T Nation

Arm / Bicep Pump

Ive been having a hard time obtaining a good pump in my biceps. I train bicepts once every 5 days and ive tried plenty of different exercises and none are working anymore.

9 sets of 21’s (moderate to light wieght)
4 sets of 10,7,5,3 reps (20 second rests) preacher curls with massive weight no pump.
Tried hammer curls.
Tried concentration curls.
Seated hammer curls.
Cable curls.

It seems that I get a slight pump or even a moderate pump but nothing compared to my other muscle groups.

At 36 is it possible for some muscle groups not to respond as well as others?

Any suggestions on how to get the pump back?

Vince curls

Try “running the rack”. I.E. Start doing dumbbell curls at whatever weight you can handle for 8-10 reps, then grab bells 10 lbs lighter and try to get 8-10 more, etc. etc. You may feel a little silly struggling with the 10 lb dumbbells at the end but you’ll get a pump.

When your doing your arm exercises do you pause for 1-2 seconds before restarting the concentric portion?

I find when fully lowering, explosively returning to the flexed position for several reps results in the fastest pump.

Basically, in the concentric phase put everything you got into each rep.

To get a good pump I find quality over quantity gets a better pump, than longer drawn out reps.

10 Hard-Effort Reps gets a better pump than 15 puss-effort reps.

Good Luck

-Kevin

A workout pump feels good but doesn’t correlate to size or strength gains. At least, I remember reading that here. So I wouldn’t worry much about it.

Anyway you might look at where biceps training occurs in your schedule. Maybe arms should be on their own day, for example, or worked more often.

Make sure you have plenty of protein and Vitamin C in your diet. I also like creatine.

Routine-wise, I like to go back and forth between triceps and biceps (three sets of barbell curls, then 3 sets of overhead extensions, then 3 sets of dumbell or cable curls, and three sets of pushdowns, for example). My arms feel like they are going to explode.

Brad61 wrote:
A workout pump feels good but doesn’t correlate to size or strength gains. At least, I remember reading that here. So I wouldn’t worry much about it.

Good point Brad61. I very seldom do isolation work for my arms - but rather I concentrate on gaining overall mass and strength utilizing multi-joint exercises. The arms get plenty of work from presses, rows, power cleans, chins/pull-ups, dips, etc.

My wife always comments on my arms after I do the following:

Chins/pullups superset with
Dips x 10 sets - do one superset every minute to about 80% of failure.

Try working your arms “indirectly” with the above or other multi-joint exercises and take a break from the isolation exercises - at least for a few months. I can guarantee the break will be of great benefit and you will gain mass in your arms. Keep in mind, if you are seeking a “pump” with the goal of getting bigger arms - you must get bigger all over and you get bigger all over by doing squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, etc. Hope this helps!

May I piggyback on this thread a bit? I’ve never doone any direct arms work, and so now my biceps and triceps are lagging behing tremendously. It appears my triceps are coming along ok, but when I work biceps the oonly “pump,” and the only place where I feel stress, is the areas below my elbow. If I feel the pump below the elbow, shouldn’t I feel it above as well?

I’ve never worried about the pump before because strength has always been fine, but now it’s a cause for concern because I am obviously out of proportion.

Pick two curl exercises, and do the first with heavy(ish) weight. Superset this with the next one with light weight. If you’re not getting a pump then, then I don’t know what the hell is wrong with you.

My fav is heavy bb curls to light bb curls.

Or you could do heavy bb curls and chins. Or weighted chins and light bb curls. Or heavy bb curls and light incline curls. Or

My diet is almost perfect right now so I know its not that.

Its not like im trying to get hooge guns. This is more of a proportion thing. My biceps are falling behind compared to most of my other muscle groups.

Im going to try the superset and running the rack this week.
Another fellow said to try a concentration curl with a paused pump at the top. Sounds interesting, lighter weight, curl to top, back off about 15-20% then pause then pump to full while compressing the bicep to pump the blood through.

Honestly, i think im paying for not focusing on quality over the past 3-4 years. It was all about size and hooge weights. Now that things are coming together, I need to focus on quality.

Thanks for the responses and I will give an update in a couple weeks.

Regards
mp

[quote]
maxx power wrote:
Thanks for the responses and I will give an update in a couple weeks.

Regards
mp[/quote]

MP and others - not to state the obvious and I know you are concerned with biceps on this thread, but keep in mind that 2/3 of arm size is in the triceps so antagonist supersets are the way to go.

