T Nation

Arms Not Growing with My Body

Hi! I started working out about a year ago and put on 20kg, and am generally very pleased
with my strength and physique gains. However, my arms, which before were tiny, just
don’t seem to reflect my strength gains. Recently I was likened to a triangle with two
sticks hanging from the top two points. Great =P.

My Current ‘stats’ are:
Weight: 90 kg
BF: 15-20% unsure, can see some ab definition (not a priority!)
Height: 186 cm
Flexed Arms: Left-15inch Right-15.5inch
Cold Arms: 13inch

Bench: 8x100kg
Military Press: 5x60kg
Squat: 5x130kg
Deadlift: 3x145kg (oops)

I currently do a pretty standard 5 day split
Day 1 - Chest: Bench, Decline Dumbell Bench, Flyes…
Day 2 - Back: Lat Pullups, Deadlifts, Cable Rows…
Day 3 - Legs: Squat, Calf Raises…
Day 4 - Shoulders: Military Press, Dumbbell Press
Day 5 - Arms: Barbell Curls, Tricep pushdowns, Alternate Hammer Curls, Tricep dumbell extension, Reverse Curls, Dips, Pullups

My intensity was for the past year was 5x3 for main exercise, then 3 sets of 6-7 reps for accessory exercises
For the last month I’ve switched my arms day working up to 4 sets of 12, and think i’ve seen some small gains, as opposed to none!

I understand diet is obviously a key factor in muscle growth; my current eating habits probably
stand at around 3000-4000kCal/day with 150-200g of protein a day. What confuses me is that I am
still growing noticably stronger/bigger all over, just not on my arms.

Any advice on my workout would be greatly appreciated…
Work out arms more than once week?
Change up my arm workout? Pullups??
Alter my entire workout to compliment arms? I’m not adverse to changing to a full body/3 day/other split
Drastic diet change?


I would train them twice a week, you could fit some arm work after your legs day. good luck

Throw in some tris work after chest and some bis work after back. And switch back pulldowns to supinated or neutral grip pulldowns, perhaps you can also do some dips or close grip benches on chest day. ? ?

If a bodypart is stubborn, most of the time adjusting frequency fixes it.

As has been mentioned, put some extra training for them after chest/back day (many ways of adding frequency)

Post a few pics of your upper body, and lower body also while you’re at it.

I don’t like your workout schedule, you posted in the bodybuilding forum… so I will assume you want a physique like a bodybuilder. If you do only squats and calves for legs for example… not enough volume in my regard. What about hack squats, leg presses, leg extensions, stiff leg deadlifts, good mornings, hamstring curls, etc. etc. etc. The same applies for chest, shoulders and back.

What does your food intake look like… meal for meal? Because 3000-4000 kcal and 150 - 200g of protein is too variabel.

try 3 way split with triceps after bench

What does probably means?

Write down what you eat in a day and post it. Please don’t copy and paste aMens Health program.

Probably for me is " probably don’t even come close to that".

Um you are complaining about youre arm size yet none of the exercises you listed as examples of your strength are arm exercises.

Curl the 50lb dumbells for strict reps with a strong contraction for 10 reps. When you get there reassess your progress and make necessary adjustments.

Train your biceps THEN your triceps or vice versa. Alternating exercises is a great way to lose your pump or give yourself too much time to recover between exercises. There is merit to doing a routine with alternating SETS of antagonistic muscle groups but doing alternate exercises doesnt serve that purpose.

Do you actually feel your biceps contracting when you do a curl? Same question for the different heads of the triceps.

Please read KingBeef’s thread about how to design a split.

Your arm day is too redundant. Your leg day is pretty pathetic, unless youre doing 20 sets of squats. ANd the mindset that arm exercises are ‘accessory’ is the reason why your arms arent on par with your torso. Unless youre a competitive power lifter but I doubt it as you are posting in this forum. Bicep curls and triceps movements are just as important as a squat or a bench press to a bodybuilder.

[quote]BONEZ217 wrote:

Please read KingBeef’s thread about how to design a split.

Bicep curls and triceps movements are just as important as a squat or a bench press to a bodybuilder.[/quote]

Now you stop that nonsense.

