T Nation

Seriously Lagging Upper Body


Sup yall. Been training for a year and a few months, mostly strength training. 18 atm.
Need some advice on setting up a routine for next year (1st of January). I've decided to finish my strength program on 31st of December and start focusing on upper body.

Currently 5'7ft 140lbs
Best lifts:
Squat - 240
DL(conv) - 310 (back when I was 130, haven't been going heavy on DLs lately)
BP - 200
Got a huge issue at hand. My legs are like 24"(not lean, but not so fat either) and my arms are like.. 13 ? At most.
Chest is 38" w/o air.

My current goal is an inch on the arms, 3 inches on the chest and some wider lats.
Planning on getting to 150lbs during the period 1st Jan - 31st March
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


How much did you weigh a year ago?

Do you train arms?

Have you tried eating more?


Was about 115lbs last year, at the same height.
My arm training is accessory work for the big three and is spread around the week. It's basically just weighted chins, dips, push ups and some db extensions.

I'm eating more when I can afford it. Been doing some translating last few months and my only bulking is when I get paid, lol.
edit: The volume of arms is maybe like: biceps - 6-8sets direct work, triceps - 20sets direct work, all across the week.


Definitely second ProfXs questions/suggestion.

You do not have huge numbers, granted. So maybe your body isn't 'disproportional' though I know what you mean (everybody wants huge arms, many don't give a shit about the rest - apologies if that's not exactly you).

What is strange is you did not mention your training weights for any bicep or tricep exercise. These will be important, of course.

Have a read of these two threads on biceps and triceps. Get tips, improve your performance, control the negative, increase the poundages over time. Size will come.


In essence:
(Suggestions in brackets are only suggestions. If you find a better alternative for you, no worries.)

Incorporate a few curl movements (maybe standing EZ bar curl, seated db curls on incline bench with a stretch, hammer curls) a heavy press (close grip bench press) an extension-type movement (tricep pressdown/kickbacks/PJR skullcrushers) and a long-head-dominant overhead extension (seated french press).
Then get better at these.


Yeah, that sounds like something I would do if I wanted small arms forever.

Bad news. We were all broke. If you want it, eating will become a larger priority and you will make it happen. No one expects progress to stop because you can't afford 60 dollar supplements and prime rib.

Yep, that is how you keep small arms.

People with 20" arms don't do that to build them.


I'd say this is part of the problem. You're still kinda under-sized. If you're not gaining bodyweight, of course you're not going to gain arm size.

It should not take you three months to gain 10 pounds.

Big question: Do you currently have a six-pack that you're trying to maintain while building your upper body?

Yep, all that squat and deadlift accessory work will build the guns for sure. :confused:

Sorry, but that's not a legit excuse. With minimal planning, it can be pretty inexpensive to bulk up. Check out the advice and links in this thread:

Again, this is part of the problem.

And P.S. - the only direct work you just listed is db extensions.


The problem is that when I started training (115lbs), I had 18" legs, 12" arms and 35" chest, so I hopped on Starting Strength and got the legs to 20" in a few months, while my arms and chest stayed the same. After that, I did some 5x5 and my current program and the result was 24" legs, 13" arms and 38"chest. Don't know why them legs ate up all the nutrients ><

Chin ups I do usually for 5sets/5reps with a 10kilo chain, dips 5sets/5reps with a 15kilo chain, push ups 5sets/5reps with 30kilo plate and behind the head db extensions (both hands) 5sets/5reps with a 30kilo db.
Gonna read the articles right away.
Picking the exercises are the easy part. What I want help with is setting up the routine (volume, intensity, frequency).
Thanks for the replies so far!


1st quote - my current goal is strength, like I mentioned, till the 1st of Jan
2nd quote - I rarely use supps, and its usually just a whey prot. Planning on keepin that weight till the 1st of Jan.
3rd quote - Like I said, I'm using the accessory work for the big three, not them arms.

