T Nation

Biceps Hypertrophy from Only Deadlifting?


I was reading the 5 A ha moments article and was surprised to read the below. What are people's thoughts on the systemic response theory?

Ah-ha! #5: Hypertrophy is a systemic response and effect, not a localized one.

All the talk about bodypart training versus full body routines, isolation exercise versus compound exercise, etc. is based upon a fundamentally flawed concept: that hypertrophy is somehow completely regional-specific.

Here's a study that examines this in a bit more detail:

Rogers et al

The Effect of Supplemental Isolated Weight-Training Exercises on Upper-Arm Size and Upper-Body Strength

Human Performance Laboratory, Ball State University, Muncie, IN.
NSCA Conference Abstract (2000)

The researchers compared the effects of a weight training program on 5RM strength and arm circumference and divided the subjects into two groups. Group 1 performed four compound upper body exercises, while Group 2 used the same program but included biceps curls and triceps extensions.

The results showed that both groups significantly increased strength and arm size

However, the addition of direct arm training to group two produced no additional effect on strength or arm circumference after 10 weeks of training.

The additional localized training did not result in anything that the bigger compound exercises didn't provide.


I thought certain members on these forums (the large ones) have clearly stated already the importance of arm work to get bigger. Yes compound movements will make your arms bigger no it wont be as great if you had done direct arm work as well, unless you want to believe that a few scientist with an untrained population have more credibility then guys twice their size with THE ACTUAL arm measurements to go with their theories.

Why is it that you dont see guys with 18 inch arms or above debating weather they should do arm work?


We've been through all this before...

Believe whatever you want.


Will Harris doesn't do any direct arm work off-season.

Just sayin'.


C-C, would've pm'ed you, but saw your message in your account, so here goes: where's that original discussion?


But your avatar does, and he's got bigger guns than Will Harris :slightly_smiling:


Here it goes. The arms WILL NOT grow past a certain point IF your body size/strength does not warrant them. A 130 pounds kid who curls all day will never grow huge arms because

  1. His body is like "you're a fucking little bitch, and you don't need big arms" and
  2. the body still thinks we are hunting whooly mammoths and when you are a fucking strong dude your body is like "yo, you NEED big arms, to wrestle them mammoths. here you go."

It has a synergistic effect. Heavy ass compound movements+ heavy ass isolation movements+ heavy ass nutrition= being big ass mofo, fully equipped to wrestle down a wooly mammoth and mate with the finest she-Hulk in the village.

ALSO: That study you cited didn't tell me how much training experience the participants had, height, weight, body composition, along with a whole host of other facts. Plus, it was done at Ball State... weaksauce.


Which of the 200 or so we must have had?

Search function :wink:

But really, why don't you guys just pick whichever training philosophy you prefer and go with it...

Here's my tip: If you want 19-20 inch arms at a fairly low bodyweight of 210-220 (average height) or so already, you'll have to get very damn strong (in the 5-15 or so rep zone)very fast on basic arm exercises. Bench, Squat and deadlift alone don't do that. 20 inch arms aren't required to bench even 495+, so the body doesn't have any reason to bring yours up to 20 simply due to your benching and deadlifting escapades.

The powerlifters with truly big arms (tate, ruggeria, kroc etc) all do (and have done for a long time) direct arm work. If they didn't, their bench numbers would be a lot lower and possibly their DL as well.
The vast majority of powerlifters in general also doesn't just do those 3 lifts ad infinitum. You can only get so far with them alone.

Have a look at Modok's thread, I think he's a great example of how to do the whole arms thing right.

And if you do find that one guy out of a million who only needs regular bench and overhead press in order to make his triceps grow huge, well, good for him. But if you think that that's going to happen for you too, well, that's sort of like some average joe thinking that at 210 lbs he'll look like Ronnie did at 210.

But anyway, I won't comment any further. I'm not here to convince people, they can do whatever the hell they want. Just know that doing arm work without making significant progress on it is a waste of time and the main reason why people think it doesn't work (usually small-mid-sized people on internet forums, curiously enough).


Because he isn't curling the 100's with decent form for reps. It's that simple. And he also won't ever be able to achieve that feat at that bodyweight. However, guys like Modok pretty much prove that you can weigh fairly "little" (200-220 or so?) and still have guns around 20 inches. Imo the whole thing poliquin and others said about arm growth depending a lot on bodyweight (hey, doesn't he have 18.5 inch arms at 200 or so as well?) is true to some degree but I think there are way more factors involved (other than genetics and bodyweight, or you could really just forget about arm training and just get yourself up to a certain weight to reach an exact arm size)

That part I definitely agree with.

<- Indeed. Most of those studies are completely useless the way they're set up. (and hey, people who do studies already have a certain result in mind which they want to prove...)

I'd just do away with that whole "compound vs. isolation" thing.
Every exercise has a specific function/trains specific area(s), some exercises are superior to others when it comes to injury-potential, progression, isolation of target area, whatever. Just use whatever exercise gets the job done.


Exactly Carnage, why does everyone want to make an argument that you should forgo one entire training modality to your possible detriment? USE BOTH! Do what's worked since barbells and dumbbells were invented.


I'm not here to be convinced either, I just wanted to read intelligent arguments from both sides :wink:

I was merely asking for a way to avoid sifting through 200 thread to find a few worth reading. Thanks for the answer though


Will Harris also thinks he is a vampire and claims to drink blood.

Just sayin'.


You have to be very careful when interpreting null findings. Not finding a difference between groups in a study does not mean a true difference does not exist. Many factors may contribute to a false null finding.


This is dumb. It is like they look for reasons to avoid training certain muscle groups. Why would anyone do that? I train arms directly. That may be why they are bigger than any of the people here claiming they avoid training them.

The rest of you idiots can do as you please because if you think building great arms comes by ignoring them completely or doing everything else BUT training them directly, then you probably should just stay out of the way.


Avoiding arm training.. yeah i did it. My arms didnt grow. I incorporated curls and extensions within 6 weeks. Besides... who doesnt like doing arms and walking out the gym with guns twice as big as when you went in? If i could just do arms and it would make my entire body grow, i would do concentration curls and kickbacks till the cows came home. Or kangaroos if your in OZ.


You have this reply copied on your computer, don't you? lol


will it work if you only pull DOH?


The sad thing is, I don't....and it won't be long before anyone with any size on them just gets fed up with there being this many idiots on this forum who prefer theory over any real world results.

I would think someone was fucking insane if they walked up to me in the gym with tiny arms talking about how they should avoid training them because they will simply grow with everything else. There may be 5 people(if that) well known who somehow got 20" relatively lean arms without ever training them directly...yet these idiots use them as the rule instead of the exception.


Bicep curls and triceps extensions? That is direct arm training? If so what sets/reps. I believe that the second groups arms might not have increased much, but to really use this as the variable in the study is dumb.


It must be intellectual masturbation but it makes me ask; did they pull mixed,overhand or underhand? Some bicep stabilization is inherent I suppose, while the mixed grip is notorious for tearing biceps over accidental overexertion.