T Nation

please help...

hi, if I could only enlist your collective wisdom for a moment…My case: I’m 17, 6’, 160, arm girth erratically ranging from 12.25 - 13.25 (now on the lower end), bf 8.5%, bench 250, lifting experience of 1 year. So, my problem is multifarious. First, I am concerned with my arm size; with a bench of 250 (and a close-grip bench pretty close to that, 225, say), my arms are incommensurately puny. I haven’t trained arms directly until recently, as I’ve started a 55 type routine for that. Secondly, I would like to show everyone here my routine (5 day cycle) and I implore you for help with it as it pertains to my puny arms:
DAY 1: Decline Close-Grip BP 5
5 @402 superset with Concentration Curls 55 @402, Reverse Curls 38-10 superset w/ decline tri. extensions 36 or so DAY 3: weighted pull-ups 4 10-15, Incline Bench 4 * 8-12, BB Rows 4 * 12, DAY 4 or DAY 5: Squats, as many as possible in 20 minutes. ALlright, please note that this is the first time that I have done squats seriously; i’ve never done serious leg work before except maybe for one cycle of 5 deadlift workouts. I’ve experienced a crushing loss of arm size of late, and I’m wondering if this is due to the newly-incorporated squats workouts, which have made me fulminate with soreness. Apologies for the inordinate length, and thanks in advance for your input.

I see several opportunities for improvement:

  1. The first and foremost opportunities for improvement are in form and tempo. On any pressing exercise, ESPECIALLY close-grip, you MUST pause at the bottom for at least one full second (for power and size). [If anyone out there disagrees, I recommend that you try it at least once].

  2. If you can only train three days a week (recommend you add one or two more, though), train chest and tri one day, back and bi the next training day, and legs and lower back the third day. (I assume your five-day cycle is really a full week.)

  3. Add compound movements to your workouts, and do them first. Bench first on chest/tri days (mix in some incline presses too). On back day, start with bent-over rows or pull-ups. On leg day, start with squats or deadlifts.

  4. Close-grips are more effective on the flat bench or the incline bench. Make sure your grip width is at the knurls (index finger inside the knurling, no closer) and keep your elbows IN tight to your body. Again, PAUSE at the bottom! (Can’t emphasize that enough).

  5. Stop reading Muscle & Fiction – you have no need to do any supersets. Focus on your main lifts.

This should, hopefully, get you to the next level in a few months. Read some more articles on this site about training for beginners to set up your whole workout (I can’t to that for you). Good luck.

P.S. Squats are supposed to hurt, especially when you first start doing them. Don’t pussy out of them! And keep going down (back, really) at least to parallel.

“You gotta squat!”

I would definetly say take Mark’s advice,although I think decline close grip is one of the best tricep moves.Secondly,judging by your weight,height,and arm size,you can’t really be following that tempo.I’m 6’,and 190,and I’m having trouble believing you’re doing a 250 bench with good form,with arms 3" smaller than mine.I’ve been wrong before,but lower the weight,and lift properly,and the size will come along.

Just my two cents here. I agree in most parts with Mark, so I’ll just add some comments to his posts.
I would be careful with the number of days you work out. 3-4 workouts should be enough, in particular with only 1 year of training experience and use of the big movements that target many bodypars at the same time. You are young and can possibly get away with training more than that but I’m not sure if it would be beneficial.
Squats should make you sore, but not to the point that you can’t move or feel overly tired the next day. In particular beginning a leg workout you can easily do too much. If you surpass your recovery ability you will have to pay for it. Start slowly with a couple of sets and moderate weight and work yourself up. And get some kind of a program. Just “as many as possible in 20 minutes” sounds a bit arbitrary.
Finally - don’t get overly concerned with your arm size. Should you reach 180-200 lbs and still have the same arm size than start concentrating on correcting that. But at 6’, 160 lbs what arm size do you expect to have? And you don’t want to be one of these guys with big arms and nothing else (the guys you see doing bench presses and preacher curls all day long). If someone says otherwise - get over it. Hell - if you’re 250 with 6% bf, some people will still tell you your traps are too small or tell you about the friend of a friend who has arms double the size of yours or whatever…

Hi, thanks for the input so far. IN response to the incredulity of my bench…I actually do bench 250, small arms and all; Most of my first year of training has involved strength training (1-6 reps), especially for the bench. I do indeed stick to the prescribed tempos. I have read probably all of the articles on this site, my current arm routine being a version of Charles Pol.'s prescribed arm routine in issue 1. I thank you for your input so far, I really will absorb it. I’m sorry if I’m being a bit unclear, its just that I’m very anxious about my training at this point. In the past couple of weeks my bf has risen and every time I pick up a weight i feel like i’m overtraining and I’m afraid to make the training hurt too much due to that risk. Please, if you have any more input I am most thankful

That must be frustrating to have your arms “shrink” I think the cause probably has more to do with diet than training. (my hypothesis) You might be using more nutrients and muscle glycogen in your legs now that you are squatting and could be creating more of a deficit in the rest of your body. The answer is not to cut out squats but to increase your protein and calories, and create a more anabolic enviroment in your body. skull crushers and stand curls (both slow and controlled with constant tension) have produced the best results for me.

That must be frustrating to have your arms “shrink” I think the cause probably has more to do with diet than training. (my hypothesis) You might be using more nutrients and muscle glycogen in your legs now that you are squatting and could be creating more of a deficit in the rest of your body. The answer is not to cut out squats but to increase your protein and calories, and create a more anabolic enviroment in your body. skull crushers and stand curls (both slow and controlled with constant tension) have produced the best results for me.

I read some of the posts and wanted to update my post. I recommended against decline close-grips because I felt that flat and incline close-grips had more carry-over to the bench press itself. Decline close-grip is a fine exercise, but mix it up with the other two varieties. I would still favor the other two, but you can be the judge of that.

About the number of days training – three days a week are probably fine for now, especially since you are so sore from squats. You’ll probably be able to ramp up to four soon. The keys are to get the workout in in less than 1:10, to maintain proper rest and nutrition, and to keep the chit-chat to a minimum. If you feel up to a fifth workout, this should be a short and intense workout of two or three exercises, including one for abs, and should last no longer than a half-hour.

Squats should leave you pretty sore, especially since you just started doing them. Train them hard, but ramp up over a month or so. And don’t squat when you are still sore from the last squat workout.

Agian, good luck…Mark

This posting is a fine example of now a relative beginner should post a topic on this board. Juju specifies how he trains; he also indicates that he has done some research on his own and he is very specific about his goals. That’s why, rather than getting flamed (which is what would have happened if his entire posting was “How do I get big guns?” or “I need a good hardcore toning workout”), Juju gets some good advice.