1st quote - I know, I'm starting to work on it in Jan.
2nd quote - Can't predict how much I'm gonna bulk, all depends on the money I got. No I don't have a six pack, maybe a two pack, but I don't give a shit about abs. Never did, never will.
3rd quote - Like I said above, current goal is strength till the end of the year.
4th quote - Gonna read it after I finish the ones about arms above.
5th quote - My bad about the direct work stuff.


? I'm sorry, but why do you think size and strength need to be trained separately?

Further, why do you think people who got big don't know how to do it?

What weight? Why would you hold the same weight for two months? Then what? You plan to diet?

...which is why you have small arms.


I can see now this is likely a waste of time.

People who want big arms don't just do minor accessory work for them.


1st quote - If your going for pound for pound strength (like me) - why yes.

2nd quote - Planning on keeping it, cauase I want more pound for pound strength

3rd quote - Like I said, they gonna be a priority next month.
Also, why all the arms ? Chest and back are more important atm.

Yes, they don't, thats why I need YOUR help to set up a routine for the next three months, to improve my UPPER BODY (not just arms!)


For some reason your question has attracted the attention of Prof and Chris, two people whom you should listen to. They keep offering you golden advice and all I have read in reply is excuse after excuse.

I will make it as simple as possible:
Want bigger arms? Do direct arm work.
Want to get bigger? Eat more and lift more.
Want higher relative strength? Don't bitch about lack of growth.


Okay, you know what your problem is? You're thinking too short-term. You're a young dude and you have to remember that you'll be lifting for another 40 or 50 years. Changing your goals every couple of months will have your progress trickling along way slower than it needs to.

Right here, in one year, you were on three different training plans. That's unnecessary, impractical, and a reason for less-than-awesome results.

You need to sit down and figure out some specific long-term goals (even 3 or 4 years down the line), and then work backwards and break those into short- to mid-term plans.

You're missing my point.

You said you're "Planning on getting to 150lbs during the period 1st Jan - 31st March" and you're 140 right now. If your training and nutrition are dialed in, there's no reason you can't hit 150 in 4 or 6 weeks. What then? (That's rhetorical.) Either don't stop the bulk at 150 or don't stop at the end of March. It all depends on your specific goals.

Are you going to totally change your plan from April to June? And then do something different July to September? You've got to recognize the bigger picture, man.


@JLone - I'm not making any excuses.
I never said that I don't wanna do direct arm work, I only said that my current goal was strength, so I ignroed them. Now it is time to pay some attention to the upper part.
Easy to say "do direct arm work", I will, just need a simple plan to follow.
@Chris - The problem with long-term goals is that I'm still young and can't really choose a path. All I know is I love moving close to maximal weights. I wanna be strong AND big, but getting big is accompanied by a large budget (I know, I know, the article from above. Only problem is that it might be practical in the USA, but not in my country), that's why I'm bulking only when I got cash and building strength the rest of the time.
I'm not planning on stopping the bulk at 150, what I wanted to say is that I wanted to improve my UPPER body with that weight, like not putting into legs anymore.


Must be my imagination then.




Being big takes a big budget?

Spoken like someone who will stay small while all of those broke ass college football players get swolz.


In the USA, 1 pound of beef is like 2-3 bucks, right ? And how much is the average teen allowance ? 5 bucks or even more ? Newsflash, its around 5 bucks (converted) here, and I need like 4 days to save up enough money to buy a kilo, which I can eat in 2 days.
Still, noone helping out with the routine.



You do know you don't need to eat beef to gain muscle, right?

If you don't think it can be done then you are right.
Of course if you did think it could be done...

Thanks for the "newsflash" though.


Wow, dude. I ate whatever I could to get big when I was scrounging for everything. People who want this bad enough will eat enough to grow. What they won't do is act like all high caloric foods are off limits so they can cry about how they can't afford to eat "super clean" or how they can't afford beef.


Glad my son is in University and out of that phase..

This is what happens when you talk to a teenager. The answer you will mostly get is, "yeah, but...."

LoveSquatting, empty your mind. You have just been helped by two people that know their stuff. Stop saying, "yeah, but" and start doing.

BTW, no one can give you a program until you figure out your goal. Chris mentioned that.....