Tip: The Neurological Contrast Method

Here's a clever way to add an inch to your biceps.


This originates from a method that Pierre Roy (former coach of the Canadian National Weightlifting team) used with his female lifters. In Olympic lifting, women lift using a bar smaller in diameter than men's: 25 versus 28mm. While it may not look like a big difference, it's night and day when it comes to the feeling in your hands.

Pierre had female lifters warm up, and even do their lighter work sets, with the thicker men's bar before they switched to the women's bar for the heavier sets. There are two benefits to this:

1. The psychological advantage:

When switching to the thinner bar, their hands could wrap around it more easily, it felt lighter, and it increased their confidence which lead to an improvement in performance.

2. The power of the homunculus:

The homunculus is the visual representation of the importance of each body part in your nervous system. The homunculus has huge hands because your hands have the largest representation in your nervous system – the hands send and receive more info than any other body part. The harder your hands work, the more it activates the nervous system. A more activated nervous system can recruit more muscle fibers and produce more force.

It's this second benefit that'll be the most important to you. What you'll do is alternate between sets of curls using a thick bar and sets using a standard bar.

This will require a fat bar (two inches thick) or Fat Gripz which can be added to a regular barbell to make it thicker.

You'll start with a set of curls using the thicker grip, rest for two to two-and-a-half minutes, then do a set with a regular grip using the same weight. After your set with a regular grip, you'll rest for four minutes and go through the process two more times (for a total of 6 sets).

How to Do It

  1. Start with the thick-grip curls, then grab a weight you can curl for 3-5 reps. It's important that those 3-5 reps are done with proper form – no swinging or cheating – and good mind-muscle connection. Still, try to go as heavy as you can. You shouldn't hit failure, but the last rep should be challenging (leaving a rep in reserve).
  2. Rest for two to two-and-a-half minutes (or 120-150 seconds).
  3. Switch to the standard-grip curls. Using the same weight, do reps to failure. Your goal is get 2-5 more reps than you did with the thicker grip.
  4. Rest for four minutes. Since you went to failure or close to it on your previous set, you want full recovery before starting again.
  5. Repeat the process twice more for a total of three complexes, or six total sets of curls.

This method will maximize muscle fiber recruitment and stimulation, allowing you to trigger more biceps growth and strength gains. Try this once or twice per week for four weeks.

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Christian Thibaudeau specializes in building bodies that perform as well as they look. He is one of the most sought-after coaches by the world's top athletes and bodybuilders. Check out the Christian Thibaudeau Coaching Forum.