Directly training the muscles you want to grow? What is you, from teh Mune?

Thanks for replying, I’ll get some pics as soon as my flatmate comes home.
Apologies if I posted in the wrong forum subsection; my ultimate goal is
as yet undecided; all I wanted/want to do is improve the appearance of my
phisique, and have some tangible strength to show for it.

Here is 9 days of eating that I recorded a month ago, and have been eating
the same or similar foods since I did this. Unfortunately I simply dont
have the time/circumstances to record everything I eat…
If you cba with that I just worked out
avg calories: 3591.63 Calories
avg protein: 217g

Thanks the your advice regarding tricep/bicep training
My arms workout stats for the past THREE weeks are here:
Movement: Week ?, Weight; Repititions, etc.
Barbell Curls: 30kg; 8-8-8-8, 30kg; 10-10-10-9, 30kg; 12-12-12-10.
Tricep Pushdown: 30kg; 10-10-10-10, 35kg; 10-8-7-7, 35kg; 12-10-8-7.
Alt DB Curl: 14kg; 10-10-8-8, 16kg; 10-8-9-8, 16kg 12-12-10-9. nb eg. 10=10 with right and left arms separately
Dumbell Tricep extension: all 10kg left and 12kg right; 8-8-8-8, 10-10-9-8, 12-10-9-9
Conc Curls: all 14kg right and 12kg left; 8-6-6-5, 8-7-7-7, 10-10-7-5
Dips: 14kg weight: 10-8, 10-10, 12-12

I definitely feel ‘pump’ (if such a thing is at all meaningful) when I work
out my arms, more so than any other part of my body, if this is what you are
referring to? I do try and pause at the top/bottom or reps for a second or
two to really feel the bicep/tricep.

My reference to ‘accessory’ exercies was not in reference to arms, more
in the vein of I perform bench/military/squats/deads at 100% low reps,
and the following exercises at higher repitions, sorry for confusion.
This also leads me to ask, what are the ‘big’ arm exercises then? As you
can see, I was starting with Barbell Curls and Tricep pushdowns for arms,
albeit recenty this was with high reps.
In line with what I mentioned to Tatsu…in complete honestly leg appearance
means little if anything to me at all; I’d like to be able to squat 140.
That’s it.

What exactly would you recommend that I do?
Add in sets of bis/tris to arms/legs/back days? If so, if you could recommend how many and when that’d be great.
Should I move arms to earlier in the week?
Go back to low rep heavy weight?
Start out on a new split routine focussing on arms?

Thanks for your help!

Your arm size is exactly what it should be considering your numbers.

train bi’s with tri’s and also add 3-4 sets o tri’s after your chest work and bi’s after your back work.

also what worked or me is not using methods like drop sets and giant sets. the road to 17" arms is pretty much doing heavy sets adding weight over time, no need for fancy stuff.

im with bonez, when you can curl 50 pounders seated or standing without it looking like dumbbell cleans your arms should be at 16"…

[quote]Cephalic_Carnage wrote:
Your arm size is exactly what it should be considering your numbers.[/quote]

Exactly mayn…

You should prioritise them in one way or another - frequency, do arm-dominant or arm-isolation movements first in the workout, do more of them, improve MMC etc (read what Bonez said here about improving MMC by tensing muscles as a warm up, very good clear advice: http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding/trouble_stimulating_biceps

"Im going to guess that you dont squeeze your arm hard enough when curling the weight.

Fix that by doing this: Do it now or later or tomrorow, just before the next time you train biceps. With no weight in your hand flex your bicep and hold it and squeeze as hard as you can for 30s-1min. Then relax and do it again. Keep doing this until you get a pump in your bicep. Then when you go to the gym do that for a minute or two. Then warm up your arms a bit. Then start the biceps workout. Use weight you can handle and focus on getting the same contraction you got without a weight in your hand.

This is one of the better ways (ive found) to improve mind muscle connection. You can still try the day of very high volume but the mind muscle connection is a more important thing to fix. ")

14kg DB curls do not a big arm make. I personally do 25kgs with zero momentum and very strong tense or ‘peak contraction’ at the top, and in no way am I satisfied with that!..keep at it mate

Dude, you’re small everywhere for your weight and height.

