How Long Do Biceps Take to Get Big?

Some factors that determine bicep growth you can't control. Concentrate on those you can.
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The length of time it takes for your biceps to grow depends on two categories of factors. The first is not under your control; it includes genetics, age and gender. The second category includes protein intake, proper rest and training strategy. Focusing on the second category will reduce needless worry and allow you to make smart decisions regarding speedy bicep growth.

Proper Rest

Biceps don't grow during a workout; they grow at rest. Working out moderately most days of the week will not overtrain you, but working out the same muscle groups too often leads to atrophy. The rest you need depends on your age, diet, genetics and quality of sleep. A healthy 20-year-old getting eight hours rest tends to need only 48 hours of rest between exercising biceps, while a 50-year-old tends to need a full week's rest.

Your Goal

Whether a bicep is "big" or not depends on your opinion, and the speed at which it will grow has limits. According to Dr. Michael Colgan, a leading sport nutritionist, muscles cannot grow more than an ounce of new muscle each day -- 23 pounds per year in a best-case scenario. Since bicep muscle takes up less than 8 percent of your total muscle mass, you can expect to gain a maximum of 1 pound of muscle in your body annually.


Protein intake for bicep growth is the same as the intake for overall growth. Nutritonist Mark Tarnopolsky, M.D., Ph.D., who studies exercise and nutrition at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, recommends that athletes consume 0.77 gram of daily protein per pound of body weight. A 200-pound man would require 154 grams of protein daily. If you work out five days a week for an hour each time, consume close to Tarnopolsky's recommendation. If you work out less than four days per week for 45 minutes, you can consume 0.45 grams per pound.


Giving your biceps extra attention is not harmful, but refrain from overdoing it. Muscles need 48 hours of rest between workouts to repair properly. Biceps thrive on isolation exercises such as preacher curls, concentration curls and barbell curls. Mix up the number of reps in your set. Low reps -- between eight and 12 per set -- build mass. High reps -- 15 to 20 per set -- tone the bicep and give it its "peak." Train the muscles of the triceps regularly to make your biceps appear larger; triceps make up two-thirds of the upper arm.

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