T Nation

Arms Won't Grow

Little background about me - been lifting consistently for nearly 3 years now. Started out at 6 foot 2, 165 pounds, I’m currently 215 pounds. For the majority of my time lifting, I have been following Wendler’s 5/3/1 basic 4 day split focusing on OHP,Bench,Squat,Dead and adding in accessory work for hypertrophy. Worked my way up to 525 dead, 425 squat, 285 bench, 215 press.

Onto the issue - my arms fucking suck, as well as my medial delts. I measured them at 16 and 1/4 inch cold flexed, which for my frame and size is small. I know 5/3/1 isn’t a bodybuilding program and that the main focus is strength, but it seems that I’ve developed some lagging body parts following the routine for a while.

Would like some input/advice on what to do to have them catch up to the rest of my physique. Any taller lifters that can advise me on how they’ve brought their arms up would be great. Seems that us taller guys have a much harder time making our arms look large.

I’ve gone off Wendler 6 weeks ago due to a knee injury that didn’t allow me to squat or deadlift. I’m slowly rehabing and getting back into doing these lifts, but not at the point where I can return to doing 5/3/1. I’m currently following Clay Hyght’s “Tried and True Bodybuilding Template” which has me doing each body part once per week.

Thanks for any input

High reps/low rest(1minute)/superset

DO IT.

It seems like you’re on the right path already. Since you have had to switch to a more bb style routine, due to your injury, you should just stay on that for 8-12 weeks and see if that helps your lagging body parts catch up a little. If you do decide to switch back to 5/3/1 I would just make sure and add the accessory lifts that target your lagging muscles.

You can’t go wrong with

bb curls
db hammer curls
and db/cable curls for a final pump

and

dips or cgbp
press downs and
reverse press downs

Basically just pick 2 or 3 exercises. one that you can go heavy on and 1 or 2 that will give you a good pump.

I wont comment on exercises or rep scheme or anything of that matter but I will say this.

IMO/IME what makes the arms grow the most/fastest is filling them with blood as much as you can…it doesnt work as well for other muscles but for the arms thats really the key imo…

Here are a few things to consider/do

1)have bis and tris on the same workouts
2)always squeeze the bar as hard as you can when doing biceps, dont just hold it… squeeze it tightly… it will drive blood way faster in your arm/forearms
3)keep the biceps CONTRACTED thruout the motion. I see people just “moving” the weight way too often… you could actually do biceps curls with no weight and still get a pump if you kept your biceps squeeze all along… both on the concentric and eccentric… DO NOT RELAX IT, AT ALL.
4)for triceps I think have some kind of “flexing” at the end of movements like rope pushdown is awesome for filling tris with blood
5)keep a “stretching” kind of movement for your last tirceps exercise (lying extension, skullcrushers, seated db extension, whatever)

Train them twice a week. Firgure out which movements and rep ranges work well for you. Then keep it switched up every workout and get creative with supersets, drop sets, rest pause ect.
Also google/Youtube search Rich Piana. He will ge into further detail. I have been following his advice and it sure as HELL has worked for me. Hope this helps.

Do a search on this site for Booming Biceps. Its a two part article by Don Alessi that addresses the underlying strengths in other body parts such as the shoulder girdle that must be present before bigger arms can be built. I would also search for CT’s 12 Weeks to War-Ready Guns. I have used that program twice and successfully added a solid inch each time.

Thanks for the advice guys.

@ruhlfan

Twice as week as in - train tris with chest and bis with back and then have an extra “arm” day later in the week as well?
For example:
Mon- chest/tri
Tues- back/bi
Wed- legs
Thurs- shoulders
Fri- arms

@Gato10

All I ever did was BB curls/DB hammer curls while on 5/3/1 because of the “bang for your buck” mindset when choosing exercises. To be honest, all that they’ve ever done for me is made my forearms grow (my forearms are definitely more developed than my upper arms from all the deads and chins and kroc rows). I don’t do them anymore, and have been toying with the lower weight/high rep/low rest “isolation” movements and chasing the pump.

@zraw

Sound advice, I’ll keep in mind to hold constant tension on the Bi’s, because I usually don’t, especially when my arms fatigue and I can’t squeeze the weight anymore. Also how would you keep constant tension with alternating db curls?

[quote]Dlouda wrote:
Thanks for the advice guys.

@ruhlfan

Twice as week as in - train tris with chest and bis with back and then have an extra “arm” day later in the week as well?
For example:
Mon- chest/tri
Tues- back/bi
Wed- legs
Thurs- shoulders
Fri- arms

@Gato10

All I ever did was BB curls/DB hammer curls while on 5/3/1 because of the “bang for your buck” mindset when choosing exercises. To be honest, all that they’ve ever done for me is made my forearms grow (my forearms are definitely more developed than my upper arms from all the deads and chins and kroc rows). I don’t do them anymore, and have been toying with the lower weight/high rep/low rest “isolation” movements and chasing the pump.

@zraw

Sound advice, I’ll keep in mind to hold constant tension on the Bi’s, because I usually don’t, especially when my arms fatigue and I can’t squeeze the weight anymore. Also how would you keep constant tension with alternating db curls?[/quote]

you wouldnt do them :smiley:

Gotcha. How would you go about structuring your routine (where would you place arm work) and what would your set/rep scheme look like if you were in my position zraw?

