Big Biceps mistakes: Too much isolation man!

Want big biceps? Stupid question – of course you want big biceps! I think I speak for every man when I say we all want big biceps. Even guys who have big biceps want bigger biceps! So we’ve got that straight, we all want big biceps! This the first in our “big biceps mistakes” series of articles we’re working on. Over the next few months we’re going to look at all the common big bicep building mistakes that have you spending too much time in the gym with little results.

The first big biceps mistake we’re going to look at is too many isolation exercises! We’ll explain the difference between big bicep compound exercises and isolation exercises and also tell you why isolation exercises alone will not build you the big biceps you want.

Compound and Isolation, what’s the difference?

Basically, compound exercises move the body through more than one joint movement, while isolation exercises only move the body through a single-joint movement. The king of all compound exercises is the squat. The squat uses many major muscle groups and bends at you ankles, knees, waist and hips. A big bicep compound exercise would be a chin up, bending at your elbows and shoulders.

Why compounds will help you build big biceps.

If you goal is building muscle mass (which it must be to build big biceps) compound exercises should make up the core of your weekly routine. We’re not saying stop doing isolation exercises, but use them to compliment your big bicep compound exercises.

Compound exercises allow you to lift heavier weights and work more muscle groups at the same time than isolation exercises. This saves you precious time in the gym while stimulating the maximum amount of muscle fibers. In addition, compound exercises, due to the increased amount of muscle used for the movements, are better at sending your endocrine system a “distress call” to pump out more anabolic hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone.

Having a good mix of compound and isolation.

If you want to build maximum muscle mass and big bicep size, you need a good combination of both compound and isolation exercises. Pretty much all big bicep compound exercises incorporate your back muscles. So it makes sense to work your biceps on the same day that you work your back. This will make it easy to incorporate compounds into your bicep workout because most back exercises are actually bicep compounds.

A good sample big bicep building routine.

We’ve made a simple example routine that uses some solid big bicep and back exercises. This routine is suitable for those of you who are training each muscle group once per week. If you are hitting your muscle groups twice per week, then drop cable curls off of the routine.

Wide grip chin ups 3xfailure
One arm dumbell row 3×10-12
Cable row 3×10
Close grip chin up (palm facing towards you) 3×10
Standing barbell bicep curl 3×8-10
Standing dumbell curl (twist) 3×10
Cable curl (1 or 2 arm) 3×10

Looking at that big biceps/back routine there are 2 key bicep comound exercises and 2 isolation exercises. Our compound exercises are the close grip chin up and dumbell curl with a twist at the top of the movement. Our isolations are barbell and cable curl. That sample routine is a good routine for building muscle mass and big biceps. Using this routine your biceps get a solid workout because they are used in every one of these exercises (secondary muscles in the back exercises).


The key to big bicep is building muscle mass, not just on your biceps, but on your whole body. Compound exercises are the best for putting on bulk, and should make up the core of your workout. Isolation exercises can be used later to shape the muscle you want. So apply this knowledge to your current bicep routine and you’ll see the results. Remember, eat alot of health food and protein, get plenty of rest and vary your workouts and exercises to achieve maximum results. Good luck in building those big biceps!