If you have skinny biceps that you want to make wider, then you are going to want to watch this video. Here, I’m going to show you the best way to widen your biceps and get bigger, thicker arms in the process. Many times people focus on the height of their arms by working on building up the bicep peaks. While this is an approach that is sound it is not the only one. Incorporating brachialis work into your arm workouts is something you do not want to forget to do.
The brachialis muscle is situated beneath the biceps and is slightly visible if you flex the arm and palpate on the outside of it. Just underneath your long head of the biceps is a muscle that might be popping out a bit that is located between the biceps and triceps. This is the brachialis. The function of this muscle is to flex the arm.
Unlike the biceps however, this is its only job. The biceps on the other hand will supinate the forearm and flex the humerus at the shoulder while still helping to flex the elbow. The main difference however is that due to the fact that a muscle is strongest in its midrange, the brachialis is going to be more strongly contributing to elbow flexion in the beginning third to half of an elbow bend and the biceps will kick in more strongly from the midpoint up.
Since the two muscles share a common function it is impossible to get one to be removed completely from the action of flexing the arm. That said, there are things you can do to favor the action of the brachialis by slightly defavoring the contribution of the biceps by impairing its preferred action. This can be achieved by pronating the forearm primarily.
You have probably heard that the hammer curl is a great exercise for building up the brachialis and thickening the muscle beneath the biceps to help push it outward and give you thicker looking arms. That is correct, however many times people don’t perform the exercise properly and don’t see the results they should from doing it. The key is the positioning of the forearm and elbow during the movement. Instead of just keeping your hand in neutral with your knuckles pointed straight ahead, fold the arm against the chest and pronate the forearm. From here, simply flex and extend the elbow to lift and lower the dumbbell. This will really ignite the brachialis while minimizing the contribution of the biceps to the movement.
There are other exercises you can do that will accomplish this as well. One of them is a modification on the greatest upper body builder there is, the pullup. Rather than doing chinups which have a high contribution of biceps because of the supinated forearm required to do the exercise, you would want to do a pullup. But not just any pullup. Instead, take a very close grip on the bar and aim to close down the angle of the elbow joint as you pull rather than worrying about getting your elbows behind your body.
This movement can be done from a inverted row position as well if it is too difficult to do while hanging from a bar. Either one is going to light up the brachialis and have you filling up those shirt sleeves in no time.
If you are looking for a science based step by step workout plan that helps you to build muscle by getting the most out of every exercise you do, head to http://athleanx.com and get the ATHLEAN-X Training System. See how training like an athlete and taking your training more seriously can speed up the gains you get and help you keep them for years to come.
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JEFF: What’s up, guys?
Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.com.
Today it’s time that we fill those shirt
sleeves a little bit, get the arms a little
We know that you don’t always have to go
for height if we can make something wider
here with our arms, we’re still going to
put a tape measure around it, and we’re
going to fill those sleeves a little bit more.
JESSE: Still getting bigger.
JEFF: They get bigger.
Speaking of getting bigger, Jesse; why don’t
you show them a little bit of your hard work.
We’re filling some shirt sleeves here, too.
Let’s see it from the other side.
From the back.
Okay, looking pretty good.
But now, let’s see it from straight on.
JEFF: All right, not as impressive, right?
So what Jesse actually has is a little bit
of thinness when looked at straight on.
It’s a very common problem that people have.
What we need to do is discuss why that is,
and what we can do about it.
You’ve probably heard about this muscle
called the brachialis.
The brachialis is a muscle that sits up here,
on the upper arm, crosses over, crosses the
elbow, controls flexion of the arm just like
the bicep does, but that’s all it does.
It doesn’t have the extra benefits of supination
like the biceps, or shoulder flexion.
But that comes to our advantage.
It helps us train it better.
So, when we’re talking about the brachialis,
so we really know what we’re trying to hit,
you can feel this on yourself.
If you look at the side of my arm here, when
I flex the bicep, if you were to take your
fingers here and grab hold of that longhead
of the bicep, you’ll be able to dig your
fingers right off the edge there.
From there, you can see we have the tricep
back here, but we have this muscle that’s
popping out right in here.
If you were to feel that, it probably gets
a little sore on you because it’s a common
area of a trigger point for anyone that does
any kind of upper body training and tends
to get a trigger point right in through the
But more importantly, what you need to realize
is, because it shares functions with the biceps,
if you don’t train it right you’re not
going to have wide enough arms.
