A common understanding of the term “muscularity” is that it relates to the size or strength of a particular muscle group. But in bodybuilding parlance, muscularity refers specifically to muscle shape and definition – or what many people refer to as “muscle tone.” This focus on shape and definition is what distinguishes undefined muscle quantity from well defined muscle quality. In adding shape and muscularity to your biceps, you’ll develop them to show well defined muscle quality. To do this, you must utilize the following essential tools to packing your biceps with eye-popping muscular definition.
The first of these tools is high repetition training. Performing high reps with relatively light weight is great for building muscular endurance. But in the context of enhancing your biceps’ shape and muscularity, high reps burn the calories necessary to help you melt away intramuscular fat that can obscure muscular definition. The primary source of energy for your weight training workouts is stored carbohydrates or glycogen. Once your glycogen stores have been depleted, your body will begin to metabolize fat as its primary energy source.
High repetition training will deplete your glycogen stores so that your body can then start burning fat to power you through the cardiovascular component of your shape and muscularity workouts. Keep in mind that you cannot “spot reduce” and make only the fat from your arms disappear with high rep training. But this training method will help you reduce your overall body fat content with resulting improvement in the shape and muscularity of your biceps.
As I just mentioned, cardiovascular training is the next key to exhibiting shape and muscularity in your biceps. Conventional cardio work usually involves 30-45 minute sessions of stationary cycling or treadmill walking at a steady pace. This is not the type cardiovascular training that I use or recommend for getting lean, muscular biceps. Instead you should try high intensity interval training, also known as “HIIT” in bodybuilding and fitness circles, to efficiently burn the fat than can blur the hard earned muscle that you gain from your biceps training.
High intensity interval training basically involves relatively short bursts of cardiovascular activity that: (a) prevent your body from adjusting to a static and routine level of aerobic exertion; and (b) metabolize stored fat at a higher rate through dynamic and varied levels of cardio training. Unlike conventional aerobics which often involve a single activity in a given workout session, high intensity interval training may consist of multiple cardio exercises during a single 20-30 minute workout.
For example, I have a small but highly effective gym in my home where I currently do most of my training. Over the years I’ve invested in equipment that allows me to constantly vary my cardiovascular workouts. For high intensity interval training, I might box with a 100-pound punching bag, jump rope, row on a portable rowing machine and walk on an inclined treadmill all in the same workout session. I can do all of this aerobic training in a 20-40 minute workout by simply limiting my time in each activity to short but intense intervals of about 5-10 minutes each. Alternatively, I sometimes do 15-20 minute intervals of only two exercises, depending on my mood and energy level.
No matter what combination of aerobic activities I use, I’ve found that high intensity interval training burns fat much more efficiently than conventional aerobic exercise, and I suggest that you use this cardiovascular training method to burn body fat when trying to add shape and muscularity to your biceps. Even if you can perform only one type of aerobic exercise such as running, you can still do interval training by simply mixing short sprints, longer sprints and moderate distance running into a single 20-30 minute training session.
As you must do with your arm building workouts, you must be creative and experiment with different cardiovascular exercise combinations to find the interval training strategy that works best for you. If you’re an ectomorph or “hard gainer” with a furnace-like metabolism that naturally keeps you from gaining too much fat, you should start out by limiting your aerobic training to a maximum of two 15-20 minute sessions per week. If even this minimal amount of cardiovascular work inhibits your ability to grow, layoff the interval training and focus entirely on building biceps shape and muscularity with your high repetition weight-training workouts.
Alternatively, if you’re an endomorph, mesomorph or hybrid mix of these body types, you’ll probably need 3-4 high intensity interval training sessions per week to gain peak muscularity from your arm building workouts. Each HIIT session should last about 30-45 minutes with 3-4 intervals of about 10-15 minutes each.
The final component to adding shape and muscularity to your biceps is proper nutrition. I’ve dedicated entire articles to this topic elsewhere that fully discuss the role of nutrition in bodybuilding success. For the purpose of this article, suffice it to say that a diet consisting mainly of foods high in fat and sugar is the death knell to your biceps building efforts. No matter how much strength and muscle mass you add to your biceps, you will never develop high quality shape and muscularity if you don’t eat lean and healthy foods.
Remember, simply having “big” arms is not enough to have Truly Awesome Arms(TM)! But if you combine high repetition training and HIIT workouts with a low-fat and low-sugar diet, you’re sure to display the ripped and chiseled biceps that you deserve from your arm building efforts.