[quote]aikigreg wrote:
May I piggyback on this thread a bit? I’ve never doone any direct arms work, and so now my biceps and triceps are lagging behing tremendously. It appears my triceps are coming along ok, but when I work biceps the oonly “pump,” and the only place where I feel stress, is the areas below my elbow. If I feel the pump below the elbow, shouldn’t I feel it above as well?

I’ve never worried about the pump before because strength has always been fine, but now it’s a cause for concern because I am obviously out of proportion.
[/quote]

aikigreg: Read Brad61’s response above. Pump has very little correlation to permanent muscle size - do some research to find out the physiological basis for this fact. Getting a pump is dependent on lots of factors and is different for each individual - we all have certain muscle groups that respond differently for better or worse.

At the risk of being redundant (see my post above) how many chins (that is chin-ups with a supinated grip or palms facing towards you) can you do? And how many dips with body in a straight up/down position to emphasize the triceps? Ever seen a Olympic gymnast’s arms? They get that way by doing tons of chins/pullups, hanging on rings, and dips on parallel bars, etc. Work on these two exercises - if you can do more than 10 reps on chins or dips, tie some weight around your waist. If your biceps still don’t grow then you might have to be happy with what you have ;-).

[quote]SamsonsSon wrote:
aikigreg wrote:
May I piggyback on this thread a bit? I’ve never doone any direct arms work, and so now my biceps and triceps are lagging behing tremendously. It appears my triceps are coming along ok, but when I work biceps the oonly “pump,” and the only place where I feel stress, is the areas below my elbow. If I feel the pump below the elbow, shouldn’t I feel it above as well?

I’ve never worried about the pump before because strength has always been fine, but now it’s a cause for concern because I am obviously out of proportion.

aikigreg: Read Brad61’s response above. Pump has very little correlation to permanent muscle size - do some research to find out the physiological basis for this fact. Getting a pump is dependent on lots of factors and is different for each individual - we all have certain muscle groups that respond differently for better or worse.

At the risk of being redundant (see my post above) how many chins (that is chin-ups with a supinated grip or palms facing towards you) can you do? And how many dips with body in a straight up/down position to emphasize the triceps? Ever seen a Olympic gymnast’s arms? They get that way by doing tons of chins/pullups, hanging on rings, and dips on parallel bars, etc. Work on these two exercises - if you can do more than 10 reps on chins or dips, tie some weight around your waist. If your biceps still don’t grow then you might have to be happy with what you have ;-).[/quote]

Awesome, total body fan boys talking about gymnasts. maxx, don’t mind these guys. Chins are money, but get on some curls too if you want the biggest biceps you can have.

Also, don’t feel bad that you spent so long focusing on the big compounds. It’s not that big of a deal. Now you can focus on aesthetics and get more of a BB -looking routine to bring the weak points up.

I recently reread Ellington Darden’s BIGGER ARMS Challenge from last spring. I’m going to begin the two-week plan soon.

I bet his slow 60-second chinup followed by barbell curls will pump the heck out of your biceps.

Turk

Hey Maxx Power I found this for you, it may be of some good use to you.

I could hardly drive my truck home after these workouts.

Give it a shot, what have you got to lose?

The EDT Arm Specialization Mesocycle
One Inch in One Month (Oh, and Yes, It WILL Hurt!)
by Charles Staley

To say that Charles Staley’s Escalating Density Training (EDT) articles have generated a lot of interest is the understatement of the millennium… we’ve received hundreds of letters raving about the unusually large (and fast) gains people are making on EDT. We asked Charles if he could provide us with a specialization program utilizing EDT principles, and this is that program. As with all of EDT programs, caution is advised: EDT is already famous in training circles for the deep soreness it provokes, sometimes lasting 4-5 days post-workout. Please use appropriate precautions and follow the program to the letter as Charles recommends. Good luck!

“…arms are ready to fall off at the shoulders. Reverse grip pushdowns were completed at a dismal weight just slightly higher than my 60- year-old aunt was using when I worked in with her. (Yes, I’m serious) At 40 minutes my hands were shaking so badly I had trouble writing in my workout log. Post workout shower took 30 minutes, as I could not raise my arms to wash my hair. Outlook for tomorrow: extreme soreness has set in already, serious doubt has been cast on my ability to finish my deck as my arms probably will not look favorably on lifting those heavy 2 1/2 inch screws.”

? A “fan” of EDT training

Does putting a fraction of a millimeter on your arm measurement seem about as difficult as nailing Jell-O to a wall? Have you tried everything from Lithuanian drop sets to eccentric-phase tissue remodeling with nothing to show for your efforts?

Hey ? I can relate. Much like calves, putting a few millimeters of beef on your upper extremities can be a challenging task, even for highly motivated gym rats.

Well, I have good news and I have bad news. The good news is that, if there’s any possibility of your peashooters turning into M-16’s, I have a program that will do it. The bad news? This program will also let you know if you are cosmically ordained to look like Mr. Punyverse from the shoulder to the elbow… in other words, if your arms are capable of growing, one month of consistent and sincerely motivated EDT training will take you from potential to reality. It’s that simple.

Think I’m wrong? I only ask that you measure your upper arm girth (see: The Truth About Bodybuilding Arm Measurements by Charles Poliquin for measuring tips) before you start, and then perform these 8 workouts as instructed.

Finally, re-measure your arms and YOU be the judge. When you’re finished, please send an e-mail (with before & after pics if possible) to:

WowMyArmsGrewLikeWeeds@MyoDynamics.com and tell me how it went. I’ll share your responses with everyone in a future article.

OK, on with the nitty-gritty:

The EDT arm specialization mesocycle consists of two workouts a week, separated by 2-3 days of rest between workouts. There are no set loading parameters (see “EDT Training Procedure” below for more details) ? your only objective is to gradually force feed more and more work on your bi’s and tri’s for 8 successive workouts. Couple this with optimal pre- and post-workout nutrition and post-workout cryotherapy, and the result is an average gain of 1/8 inch per workout. It’s that simple (on paper anyway ? the trick is to survive it!).

One final note of caution: In my experience, I’ve found it helpful to postpone any extra non-training activities for the arms for at least 3 days after each workout. In other words, usual everyday activities such as combing your hair, typing, etc., will take on a new meaning for the next month. Enjoy!

Day One

Pre-workout

500 mg Vitamin C (3-4 hours prior to workout)

One serving Power Drive (45 minutes prior to workout, and use club soda instead of water ? the club soda increases stomach acidity, which increases absorption)

First 15-Minute Segment

A-1: Strict Barbell Curl

Note: From a standing position, with “soft” knees, neutral scapulae, and head/chest up, begin the curl with straight arms and bar slightly in front of your legs (not touching), pin your elbows against your torso as you curl the barbell. Keep wrists flat, and do not extend your lumbar spine (a rearward “sway” is permissible as long as you keep your spine neutral, however). Make sure your elbows reach a completely extended position between each rep, but do not allow the bar to touch your thighs or your elbows to lose contact with your torso at any time.

A-2: Supinated-Grip (palms up) Triceps Pushdowns

Note: As with the barbell curls, keep proper posture (neutral scapulae, head/chest up) and practice strict form (arms pinned against your torso, wrists flat, etc.).

B: 1/2 Serving of Surge

Second 15-Minute Segment

A-1: Incline Hammer Curl

Note: This is simply a standard hammer curl, but performed while face-down on a bench inclined to 50-60 degrees.

A-2: Seated, Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extension

Note: This is done by supporting the inside of one end of a dumbbell with both hands.

B: 1/2 Serving of Surge

C: Ice Massage

I first learned to appreciate the value of post-workout cryotherapy from Jay Schroeder, conditioning coach for Adam Archuletta, who went on to break the NFL combines bench press record last year. Adam benched 225 pounds for 31 reps at a bodyweight of 212. I subsequently used this method on a number of athletes with great success, including Gea Johnson, who broke the track record in Park City, Utah, during last year’s Olympic trials for bobsleigh. I use a cryocup from Cryo Therapy, 1-800-ICE-5722.

On each arm ? just continue the massage until the cup has entirely melted. Focus on soft tissue, staying away from bones and joints. Concentrate on long, deep strokes, going parallel to the muscle fibers of the biceps, triceps, and forearms. And, yes, this feels completely miserable. All I can say is just suck it up and do it.

Day Two

Pre-workout

500 mg Vitamin C (3-4 hours prior to workout)

One serving Power Drive (45 minutes prior to workout, and use club soda instead of water)

First 15-Minute Segment

A-1: Preacher Dumbbell Curls

A-2: Decline Dumbbell Triceps Extension

Note: This is just a standard dumbbell triceps extension, but doing it from a decline position creates a unique and severe stress to the triceps.

B: 1/2 Serving of Surge

Second 15-Minute Segment

A-1: EZ-Bar Reverse Curl

A-2: Close, Reverse-Grip Bench Press

Note: Use a reverse grip and bring the bar to nipple level, and press straight up?the grip width should be such that when you perform the movement, the insides of your forearms “scrape” against your sides.)

B: 1/2 Serving of Surge

Third 15-Minute Segment:

A-1: Low-Cable Curl (left arm)

Note: This is done standing, as if you were doing a one-arm dumbbell curl. Alternate between the left arm (A-1) and the right arm (A-2).