If you don’t train it often enough you’re
not going to have wide enough arms.
If you don’t train it the right way, in
terms of how you approach each set you do
on the exercises I’m going to show you,
you’re probably not going to have wide enough
First, let’s talk about the exercises themselves.
You’ve probably tried to hit this, at minimum,
with some hammer curls.
If you’re not doing any kind of hammer curl
at all, you’re not really hitting this muscle
as effectively as you can.
Because anytime you involve any sort of supination
while bending the elbow you’re going to
shift the focus over to the biceps and off
A hammer curl is putting you in a neutral
grip position, as you see me doing the exercise
My knuckles are pointing straight ahead, I’ve
got a neutral grip here on those dumbbells,
and we’re halfway in between supinated and
You still get a little bit of bicep activation,
not to mention the fact that the biceps are
flexing the elbow, too.
That’s one of their jobs.
What can we do to turn the biceps off a little
We want to take ourselves out of supination
and put us into pronation.
You don’t want to just to a hammer curl,
you want to do a cross-body hammer curl, like
you see me doing here.
You can see, instantly, by going into this
cross-body position I’ve pronated the forearm
All I’m doing now is worried about flexing
and extending the elbow from that pronated
I keep my arm up close against my chest.
That is the absolute best way to focus much
of the effort on the brachialis and help build
that muscle up over time.
Beyond that, guys, I have other options for
You guys know that I like bodyweight training.
You guys know that I love the chin-up.
We can use a variation to help us build bigger
arms, more specifically, the brachialis.
What we can do is, instead of doing chin-ups
that focus more on the bicep, because we have
to take an underhand grip, supinating the
forearm, putting us more in a bicep preferential
exercise; we can turn ourselves over into
But get our grip really, really narrow.
What’s the narrow grip doing?
It’s bringing our arms and pronating them
even more, getting them close, almost mimicking
the same action we just had there on that
cross-body hammer curl.
Now, as you see me going up here doing this
exercise, I’m really trying to not just
do a pullup here like this, where I’m not
closing down the angle.
I’m trying to close the angle down of the
As I pull up I’m trying to pull up and close
the angle down.
Almost a reverse curl, flexing here.
But we’re using our entire bodyweight, which
is obviously another great way to overload
But let’s say it’s difficult for you because
it’s a hard exercise.
You don’t get off that easy.
I’ve got another option for you.
All you have to do is lie here on your back
in an inverted row setup and do the same thing.
You take a very narrow overhand grip, and
when you pull your body up it’s not about
rowing your elbows back behind your body.
That wouldn’t close thing angle down enough
to work the brachialis as much as you could.
What you want to do is try to pull your body
by pulling the back of your forearms up into
This will light up this brachialis more than
you’ve ever experienced before, but over
time it’s going to build it up.
That’s the point.
Remember guys, if you can get wider, you’re
still going to have bigger arms because whether
you’re building out in this dimension or
building out in this dimension; your arms
are going to respond and start to fill those
One, final point in terms of how you train
Because we know that muscles will be recruited
in a sequential pattern in the order of demand,
if we go really hard, really heavy, accelerate
our reps no matter what exercise we’re doing;
realize that the biceps are going to be called
into action because it’s one of their three
We can try to taper that down as well by going
a little slower with our movements.
So, realizing that the first portion here,
the lower portion of this curl from straight
to about midrange, is going to be handled
more by the brachialis anyway.
And from the midrange up, the biceps will
take over a little bit more.
Especially as we get shoulder flexion involved.
Go a little bit slower on the reps.
Take it a little more deliberately so as you’re
coming up you can ensure that more of that
work is being done by the brachialis.
Remember, it’s a shared function, guys.
There’s only a few things we can do to try
and minimize that and accentuate what the
brachialis is doing.
Guys, I hope you’ve found this video helpful.
Jesse is going to start getting bigger.
From the front, too.
Every angle is going to look good, and so
will you if you start following this advice.
If you’re looking for a step by step program,
they’re all over at ATHLEANX.com.
We lay it all out for you, put the science
back in strength, put the anatomy where we
need to because it matters, guys.
Those are all built into all of our programs
In the meantime, if you’ve found this video
helpful leave your comments and thumbs up
Let me know what else you want me to cover
and I’ll do my best to do that for you in
the days and weeks ahead.
All right, see you soon.