The enthusiasm felt by a new bodybuilder is something that can be hard to measure. Can you remember that feeling when you first started lifting, making gains almost by the workout? You couldn’t wait for the next day to arrive, so you could build upon the last day’s gains the next time in the gym. It was a joyous period, those beginners’ gains.
Some bodybuilders tend to take their excitement a little too far. The first time they trained biceps, they probably completed 4 sets and were very proud of the gains. The next day, there’s a good chance they returned to the biceps area and knocked out 10 or 12 sets. The pump must have been unbelievable, because on day 3 they were ready to do it again, with even more sets. After completing 16 sets, the beginner loses all of his original gains, faces a week of soreness, and perhaps injured himself in the process. The moral of this story should be obvious – beginners’ gains can often be deceiving, and it’s very easy to overtrain a muscle group like the biceps.
If you’re new to training, hitting the gym a lot, and not making gains, then it’s very possible you’re already in a state of overtraining currently. You should immediately step back and take a week off of the gym. It won’t be easy. After all, you probably just discovered the joys of the weight room. However, it is necessary if you want to keep making long term gains.
When you return to the gym, you’re going to need to limit the number of sets you complete for each body part, including biceps. Allow yourself only 12 sets, every 5 days. You can bet your bottom dollar that you’re going to lift your hardest if you know that those 120 or so repetitions are all you’re allowed to use for biceps. You’ll train harder than you ever have, and not surprisingly, the gains you make will improve as well. Instead of completing umpteen sets of barbell curls with weight that is too heavy or too light, you’ll be forced to quickly find a moderate workload and get the most out of each and every rep.
Stick with the exercises that have been proven to work over the years. Barbell curls, alternate dumbbell curls, and preacher bench curls (with either dumbbell or the EZ curl bar) are all excellent choices. Movements such as the biceps cable concentration curls are probably better left on the shelf for a few years, until those guns are 19 inches around, and you’re ready for some refinement. In the meantime, use the recommended basics to build up your foundation of muscle mass.
It should be noted that biceps is the muscle group that recovers faster than any other major muscle group in the body. Training it twice per week is something that many bodybuilders are able to get away with. Training it 5 times, however, is a surefire way to overtrain the muscle group.