T Nation

Arms Won't Grow

For a long time I didn’t do enough direct arm work but over the past 2 years I’ve tried to make getting bigger arms a priority. But I’m not seeing any progress.

I recently did this for a month but experienced zero growth: No Holds Barred - Biceps Specialization?

I think it was just too much volume (I started to have trouble sleeping by week 3). I also tried Matt Kroc’s arm routine (https://www.t-nation.com/training/1000-rep-arm-workout) but again I think was too much volume and spending 2+ hours in the gym doing just arms and then seeing zero growth is really frustrating.

In the past I’ve also done higher frequency programs like these:

I’m pretty strong at chin-ups and rows and my back development is solid but my arms have always lagged and despite really focusing on them in the past year they still haven’t grown. I used to be looking for “fast growth” but at this point I’m just aiming for measurable progress of any kind. Do you have any advice, as far as longterm strategies for arm growth?

I’m currently using a basic 4-day split with a focus on strength (M - OHP, T - Squat, Th - Bench, S - Deadlift) which I’d like to keep up for the next few months. How would you incorporate direct arm work?


Have you tried before bed arm feeders they worked for me

Try different angles… A lot of guys neglect things like overhand curls or training their grip strength… In my experience when I made it a priority to train both grip strength and the Brachialis directly, my arms made big noticeable gains…Since the brachialis lies underneath the lateral head of the bicep it will push that out and make your arms look thicker and more developed. Also Giant sets are great… For Example one of my fav giant sets is one set of 5-7 overhand ez bar curl shoulder width, then go directly to incline hammer curls 5-7 reps and lastly one set of concentration curls 5-7 reps… Larry Scott was the big proprietor of these types of arm routines and you’ve seen his pipes!!

If none of this works, look at all of Charles Poliquin’s arm routines they are brutal!!


I’m not a coach, but I wanted to chime in. A few months ago I started doing only press movements on bench day. I do low inclines 5/3/1, paused swiss bar floor presses 5x6r, and close grip benches 50-75 reps, but no tricep extensions. On shoulder day, I do log press 5/3/1, 50 reps of DB presses and some type tricep extensions, usually a bunch of pushdowns with a band added for a cramp at the top. All my elbow tendonitis pain has went away, I’m assuming since I only do tricep isolation work once a week now. Anyways, a couple have people have noticed my arms being thicker. <---- Not bad since I am 50 years old. As far as biceps, I have been doing 3 giant sets at the end of each upper day. Ex: Strict curls/drag curls/cheat curls - all using the same bar/weight.

From all the years I have trained I personally like ring chins/pull ups/neutral grip depending on which part of your biceps you want to target more, with perfect form and technique, reps 3-5 focusing on getting the weight up. Sometimes this is all I do for my biceps.

Curls with a sled TRX if you need a little more volume. I use a TRX strap and prowler.

I like ring holds, like an L-sit. This is a great isometric stimulus and I could tell a difference fairly quickly.

If you use isolation, barbell curls are great, but honestly it’s the finishing touch. You can even activate this movement by throwing the barbell up and catching it.

For triceps I like dips 5 reps or less, perfect form and technique, focusing on increasing the weight, bench press, and overhead press. I personally think my triceps do best with no isolation work and all heavy pressing. Having a big press = big triceps overtime.

How much overall mass have you gained during that period? IME, to gain inches on my arms at the fastest rate I need to gain a good amount of mass across my whole body along with.

With that said, the fastest 2 inches came on my arms when I was following the Mountain Dog Arms program.

Throwing the barbell and catching it to activate? Sounds like an easy way to tear a bicep.

My arms are around 19 inches right now at 200 lbs and 6 foot. They went from around 17.5 to the 19 now using Doggcrapp style training specifically for arms. The 1.5 inch growth happened over the course of approximately 1 year. Before that my arm growth had stalled and went stagnant.

ok so what’s your body fat %? … did you start eating more calories when you were trying to get them to grow?

I’m probably around 12%. My abs are easily visible without much blur. At the time I was eating slightly above maintenance. These days I stay around maintenance.

Nice 12 is a good place to be often times guys will say they’ve gained inches on their arms but are just getting fat. A 17 inch arm at sub 10% looks better than a 20" python at 20% bf… Ive heard a lot of good things about DC and have seen David Henry ha… I’m telling you though overhand curls fill out your arms so much I have long muscle bellies and still have made some above average gains from doing them along with other variations or pronated curls.

Lifetime natty Since 16

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This is a good balanced approach…

Thanks for the responses everyone. I’ll definitely give these suggestions a try. Sounds like giant sets / increased TUT is recommended by a few people.

So you trained biceps and triceps on separate days 1.5 times per week each with just one rest-pause set per session? E.g. M - biceps, W - triceps, F - biceps, etc.

At the time I put on the arm size I was actually training full blown DC, which isn’t what I do now, although I still stay true to the DC principles when I do train my arms and these days only directly train them once per week.

I used the intermediate DC split, so I had two different days and trained 4 times per week. Mon & Tues, Thurs and Fri on. Wed and weekend off.

I would train biceps twice per week and triceps twice per week. I would have 3 different exercises that I would rotate through, performing a different variation on each workout. So just for arms (this doesn’t include the full split) it would look like:

Monday: seated incline DB curls
Tuesday: close grip bench press from pins in rack

Thurs: ez curl bar preacher curls
Fri: barbell skull crushers

Monday: Pinwheel curls
Tues: ez curl bar incline overhead tricep extensions

Thurs: seated incline DB curls
Fri: close grip bench press from pins in rack

etc, continue rotating between exercises. Choose whichever you prefer.

The magic really isn’t in the exercise selection or the frequency although hitting a muscle twice per week seems to be ideal for hypertrophy for most.

The magic is the way that you execute each set. First ramp up your weight, for whatever lift you’re going to use. So if Im doing incline db curls, I’d start with 25 lbs and do 5 reps. Then 30 x 5 and then 35 x 5 etc.

You ramp up to your working weight where you can do 15-20 reps, let’s say it’s 40 lbs DB’s.

Example: You hit 17 reps and couldn’t squeeze out another rep if I held a gun to your head.
Drop the weights and rest for 15 seconds (rest pause sets). Pick up the weights and go again. This time you only hit 8 reps. Drop the weight and rest again for 15 seconds. Go one more time, this time you get around 4 reps.

Now you’re done and you stretch that muscle intensely right away for 1-2 minutes. Some of the stretches work best under weight, like triceps, I’ll take a heavy dumbbell and stretch my tricep with it behind my head.

Keep logs and try to add a rep every workout. After enough added reps, increase the weight and obviously expect your reps to decrease.

It’s ball busting but it’s effective.

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Thank you! I am going to try this.

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