Can you name the muscle group that, when developed, gets noticed more than any other? No, impressive as it may be, the answer is not a thick chest. It isn't wide shoulders either. Washboard abs? Good guess, but wrong again.
Think about it: Unless you're an underwear model or one of those guys who strip down and paint themselves in team colors at local sporting events (and please, tell us you're not one of those guys), all of those aforementioned body parts are usually hidden under clothing. Meanwhile, the muscles we're referring to are often on display if you have plenty of short-sleeve shirts in your closet '" your arms. Capped by a hard softball-shaped biceps, they tell the world you're a bodybuilder, or at least that you're serious about fitness.
Now here's some good news. Building mountainous bi's doesn't have to take hours upon hours in the gym. For those of you with wickedly brutal schedules, we have devised the following four circuit workouts, each and every one of them compressing all the benefits of a longer training session into a mere 20 minutes.
Before you start, there are just a few things to keep in mind. To complete the routines that quickly, you'll want to employ a two-seconds-up/one-second-squeeze-at-the-top/three-seconds-down cadence for every rep, and rest no more than one minute between circuits. Within circuits, the only break between each exercise is the brief period it takes to switch positions and/or weights for the next movement.
Later in the "Short Circuit" series, we'll provide 20-minute workouts for triceps. Whether you use the routines in that article or another triceps workout of your own choosing, the combination with these biceps-busting regimens should spur your arms to grow '" and garner plenty of attention in the process.
Workout Circuit #1: Dumbbells
|Standing Alternating Dumbbell Curl||12, 10, 8|
|Dual Dumbbell Hammer Curl||10, 10, 8|
|Dumbbell Concentration Curl||10, 10, 8|
|Dual Reverse-Grip Dumbbell Curl||10, 10, 8|
|Instructions: Repeat the circuit three times through.|
|The math: 172 total reps (which figures in the fact that the alternating curl and concentration curl are done one arm at a time) at 6 seconds per rep = 1,032 seconds, or about 17 minutes; plus one minute rest between the first and second circuit and second and third circuit, totals 19 minutes, leaving 1 minute for switching from exercise to exercise within the circuits.|
|Note: If you have a few more minutes at your disposal, you can break this workout into two supersets, pairing the first two exercises and the second two. This should allow you to handle a bit more weight overall on each set because of the additional rest.|
Workout #2: Barbells
|Standing Barbell Curl||15, 12, 10, 8, 8|
|Barbell Preacher Curl||12, 10, 10, 8, 8|
|Reverse-Grip Barbell Curl||12, 10, 10, 8, 8|
|Instructions: Repeat the circuit five times through. Use a very light weight for a warm up on your first set of barbell curls.|
|The math: 149 total reps at 6 seconds per rep = 894 seconds, or about 15 minutes; plus 1 minute rest each circuit, totals about 19 minutes, leaving 1 minute for switching from exercise to exercise within the circuits.|
|Note: It'll add slightly to the length of the workout, but for an extra challenge, try to get 15 reps on every set, selecting poundages that are challenging enough that you can't finish without using the rest/pause technique '" pausing a few seconds mid-set as many times as it takes to complete all 15 reps.|
Workout #3: Free Weights & Machines
|EZ-Bar Preacher Curl||15, 12, 10, 8|
|Incline-Bench Dual Dumbbell Curl||12, 10, 8, 8|
|Smith-Machine or Barbell Drag Curl||12, 10, 8, 8|
|Reverse-Grip Straight-Bar Cable Curl||12, 10, 10, 8|
|Instructions: Repeat the circuit four times through. For the incline-bench curl, lie with your chest on the pad of a bench set at about 45 degrees and curl both dumbbells simultaneously.|
|The math: 161 total reps at 6 seconds per rep = 966 seconds, or approximately 16 minutes; plus 1 minute rest between the first and second, second and third and third and fourth circuits, totals about 19 minutes, leaving 1 minute for switching from exercise to exercise within the circuits.|
|Note: To limit the amount of equipment you need to take up at the gym, you can do the EZ-bar preacher curl by standing behind the incline bench, using a close-grip so both elbows fit on the pad. Some benches are built too narrow to accomplish this, but in that case you could also do the first exercise with dumbbells, repping one arm at a time.|
Workout #4: Free Weights & Machines
|Standing EZ-Bar Curl||15, 12, 10, 8|
|Hammer-Grip Pull-Up||10, 10, 10, 8|
|Dual Incline Dumbbell Curl||10, 10, 10, 8|
|Standing Straight-Bar Cable Curl||10, 10, 10, 8|
|Instructions: Repeat the circuit four times through.|
|The math: 159 total reps at 6 seconds per rep = 954 seconds, or about 16 minutes; plus 1 minute rest between the first and second, second and third and third and fourth circuits, totals about 19 minutes, leaving 1 minute for switching from exercise to exercise within the circuits.|
If you tire on the dual incline dumbbell curl to the point of failure,
switch to alternating reps to complete the set. The small moment of
rest each arm gets as the other does a rep will help your biceps
recharge just enough to continue to the end.