T Nation

Anyone Do Zero Isolations for Arms?

Hey guys, I just created an account here (but I’ve been reading the articles for a looooong time. I love this site!), and I was just wanting to see how many of you guys don’t do isolation exercises for your arms.

I love that arm pump you get after supersets of curls and triceps work… but what I love even more is going heavy (heavy for me, light for you, probably) on bigger compound exercises.

For example, heavy weighted chins for low reps would replace curls. Heavy bar dips to replace triceps isolation. Etc.

I’m currently on an upper-lower split, and I have 3 total arm isolation exercises in the routine: incline curls and incline hammers, and Overhead Triceps Extensions.

I just have this nagging voice in the back of my mind that tells me I need more isolation exercises, but I’ve always heard that compounds give you the most bang for your buck!

Any opinions?

What are your goals?
You could alternate 3 weeks with, 3 weeks without the isolations.
Maybe you can focus on compounds at the gym and supersets at home.
All the best!

Compound lifts are of course the best “bang for your buck”, but I don’t think you can realistically be a BB’er if you don’t do isolation work. Doesn’t mean you can’t be big and strong, but BB’ing must incorporate isolation work.

Dude just throw in a couple exercises for each arm muscle group at the end of your session…alternate

You don’t have to prioritize but don’t ignore them.

I’d say listen to yourself, experiment. If you feel like you could do more but you aren’t, you are really restricting your production of work capacity.

Depends on what the term ‘bodybuilding’ means for you.

If your arms aren’t of naturally decent size and respond slow, you’ll probably never achieve the ‘guns’ of an advanced bodybuilder without isolation.

If you’re ok with that (because bodybuilding for you might only mean looking good on the beach) or your arms are naturally well-proportioned this might not be the case.

Also, on an upper lower split, I’d stick to compound movements.
With three isolation exercises, you are already doing a lot of finetuning.

You can get to about 17, 17.5’ with no direct arm work if you go heavy on compound lifts and do stuff like close-grip bench, or chin-ups with a biceps focus.

That’s what I’d call the mid point (intermediate) development.

If you want to hit 18, or 19, direct arm work is a must. I don’t know ANYONE with >=18’ arms that doesn’t do direct arm work, except maybe unless you’re talking like a 7 foot tall freak of nature.

/Arms been >17’ and <18’ for 1.5 yrs now, barely any direct arm work
/Not concerned

‘Bang for your buck’ is a relative term. Some people can grow and make progress for their individual goals with an only or mostly compound movement approach. Others, especially with more body asthetic goals, will require more of an isolation inclusive approach.

So the question to ask is how has your progress been in accordance with your goals? If you haven’t been satisfied, are you mentally secure enough to try a different approach, and give it a long enough duration in order to realistically assess its effectiveness?

S

“Bang for your buck”? Do you want a Sonata or a Ferrari?

[quote]Airtruth wrote:
“Bang for your buck”? Do you want a Sonata or a Ferrari?[/quote]

Maserati Gransport? Is that an option? Power and aesthetics, not too flashy.

lol reminds me of those mens health workouts to get hyooge in 2 hours a week

push press 3x5 superset chinups
incline press 2x8 inverted bodyweight rows
kettlebell clean and press superset facepulls

I made okay progress and my arms did get bigger when I didn’t train them directly but they started growing much better when I did. If your goal is to get bigger arms then why not spend the 45 minutes it would take to train them every week? You can split them up and do them after chest and back if you want or have your own arm session or do them after shoulders, it doesn’t matter that much.

Holy cow, you guys respond fast. Thanks everyone for the input!

I think what I’m going to do is just stick with a full-body workout (based off of starting strength) just to build up some more strength first.
I’m young, I’m impatient, and yes, I would like to look shredded and whatnot eventually, but what good is just looking ripped, right? I wanna be strong too. So I think I’ll just force myself to delay “bodybuilding” for now and build up a firmer base.

