Are you trying to crack the code for huge biceps? Then this post will help you on your way. Because today I’ll be explaining if 6 sets are enough for the biceps.
In general, 6 per week is insufficient for maximal biceps growth. Conversely, 6 sets per workout is too much. It’s best to perform 10-20 sets of bicep training over the course of 2 days a week. This should include direct bicep and compound pulling exercises.
This is how I managed to add 4 inches to my own bicep diameter, so I know it works!
Let’s jump right in.
6 Sets For Biceps: Too Much Or Not Enough?
6 sets for the biceps can be too much and not enough at the same time.
Allow me to explain.
It depends on the timeframe in which you’re doing the 6 sets.
If you’re doing 6 sets of bicep training per workout, then that would be too much.
In contrast, doing 6 sets of bicep exercises per week could be too little.
The complexities of bicep training don’t just stop there either.
You also have to factor in your other upper body pulling exercises too.
These include movements such as the pull-up, lat pull-down, and row, all of which are popular exercises which also indirectly work the biceps.
If yo include these pulling exercises alongside direct bicep work, then 6 sets of direct bicep exercises per week can be enough.
6 Sets For Biceps Per Workout Is Too Much.
The ideal sets of biceps exercises per workout ranges between 3-10.
If your workout comprises only bicep exercises, then you will want to stay within 3 to 5 sets of direct bicep exercises per workout. In this case, 6 sets would be too much.
In fact, 6 sets of any exercises is generally regarded as too much if your goal is to get bigger biceps.
That’s because studies have shown that performing more than 5 sets per muscle per workout does not return greater gains in strength or hypertrophy (growth).
This phenomenon is referred to as “wasted sets”.
If your workout also includes upper body pulling exercises, then 2 or 3 sets of direct biceps training per workout is sufficient.
In this instance, your other pulling movements will engage your biceps as secondary movers, and this should be considered to avoid overtraining your biceps.
6 Sets Of Biceps Exercises Per Week Is Ideal.
Doing 6 sets of direct biceps training per week would be an ideal range to aim for.
At first, this may seem insufficient, given that the general recommendation for maximal hypertrophy is to train each muscle with 10-20 total sets per muscle per week.
But as I mention above, it’s rare that someone trains just the biceps.
More often than not, you’ll likely also be training the entire body throughout the week.
And these full-body workouts will probably include multiple upper body pulling exercises which engage the biceps as well as the primary target muscle.
For example, pull ups mainly work the back. But our biceps are also required to pull your body up and towards the bar.
As such, you’ll want to account for indirect bicep training from these exercises
If you’re workout program only involves direct bicep training, then things change.
If this is you, then 6 sets of biceps exercises will not be enough for maximum biceps growth.
Instead, you should aim for 10-20 sets across the entire week.
For more details, you can check out my other article to learn about the ideal number of sets and reps for maximum biceps growth!
Mix Things Up With 8-20 Reps Per Set For Biceps.
In general, it’s recommended to vary your rep range between 8-20 reps per set for biceps exercises.
Conventional wisdom tells us that that muscle growth is best achieved by lifting with 8-12 sets at around 70-80% of your 1 rep max.
But small exercises such as the biceps respond differently compared to larger muscles such as the legs and chest.
To really gain the most hypertrophy benefits from your biceps training, you can perform low and high rep training.
This takes advantage of the 2 main mechanism for muscle hypertrophy – mechanical tension and time under tension.
Mechanical tension describes the physical stretching of your muscle fibres through heavy weights. It’s best achieved with lower reps at heavier weights. 8-12 reps at 70-80% 1RM is a good standard to aim for.
Time under tension describes the duration which your muscles remain contracted. It’s best achieved with higher reps at lighter weights. 13-20 reps at 50-70% 1RM is suitable for this purpose.
The best thing to do is to alternate between low and high reps.
This rep cycling could be done on a weekly or monthly basis.
Regardless of your choice to do low/high reps, the set should be challenging. And bicep fatigue is a good sign that you’ve been sufficiently challenged by a set.
To take advantage of each rep, it’s also important that you reach a full-range of motion in your biceps exercises.
This means you should refrain from cheating.
In the example of a bicep curl, the forearm should be fully extended at the bottom of the lowering phase, and fully flexed at the top of the upward phase.
Go to my other article to find out how much weight you should be bicep curling!
How Often to Train The Biceps.
As with any muscle group, biceps training should be performed multiple times a week.
Each time you perform a biceps workout, you are triggering the growth response.
Working your biceps multiple times a week in this way is much better than obliterating the biceps just once a week.
In fact, this 2016 Study compared the hypertrophy response in individuals who trained their muscles 1 to 3 times per week.
And guess what the scientists found?
A higher training frequency resulted in more muscle growth!
Here’s an example of how you could train the biceps multiple times per week:
- Monday- 3 sets of biceps exercises + 6 sets of back pulling exercises.
- Tuesday- Rest
- Wednesday- 3 sets of biceps exercises + 3 sets of pulling exercises + chest/legs/shoulders/abs
- Thursday- Rest
- Friday- 3 sets of biceps exercises + 3 sets of pulling exercises + chest/legs/shoulders/abs
- Saturday- Rest
- Sunday- Rest
This is just an example, and you should plan your program carefully.
Put simply- training your biceps once a week is not enough, but you shouldn’t train them every day either.
Find a balance!
Read my complete guide to building huge biceps here!
Best Exercises For Biceps
The biceps are actually composed of three main muscles:
- Biceps brachii.
The biceps brachii is further split into the long and short heads.
To effectively work all three muscles, you need a variety of exercises, each targeting the upper arm at different angles.
Here are the best exercises for the biceps:
- Traditional underhand bicep curl.
- Hammer-grip curl.
- Incline curl.
- Preacher curl.
- Concentration curl.
I like to choose 2 at a time, do them for the week, and cycle onto another 2 the following week.
That way, my biceps are constantly challenged in new ways.
Check out my other article for the best dumbbell exercises to build muscle!
Today I’ve explained when 6 are enough for biceps, and when 6 sets can be too much.
To sum up:
- 6 sets per workout is too much.
- Aim for 3 to 5 direct bicep sets per workout.
- 6 sets of direct bicep training is recommended if you are also doing other pulling exercises.
- 10-20 sets of direct bicep training is recommended if you are doing bicep exercises only.
My advice is to mix direct bicep work with compound pulling exercises. Additionally, cycle between heavy and light weights on direct biceps exercises for maximum effect!
How many biceps sets do you do?
Let me know in the comments below!
Alternatively, download the FREE Kalibre Muscle Blueprint to find out EXACTLY how I transformed my skinny body as a hardgainer!
Thanks for reading guys!
(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy).