T Nation

Arms Growing, Not Back and Chest


warning: newb post. looking for some insight / tips on issues i have developing my chest. i'm aware that genetics play a part in chest development, but i don't think genetics are predominantly my problem.

during my workouts, my chest feels barely touched and my shoulders and arms feel pumped. i haven't done any tricep extensions or bicep curls in somewhere near 6 months, much unlike when i started years ago, with two 'arm days' per week. i currently hit back and shoulders one day a week, back and chest another, and 2 days lower body.

i've read a few not so helpful threads here, as well as a few articles, but i'm looking for specific exercises i can do for chest activation, so that i can actually fatigue the muscles in each workout. for example, with my lower body days, my quads and hamstrings would get tired, but never glutes. thanks to articles here, i'm doing a few glute activation exercises and i seem to be developing evenly.

my warm-up currently consists of db presses straight up from my chest for a set or two, 2 scap retraction / depression exercises with a miniband, and a set or two of external rotaion. i'm trying, but haven't been able to nail it. chest still lazy and lagging. any thoughts?


After 12 years of training and being a personal trainer? Don't take this the wrong way, but that's a tad odd :wink:

Okay, wait a moment. Your thread title reads "arms growing, not back and chest". Are you just talking about the pump here?
How much have you progressed on your back and chest lifts compared to your arm lifts(if any)? How much actual growth has happened?

That's what it says in your profile:

Sure about those 12 years of training? And sure you've really used the search function here?

We've had maybe 3000 threads on such issues.

Chances are that

a) Your pressing technique isn't too great
b) You have long-ass arms

But it would be helpful if you posted a picture of a most muscular or side-chest or some such and a vid of you benching or incline-pressing before we rattle down all the standard answers.

And you have not given us your strength levels (never mind 1RM, whatever you can do for 5-10 reps is fine), routine in detail or any other info...


Flyes followed immediatley by your heavy chest exercise (or after it if you want to keep the weight high on it). You'll probably be given loads of advice on different things to do so pick one and see if it works.

Technique - elbows away from your body, feel the stretch in your chest and then contract the chest hard.

Your profile as pointed out says weight 145 and 5% body fat - to be honest if thats true then i'm suprised if anythings growing. Eat more and attempt to bench press and barbell row more plus deadlifts and put the work in will get results tbh.


If you're a newb after 12 years of training, just find a new hobby.


12 years...pfft


I forgot... If you feel mostly your arms working/get a huge bi pump during rows, then it's definitely a technique issue.


004, turn in your badge and gun. You fail!


I'd say something smells funny in here...

But sadly I think you're serious.

If you lifted weights 10 years ago, and you're starting back up, does that mean you have 10+ years lifting experience?


Why don't you get your bench up to 315x10 and then see if your chest isn't growing.



Read last part.


my apologies for being unclear with my original post, and for wasting everyone's time posting such a ridiculous question. it serves as an unpleasant reminder why i don't waste time on bodybuilding forums. i'm a newb to bodybuilding, and believe it or not, there's other ways to train. 'getting big' isn't everyone's holy grail, and it sits way down on my list of priorities.

for me, functional strength, cardio conditioning, speed and flexibility far outweigh anything else, and as a competitive grappler, getting big would be a detriment to my lifestyle.

so overall, bodybuilding has very little value to me. however, i do have a small amount of interest in appearance, being a physically fit 30 something male, so i thought a question concerning hypertrophy would be best fitted for this forum. i was obviously mistaken, as my physical specs aren't up to par, but i'll give this another go.

despite burning a ton of calories via 1 conditioning or strength workout per day and 2 hours of brazilian jiu jitsu, i eat close to 5000 cal per day, and believe there's still a slight surplus, which i measure only by appearance. as of recently (the past year or so) my weight has stayed roughly the same as i've gotten leaner, so for my sport, i believe i'm on the right track. i've followed John Berardi's nutritional advice through the years very closely, so i also believe my macronutrients to be somewhat in order.

the only experience i had with bodybuilding was when i first started lifting, fresh out of high school, for 5 or 6 years on and off. mostly on. without much internet, i didn't really have a source of information, and not many people i knew who were experienced / big enough to answer my questions. needless to say, there was a whole lot of wasted time.

@Cephalic_Carnage: being a personal trainer means i passed the ace exam. now how is that relevant to my post? thank you for the small bit of constructive advice, though. i'm currently trying to refine my pressing technique. today on flat i hit 255 for 5 reps, 3rd set, no spot. please keep in mind this is just a hobby, somewhat contradictory to my main goals.

and speaking of rows, i'm actually doing more pull-ups than anything else. do you think i should institute more rows? i often do a 2-3 sets of db rows @ 110, sometimes on a plate loaded machine at my gym.

@Ryu: i could probably use a little more calories if i want to further develop certain muscle groups. i'll give it a shot.

@Professor X & Growing_Boy: just like you've probably advanced where i haven't, i've probably advanced in many areas you haven't. thanks for the input, though. it's been, well, useless. there's a whole world of training outside of training for aesthetics. sorry to be the one to break this to you.

@sebbie: do you think i can progress to that weight without using predominantly my chest? i don't, which is why i posted in the first place.

and finally @CPerfringens. thanks for the link, i've bookmarked that and 2 other articles. going to give the suggestions a go middle of next week.

any other useful suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


You provided very little information in your initial post about what you're lifting, how long you've actually been focussing on trying to add mass, and what improvements you may have made. You're original post came across as a very half-assed person, more than likely just a troll.

Why are you surprised at the response?

This forum is very much about adding muscle mass with an aesthetic purpose. I'm pleased you've got that from the responses because that's what bodybuilding is about.

Read some of Christian Thib's articles on weight training for beginners, they tend to be recommended by most because they work.

My advice is cut out all the other bullshit training for a while if you are serious about adding mass, and focus on the tin.

Your line about functional strength etc makes me think you're just a troll and a wind-up. If you're not serious, why should anyone here be?

So on that note,

For all your training solutions, one day only, if you pay me $200.00 you'll get a program that'll get you buffed and jacked up and shredded in HOURS. That's right, HOURS. Ignore the competitors (Growing Boy is just a fake), go with this offer. It's the only way you can truly get LaBuff !!! (I think this could be your goal in life, go with it.....)


I'm confused.

Are you focused on bodybuilding or are you just training with weights in addition to competitive BJJ?

If it's the former, then there's a host of valuable information at your fingertips via articles and forum members (Prof X, GB and C_C in particular). IMO weight gain will be necessary in addition to focusing on increasing strength in the 4-8 rep range on the bench press and other major lifts if you want real mass gains. At your height, weight and bodyfat % 165-175 lean would be a worthy goal. Start with a light enough weight so that you can feel your chest and back working. Experiment with bar position, tempo, whether or not to use rest-pause or a conventional rep scheme and other variables to see what hits your chest and back best. Most of all, eat your food and lift. Progress will come.

If it's the latter, then a simple 5x5 will do fine, I should think. Particularly if you don't want to move up in weight classes. Members in the Combat Sports forum should be able to offer additional guidance if you need more sport-specific training.


Lurk more, you could have saved that entire wall of text.


I'd like to see a video of the 255x5 bench press from a guy weighing 145 who isn't a competitive powerlifter. It's great to be on a forum where everyone is so strong.


Once I read the word "Functional" i stopped reading.


A man of the people!!!



Lots of decent advice there - hope it helps man. Good luck with the jits - was doing a little 7.30am session this morning myself lol.


OP: Might have saved yourself some grief by mentioning these things sooner.

What does a grappling athlete need with a large/strong chest (specifically) anyway? If you're not lifting for aesthetics as you asserted, then all that matters is being strong or well conditioned in movements. If, then, you're weak of the bottom of horizontal pressing movements, that's an entirely different question (belonging in a different section of the board) than 'how do I bring my chest up when my arms dominate the movement?'

Getting defensive when people take you at your word no es bueno. More reading would have told you that the experienced posters here are in fact respectful of goals other than their own.

As for your need: easiest solution is to give your chest some frequency. Throw in a few high(er) rep sets of an accessory chest movement (dips/pushups/flyes) at the end of your other workouts a few times a week. Lean forward and descend further on dips. Widen your hand placement on pressing lifts and try keeping palms facing each other on dumbbell lifts (and you may even consider variations in which you lower the bar to a higher spot on your chest...just be cognizant of your shoulders and elbows).

Consider paused reps. Consider decline pressing (and in that vein, low pulley cable crosses). You could also choose to pre-exhaust the triceps prior to doing your primary chest lift e.g. a few sets of heavy close grip or military press would take the starch out of your tri's before going to a heavy pyramid (or whatever) on incline. Lots of options; somewhere in there is something that will help you.

If this is helpful, we can go through similar options for back lifts.



OP - why would size hurt your grappling ability? E.g. Who would you put your money on, a 200lb grappler or a 300lb grappler?

To give you a serious answer; you need to add overall mass. Sorry, but I feel silly giving anyone advice on how to fine-tune certain bodyparts whilst they still weigh as little as you do.

Pics would help a lot. IF you post some we can see what you are really talking about. There are some very effective options for back/chest training which don't particularly involve the arms. I know because I've had to use them.