T Nation

Do YOU Sell Tickets to the Gunshow?


Impressive arms- some have em, some don't. The peculiar thing about it is, just about everyone goes into the gym visualizing a massive chest and arms, and normally end up taking a terrible route to reach their destination. Now, to cover some basics -

1) if you dont have your diet down, you wont grow. I dont care what you're lifting, how many times. if you arent eating, you arent growing.

2) Proportions, Proportions, Proportions. If you want your arms to get humongous, guess what you need to pay extra special attention to (heres a hint, it isnt the biceps). Thats right, it's the triceps. Whether you are looking for size, strength, Growth in inches, to look better from different angles, etc - MOST of the time, you weakness in the arms will be the triceps.

3) At the beginner stage, there is Biceps, and there is Triceps. As you grow, you will develop a need to pay attention to the muscles OF the biceps/triceps. Thats right, it isnt 1 muscle. The triceps in particular is composed of 3 main heads (The lateral head, the Medial, and the Long head) that are affected differently depending on your angle or your movement.

Now FTR, id like to once again say "To each their own." What i do is what i have taken from dozens of bodybuilders and molded into my own style that works fantastically for me and those i train.

Lets begin with the Biceps-

You say they arent growing, you say they dont respond to training. Well, first question id ask is "how often do you measure your arms?" or better yet, "how often do you measure your biceps Singularly?" One's arm wont grow in a workout, a week, a month, etc. If you are not a complete beginner and are past the point of initial growth, putting an inch on your arms will take time, a good amount of time. Time that must be filled with constant fuel and work.
2nd question id ask is "just what are you doing for your biceps?" If you respond with some half assed routine with All of half blown movements and some silly rep/weight ratio, Imma slap you. Now i dont have amazing arms, but they are 20 inches, so i must be doing something right. MOST of the time i am training heavy. A Fantastic bicep movement for this is Barbell curls. The beautiful part about barbell curls is they can evolve into Cheat curls. A cheat curl is essentially a barbell curl with a bit of swaying thrown in. The trick is to MAINTAIN the stress on the bicep through the entirety of the movement. Another movement i normally include is 1 handed Preacher curls. The thing about these is you need to ensure you are actually using the preacher curl bench properly, concentric contraction vs eccentric contraction, allowing your bicep to fully extend before contraction it to the top again.

On to Triceps-
Now, the triceps can be a bit tricky, they are for me atleast. Why you ask? Quite simply put, After my discovery of the need to hit them in different ways to affect the different heads, i thought i was working heads that i actually wasnt. My Triceps Long head is huge, my Lateral head is slowly catching up. For the beginners out there reading this, i suggest you take this opportunity to start applying more focus to your Tricep lateral heads. A way ive read and applied to doing this is simply doing tricep extensions, but pushing the bar away from your body. When you start to focus on the heads of a muscle, it really becomes about feeling it out. It can change from person to person, so you need to find your niche. If we are speaking in terms of just general great triceps exercises, my top favorite 3 would have to be :

A. Dips- I love dips. I do them weighted, bumping by 25 and 45lb plates. I find the trickiest part of dips for me is that i enjoy them for both chest AND triceps; HOWEVER, i do chest and triceps on separate days. So to solve this, i simply have to bend more or straighten myself, and use specific ROMs for the targetted muscle.
B. 1 Armed Overhead Dumbbell extension- A fantastic movement that allows you to get a full, complete ROM, and isolate your triceps, WHILE simultaneously minimalizing possible cheating. You'll find that aside from cheating yourself with your ROM, it is pretty difficult to cheat in a movement while holding a dumbbell overhead.
C. The Tricep extension, with a Push away from body focus- Now, in an attempt to bring my Lateral head up to speed with the others, this movement is becoming one of my favorites. I used to love tricep extensions early on, but i reached a point where the cables just werent heavy enough, and i soon chose other movements. Then i simply began doing these movements on the Lat pulldown cables, and Viola, its back on the list.

In a Nutshell i say this: Focus on your proportions and symmetry. The earlier you catch this, the easier it will be. And also find what works for you, the answer for some might not be the answer to one. Happy lifting.


Akuma, I'm gonna start giving arms their separate day, just because of this. I told myself I wouldn't have an arms day until I can bench 315, but I'm starting to realize this is pretty stupid.

I'll take it from the big man, and start putting in the work


if i help 1 person per thread, im happy =)


Akuma what do you think about training biceps after delts? I find that my bicep movements are a little weaker after hitting delts? Is this a problem? and I cant really do bb curls because of tendonitis i developed from baseball do you think alt dumbbell curls are a valid substitute?


