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How frequently you work your biceps depends on your individual fitness goals. For basic health and fitness, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a minimum of two strength-training workouts each week. For maximum muscle growth, athletic performance or fat loss, you need to work out more frequently. Bodybuilders and many serious amateur athletes work out five or six days a week, often setting up complex workout schedules to optimize their muscle development.
New lifters often make the mistake of trying to increase the strength of a muscle by training it every day. Actually, overtraining is counterproductive. When you challenge your muscles by lifting heavy weights, you cause microscopic tears in muscle fibers. During your recovery period, your body rebuilds the damaged muscles with stronger fibers. Allow at least 48 hours between biceps workouts for a full recovery to maximize strength gains.
Sets and Repetitions
To challenge your muscles sufficiently to gain strength and mass, use a weight you can lift no more than 15 times. According to the Mayo Clinic, most possible strength gains can be achieved with a single set of eight to 12 repetitions. Lifters doing sport-specific training or trying to maximize muscle mass add additional sets. To build power, after completing a regular set, add a second set using 10 percent more weight with fewer repetitions. For increasing muscle mass, try drop sets, decreasing weight by 5 to 10 percent for each successive set and working to failure, until you reach the point of failure with the lowest possible weight.
How frequently you train biceps depends on how much time you can commit to lifting. If your schedule is irregular, two total-body workouts a week ensure that each muscle, including biceps, gets worked adequately every week. Intermediate lifters use a two-day split routine, doing upper body on the first day and lower on the second. With a two-day split, you work biceps two or three days a week, depending on whether you take rest days. Advanced lifters use four-day split cycles, doing very high-intensity training of different muscle groups for approximately an hour each day. With a four-day split, you only work biceps once every four days, making it essential to commit to a consistent schedule.
Biceps are used in both compound exercises, such as pullups, seated rows and lat pulldowns, and isolation exercises, such as barbell and preacher curls. If you are doing total-body workouts, compound exercises will use your gym time effectively and create moderate strength gains in your biceps. If you are trying to develop huge guns and working out on a split cycle, perform isolation exercises after finishing compound exercises. Avoid plateaus in your training by changing exercises on a six-week cycle. For example, perform seated cable rows and preacher curls for six weeks and then switch to bent-over rows and barbell curls for the next six weeks.