T Nation

Questions on Biceps, Eating, and Weight



So I'm a skinny guy. Definitely an ectomorph, but I've really been working hard to gain as much as I can for the last 3 months.

My wrists are reaaaaally skinny and I find it hard to do bicep curls... like I dont even feel like im working my biceps as much as i am straining/working my wrist and forearms. Any suggestions?

Eating. Ive read that its ok for a skinny guy like me to eat fast food once in a while for the extra calories. True? I used to eat around 2500 calories a day, only recently am I up to 3500-4000 (with a 5 pound gain in under 2 weeks).

How heavy should I go? I usually get someone to spot me, but should I drop down as SOON as i notice form issues?

weight: 141
height: 5"10



Hey birchlore,
well if you're a skinny guy trying to bulk I wouldn't be worried about the ocassional fast food so long as it's not a staple of your diet..just make sure you're eating something with decent protein content (in fast food terms anyway). I wouldn't be eating quite that many calories though, at least not at your weight. 5 pounds in under 2 weeks is going to be mostly fat unless you're on some serious juice...try adjusting you're intake so you're gaining about a pound a week or so, no more than 2. Providing, of course, that it's accompanied with some good strength gains.

Interesting issue with the forearm thing...are you doing barbell or dumbell curls? I would think your forearms will catch up at some point. There's a number of exercises you could try to get around that...for example bent-over barbell concentration curls, narrow supine grip chins (eliminates the wrist issues) etc. You'll be able to do less weight on the concentration curls so you take some strain off your wrists but still get a good bicep workout.

Also watch your wrist position on dumbell curls..you might try an ez-curl bar and use a half-str8 and half hammer-curl grip unless brachioradialis fatigue is what you're referring to in which case try a strict grip with palms straight up?

Just thinkin out loud here, hope I said something useful.



oh and, as a general rule, if you find you're bringing alot of back swing into the movement for more than say...your last rep or two your form is going to crap and you should get stronger IMMEDIATELY or drop the weight a little :stuck_out_tongue:


Sometimes I think everyone gets a bit carried away over "form" sometime their is nothing better than swinging the weight aroung, much better than him doing 20 controlled reps with 5lb on the dumbell.


maybe his tendons need the strengthening right now.


Not just that. I have no doubt his entire body needs to simply adjust to gaining some strength and size. That takes TIME.


thanks for the advice.

Basically I find my biceps are a problem because I rarely move up weight on my curls.

One more thing... for the last 3 months
I've been working out 60 minutes, 4-5 days a week.Is that way too long and too often? Like should it be 45 minutes 3 times a week or something?


oh yeah I forgot to mention, the wrist problem thing comes into play when I am doing dumbell curls (while twisting).


Offset the DB in your hand towards your thumb/index finger, i.e. don't just hold it in the middle. That way when you twist you are doing more work. This should help strengthen up your forearms, or at least it did for me. If you are not sure what I mean, PM me.

As for eating, 5 lbs in 2 weeks is a lot, but not too much really. I wouldn't drop your calories much from where you had them calculated. Just eat as clean as you can with only the occaisional fast food.


Dude, the workouts don't make you grow - the rest and eating afterwards makes you grow. I think you are working out too often. Try making it 3 times a week, 45mins a time, like you said. You can go over 45mins if you want you don't need to rush it. But if going way over 45mins then cut the crap exercises and just do the basics.

I'm not sure why you are curling so much I don't see why you don't stick to these exercises mostly: squats, deadlifts, bench, military press. My gut instinct is you should trim your routine to the big basics, rest more and eat like a monster.

My gut feeling is also that your many frequent workouts and natural tendency to be thin is keeping you that way as you struggle to meet the excessive exercise AND your super fast metabolism AND you never really rest.

I could be wrong but it seems to fit.


Yeah, it's quite possible you are focusing too much on the biceps at too early a stage.

Their growth could be limited by other factors...


hmmm ok sounds good. So maybe I'll drop down to like 3 times a week.

