T Nation

new guy on the block


Hey people,

My dad introduced me to T-mag and I must say I am pretty impressed, there is a lot of smart people running this show.

Anyway, I'm 19, been lifting weights since I was a young kid, but have only recently started really getting into it. I lift weights twice a week, do some running in the mornings, and three/four days a week practice something sort of like kickboxing on my own. Right now my specific question is this: What is the best starting point for building arms? I have tried quite a few methods, put some time into them, etc, but my arms are still my weak point. A bit of input from someone more experienced would be appreciated.

Thanks alot!


Best results I've ever gotten as far as arm size came when I quit wasting time on direct biceps work and put more time into basic compound movements. Bench (along with variations such as incline bench etc) and especially close-grip bench helped put good size on my tris. Weighted dips also did great things for my brother's arms.

The thing about arms is that they grow along with everything else, so the key go big arms is pretty much the same as the key to everything else: Press, pull, and squat heavy, and eat a lot.

I would reiterate, however, that direct biceps work isn't really necessary. I haven't curled in more than a year (at the time I was doing 5x5 with work sets on 65s) and I garnet you my bis are bigger and stronger than they were then.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents.


hmm.. "garnet" up there should be "guarantee."



i'd be curious to know how much your arms grew with direct work and then without direct work..



I have to agree with JMB, I probably haven't done more than 12 sets of direct arm work in the last two years, and that was just to see what I could do for most of them.

At your age and level of lifting experience it is highly unlikely that you need substantial direct arm work, if any. Unless you've been told or have noticed that you have an significant imbalance, or are doing rehab, I've found it to be a large waste of time, for both improving physique and conditioning.

Anytime you have elbow flexion (where the hand moves toward the shoulder, in case you aren't familiar with the term), you're working the bicep, any time you have extension, the triceps are involved. Dips and pullups
work wonders.

Hope this helps



I haven't actually measured my arms in a while. Based on the way they look and feel though my progress has been good. Judging by the last time I measured them and when they had been previously I experienced a good 3/4 to 1 inch gain in the months following my rejection of direct arm work. Before that I had certainly experienced arm growth, but I'd been stagnant for a while, and the rate of growth hadn't been as good. I think the fact that I quit curling etc. at the same time that I began focusing more on pulling is a major factor in my arm development. Cutting out arm work freed up a large amount of time and energy that could then be directed towards pushing, pulling etc.

The point isn't that curls and extensions are somehow bad and won't do any good, but I know that for me anyway they aren't the most efficient way to build arm size or strength.

Maybe you're experience has been different? Everyone has different bodies after all.


big compound movements are important, and yes your arms will grow. there was one specific article i read that said that squating big will make your arms bigger. if you want direct arm work, then my advice are these articles, worked for me:




use some of those exercises and your arms will grow. also, 2 days a week? come on man. but if u cant do more, then do one day upper body and the other lower body.

hope that helped.


AloofWolf,welcome to T-Forum !Concerning arms here is the advice of Christian Thibadeau:
I do believe that one can build big arms without any direct arm work. However at some point you'll have to add some biceps and triceps work to reach your maximum potential size.
However a beginner or intermediate lifter can get big arms by concentrating on deadlifts, heavy rowing, pressing (bench press, incline press, dips, push press...) and the olympic lifts.
Remember that to get bigger arms you basically have to have a bigger body!. Rarely will you see a 150lbs individual with 18-20" guns!!! Now, take a 200-220lbs (on 5'8" - 5'10") muscular individual, even if he did not do any direct arm work chances are that his arms will still be relatively big.
Using big compound movements will vastly improve your overall muscle size, and thus your arms too will grow. But including some direct arm work can accelerate the process. The biceps/triceps routine I followed was particularily effective in part because I had used very little direct arm work in the past and built most of my size with compound movement. Using a good arms routine after that simply "pushed me over the edge).
Hope that helps!


Compound movements 4 sure.

Various forms of bench, and rows aas well as chin/pull ups will do u great, Not only for your arms but everthing else which should be of more concern anyway.

Then if you have the time and energy left AFTER completeing those movements, u might throw in some iso bi and tri work. A few sets to completely tax them.

Just dont hinder the progress of the rest of your physique by wearing down your twigs befor you give the trunk the attention it DESERVES.

just my 2cc.


Oh, I forgot WELCOME to the forumn.

Nice to have you, and hope we can help you learn, live, lift and GROW.




Hey all,

Thanks for the input guys, compound work is what I am doing right now, benching, pullups, military presses, deadlifts and dips, with bi's and tris' thrown in at the very end. Not all on the same day though...lol.

Anyway, gotta run, thanks for the welcome as well :slight_smile:


Hey, there AloofWolf. Welcome to the forum!!!

Since you ARE doing compound, multi-joint exercises, take a look at adding in EDT (Escalating Density Training).

Use the search engine to the left of the screen, being sure you change T-forums default to T-mag (searches the archived articles).

And if you do decide to do that program, make sure your diet is dialed in and that you're eating just a little bit in excess of you maintenance calories. One part of getting hte results you want is the workout, but equally important is getting enough protein (1.5g x LBM), divided between at least 6 meals and optimized PWO (Post Work Out) nutrition. It would be a good idea if you read John Berardi's article, "Solving the Post Workout Puzzle," I & II.

Have fun!!! (evil grin)


Well im in the exact same spot as a new guy. Im ninteen and i've been lifting and boxing for a while but im just now really getting into it. I suggest you read as much as you can on this site, there is lots and lots of good info for news guys like us. I've already started making real gains with all the hlep i've gotten here THANKS T-MAG!


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