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How can I increase bicep width?

I am happy with my bicep peak, but I am having trouble increasing the width of my biceps. My arms look rather big from the side but when you look at them head on they are quite narrow/skinny. I have heard that hammer curls improve width, but I haven't seen much of an improvement in the last couple of months.

Currently, I work arms once a week (as I do every muscle group) on Tuesdays. My routine usually consists of 3 bicep workouts followed by 3 tricep workouts. I don't have a set routine because I like to switch it up and hit different workouts each week. I will give a sample workout below, again, this is different each week.

  Warmup: Alternate dbell curls, 8 reps w/ light weight
    Alternate dbell curls,       4 x 8 (to failure)
    Alternate dbell hammercurls, 4 x 8 (to failure)
    Preacher curls,              4 x 8 (to failure)
  Warmup: 15 bench dips
    Rope Pulldowns,   4 x 10 (to failure)
    Skull Crushers,   4 x 8  (to failure)
    Tricep Kickbacks, 4 x 10 (to failure)

Note: When I am doing any excercise I make sure my form is always as good as possible and my reps are generally slow and controlled with an emphasis on negative resistance (i.e. letting the weight down slowly.

All sets are to failure because I am trying to build mass.

Edit: Elaborating on the improvement I have seen in arm growth in general - About 3 months ago my arms measured around 15.5" and have increased to 16+ (They vary, sometimes up to 16.5 without a pump). My arms have been getting bigger, triceps and bicep peak are increasing, but bicep width remains stagnant.

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Do you only care about bicep width? Or is it arm width (which would involve the brachialis) that you're really interested in? –  Kate Nov 6 '13 at 19:58
@Kate I guess arm width in general, but mainly focusing on biceps. Because I believe that is where my arm is lacking in width. –  Jordan Carroll Nov 6 '13 at 20:24
Why do you believe it is the bicep and not the brachialis that would give the biggest improvement in arm width? –  Kate Nov 6 '13 at 22:14
You mention, "I haven't seen much of an improvement", but how much improvement has there been? (Just to get a sense of how your current program is working or not working.) –  Kate Nov 6 '13 at 23:18
What have your measurements gone from/to? –  JohnP Nov 7 '13 at 4:36

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Technically, only genetics can increase your width. In the sense that, though there are exercise that are geared towards stimulating certain fibers in the muscle to increase its size in said area, if your genetic code does not contain the 'sequence' for bicep width, then it won't come as you may hope.

I am of an athletic build and i can curl 50lbs, yet I do believe my biceps are scrawny and my arms are toothpicks. I too am lacking the 'width' you desire. So its best to just do the exercises that you know will grow your arms, but you can do little about how your muscles will shape up. These articles may help to provide some more insight into 'shaping' muscles vs. Genetic code



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I'll accept this answer for now, but I will continue to do research to see if there is a solution for the problem as well as continue doing hammer curls (which is what people have suggested). Thanks. –  Jordan Carroll Nov 12 '13 at 12:19
That is the spirit. In the same way I am inherently 'flat-chested' though I can bench a considerable amount for size. But I will not give up my dream of getting em killer pecs. :-D –  trevoirwilliams Nov 12 '13 at 13:27

I would have to disagree with lonecrusader1989's answer.

From the workout you've described you're only doing 3 bicep movements. In my opinion this doesn't seem enough, especially when preacher is focussing on the peak rather than width.

I would include some variation into your workout and include a standing barbell curl with a shoulder width grip. Narrowing your grip (Which is quite common when doing preacher curls) will concentrate on the peak of the muscle, rather than the width. I would also include include standing cable curls and chin ups (wide grip) to focus on the width you desire.


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Well, like I stated in my question, I do switch up the arm workout every week always doing a different 3-4 workouts. Variety is not the issue here. –  Jordan Carroll Nov 21 '13 at 12:33
@JordanCarroll - switching it every week may not be helping your arms. I'd stick to one routine for at least 4 weeks and see if you have improvements and then mix it up. 3 bicep exercises per week doesn't seem enough IMO, especially when preacher focuses more on the peak rather than the width. Another alternative is to train your arms twice a week and increase the intensity. –  Darren Davies Nov 21 '13 at 12:38
I actually just switched to a Push/Pull/Legs routine this week to increase volume. Hopefully I will see some good results with this. Like I have said though, I don't do preacher curls every week... although I do need to continue to work the peak as well. –  Jordan Carroll Nov 21 '13 at 12:41
@Jordan - I agree that every routine and change should be repeated at least 4-6 weeks to see changes just starting to show up. Shocking the body then would be useful. Body can adapt to the shock if it becomes a routine. Very good answers guys. well done –  Mehrad Nov 21 '13 at 22:54

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