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Advice on Lack of Arm Development

I strength train 4x a week. Largely multi joint compound movements. My staples are Back and front squats, deadlifts, power cleans and snatches, presses, rows, chin-ups, dips.

I have quite decent legs, back and shoulder development, but my arms are puny.
I am puzzled as I thought all the pressing and pulling should suffice for arm development, not to mention all the anabolic stimulus(growth hormone, testosterone) from the posterior chain movements

Is this a likely outcome of

  1. Insufficient caloric surplus
  2. Too long rest periods in between sets (less GH response)
  3. Lack of direct arm work
  4. Insufficient training volume on the big lifts

I am a busy father of 3 with a busy work schedule. I am usually in and out of the gym in an hour. Hence I have always gone for bang-for-buck compound moves. No time for isolation movements.

Any advice would be appreciated on how I should tweak my training program to bring up my lagging arms.

It’s (3.)

If you can’t find time, throw sets of curls between sets of pressing exercises and sets of triceps exercises between sets of pulling exercises

[quote]RSHK wrote:
I am a busy father of 3 with a busy work schedule. I am usually in and out of the gym in an hour. Hence I have always gone for bang-for-buck compound moves. No time for isolation movements.
[/quote]

Your body does not know or care about this unfortunately. It will not grow differently for a father of 3 than it will for a single guy with no obligations. They’ll both have to do the same thing.

There was a great article posted today by Matt Kroc on growing arms with a workout performed once every week or so. Might be worth considering. That, or simply being at peace with the development you’ve earned.

[quote]RSHK wrote:
Is this a likely outcome of

  1. Insufficient caloric surplus
  2. Too long rest periods in between sets (less GH response)
  3. Lack of direct arm work
  4. Insufficient training volume on the big lifts
    [/quote]

If (1), (2) or (4) were the culprit, you would not be sporting “quite decent legs, back and shoulder development.”

If you want bigger arms, you’re going to have to carve out some time to train them.

To save yourself time, you might consider getting cheap weights just for the arm work. get a cheap ez-curl bar that you can also use for overhead triceps work and find random plates for the bar at garage sales, consignment shops, etc, people get rid of 100+ lb sets of weights all the time on craigslist. A set of adjustable dumbells would also work. Then just do extra arm work at home whenever you have 20-30mins to spare.

Or just add some more arm-dominant compound lifts, like close grip bench, close grip supinated weighted chins etc

[quote]RSHK wrote:
I strength train 4x a week. Largely multi joint compound movements. My staples are Back and front squats, deadlifts, power cleans and snatches, presses, rows, chin-ups, dips.[/quote]
You’re doing 5/3/1, right? Curls are one of Wendler’s “approved Wendler 6” assistance exercises, so don’t sweat it.


Find time to curl at least one a week.

Operative word here is “should”, and for some people, it is. But if it isn’t enough, changes should be made without hesitation.

That’s not nearly as big a factor as many people think. Also, I think you’re 6’2" and 165ish, correct? For arm size, you’ll need direct arm training and increased muscular bodyweight. The “squat for big arms” cliche only goes so far.

Again, if you’re doing 5/3/1 (without knowing the specifics of your exact goal or template), I’d either do a biceps movement twice a week and a triceps movement twice a week (basically one or the other each training day) or a bi/tri superset twice a week.

Thanks all for the reply.

Yes I do sneak in curls and tricep extensions/ close grip bench 3x a week as assistance work, but it obviously isn’t enough for me. Perhaps the volume is too low. I do chin and pull ups 3x a week too. The rest of my body aren’t exactly massively impressive, just relatively better developed.

I weigh 163lb at 1.73m. Bodyfat at about 20%.
Back Squat: 325lb
Front squat : 300lb
Deadlift: 345lb
Snatch: 145lb
C&J: 190lb
Press: 160lb
Bench: 225lb

I guess I will add in more direct arm work and pile on more clean calories and take it from there. Maybe Ive to tweak current program to a more volume based and muscle build.

If your bodyfat is at 20%, your arms are definitely going to look small compared to the rest of your body.

But, yes, do more arm work if you’re currently not doing any.

[quote]RSHK wrote:
I weigh 163lb at 1.73m. Bodyfat at about 20%.
[/quote]

I believe we have found the root of the problem.

Your issue is lack of development, not just your arms.

Just keep on keeping on. If you are getting bigger and stronger then you’re doing something right, although 20% bodyfat is a little high. Tighten that diet up a little.

[quote]Yogi wrote:

[quote]RSHK wrote:
I weigh 163lb at 1.73m. Bodyfat at about 20%.
[/quote]

I believe we have found the root of the problem.

Your issue is lack of development, not just your arms.

Just keep on keeping on. If you are getting bigger and stronger then you’re doing something right, although 20% bodyfat is a little high. Tighten that diet up a little.[/quote]
This^ I think you might be overestimating your bf% also. If you’re 6’2 165 @ 20%, That would put you @ roughly 148lbs @ 10% bf. Arms would be the last thing on my mind if I were in your shoes. Edit: I just looked up 1.73m and it’s 5’7. That changes things a bit…lol

[quote]AzCats wrote:
Edit: I just looked up 1.73m and it’s 5’6. That changes things a bit…lol[/quote]
Ha, yeah that’s 100% my fault. I checked his profile, saw “74” by weight and mentally read it as height in inches. (Fuckin’ metric system, man.)

In any case, seems like the direction is clear by now. You can’t “sneak in” some curls and extensions and then complain about a lack of arm size. If it’s a goal, work on it.

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]AzCats wrote:
Edit: I just looked up 1.73m and it’s 5’6. That changes things a bit…lol[/quote]
Ha, yeah that’s 100% my fault. I checked his profile, saw “74” by weight and mentally read it as height in inches. (Fuckin’ metric system, man.)

In any case, seems like the direction is clear by now. You can’t “sneak in” some curls and extensions and then complain about a lack of arm size. If it’s a goal, work on it.[/quote]

I fucked that up too, haha

Do you try high frequency?
i remember that cedric milan trains his arms everyday