T Nation

Another BIG Arm Thread


Look, I don't care what you idiots heard somewhere before or what books you've been reading.

Yes, to get big arms requires you to train them directly. Anyone telling you it isn't necessary will 9 times out of 10 not have impressive looking arms and isn't into bodybuilding.

Also, NO, there is nothing wrong with being a "bodybuilder"...a stigma that I truly believe is the only reason for all of this alternative crap in the first place.

And no, being a bodybuilder doesn't mean you are weak. It means you care more about development than just getting a weight in the air. It stills takes getting strong to get that big.

I may not be moving some Earth shattering weight at all training sessions...but you can bet I CAN and even if I am only curling 2 45lbs plates on a hs machine, you can bet I am doing it better than most people with more concentrated focus on the target muscle group.

How do I know this?

Because my arms look the way they do.

This thread is FOR people with big arms to tell how they got them.



This thread is for real people with real big arms to post real strategies that worked.

The rest of you can go fuck yourselves.


General tips: eat more, get bigger all over, get stronger, train arms with multijoint and single joint movements, train for strength, train for hypertrophy, do some pump sets, train to failure, try adding volume, try upping frequency (i.e. training arms on multiple days)

DB Curls (alternating standing, Incline, Preacher, Concentration, constant tension, heavy cheater reps, slow controlled high rep pump sets)
EZ Bar Curls (standing and preacher)
Machine Curls (hammer strength, nautilus)

Tips: Hold the pause and slow down the negative (try slowly counting to 5), Supinate your got-danged wrists on DB curls (if your not doing hammer curls), squeeeeeeeze your bicep and flex your tricep simultaneously, try doing some super sets alternating between bi's and tri's)

Skullcrushers/Pullover Tricep Ext. (on a bench, on the floor)
DB Deadstop Tricep Extension (on the floor, on a bench)
Bench Press (PL setup, close grip, floor press)
Band Pushdowns (lots of reps, as a part of a super set, as a part of pre-exhaust)

Tips: Make sure you're adding weight on your big pressing movements, but don't neglect the single-joint stuff and the high-rep pump stuff. Make sure you keep your elbows healthy by not doing retarded stuff (i.e. if your elbow feels like it's going to tear apart doing overhead tricep extensions maybe find another exercise)


Very comprehensive Deat - great post. : )


Absolutely love these. Saw Synergy doing them and was like shit, i'll give those a try. Been doing them ever since. Deadstop w/ the EZ bar as well.


I don't feel like typing a lot so:

  • Train consistently every day or thereabouts for some years.

  • Use progressively heavier weights over time

  • Eat to grow every day

  • Sleep to grow every day

  • Directly train the muscles you want to make bigger.

I apologize if I am not big enough to post in this thread.


Thats straight and to the point. :slight_smile: I am working on big arms but certainly will not post about them but am sure interested to hear how others got there!!!


In college...I used to train them up to three times a week even if "training them" meant just a few sets of curls. They hit 18" very quickly as a result and outgrew everything else for a while.

NO, I am not recommending that to others because neglecting other body parts set me back in those areas. I am just saying what worked.


This can't be stressed enough. Don't be stupid. Take care of your elbows.

Elbow sleeves are only like $30, buy 3 less ugly chicks drinks at the club and get some.


What's considered a "big" arm as far as this thread is concerned? (for clarification purposes)

EDIT: in before "If you have to ask you still have small arms" lol


Look, I don't know what Bhwhitwell's arms measure and don't care...but those are BIG arms.

You know big arms when you see them.

If you have to ask....


...and you edited too late.




so wait, squatting wont give me big arms?

heresy. read a book jerkstore.


My routine to build most of that initial base was

Cybex machine or similar warm up curls
alternate dumbbell curls
Hs curls
EZ bar curls

I did that until my arms were over 19".

Now, I warm up way more, don't always go as heavy, but do increase the time I do a rep greatly from in the past. My form is also very good while using weights that cause most people issues.


I remember me and the guys I trained with torturing each other with 21's.

Good times.
Ain't nothing wrong with that.

I just wouldn't make it a regular exercise for every workout.


I think it's necessary to do both isolation work, and compound movements. But of course, you're doing those anyway - bench works tris to some degree, deads and rows work bis to a degree, but I think it's important to make sure you hit the arm muscles directly as well.

As in most of my other training, I'm a big fan of the basics - so lots of barbell curls, dumbbell curls, hammer curls, preachers, CGBP, skullcrushers and dumbbell raises.

I think it's important to ramp up your sets just like any other body part and get to the heaviest weights possible for the top set(s), and include lighter, high-rep sets as well - usually accomplished as part of the ramping. So something like barbell curls with 45*15, 65*12, 85*10, 115*6, 125*3.

I think you get the best of both worlds - higher reps for more of a pump and lower reps with the heaviest weight for strength gains.

I like to really pump the shit out of my arms - so I'm also a big believer in drop sets. I love doing them for arms and after working your way down and just repping the shit out of that last set it literally feels like my bis/tris are going to pop off the bone they're so filled with blood. Slowing down on the negative portion of the rep seems to work well for me also.

It's just like anything else - consistency, working hard AND smart, and of course the nutrition to support it all. Arms will definitely grow from that.....


Used to love doing 21's - me and my buddy used to do them a lot. I've read these days that they're bullshit and don't work, but we used to like to do 'em.....


17" arms
smith machine close grip bench ramp up to 1 top set (3-6 rep max)
weighted dips 3 sets to failure
cable pushdown variations 3 set

neutral grip cable row ramp up to top st
hammer curls ramp up to to set 6 rep max
3 sets supinated curls

Dumbell rows ramp us to top set 10 rep max
neutral grip chin ups to failure
dumbell curl ramp up to 12 rep max

Incline bench press medium grip 10 rep max
pushdowns to failure
reverse single hand push downs.

The rows and chinups are mostly for my back but I go heavy and I feel like there make my arms bigger and stronger.


Do you bigger guys prefer EZ bar curls as opposed to barbell curls? My arms are only 16" so I of course won't comment.

Also, I used to mock bodybuilders for directly training each body part, being of the assumption that all you needed was the big compounds, and my arms never grew. Listening to guys like Prof X on this forum opened my mind, and helped me add muscle where I was lacking it, so you've been very helpful. My arms are still lagging, so I hope this thread goes strong as I'm interested in what you have to say.


those are the smallest 17' I have seen in that pic...