you are experiencing is likely microdamage to the musculotendonous Junction. Be careful because this is often where biceps tear. Stop blasting your biceps with ridiculous amounts of volume and heavy weight . They will respond better to higher reps, lower volume but frequent training. Your biceps get worked either directly or indirectly every time you train .

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    I've been training right at a year now, So 'm still a beginner. That's why I thought I was doing something wrong. But as for my training. I do back and shoulders on monday and since my biceps are already pretty fatigued I only do 2-3 sets heavy as possible and keep reps 8-12. And Fridays are dedicated arm days with high volume 5-6 sets in 12-15 rep range.

    Thanks guys for the help!

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    When I say "heavy" I am referring to the intensity (percentage of 1rm) of the exercise not the effort. These terms are often confused by many people. If your using a weight that requires a lot of effort for 10 reps then you are generally working at about 70% intensity. Which I think is good for hypertrophy training. However biceps respond well to intensities as low as 55% but with 100% effort.
    Training to muscular failure is not necessary and can be damaging and slow gains when integrated too often.
    Do yourself a favor a leave a few in the tank for about 80% of your training. You will grow and reduce many types of injuries. Anyone can train hard but not many train smart imo.

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    @Bigjim5....Thanks for the advice! I will try what your saying and see how I respond. My biceps are lagging compared to my tri's so that's why I was hitting them as much as I could.

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    I do think biceps respond well to frequent training (3 x wk) but not with tons of volume each time and not to failure often.

    Try hitting them with 1 drop set or rest pause set at the end of a few workouts per week. Just 1 set that will probably total 30-40 reps. If you are intent on hitting a "biceps" day, which I don't think is necessary but It's up to you, train in the 10-15 range for 8-10 work sets and stay away from muscle failure on this day. That's not to say you are not working hard, just not grinding set after set to failure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dmike03 View Post
    I've been training right at a year now, So 'm still a beginner. That's why I thought I was doing something wrong. But as for my training. I do back and shoulders on monday and since my biceps are already pretty fatigued I only do 2-3 sets heavy as possible and keep reps 8-12. And Fridays are dedicated arm days with high volume 5-6 sets in 12-15 rep range.

    Thanks guys for the help!
    Priorities are backwards. You blast your arms so much it's negatively effecting your back and shoulders. Your back in particular should be far more important than your arms if you're looking to gain size, so you should have already adjusted your training? Since you're fairly new to training I would recommend you put isolations on hold and focus on compounds. 2-3 sets for back is not gonna get it done. I split my back exercises up throught the week. One day is rows and one day is pull ups and pull downs. Total sets range from 20-24 sets, depending on how I feel. I get that at this point in your training you can only do so much, but you'll have better gains everywhere by putting most if not all your focus on compounds.

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    @PushAndPull...At first I didn't understand where you were getting that I only did 2-3 sets for back. But I see where I should have worded my last reply differently. What I meant was, after training back and shoulders I do 2-3 sets of bicep work cuz they are already fatigued from the back work. As for my back itself, I do about 12 sets for my back and 8-9 sets for shoulders. Those are total sets between the different lifts.
    I do focus on the big compound movements. But I added the extra arm work cuz my bi's were not growing for nothing!

    I really do appreciate all the advice guys!

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    What does your current routine look like? How long have you been doing this routine?

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    I agree with pushandpull in that your focus in your training so early on should be on compound movements, focusing most of your energy on the large muscle groups. People always seem to overtrain the smaller muscle groups early on, especially bi's and tri's. Focusing on compound movements at this stage will build a foundation of muscle. Get strong, build tendon strength and gain size right now. Make sure you are eating to gain muscle and put on strength and size. I know guys who NEVER isolate arms who have built gigantic arms simply through compound movements.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PushAndPull View Post
    What does your current routine look like? How long have you been doing this routine?
    Back & Shoulders

    Lat Pulldowns-3 sets 8-12 reps
    Bent over row-3 sets 8-12 reps
    Face Pulls-3 sets 8-12 reps
    Hyper extensions-3 sets 8-12 reps
    Overhead DB Press-3 sets 8-12 reps
    Rear Delt Flys-3 sets 8-12 reps
    Side Laterals-3 sets 8-12
    Shrugs-3 sets 8-12 reps
    DB curls-2 sets 8-12 reps
    Preacher Curls-1to2 sets 8-12 reps

    This is the back and shoulder routine I've been doing for 4 weeks.

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    Not a bad routine... Some things I would change.