Hmm i dont really see a problem with doing Bis after Delts. honestly my Arm day is directly after my shoulder/back day. If you feel anything in your delts, or you said you feel weaker, it could either be purely mental, Or you could possibly be cheating during your curls, maybe raising your arms slightly, and may want to take a look at your form.

Alt DB curls arent going to be the same as BB curls. The main effective part of cheat curls is the ability to use massive amounts of weight. Not to say that Alt Db curls dont have their place, i definitely use them myself. If you cant BB curl, thats ok. Dont do anything thats going to stress a pre existing injury.


I realized a few months ago I was neglecting the long head. I added in 2 extra triceps exercises to bring it up and I must say it's coming out. Which wasn't hard cause there wasn't much there before, but still progress is progress. Better to catch lagging parts early on.

While my arms aren't the biggest out there, they are gaining size and these are the exercises working for me:

Barbell curls (heavy, between 3-8 reps)
Dumbbell incline curls (12/10/8/6)
Hammer curls
Some seated curl machine where the upper arm is parallel to the ground, resting on a platform (lower reps, heavier weight)

Triceps push downs with V bar
Dumbbell Triceps extensions
Cable kneeling Triceps extensions


Always a fantastic realization. grats on that, man. Definitely a good call on the additional Tri movements.


because of you, i now hit my calves, hard and frequently. Thanks.


Lol then my writing hasnt been totally for naught.


Well because of my injury i could actually use more weight with dbs then with a bb. do you think a little bit of swing on the db curls is a bad thing?


Not at all, SO long as you control the swing. Momentum can be used to your advantage, if you keep the tension in the bicep. If you swing, and move your arm with the swing, then youll throw something like your front delt into the movement, taking away from the bicep focus. If you are going to use a bit of momentum, control it, Lock your upper arm against body, and curl with your sway. That way the distance the DB travels doesnt change, but you add a little force behind your lift.


thanks for the tip brother, will put this to good use tomorrow !


the biggest issue I notice with other peoples arm training is they use too much weight. They aren't focusing on what they are doing moving the weight from A to B, this isn't powerlifting it's body building.

weights are only a means to an end.

Once I started focusing on the stretch and contraction on every set, I grew quickly.


Thats the biggest issue with any muscle. Most people dont know how to use heavy weight, period. When ROM and muscle contraction get sacrificed for weight, you lose. Unless of course you've learned the art of overloading.

But looking at something like Alternating curls, i would use a ramping method, starting my warmup set with something like 30lb dumbbells, then over the course of 4 or 5 sets, id work up to around 70 or 80lb Dbs. if my last couple sets Looked a lot different from my earlier sets, i would check the ego and drop the weight. Eventually the heavy sets looked like the earlier sets, except in a bit of slow motion.


Would you say thats acceptable form?


Akuma, at what BB curling strength did you see your arms really start to grow?


I don't want to derail the thread, but while I agree with the above, it should be said that at some point, it IS about the weight (an also that different people grow from different stimuli).

You can focus on the stretch and contraction of a 225 bench or a 25 lb db curl or a 50 lb scull crusher all you want and in the end, you're not going to be big. At some point, you need to push the weight up and get under heavy weight, and know and be confident you can move and control heavy weight at which point you can concentrate on focus and stretch every set.

If you're not forcing your body to adapt to heavy poundages, you're not going to optimally grow.

Now, for the 'tards out there, what I didn't just say is:

'... lift maximum weights all and every time...' or
'... go for 1RM every time ...' or
'... never focus on stretch and contraction ...' or
'... it's always about the weight ...' or
'... hamburger ...'


Perfect. Notice his arms are basically locked in place. yes he throws a bit of sway into it, but the muscle contraction is still all there. Thats the kind of trick you have to use when you get into the heavy DB curls.

Normally i see people doing curls and they will sway, but will also raise their arm, putting their front delt into action, or will stop the movement half way down, so their bicep doesnt fully retract. Also, the term "heavy" is very subjective. So im not saying go grab yourself a pair of 80lb DBs and start curling, but work your way up.


All relative. It depends on your work load capability, ya know? Probably for me was when i started using 185, lol but that was a long ass time ago. With BB curls, i basically just jumped into the deep end. It was such a dramatic stimuli, stretchmarks basically developed overnight.

Both of my biceps are now covered in spiderwebs of marks. After the 135 plateau though, they turned into Cheat curls. So there was a bit more swaying. like i said, the trick is to keep the contraction in the bicep.


I totally agree. People need to learn how to use heavy weight though, how to properly cheat in different movements, to still allow maximum muscle stimulation. If you arent pushing the limits, you arent working to your potential, and to me, that says you dont want it bad enough.

Oh, and all i saw was "hamburger" ....