Arms are a stubborn part for a lot of women, and let’s be honest — most of us are more concerned with our lower bodies anyhow! But a fabulous set of arms can be a real head-turner, and they can make break your physique if you’re a competitor. The off-season is the perfect time to add some muscle to this obstinate part, and heavy barbell work is the best way to make that happen.
Arrange your bodypart split so that you train biceps solo — you don’t want another part demanding attention on that same day — and do this barbell routine once a week with heavy weight, one at which you should approach or even reach failure at the end of each set. Remember: when your muscles fail is when they grow and change, so don’t be scared of going for it. Pyramid your weight up as you progress through each set, lifting lighter for more reps in the beginning, then heavier for fewer reps as you go along. Rest up to two minutes between sets to allow your body to fully recover, then go for it again.
Do this program for no more than four to six weeks to implement change without risking injury.
Standing EZ-Bar Curl
Setup: Stand with your knees slightly bent and hold an EZ-bar on the inside grips with your arms extended, palms facing forward.
Move: Bend your elbows and raise the weight up in a smooth arc until the bar approaches your shoulders. Pause and squeeze before slowly lowering back to the start.
Tip: Stand with your back pressed up against a wall to prevent momentum and maintain form.
Seated Straight-Bar Curl
Setup: Sit on a flat bench with a short back and hold a straight barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart, palms facing upward. Begin with the barbell resting on your thighs, arms bent about 90 degrees.
Move: Pull the barbell up toward your chin smoothly, squeezing your biceps at the top before slowly lowering almost back to the start; don’t touch down again, just go right into your next rep.
Tip: This is a small movement but it will be surprisingly tough; consider going a little lighter to make it through all your reps.
Setup: Adjust a preacher bench so your upper body fits snugly over the top. Extend your arms along the pad and take a shoulder-width underhand grip on a barbell (or EZ-bar if it’s more comfortable), and flex your wrists.
Move: Keeping your upper arms against the pad, bend your elbows and curl the barbell up toward your chin. Pause at the top and squeeze before slowly lowering back to the start and repeating right away.
Tip: Be sure to uncurl all the way down to a full extension to train the entire biceps muscle from top to bottom.
Reverse EZ-Bar Curl
Setup: Stand with your knees slightly bent and hold a barbell on the outer grips with your arms extended, palms facing toward your thighs.
Move: Keeping your wrists locked, curl the barbell up toward your shoulders in a smooth arc, pausing at the top and holding for a split second. Slowly lower to the start under control and repeat right away.
Tip: Do a light three-set superset combining this move and the standing cambered bar curl back-to-back for a great burnout.