    Quote Originally Posted by dmike03 View Post
    Back & Shoulders

    Lat Pulldowns-3 sets 8-12 reps
    Add 3 sets of pull downs with the 6th set being a drop set. Use an underhand grip
    Bent over row-3 sets 8-12 reps
    Add 3 sets of another type of row. Hammer strength low row or cable rows
    Face Pulls-3 sets 8-12 reps
    Drop
    Hyper extensions-3 sets 8-12 reps
    Drop
    Overhead DB Press-3 sets 8-12 reps
    Rear Delt Flys-3 sets 8-12 reps
    Side Laterals-3 sets 8-12
    Shrugs-3 sets 8-12 reps
    DB curls-2 sets 8-12 reps
    Drop, add to chest day
    Preacher Curls-1to2 sets 8-12 reps
    Drop, add to chest day
    Add 3 sets of skull crushers and a drop set of tricep pushdowns

    This is the back and shoulder routine I've been doing for 4 weeks.
    Also I would change the ordering of the exercises. You do not have to finish each body part before beginning another. Instead you can prioritize by how difficult each exercise is. So maybe pull downs, shoulder press, and then rows as you first three exercises. These are the big boys of your routine and you need as much energy as possible for them.

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    I will change it up and see how it goes!!

    One question! You think just one exercise of of direct rear delt work is enough to keep my shoulders balanced?

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    Yeah one isolation exercise will be fine, rows also work your rear delts and you're increasing those sets.

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    I kind of disagree with the upper back work. I believe you should be doing a ratio of at least 2 to 1 pulling to push work. I don't think you should be busting heavy rows or pull-down and pull ups constantly but definitely more single joint type work for the upper back that's NOT CVS fatiguing. I personally do about 50 - 100 band pull a parts 4-5 x wk. I use multiple shoulder positions like external rotation, internal rotation and neutral (palms facing forward or floor if you are prone). This work will help keep your shoulders healthy and strong. Try a few sets of high reps (20-40) with light to medium weight tubes or bands.
    They are also great to add extra volume to your back work to add mass to the lower, mid, upper traps and rhomboids. They Also hit the lats a bit from different angles.
    There are certain muscles that respond well to frequent bouts as long as your not hitting failure and a tin of volume at each session. But you will be looking at a considerable weekly volume.
    There is a lot of research out there on hypertrophy training with frequent stimulation followed by recovery then more stimulation. There is a program that I saw great results from called HST (hypertrophy specific training). It's basically 3 fullbody workouts per week while cycling intensities. I think programs like this are great for beginners. First, because it gives you 3 times per week to master the best, most effective exercises while stimulating the multiple types of muscle fibers.
    Something you may want to look into for a few months. I know a lot of guys shy away from 3 day /wk programs because they think they need to train 5 or 6 times per week or they will get small and weak. But this couldn't be further from the truth.

    Good luck.

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    Not CVS, I meant CNS (Centre nervous system). Damn spell correct.

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    The front part of the lower half of your upper arm (upper arm being from your elbow to your shoulder) has both the brachialis and brachii, so it might just feel denser (harder) because there is more muscle tissue there. The brachialis is also more tightly "fastened", so it will not displace as much as the biceps brachii when you try to move/touch it, lender to a denser feeling as well. So it makes sense the lower part will feel harder.

    However, I think you are obsessing a bit here. We've all been there, I sure as hell have. Most people get really concerned with the details, especially when they first start training. There is not much you can do, if anything, to target a specific portion of a specific muscle, especially one as small as the biceps.

    Try to focus on the big picture. Throw in a few sets of curls, eat a lot, and assuming you are training the rest of your body in a reasonable way, you will get more muscular. Enjoy the process! Focusing on the small bits tends to take the fun out of training.
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    Another comment on "blasting biceps" - everyone has a selection of muscle groups that respond amazingly and other muscle groups that don't - so I think this is an important thing to keep in mind when you are setting your expectations - once you have a good idea of what grows easily and what doesn't, you can focus your training. But w/ that comes the caveat about a beginning lifter beating on the first place where repetitive motion injuries show up - forearms / elbows / shoulders. For that point, I also like the idea of focusing more on your big compound movements and let everything grow with that work instead of overtraining those small joints w/ heavy isolation work. The last thing you want to do is push hard towards some great tendonitis issues. I guarantee you will experience it and once you experience it, those areas are now perpetually compromised. Best things you can do as a beginning lifter is focus on the big compound stuff and tight form, don't fixate on getting "everything" to grow at the same rate, but rather the overall product. And while you're at it, also learn and incorporate good warm up and stretch protocols. THESE are what will save you as you get older cuz shit falls apart when you hit your mid 40s. And its not dramatic big stuff - its more like every little joint starts to get tight and the resulting push-pull imbalances just get enhanced.

    A bit off topic bit to my comment about good warmup and stretch protocols, I'm a huge fan of Joe DeFranco's Agile 8 , or more recently, Limber 11:

    Agile 8: https://www.t-nation.com/training/defranco-agile-8

    Limber 11: http://barbellacademy.com/joe-defran...ility-routine/
    - notes: http://www.reddit.com/r/weightroom/c...ility_routine/

    These are both excellent mobility warmups.


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