T Nation

Arms/Shoulders Refuse to Grow


Since I've started lifting a year ago, I've mostly worked on big lifts (Bench, DL, Squat) and some accessory work for those lifts, but totally ignored arms and shoulders since I was under the impression that they are unimportant for beginners or that they would grow along with my big lifts.

I started working arms and shoulders 2 months ago when I realized my proportions weren't great (arms are virtually sticks compared to a broader back and thicker chest).

My back, legs and chest continue to grow slowly, but my arms are still just as small. I don't know what to do.


Train them twice a week and eat more.


Keep training them, and keep eating. As you said, it's only been two months.


Are you actually taking measurements or are you just looking in the mirror.

If your arms are growing slower than other things, then it might give the illusion that they're growing less if at all.


make sure you actually feel the muscle you are trying to target/work.


Update on the arms situation.

I was going about the training wrong (using weights that were in the 3-5 rep range and not enough volume).

Also, for anyone else experiencing this, make sure form is correct. Oh yea, you can screw up something as simple as a curl. I wasn't cheating or swinging per say, but I brought the weight up while also moving up the elbows and shoulders.

A good tip I got was to "slide" the bar (or imaginary bar for DB's) up the torso and even allow the elbows to move back a bit as to not recruit shoulders.

Progress is slow but steady (measuring after every three workouts). I seem to have been adding a third of an inch per week during the first two weeks, but it is gonna slow down for sure.


Sliding the bar up your body is called a 'drag curl'. It's a good movement to use.

And about where your elbows are supposed to be. During dumbell curls it is a good idea to bring your elbows up after your hand reaches the highest point. You will get a stronger contraction doing that. The dumbell will drift closer to being over your delt. You do not want to use the elbow raise motion to move the weight before your bicep does though. So you curl the weight and squeeze it when the dumbell reaches shoulder height, without the elbow moving, then finish the movement by bringing the elbow up a small amount and squeeze more.


Thanks BoneZ, I didn't know that the drag curl was an established variation. My next arm day is tomorrow, so I'll definitely try the elbow movement as a follow through.


For biceps, when my size (and strength) stagnated, I started doing alternating incline DB curls with hands supinated (palms up) the entire time. It wasn't too long before I notice more fullness in the bicep as well as some increase in strength in regular curls.

What are you doing for triceps?


For triceps I've been doing rope pull-downs as well as overhead cable extensions (I think that's what they are called).

I can't figure out tricep extensions with free weights however as I feel pain or intense pressure in my elbows when I attempt them.


If that's all you are doing, it's not enough. At your level, rope pull downs should be a finisher, not a main exercise.

CGBP, weighted dips, and lying extensions either with DB or EZ curl bar should be your main exercises. Throw in the rope extensions at the end if you want.

I would suggest:

CGBP or Weighted Dips
Lying extensions
Rope extensions (I prefer overhead) or straight bar pushdowns