It is generally accepted in the strength-training world that one of the best ways to increase your pressing strength is to increase the strength of what is considered the weak link–the triceps. Especially in the sport of power lifting, the triceps are considered the weak link in a bench press. So every trainee performs, and every strength coach usually recommends, either the close-grip bench press or the dip to get the job done. This is a no-brainer.
When it comes to maximizing muscle-ups, rope climbs, pull-ups, and snatches, stronger biceps will allow you to handle more weight on your compound upper back exercises. This in turn carries over to helping you ace the marine pull-up test, lift the inver stone off the ground, improve your overhead squat, and pull the truck-on-a-rope like soap-on-a-rope!
In my experience consulting with strength athletes from around the world, increasing biceps strength to improve pulling strength has gone in the wrong direction. I hear the following far too often: Do I really need to perform curls at all to strengthen my biceps if I’m doing heavy rows and chins and stuff? Sure, the compound movement alone will strengthen the weak link (the biceps) because the strength of the weak link will give out first. But to maximize stimulation of the major muscles that are supposed to be doing most of the pulling work (the upper back), you have to maximize the strength of the biceps through direct biceps work.
There is an additional bonus. Strong biceps limit the potential for injuries like elbow tendonitis and bicepital tendonitis of the shoulder. Further, the possibility of suffering a complete muscle rupture or tear from that heavy deadlift can be avoided.
One reason biceps training has fallen out of favour is that true strength athletes don’t want to be considered body builders; they don’t want to appear vain by specifically training their biceps. At best they’ll throw in a couple of half-hearted curls at the end of a workout and call it a day. This won’t get your upper back as strong as possible—and you better if you want Herculean strength! Approach biceps training seriously, and by “seriously” I don’t mean 20 sets of five different exercises to pump you up.