Wrist Circumference and Maximum Natural Size

Is wrist circumference:
-A good predictor for maximum naturally attainable arm size ?
-A good predictor for maximum naturally attainable muscle mass (in the whole body) ?

I have extremely small 6" wrists (pics included) and lean 15.5" arms after several years of training.
Arm growth has been extremely slow lately and I’m not saying this to complain, just want to have an idea of what’s still left for me to gain naturally.

In natural individuals, the overall skeletal structure can give you a CLUE about potential muscle mass potential. Wrist size being a fairly decent predictor of potential arm size.

From a sheer size standpoint, a bigger skeletal structure indicates a genetic predisposition to carry a larger amount of overall size.

For upper arms potential, the best evaluation I’ve seen is from Jeff Cavaliere who says that the normal upper arm size potential for most individuals is 10" + wrist size. So with 6" wrists, 16" arms should be achievable by most.

I personally think that there is as much as a 1" variation in individuals who are gifted for muscle growth (1" more in their case) and those who have poor muscle growth genetics (1" less in their case).

However, a smaller bone structure can allow you to give the illusion of more size or gives a more aesthetic physique once well developed (especially when lean) because the smaller joints can make the muscles appear larger or more “tri-dimensional”.

I personally have a small bone structure:

  • Small wrists (I think they are 6.5" but I’d have to re-measure them, been years)
  • Small hands
  • Small head
  • Naturally narrow bi-acromial length (shoulder width)

And even though in shirtless/tank top pics I look very big, in reality I’m not. When I’m fully dressed I look “athletic”, that’s it. But when I’m shirtless and lean I give the illusion of having more size. For example my upper arm “looks” big but it really isn’t (by bodybuilding standards) at around 17.5".

CAVEAT: I am referring to my current and “most frequent” physique, which is anywhere between 190 and 205 at low levels of bodyfat. There was a period of my life (that I regret) in which I used PEDs and got much bigger.

Anyway, the point is that a Greyhound will remain a Greyhound regardless of what you do; it will never become a pitbull or a Saint-Bernard.

THAT HAVING BEEN SAID, the worst thing to do is use your structure as an excuse not to progress. Sure, you’ll never have 19-20" arms. But if you do the right things training and nutrition-wise, you should still be able to increase the size of your arms.

The issue is that, as Charles Poliquin pointed out in the past, arm size is correlated with overall body size. You are not going to add 1" to your arms without adding significant weight to your frame, at least not past the beginner bro stage.

Charles used to talk about needing to gain 15lbs of overall mass to add 1" to your arms. I’m not sure if that holds true for everyone but it certainly does apply to people with “poor arm genetics”.

PLUS: I personally hate predicting what is the limit arm size, overall size, chest size, etc. that you can reach. I just find that it leads to a negative and self-defeating mindset (even if it is often subconscious) and that it actually lead you to underachieve what you can reach.

The only things you can control are:

  • How hard your train
  • How smart you train
  • The quality and quantity of your nutrition and supplementation
  • How well you are resting
  • Stress management

The chips will fall where they will fall. Instead of focusing on what you might possibly achieve, just focus on optimizing the elements above, consistantly.


Thanks for the detailed answer Christian.
I’ve looked into Jeff Cavaliere’s formula and I’d like to add that the predicted maximum is at 6% bodyfat. 16" arms at 6% is pretty dope. Right now i’m at 15.5" at about 13-14%. I will try one of your arm spec routines once I’m done cutting. I think I’ve seen everything you put on the internet about arm training (including that youtube video where you talk about how long and short limbed lifters should train).

My wrists have gotten bigger as an adult. Even similar body fat levels. I used to be able to touch my middle finger and thumb together, and now I can’t. I think they used to be about 7" even, and now are closer to 7.25-7.375". My pressing is a lot more, and same with pulling. Maybe that has had an impact in the muscles around the wrist? I really don’t know.

This one disagrees with you. It does have a genetic mutation though.


But to your point about looking huge, the muscle with the tiny joints / thin bones makes it look even more muscular than it already is.

I kinda want a bully whippet haha. Most are not that crazy looking, but they are quite an impressive dog. It is note worthy that their siblings that are not of the “bully” type are know to do very well in whippet racing.

When I began to study more on this subject, I realized that I had lived in delusion. I thought I had a rather thin bone structure, but it turns out that’s not the case. Obviously, when I look at myself, I do not have an objective assessment of myself and in the eyes of other people I look different. My wrist circumference is 7.4 inches. With these indicators, I am even approaching the beginning of the upper range.

The picture of that dog will haunt (hunt?) my dreams.

@Christian_Thibaudeau thanks for really digging into the self-fulfilling defeatist prophecy piece. It seems to be really prevalent on here lately.

1 Like

I’m on the other side. I have the self-confidence that against the background of 90% of people my age / almost 49 years old / I am much stronger and much more muscular. Although my lifts are not impressive. Even a forum in my country describes them as modest. I ignore the fact that I have a lot of fat to burn. I draw these conclusions from the visit to the gyms for over 6 years. The truth is that there are a lot of strong people at this age, I read about them, I watch their videos, but I have not seen such people in gyms. Therefore, I conclude that they are an exception. And obviously so. How many people around the age of 50 in this forum / not only from the forum / can, for example, squat 5 times with a weight 2 times their own weight. But these are the strongest, who are former professional athletes or with super genetics or have been training hard for many years.
I am happy that I feel good and lifting gives me pleasure. Even if I don’t get stronger or more muscular, lifting my age regularly is healthy.

Don’t trust this.

This isn’t happening without PEDs.

Try not to trust too much you see on the internet man.

1 Like