It’s no big surprise that we all want bigger arms. you ask a hundred guys who train and I can pretty much guarantee 90% of them want bigger guns. However, most people go about it completely the wrong way with endless sets of curls or worse still a whole session in the gym dedicated to arm training. The old saying add 20lbs of muscle to the whole body to add 1 inch on the arms is very true! The best way to increase your arms (drug free) is to get strong on the big compound lifts – Squat/Bench/Deadlift/Press/Rows/Chins etc.
Compound lifts like the squat create an environment inside of your body that encourages muscle growth, they release massive amounts of testosterone and HGH which in turn help to build muscle. Working a small muscle group like the arms on their own just will not produce the same effect. Think about it .. If you are capable of benching over bodyweight for reps your triceps are not going to be small, If you can perform weighted chins for reps your biceps are not going to be small, you see where I’m going with this? Forget the routines advocated by guys pumped full of goodness-knows-what, unless some form of drugs are involved, it is impossible to build big arms with skinny legs! You need to work the body as a whole.
Not only do the big movements use your arms anyway, a weak upper/lower body can’t support the weight when you do want to work on your arms. You will end up rocking around and leaning into the movement negating any effect it may have. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do any curls, but first you want to address your strength on the main lifts – What works your biceps more? a concentration curl with 12kg or a bent-over-row with 100kg? Or full range chin-ups? How about triceps – an overhead extension with 25kg or a bench press of 100kg?
The arms assist just about every movement of the body so dedicating a whole session to them is madness, they get worked every time you go to the gym, as almost all lifts require you to hold the weight. Adding extra lifts to the arms alone is a potential route to overtraining them which again is not going to help with size! And, as previously stated, not enough muscle is being utilised in these sessions to promote the release of the necessary hormones for growth.
Now some of you may be thinking, “but the longhead of the tricep doesn’t get worked with a bench press”, and “the peak of the bicep only gets hit with cable curls” .. Well I’ll go back to what I said previously, I’m not saying you can’t do any isolation work, just remember it is the icing on the cake. Alongside a balanced program of heavy compound upper and lower body work, a couple of sets of isolation here and there can help add size to your arms, but keep your focus on the main lifts, these are where the real growth is going to come from. Again, I refer back to a previous post on chins/dips – Look at a gymnasts arms, usually big and powerful but they don’t do curls! They have a steady diet of compound upper body work – Chin-ups and dips.