T Nation

anti-bodybuilding program

i just read mr waterbury’s article, anti-bodybuilding hypertrophy. he states that he does not incorporate arm work into his programs, because compound exercises do a better job at increasing arm size then isolated arm exercises can. do most of you agree that isolated arm movements are entirely worthless, if you are already preforming benches, dips, etc etc. thank you all, including mr waterbury for offering his advice

For the most part, I agree. I’ve done many training programs with little direct arm work besides dips, chins and close-grip benches. I made better progress using the basic exercises than the times I did direct-arm workouts.

I think the only time direct arm workouts are more useful is if you are lifting light weights or if you’re trying to bring out more definition. That’s when curls and triceps pressdowns are actually useful. But for building size, I’ve found pressdowns and the many variations to be useless for anything more than an arm pump.

Agree 100%. Over the past few years I’ve done very little if any direct arm work. During this time my arms have made more progress than any other time period since my initial newbie growth spurt several decades ago.

I want to clarify my position on arm training before the forum members burn my effigy. I do not think arm training is worthless - in fact, you would be hard-pressed to get me to say that any exercise/method is worthless. Also, I never stated that I don’t include direct arm work in my programs - far from it! But I don’t incorporate it into the Anti-Bodybuilding Program. There is a time and a place for direct arm training. Not to mention the fact that I did give in and give you the option of incorporating direct arm work in my Anti-Bodybuilding Program. I was merely making the point that there is very little need for direct arm work on a high volume program that is designed with compound upper body exercises. Okay, let the burning begin!

That’s great to hear. I’ve been thinking about simplifying my workouts, and it sounds like I can do that by sticking with basic movements.

Which compound exercies really hit the triceps?
It never feels like I get a really good workout on my tri’s without direct arm work. My bi’s on the other hand get hit real hard with exercises like rows.

Try dips or shoulder width bench presses.

I find the problem with direct arm work is the fact that if you’re doing it, you’re probably taking away time from more productive exercises.

I work arms directly when I have time to train twice a day, but here (at school) priorities take over.

I still do skulls though. Just because skulls kick ass. :slight_smile:

I made great progress in my arm size when I switched to a 5X5 routine that had no direct arm work. I was just using all the basic multi compund exercises.

with direct or no direct arm work, i am still struggling to add size to my biceps.

I agree completely with Chad. Whether or not direct arm work is necessary/beneficial is largely dependent on the overall volume of one’s protocol. For instance, when doing GVT with chins, I think that adding a separate day for elbow flexors would be absurd. Likewise, 100 reps of bench presses would certainly tax the elbow extensors sufficiently (just imagine if direct delt work was included).

On the other hand, I do see the need for direct arm work with lower volume programs, even if it is just 2-3 sets after the compound selections. This is not to say, however, that direct arm work cannot be compound (e.g. dips and CG bench presses).

I’ve certainly never lost any arm size by leaving out direct arm work (while doing other compound movements). I definitely think direct arm work has its place in specializiation programs, or programs with lower volume that you can afford to sacrifice more of your recovery to such a small muscle group.

I don’t think direct arm work is worthless. You are going to work your arms a lot though when you work your shoulders, back, and chest. Now if your arms are underdeveloped or greater development is key to your personal symetry I’d do some isolation.

I agree with Seenyore Cres-say. Depends on the rest of one’s program.

My upper arm size is anywhere from .5 to 1 full inch larger when performing isolation exercises for arms…I mean come on, do you know of any bodybuilder (natural or not) who does no direct work for bi’s and tri’s? Granted, not everyone on here is a bodybuilder, but this applies to anyone who wants big…or bigger…upper arms.

this program is excellent for overall development. It is simple and effective. It’s a basic push pull technique which will make for very efficient workouts. Considering that rest periods are kept to 60 seconds, an increase in fat loss and endurance strength should occur. The fact that isolated arm movements are not included does not bother me one bit because i know the specifiied compound movements include the arms and delts because i’ve done this type of routine in the past. laters pk

So many factors to consider. Yes, ultimately it comes down to what your training routine looks like (compound movements vs. iso). Then there is the individual and the particular build that they have. Specific goals can alter this as well.

But we do know this much as FACT:
There is no question that compound movements DO contribute to over-all arm development.

Eric Cressey is very right. Just like everything in the weightlifting world- it depends on the person, their goals, the program they are on and a whole bunch of other stuff.

I think what happens when people see a program with out direct arm work is they freak out and think their arms are going to shrink. When in actuality if you are a big direct arm work type of person your arms could use the ‘rest.’

I know the first time I was going through GVT I was very worried about its lack of shoulder invlovement. But an unflavored protein-factory shake breathed, orange shirted t-man told me to try it out and see what I thought. I did and loved it. So don’t be scared or skeered either when a program might seem to be missing something. Just trust it, try it and judge later.

This is yet another exmple of the popular forum trend as of late; attempting to box in a theory/statement so as to make it accessable for ending any argument, anytime, ever. As Chad W already pointed out, his article focused upon a specific set of variables and, subsequently, his opinions in the article reflect the subject matter.


Lookit here. If you want to curl or leg extend, then do so to your heart’s content and beyond. If you are successful doing that and you wake up every day saying "Today exists so that I mayeth curl, thank you (insert deity here). But, and oh heed this warning, do not then ask Chad how you (he) could incorporate curls into a program. The absence of movements in such a program are nearly as important as those chosen for the protocol.


Charles Staley utilizes curls in his EDT program? Does this now render the program useless? Will Earth now implode upon itself? No. It makes it different, it gives you a choice. Ho-fucking-ray.


The beauty of having access to programs such as EDT, Anti-BB, Renegade, OVT isthat the training protocols are set. However, you, Johhny Trainerboy, are still in control of all the other variables surrounding the program. If a given program suits you, hit it. You can always write your own. And just for the record, I am not big on iso’s.

MBE: “Growing opposible thumbs for the sole purpose of pulling his own finger. Since 1334.”

I agree with Hyok’s idea that taking the direct arm work out of your rotation will greatly simplify your workouts (and very likely allow you to concentrate on other, more productive, exercises). After having trained arms directly for years I tried, on a Poliquin recommendation, leaving them out. My arms grew, and my overall recovery was better. (This has been the case through many different types of workouts: 5x5, GVT, GBC, Meltdown, etc.)


That said, I have recently started Staley’s EDT for arms and intend to continue with it for two months or so. The reason is that I’ve been feeling lately that my arms haven’t really quite kept up with the rest of my physique (and they used to be my best point). So I would say that if you NEVER do direct arm work (and I’m not suggesting that Chad is suggesting this) you might suffer a bit after several years. (This is only for looks, and thus only for bodybuilders. I have no idea whether the same would apply to powerlifters or O lifters in terms of a strength lag.) Using the EDT regimen, my arms have again grown about half an inch in three workouts.


Bottom line? As it stands now, I intend to incorporate somewhere between 2-4 months of direct arm work each year - but most of my time will be spent concentrating on the major compound lifts.