When you say stick to the 'basics'... does that mean I should not for example, have an arms day... ie: legs, chest, back/shoulders?

Also... I find it really hard to keep good form while doing deadlifts. It feels like my back cant bend straight even without a weight. Any tips?

Thanks for the help. it's hard to get clear info on the net.


By "The Basics", most people (including me) mean ditch the bodypart split, and start doing compond lifts that use the biggest muscles in your body.

The thing is, the biceps, while you might think big arms impress the chicks, doing bicep curls won't help you grow much. Doing deadlifting and squatting, (and to a lesser extent, bench-press and rowing/pull-ups) involve WAYYY bigger muscles, and will get you much more bang for your time in the gym. This isn't to say you can't or shouldn't do bicep curls, but that you should only do them after you deadlifted your ass off, and you still have time/energy to lift more.

A good way to split this up is a Push/Pull split:

Push Day:
Overhead Press

Pull Day:
Weighted Abdominal crunches (or whatever ab work you like to do)
Cable Woodchoppers

Feel free to swap-out equivalent exercises for those listed, i.e. Push-ups instead of Bench-press, or rowing instead of Chin-ups. Once you've hit each of these exercises hard, then do some bicep curls if you feel the need. Do each workout 1-2 times per week, get plenty of rest, and eat lots of good, healthy food. Look on this site for tips on how to do these lifts with good form.

Those 4 exercises per workout will maximize your results from a small amount of time in the gym. (This is mostly taken from "The New Rules of Lifting" by Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove. Good book for beginner/intermediate lifters)


Im pretty sure your deadlift problem would be remedied with some flexibility work. A specific, dynamic warmup before you start lifting is a good idea, as well as some standalone flexibility sessions. Oh yeah and practice. Dont worry, this is common with beginners.

There is definitely a lack of clear info, but you have found the best site now. Read some of the beginners articles on here and you will be well on your way. Just about everything you need can be found in the articles on this site.


Lol...snappy snappy!
Well I agree with you to a degree, but if you read my quote which is cited in your message I mention that it's okay to have a little back swing the last couple reps. In fact it might even be beneficial, especially if you throw in a slow negative.

But we aren't talking about doing 20 reps with 5 pounds here..if you can't perform one single rep with good form you're doing more for your lower back than biceps and, furthermore, will be lacking any kind of guage by which to measure progress. But then people who like to use sloppy form can always argue they're just trying to do negatives without a spotter! :stuck_out_tongue:

Now if you can't even somewhat control the negative the only bodypart you're working is your ego..the exact location of which might be difficult to isolate.


Well without seeing you perform deadlifts in person it's difficult to say. Your problem might be at least partly psychological. Your back may not necessarily feel straight or even look straight from the side even when you are using good form.

You should nonetheless be able to tell if you're rounding your back or not and of course working on your form with lower weights might help you to notice the difference with heavier weights as your form starts to go. One practice that might help is to perform deadlifts facing a mirror.

Keep your head up straight and high and look forward at yourself in the mirror thruout the movement (especially the bottom). This should keep your form pretty well in check. When doing floor deads watch the bottom of the movement most closely and observe that you should start out in squat position with primarily leg movement for the first part of the motion...again head up shoulders straight and back. If you catch yourself looking down at the floor at the bottom, correct it.

Oh and, although some might not agree, I would lose the belt if you're using one now. It's just a crutch and in this case will only help if you fall into bad form anyway. Furthermore, as you go heavier, it may just take some of your focus off of the lower back so that you aren't paying attention to form at all. I've been belt free over a year now on deads and squats and never has my form or performance been better.

Feel free to message me personally with any in-depth questions you may have.


Oh hey my mistake...somehow I read that as 9 pounds in just under 2 weeks...which would have been a different matter. Yeah you're probably okay and your metabolism will likely speed up to compensate soon. When and if it does just keep tweaking your cals so that you're gaining about 1.5-2 pounds a week instead of trying to use formulas..seems how you've got a more accurate measurement of your own metabolism via the scale.