At a whopping 5’7, 150 pounds, my stats aren’t too hot. I went for a 1rm on the bench the other day, and got to 185.
Not sure about my 1rm for squats and deads since they’ve been going up consistently :smiley:

I figure size will come with strength, but strength doesn’t necessarily come with size.

Again, thanks for all your input!

[quote]LoRez wrote:

[quote]Airtruth wrote:
“Bang for your buck”? Do you want a Sonata or a Ferrari?[/quote]

Maserati Gransport? Is that an option? Power and aesthetics, not too flashy.[/quote]

Cost too much not a good value

[quote]Airtruth wrote:

[quote]LoRez wrote:

[quote]Airtruth wrote:
“Bang for your buck”? Do you want a Sonata or a Ferrari?[/quote]

Maserati Gransport? Is that an option? Power and aesthetics, not too flashy.[/quote]

Cost too much not a good value[/quote]

Really? You can find them with less than 20k miles for under 50k. That seems pretty reasonable for a Ferrari-engineered vehicle.

[quote]SoMuchTimeWasted wrote:
Holy cow, you guys respond fast. Thanks everyone for the input!

I think what I’m going to do is just stick with a full-body workout (based off of starting strength) just to build up some more strength first.
I’m young, I’m impatient, and yes, I would like to look shredded and whatnot eventually, but what good is just looking ripped, right? I wanna be strong too. So I think I’ll just force myself to delay “bodybuilding” for now and build up a firmer base.

At a whopping 5’7, 150 pounds, my stats aren’t too hot. I went for a 1rm on the bench the other day, and got to 185.
Not sure about my 1rm for squats and deads since they’ve been going up consistently :smiley:

I figure size will come with strength, but strength doesn’t necessarily come with size.

Again, thanks for all your input!

[/quote]

Or do this: lift heavy in the 3-6 rep range, doing multiple sets. This will build strength. Once you are done, do some higher rep work with isolation exercises (or more compounds) afterward to build up the muscle.

Seriously, are a few curls that fucking hard?

[quote]RossDB wrote:

Or do this: lift heavy in the 3-6 rep range, doing multiple sets. This will build strength. Once you are done, do some higher rep work with isolation exercises (or more compounds) afterward to build up the muscle.

Seriously, are a few curls that fucking hard?[/quote]

Hmm, I guess I could try that. I’m usually pretty fried after full-body workouts though. I might just randomly thrown in a set of 21s occasionally.

[quote]LoRez wrote:

[quote]Airtruth wrote:

[quote]LoRez wrote:

[quote]Airtruth wrote:
“Bang for your buck”? Do you want a Sonata or a Ferrari?[/quote]

Maserati Gransport? Is that an option? Power and aesthetics, not too flashy.[/quote]

Cost too much not a good value[/quote]

Really? You can find them with less than 20k miles for under 50k. That seems pretty reasonable for a Ferrari-engineered vehicle.[/quote]

I need to move to your hood

I think in order to save yourself some regret(possibly) in the future; you should probably do 1-2 bicep and 1-2 tricep exercises at least 1 to 2 times a week right now.

Perhaps even something like this to keep it simple…

Day1: Close Grip Bench 3x5 + Lying Tricep Extension 3x10 ; Power Curl 3x5 + Strict Preacher Curl 3x10

Day2: Weighted Dips 3x5 + Tricep Pushdown 3x10 ; Pinwheel Curl 3x5 + Incline Dumbbell Curl 3x10

You get the point…a more compound/power exercise that is very heavy followed by 3x10 focusing on the muscle strictly,staying heavy,but finishing around 10 reps.

Standard protocol to prevent future grievance(s).

I would do as some of the others have suggested and add in some direct arm work after your compound work.

When I was younger I followed the compound only mantra and now I have undersized arms compared to my strength and weight.

Some of it my be genetics, but I wish I had dedicated a bit more time and consistency to arms when I was younger.