A-2: Low-Cable Curl (right arm)

B: 1/2 Serving of Surge

C: Ice Massage

EDT Training Notes

? This is a specialization program. For a comprehensive look at how to structure your training for other bodyparts during this one-month program, please see: “Specialization Periodization” by Tony Meazell.

? Workouts should be performed twice weekly, with 2-3 days of rest between workouts (e.g., Monday, Thursday)

? EDT is based on the concept of doing more and more work from workout to workout. Therefore, it’s critical that your exercise biomechanics (i.e., technique) is consistent on every workout. If you perform strict curls on one workout but use sloppy form the next, you aren’t really doing more work (for the arms at least!)

? I recommend 10-15 minutes of light to moderate cardio, followed by 10-15 minutes of light stretching on “off” days for the purpose of promoting active recovery and reducing soreness.

? After warming up the first exercise(s), select a load that approximates a 10-12RM for each exercise. Ideally, the weight used for each exercise should be equally difficult.

? Each workout consists of (2-3) 15-minute time frames (and I mean EXACTLY 15 minutes ? use a stopwatch or timer) separated by a short (5-minute) rest periods. In each time frame, you’ll perform two exercises, for a total of 4-6 exercises per workout.

? In each time frame, the two exercises are performed in alternating fashion, back and forth, using the same weight for all sets, until the time frame has elapsed.

Sets, reps, & rest intervals: Most people will find it most productive to do higher repetition (but not maximal effort) sets and shorter rests at the beginning, and then gradually progress to less reps per set and longer rest intervals as fatigue accumulates. As an example, you might begin by performing sets of 6 with very short (15-30 second) rests. As you begin to fatigue, you’ll increase your rest intervals as you drop down to sets of 4, then 2, and as the 15-minute time limit approaches, you might crank out a few singles in an effort of accomplish as many repetitions as possible in 15 minutes.

Going to failure: Do not perform early sets to failure, or even near failure. My recommended starting point is to do 1/2 of what is possible (e.g., 5 reps with a 10RM weight) at the beginning of the time frame. As the time limit approaches however, you’ll find yourself working at or near failure as you attempt to break your rep record.

Progression: Each time you repeat the workout; your objective is to simply perform more total repetitions in the same time frame. As soon as you can increase the total number of reps by 20% or more, start the next workout with 5% more weight and start over.

[quote]alownage wrote:
Awesome, total body fan boys talking about gymnasts. maxx, don’t mind these guys. Chins are money, but get on some curls too if you want the biggest biceps you can have.
[/quote]

alownage - that is “awesome” that you feel you can discount my suggestion to maxx, yet you agree that “chins are money”. Is there some sort of line to be drawn between “total body fan boys” and “isolation boys”? Both TB and Iso have their place.

Do you deny the fact that gymnasts have quite impressive guns or that using them as an example for proposing chins/dips as excellent exercises for the arms is not valid? If you read my posts you will see that I suggested laying off isolation exercises for a few months - oh the horror!

Read maxx’s original post again to see that he has been doing curls without getting results and wanted advice on how to change it up, so what is the value of your post? I would say to maxx never mind these “isolation boys” who like to pick apart other members advice while not giving any of their own.

In the future you will better off to contribute without attempting to tear down others and making yourself look like an idiot in the process.

Great resources coming in from all you guys.

Good news, I trained last night with extreme concentration on pumping my bi’s.
I did a combination of hammer curls (slow, steady and compressing my muscle) with lower wieghts followed by preacher curls (closed grip) concentrating on the top end of the pump.

I followed these two with a set of 21’s on the preacher curl focusing again on compression and after each 21 I did 10 assisted chins with a painfully slow downward draw.

All worked excellent and my pump/vascularity was one of the best ive had in about a year.

The slow chin didnt seem to have much of an effect as the others, but im sure my form was not the best.

Thanks again and I will let you know how it goes next training day.

One thing I do that always gets a pump going is when I reach failure on a set (sometimes every set) I cheat the weight up, and lower it very slow. Do this 2-3 times after each set, just lower the weight very slow to take advantage of the post failure negative.

maxx,

i did not read through all the replies, so i apologize in advacne if this has already been covered.

i have a similar problem. i have always had a hard time feeling like i have really worked my bicepts.

weighted close grip chins, multiple sets of 3-7 reps, blow my bicepts up pretty big.

also when recently doing the doggcrapp stuff, the 9-15rest pause stuff yielded good results.

this is consistent to the stuff i have read from Poliquin regarding that the biceps respond better to low volume heavy loading.

hope this helps.