A Practical Way to Target the "Lower" Biceps
Do you have a giant gap between the crook of your elbow and the rest of your bicep? Is it possible to train the "lower" biceps and potentially fill this gap, or is it just a genetic thing?
Old school bodybuilders used to talk about exercises to emphasize various portions of the biceps. There's a lot of debate about whether this is true or not. You'll have meatheads who swear by it on one side, and you'll have overly scientific dorks who don't even lift claim muscles always contract as a whole.
A few studies, some of which were done by T Nation contributors Brad Schoenfield and Bret Contreras, showed you CAN emphasize various portions of the same muscle, potentially leading to regional hypertrophy (1,2,3).
These studies were done on the hamstrings and triceps, though, so what about the biceps? The research does suggest this is possible for most body parts, including the biceps because it crosses both the shoulder and elbow joint. Still, there's no study comparing two groups showing guaranteed regional growth.
Regardless of this ongoing debate, there is a fantastic solution many people are overlooking.
Fix Your Gap
When people talk about the biceps, they usually refer to the two main heads – the long head and the short head. Both heads make up the biceps brachii, which lies in the front of the upper arm.
Instead of debating whether we can target the lower portion of the biceps brachii, why not just target a completely different muscle that fully sits towards the lower portion of your upper arm? This muscle is the brachialis. It sits underneath the biceps brachii and has the potential to expand your arm size from beneath.
Triggering growth in this muscle will help with overall lower bicep size, and if you're not too genetically cursed it might even mitigate that arm gap. Try this superset:
A1 Dip Bar Lean
Hold yourself up on dip bars and lean slowly on each side as you assist less and less with the opposite arm. You'll feel the inside of your arm activate. Switch between sides every 5 seconds. Do these for as long as you can tolerate while focusing on the mind-muscle connection.
You probably won't need additional load, but if things do get too easy wear a weight belt or add some chains around your neck.
A2 Standing Hammer Curl
After the dip bar leans, do a set of good ol' standing hammer curls. Squeeze hard with each rep and lower slowly.
Why It Works
The dip bar lean is a unique exercise that challenges the brachialis isometrically, forcing it stabilize the upper arm. Pairing it with the hammer curl allows for both static and dynamic contractions of the brachialis.
When doing this superset, you'll feel the inside of your mid/lower bicep area most. Give these a try!
- Mendiguchia, J, et al. "Nonuniform Changes in MRI Measurements of the Thigh Muscles after Two Hamstring Strengthening Exercises." Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23443215.
- Schoenfeld, B J, et al. "Regional Differences in Muscle Activation during Hamstrings Exercise." Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24978835.
- Wakahara, T, et al. "Nonuniform Muscle Hypertrophy: Its Relation to Muscle Activation in Training Session." Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Nov. 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23657165.