Get your nutrition in track, unless you’re really young, standing 6’2 and 215 pounds with 3 years training under your belt your numbers should be a-lot higher. Especially when you are doing a strength specialized program. So higher numbers mean bigger arms… but… the way I would go at it would be to use these lifts, but do them in a different range pattern. Example, for the bench press you could add more board presses in that would use your tricep more.

For the OHP I would make sure your elbows are in and parallel to your shoulder blades. Bigger triceps mean much bigger arm.
On the deadlifts, you could make sure you are using the over/over grip to blow up those forearms.
Ahh, the squats. Every body know squats and milk and creatine in your socks

One thing I realized about six months ago that has helped: when I really sat down and wrote out how much direct arm training I was doing without either a full arms day or a shoulders/arms day, I realized that I was not training arms directly nearly as much as I thought I was.

[quote]Mike T. wrote:
Get your nutrition in track, unless you’re really young, standing 6’2 and 215 pounds with 3 years training under your belt your numbers should be a-lot higher. Especially when you are doing a strength specialized program. So higher numbers mean bigger arms… but… the way I would go at it would be to use these lifts, but do them in a different range pattern. Example, for the bench press you could add more board presses in that would use your tricep more.

For the OHP I would make sure your elbows are in and parallel to your shoulder blades. Bigger triceps mean much bigger arm.
On the deadlifts, you could make sure you are using the over/over grip to blow up those forearms.
Ahh, the squats. Every body know squats and milk and creatine in your socks[/quote]
Harsh! I thought his numbers looked pretty damn good for someone @ 6’2" 215

[quote]AzCats wrote:

[quote]Mike T. wrote:
Get your nutrition in track, unless you’re really young, standing 6’2 and 215 pounds with 3 years training under your belt your numbers should be a-lot higher. Especially when you are doing a strength specialized program. So higher numbers mean bigger arms… but… the way I would go at it would be to use these lifts, but do them in a different range pattern. Example, for the bench press you could add more board presses in that would use your tricep more.

For the OHP I would make sure your elbows are in and parallel to your shoulder blades. Bigger triceps mean much bigger arm.
On the deadlifts, you could make sure you are using the over/over grip to blow up those forearms.
Ahh, the squats. Every body know squats and milk and creatine in your socks[/quote]
Harsh! I thought his numbers looked pretty damn good for someone @ 6’2" 215[/quote]

me too, the guy can OHP his bodyweight

[quote]Dlouda wrote:

Onto the issue - my arms fucking suck, as well as my medial delts. I measured them at 16 and 1/4 inch cold flexed, which for my frame and size is small.
[/quote]

[quote]rds63799 wrote:

[quote]AzCats wrote:

[quote]Mike T. wrote:
Get your nutrition in track, unless you’re really young, standing 6’2 and 215 pounds with 3 years training under your belt your numbers should be a-lot higher. Especially when you are doing a strength specialized program. So higher numbers mean bigger arms… but… the way I would go at it would be to use these lifts, but do them in a different range pattern. Example, for the bench press you could add more board presses in that would use your tricep more.

For the OHP I would make sure your elbows are in and parallel to your shoulder blades. Bigger triceps mean much bigger arm.
On the deadlifts, you could make sure you are using the over/over grip to blow up those forearms.
Ahh, the squats. Every body know squats and milk and creatine in your socks[/quote]
Harsh! I thought his numbers looked pretty damn good for someone @ 6’2" 215[/quote]

me too, the guy can OHP his bodyweight[/quote]

X3

Mike T, you’ve been a member since '05. What do your numbers look like, if his are low?

[quote]Mike T. wrote:
Get your nutrition in track, unless you’re really young, standing 6’2 and 215 pounds with 3 years training under your belt your numbers should be a-lot higher. Especially when you are doing a strength specialized program. So higher numbers mean bigger arms… but… the way I would go at it would be to use these lifts, but do them in a different range pattern. Example, for the bench press you could add more board presses in that would use your tricep more.

For the OHP I would make sure your elbows are in and parallel to your shoulder blades. Bigger triceps mean much bigger arm.
On the deadlifts, you could make sure you are using the over/over grip to blow up those forearms.
Ahh, the squats. Every body know squats and milk and creatine in your socks[/quote]

Ah yes, the big 3 for bigger arms!

Hope this is a joke btw…thanks for the lulz.

What zraw said, plus, gain 10-20 lbs, and I would eliminate OHP and add lots of laterals.

I’ve gained 3/4" this year. Until a couple weeks ago, db curls a couple times a week with no particular routine, but now I’m doing db curls at least a little every day with a hypertrophy routine once or twice a week. Triceps only get worked with shoulder width OHP and close grip bench. I’ve been dieting for the last month too.

I do pullups and single arm t-bar rows, but virtually no deadlifts this year due to injury. I hate most of my body parts, but I’ve been blesses with arms that have always grown easily when I’ve given them any kind of effort. I’m not far yet though. I’m at 19" now, which was my goal for the year. Maybe I’ll really be onto something if I hit 20" this year even while continuing to diet for at least the next few months, and I think that will come easily if I actually start doing some tricep accessory work and dips. We’ll see.

I don’t know what was meant by the “shoulder girdle” comment earlier. My delts are embarrassing though. I’m working on them, but they’re way behind my bi’s and tri’s and there’s almost no chance of them catching up unless I restrict my arm workouts.

Just do more work for them than for any other bodypart, hit them twice a week.

Do them everyday after your wo, 6-9 sets of bis and tris, light weight very controlled reps, just to get the pump, try it and you will see results