In a new video on the Athlean-X channel, trainer and strength coach Jeff Cavaliere shares his advice on how to boost your bicep gains whether you are a beginner or at a more advanced level of fitness. The key to building bigger, stronger arm muscles is to tap into the mind muscle connection—no weights required.
Cavaliere does this by squeezing his arm and contracting the muscle in space, to the point that it is uncomfortable. He explains that this tactic then enabled him to build his arms when he was younger, despite only ever doing a small number of bicep-targeting exercises.
“The minimalist approach worked for me,” says Cavaliere, “but it only worked for me because I had the ability to recruit my biceps very well… Your ability to either make a muscle uncomfortable when you contract it or not is actually very important.”
Cavaliere backs this up by citing research from Dr. Andrew Huberman, a professor of neurobiology at Stanford, which found that your ability to create discomfort in a muscle while you contract it is an indicator of your ability to grow that muscle.
“If you can isolate that mind muscle connection, and you can contract the muscles to the point where it cramps a little bit, that you hold a decent to high potential to change the strength and the size of that muscle if you train it properly,” Huberman said in a video last year.
In order to improve that ability over time, Cavaliere recommends practicing how to contract your arm muscles in space a couple of times each day. “Four reps is all you’re going to need to do, for about 10 seconds apiece,” he says. “Bend your elbow and squeeze and turn and really try to create discomfort here. If you can’t, don’t worry about it. Just try again.”
“As you accumulate reps and reps and reps over time… you’re going to improve that mind muscle connection,” he continues. “It’s something you can do with no weight at all, but when you do get back to your weights, and you do have a better mind muscle connection, every single exercise you do, every curl variation, even the ones that weren’t working for you before… they’ll start working too.”
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