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You want to get big biceps and you want them fast. Training a body part more often will make it grow faster right? Here’s what you want to know.
Training biceps lightly every day is not a problem but also won’t result in much growth. 2-3 bicep workouts a week with moderate to high intensity provides the best balance between muscle growth and recovery. High intensity workouts every day can be detrimental.
Why is more not better and what can you do to optimize the growth of your biceps? Keep reading below to find out.
Can You Train Biceps Every day?
You have to use pretty much all of your muscles every day. There is nothing wrong with that and it’s necessary to maintain a basic level of muscle mass and central nervous system control. If you’ve ever had an arm or leg in a cast for a few weeks, you know that the muscle in that body part has getting a lot smaller at the end.
So normal use of any muscle every day is not a problem. However, we’re not talking about normal use here, we’re talking about training. Said simply, training is using a muscle to beyond what is normal for the purpose of letting it get used to use beyond normal. Doing this is a signal for the body to make the muscle bigger and/or stronger.
However, muscle growth doesn’t actually happen when you lift weights, it happens after. Yes a muscle might look bigger after a good training session but this is temporary. It’s just extra blood being sent to the muscle which gives it a fuller appearance.
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What happens in practice when you ask a muscle to do something beyond what it’s used to is that the muscle fibers start breaking down or get damaged. This is a normal process and nothing to be scared of but you should be aware of it.
The damage to the muscle fibers activates different processes in your body that repair the muscles. This repair process is actually what grows the muscle. The body fuses two ends of a muscle fibre together with new protein which is what adds mass.
This is a process that doesn’t happen immediately and takes a while. The more damage you did by training, the longer the recovery process takes. How quickly your body recovers also depends on; age, gender, diet, sleep, other activity and hormone levels.
In general, it takes about 24 hours after a light workout for the muscle to recover. For more intense workouts 2 or 3 days is expected but if you went really hard, even longer is possible. If you train a muscle before you’re fully recovered, there is a good chance the result is actually detrimental.
That said, smaller muscles tend to recover faster than larger muscles. While very visible, biceps are generally not that big if you compare it to muscles like the gluten, quads, etc. So while for larger muscles 2 training sessions a week is enough, for arms you can get away with three times a week. That is if you work them out at moderate to high intensity.
Lifting 1 kg 10 times a day is not going to be a problem to do every day. Doing 100 barbell curls with 50 kg is not something you’ll be able to do that often. However, the latter workout is going to create more muscle growth done once a week than the first one done every day.
Suggested: Optimal amount of biceps sets for growth
Can you work out your biceps every day? Yes, even with moderate intensity you’ll be able to do a workout every day. However, the questions are, 1. Is it effective? 2. For how long?
It’s probably not effective to work out your biceps or any other muscles every day and might even be detrimental. And you won’t be able to do it for a long period of time. A week? Probably. Two months? Probably not without issues.
Potential Problems Training Biceps Every day
So it largely depends on the intensity you train your biceps with if it’s a problem. However, by training a muscle every day without breaks, can lead to certain injuries and might not even give you the result you want.
For biceps, training three times a week is enough as long as you use moderate to high intensity. More workouts than that is a bit of a waste of time that could be used to train other things. Besides not getting any more muscle growth, there are actually a few other problems with training your biceps every day without breaks;
- You could get weaker: If a muscle is not recovered properly, it can’t produce as much force
- Joint and/or tendon pain: Tendons and joints don’t get a lot of blood flow compared to muscles. That means they get less nutrients and this means longer recovery time. Even if your muscles would keep up, your joints and tendons might not.
- It will detract from your other training: You’ll have less time, energy and recovery potential left for other muscle groups.
Training your biceps two or three times a week with higher intensity is more sustainable than doing a light workout every day unless that workout is light enough to not actually result in any muscle growth.
Is Training Biceps Everyday Good For Muscle Growth?
For growing a muscle, more volume is often the right way to go. If you do it every day, you can do more sets and repetitions so will that lead to more muscle growth?
As you can read above, muscles need time to recover. Muscles grow because your body repairs the torn muscle fibers and adds new proteins to ‘glue’ the ends back together. If you put your biceps through another hard workout, you are potentially tearing muscle fibers that haven’t been fully repaired yet + more which means the recovery will take longer.
That means you might be undoing recovery work your body hadn’t finished yet and setting yourself back. If you start the next workout when a muscle is fully recovered, you can use more force and intensity which means more muscle tearing and more growth. How long that takes is different for everyone but it’s probably not the next day. (Unless you’re using performance enhancing drugs)
On top of that, you dramatically increase the risk of injury by training the same muscle hard every day. If you get injured, this will set you back more than getting in that extra workout it worth (which isn’t actually much).
How to improve Biceps Muscle Growth?
Of course you still want all the muscle gains and you want them now. What can you do to optimize your biceps workouts and get the most out of them?
There are two parts to this bicep growth equation: During your workout and after.
During the workout
While working out, that’s your chance to signal your body that it has to grow the muscle. Here are some ways you can do this best.
- Use the right intensity (Sets, repetitions and weight).
- Aim to do about 8-10 challenging sets per biceps workout. This means with exercises directly targeting the biceps. Warmup sets don’t count. If you’re just starting out, aim for 6-8 heavy sets per workout for the first few weeks.
- Use progressive overload. (Increase weight or repetitions every workout)
- Use different exercises that target different parts of the biceps (it’s not just one muscle)
- Use a mix of heavy weight/low repetitions and light(er) weight/high repetitions.
- Don’t rest too long between sets. Muscle growth is optimal with 30-90 seconds rest between sets.
- Stop 2 repetitions before failure. If you have a lot more left, do more reps or increase the weight. If you can’t make the reps, reduce the weight.
Read more about the optimal training volume for biceps here.
After The workout
As you can read above, the actual growth of the muscle happens in the 1-3 days after the workout. So after you gave your body the signal to repair the biceps, now it’s time to give your body the best chance to actually do this. Muscle recovery is a very complicated topic and not possible to fit into a few paragraphs. On top of that, everyone is different and has different needs for recovery. That said, here are some general pointers that help everyone recover.
- Take enough time off between working out the biceps: As you can see above, 2-3 workouts spaced out evenly throughout the week is best.
- Sleep more: Most recovery happens during sleep. Sleeping more means your body has more time to work.
- Eat enough calories: To gain muscle, you’ll have to eat slightly more calories than you use during the day. A 200 calorie surplus is a good place to start.
- Eat enough protein: Muscle is mostly made up of protein. Giving your body enough means there is more building material available for repairs. There is no need to go overboard, aim for +-1.6 grams of protein per kilo of body weight.
- Make sure to get enough micronutrients: The body doesn’t only use macronutrients to work and grow. It’s best to eat a complete nutrient dense diet but supplements are a good option too (but not a replacement for healthy foods).
If you notice fatigue and can’t recover quickly enough, adjusting the factors above doesn’t help and you absolutely want to focus on growing your biceps, consider reducing training other body parts. You body has only so much capacity to recover, no matter how good the circumstances. Reducing the training of other body parts means there is more capacity to recover the biceps.