Here’s what I found out: I was curling all wrong. I remember how I used to struggle with building my biceps. Either they just weren’t big enough or they looked like sausages. Why couldn’t I just get them to pop? Here’s what I found out: I was curling all wrong.

Biceps are all about working those angles. When you are curling, being just the slightest bit out of form can turn your bicep exercise into a shoulder or deltoid workout without you even knowing. I figured this out when I started getting more compliments on my shoulders despite constantly slaving away on my arms.

So grab your weights and repeat after me: Roll your shoulders back and down, glue your elbows to your sides (keep them there) and lower all the way to resting position before raising them up. Following these simple rules will not only ensure that you target the bicep but that you hit the entire muscle thanks to your full range of motion. Most guys fall short of a full curl. Here’s something else a lot of guys don’t realize: the biggest transformation comes not from the curl but from the lowering (or eccentric, “negative”) motion. The slower you bring the weights down, the more muscle fibers will tear, and that’s when they grow. Also, slowing down actually elongates the muscle, making your arm look longer and leaner. So after you’ve secured your form, focus on slowing down each curl as you lower. A five-second tempo is a good start. (Bear in mind your body needs fuel! Once you are done with your strength training, have between 25-35 grams of protein.)

The slower you bring the weights down, the more muscle fibers will tear, and that’s when they grow.

Finally, I’m not gonna lie—some smoke and mirrors are involved here. You must work the muscles around the biceps for them to look sexier. That means exercising the triceps and, yes, the chronically neglected forearms. When these are strong, you can curl more. Also, it’s where true aesthetics come into play. Watch and see—your arms will look not only pumped but proportionate. No one wants pterodactyl arms, right?

The spillover effect from a truly great bicep is enormous. You are constantly pulling objects in your everyday life. Stronger arms will protect you from injuring your elbow and crucial shoulder area. People with good bicep conditioning often dodge things like tendinitis and rotator cuff issues. You’ll also up your sport game, as your grip strength will increase, allowing you to throw or hit something with better power and stability.

Negative Curl

Standing up straight, hold the weights and let them hang down. Lift them and contract your bicep at the top. Slowly lower the weights.

Concentration Curl

Sit flat on a bench with your feet spread wide, taking a dumbbell in one hand. Place your elbow inside your thigh for support, curl the weight up and flex at the top.

Reverse Curl

Stand up, holding the weight with your palms facing down. Exhale while you curl to shoulder level. Only your forearms should move.