For those of us that don’t speak metric, the OP is 6’1" and 198lb. I’d be surprised if his arms were any bigger.

If you could clarify what you mean it might actually be, uh…useful?
How many calories more should I be eating if you are referring to my weight/height ratio?
I never clamied to be ‘big’, stating this is of no use to me/anyone (: (or perhaps your fragile ego needed some tender affection? (; )

If you are referring to my lifts, I find that hard to understand…as not many people in my gym lift this much (and before you even think it, no, i’m not claiming that the weights I lift are in any way notable…) but all their arms are noticeably larger than mine.

Cheers, I’m going to add in the sets after my back workout for the next couple months, see if I make good gains!

Thanks for the tip, I tried this on my last workout, seemed to ‘engage’ the muscles more (: although, I think at some cost to my reps…

[quote]Chaisky wrote:
Thanks for the tip, I tried this on my last workout, seemed to ‘engage’ the muscles more (: although, I think at some cost to my reps…[/quote]

That is exactly the point. What you lifted last workout is all your biceps can lift, instead of what ‘you’ (cheated form with whole-body momentum) can lift. And, you want your biceps/arms to grow in relation to the rest of you. So it’s ideal that you preferentially recruit those target muscles.

More time, food, progression etc and it’ll come along. Soon the weight you once cheated, you will be able to do for 20+ reps, and you’ll be bigger for it.

[quote]Chaisky wrote:
If you could clarify what you mean it might actually be, uh…useful?
How many calories more should I be eating if you are referring to my weight/height ratio?
I never clamied to be ‘big’, stating this is of no use to me/anyone (: (or perhaps your fragile ego needed some tender affection? (; )


My point is for your weight and height your arms are exactly what they should be. You’re worrying about nothing. Just put on size overall and keep at it. So yes, pointing out your size is very useful as it gives a mental image.

Chaisky - did you used to be pretty lean (like full abs) and now hardly have any?

You gained quite a lot of weight in a short amount of time (45lbs in one year). And I say “weight” for a reason, because…

What I find, based on my own experience and seeing some of the less experienced ones on here, is that people way over-estimate how much muscle they are gaining on a “bulk”. They assume that because their legs/chest etc are gaining in size, that it’s mostly muscle…when in reality, their strength and arm size (arms don’t usually carry as much fat as chest/legs etc) show things differently.

I always remember dieting after my first bulk (over-all I gained around 80lbs or so), my arms hadn’t changed much (maybe dropped under an inch), but everywhere else shrunk a lot…it was then that I realised how much “muscle” I’d actually gained.

Let the (true/earned) strength gains be the guide, not just circumference/scale weight. As others have said, your arm strength reflects your arm size.

Another thing is that lifts like the squat/benching all go down quite a bit when you drop weight (at least when you drop a decent amount), but arm strength/size pretty much stays the same (unless you had burger king arms to start with lol). Conversely, many of the big lifts go way up in comparison to smaller lifts when you first bulk (thus deceiving you into thinking that you are gaining more muscle than you are).

This is also why some people often think that just the basic movements are enough to grow from (e.g. no direct arm movements, starting strength etc) because A) they hardly ever diet to a low enough bodyfat to realise how many “gaps” they have and B) they are deluded into thinking that much of their fat is muscle.

BTW, don’t be disheartened by that post^^^

Just realise that muscle really does have to be earned. You can’t just pile on a load of weight and hope it’s all muscle.

To bulk, firstly you push 110% in the gym (always aiming for that next kg with controlled form), then as your metabolism calls for it, and as your strength starts to stall, add in more calories.

Food = the enabler

Also another thing is protein amount (ratio between that and carbs/fats). Many people mistakenly add more carbs/fat to get more gains when in reality, more protein would have done it.

For bulking, you really should have been aiming for at least 250g/day (preferably 300g), not 150g.

When I altered the ratios like this, I needed less calories to gain (strength/weight) and my gains were far leaner.

People make the mistake of thinking that protein just = building blocks,

but it effects the ratio of fat/muscle when you bulk (the least of the macro-nutrients to turn to fat when overfeeding)