T Nation


Happy new year everyone!
i don’t believe in new year’s resolutions, but one thing i resolved to do is to increase the size of my biceps. everything i’ve done so far to try to induce hypertrophy has led to a fair amount of strength increases (i’m pushing 135lbs on the standing biceps curl for 4 reps before losing form) but it seems as though my arms haven’t gotten any larger. any suggestions? i’ve looked over many things that t-mag has to offer, especially from Ian King’s super strength training series and Christian Thib’s accentuated eccentric training. any suggestions on movements that have worked best for you in terms of hypertrophy is greatly appreciated!
Big D

Big compound movements like chins and rows for a lot of volume (at least 30 reps/workout, and more like 50-100) have always worked well for me.

And remember, to get big arms, you have to get big “everywhere”. That means squatting and deadlifting.

If you’re really getting nowhere, I can unabashedly recommend EDT for arms. Works.

Dan “Money Exercises” McVicker

CW recommends rope pulls as the best thing for Bi’s

My personal favorite, to no ones surprise who have seen my posts, are Chin-ups.

If you like them I will send you a good routine based upon your ability.


A BIG debate we got into a few months ago was the concept of increasing overall Body Metabolism and size with basic, combination big lifts in order to boost the size of “smaller” body parts.

In other words, if you want to boost the size of your biceps, you should be doing squats, deads, snatches, etc. The concept is that 1)the body works as a whole, and that “spot hypertrophy” has a limit much like “spot weight reduction”.


I would make sure that a) basic, heavy, compound movements are part of your overall program and 2) make sure your nutrition is “spot on”.

Bottom line? If you’re “stuck” and you want your biceps to grow? Do Squats and Deads!

Hope this helps!


eat more!

biceps are part of the pulling chain (forearms, biceps, rear delt, trap/lat) in that order, so if one part of the chain is lagging, the rest wont grow much til the weakness is corrected

How big are your arms?

I have had good results with programs from Ian King.

Its really tought for me to get soreness in my bi’s. We all know that soreness doesn’t have to be present to show that we worked them but the workout that hits them for me and actually get me sore the next day are one armed preacher bench curls. Another one that hits them well for me are cable double bicep pose curls, thats the only way I can decribe them. Its like doing a double bicep pose but using the cables for resistance. Try to get the cables the same height as your shoulders grab hold of the handles and pose. It works for me hopefully it will work for you.

To be a contrarian, if I just cared about big biceps, I would devote all my energies to training biceps.

IMO though, you’d look silly.

In that case bangs, there are a lot of silly looking mother f…s in my gym.
Alot of numbnuts in my gym hitting nothing but chest, arms, chest, arms, chest, arms…funny how you never see them in anything that would reveal their backs or legs or shoulders…

Definitely believe that you need the strength to be in place in the supporting muscles. Check out Don Alessi’s Booming Biceps.

Personally saw a big increase in bicep strength in about 4 weeks just from doing barbell curls because I been doing alot of high pulls and oly lifts previous to this.(My biceps had been a weak point before).

thanks for all the feedback everyone.
just to answer some other questions that have come up, i squat, deadlift, and perform bent-over rows, close-grip pull-downs, and cleans in part of my regular routine. my 1RM for squats and deadlift are about 400lbs and 300 plus lbs respectively, my bent-over row and pull-down are 200 plus, but i’ve never pushed to see my 1RM for cleans. as for biceps size, they’re about 17" around. although i’m a big fan of compound movements, i’m thinking that for the next 4-6 weeks i’ll devote a little more time to isolation exercises like the single-arm preacher curl and concentration curls. what do you think?

personally, i didn’t see any size/strength gains on my arms (both bi’s and tri’s) until i devoted an entire day a week to just arms. however, the general consensus on this forum is isolation excercises are a waste of time

I think the idea that isolation work is a waste of time is a bunch of nonsense except for powerlifters. I don’t debate that it works for some, but personally, I think most people will benefit from a good mix of both compound exercises and isolation work, particularly if mass is the primary goal.

I agree with Sniper…

The point is to not make isolation movements the FOUNDATION of your workouts (to many here, that may sound like a strange thing to do…but MANY people do workouts without ANY compound movements).

There is definitely a place for both Compound and Isolation movements.


You are MOST DEFINITELY pushing a lot more Iron than me! Single Preachers and Concentration Curls may not be a bad may to go!


A lot of very good information in the previous post,nothing I would dispute.
I would like to make one suggestion,and this has worked(works)for me.At the end of your arm workout,I would add 2-3 sets of strict hammer curls,seated backwards on a preacher curl bench,with your triceps planted against where your chest would normally make contact.You may want to consider dropping the overall volume of direct ‘biceps’ work.As the others have noted,your arms recieve plenty of work from your major compound exercises

Just great to see Mufasa’s input!

“I think most people will benefit from a good mix of both compound exercises and isolation work, particularly if mass is the primary goal”

i completely agree, but upon reading posts by some of the vets i got the impression that any isolation work was a no-no, just search the threads ‘ban curls’ by heavythrower or ‘august 03’ by the mighty stu. one statement sticks out in my mind which essentially said “if your split is back/bi and you do 4 back exercises and can still do a couple sets of curls afterwards you’re not hitting your back hard enough”