I used to have an “arm” day, where I would do a typical bodybuilding workout to “thrash” (or whatever stupid nonsense verb M&F uses now) my arms. They stopped growing and stopped getting stronger.
I stopped working my arms directly for a while and saw some growth again.
Then I went on a Westside-inspired template and only did heavy, low volume, and more functional exercises for my arms. Saw some more growth. My triceps and biceps are also much stronger than they were when I was doing direct arm work.
The point of my story is that I think most people’s arms are overtrained. I think too many people spend time doing biceps curls without creating a strong back. I think having some time off from direct arm work helps immensely.
I think heavy presses, rows, and deadlifts will help to grow the arms (and the rest of the body). I think more functional exercises at a lower volume work great for the arms. Hell, I did back last night. Deadlifts, heavy rowing, chins, etc. When I woke up today, my back, shoulders, biceps, and forearms are all killing me.
But, most importantly, I think CHANGE will help develop great arms. In fact, after a year of only doing triceps exercises designed to improve my bench and rarely hitting biceps at all (except for the occasional hammer curlto keep my elbows healthy) I have put almost an inch on my arms. I will readily admit, however, that back in my “arm thrashing” days I neglected deadlifts, squats, and heavy pressing.
I think this growth is the result of concentrating on getting my other lifts (ya know, the anabolic and GH producing ones) up.
BUT I’m about to change my routine and have a day where I superset bi’s and tri’s with bodybuilding style exercises for about 6 weeks. My theory is that I’ll see some arm growth, but that if I kept it up longer than 6 weeks the growth would stagnate, my arms would get overtrained, and my other lifts would suffer as a result.
The thing I’m really looking forward to with this is that ever since I backed off of direct arm work, on the rare occasion where I’ll see what I can curl or pressdown for shits and giggles, my arms are insanely strong compared to what they used to be. So I’m looking forward to some high volume heavy arm work.
In short, my theory is that cycling direct arm work in and out of your program is probably good for someone not juicing. If you’re training hard enough on the core lifts, constant direct arm may just cause problems. However, neglecting direct arm work altogether won’t let your arms reach their full potential.
But everyone’s body is different. Experiment. I think everyone doing direct arm work would see some improvement if they backed off for awhile, and everyone neglecting direct arm work would see improvement if they included it for awhile. Just my 2 cents.