Guys with big arms. How?

Discussion in 'Hypertrophy-Specific Training (HST)' started by HST_Rihad, May 17, 2013.

  1. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    We've all seen guys with big arms at a local gym (or we ARE one of them :)) There's at least one or two of them in every gym. You know, arms that aren't huge, but still big and impressive, giving observers the immediate impression that their owner is into strength-related sports. There are at least two in the gym I go to. How could they have achieved that? What I've noticed, they don't spend much (if any) time working on their legs. Mostly chest/shoulders/bis/tris/back. I work my arms 3 times a week following HST principles, but no one could ever refer to me as the one having big arms. I can think of at least these reasons:

    (1) they do more volume than me.
    (2) lack of proper leg training leaves more resources for upper body growth
    (3) better genetics
    (4) something else?
    Last edited: May 17, 2013
  2. Sci

    Sci Well-Known Member


    2)Maybe drugs.

    3) priority training of arms
  3. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    Muscle shape and vascularity as well. My arms are my worst bodypart but I constantly get compliments on them because I have a good shape to my biceps and they are vascular as hell. This causes them to appear larger than the meager seventeen inches that actually are.
  4. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    For these particular guys who caused me to write in this thread, veins aren't all that visible and definitely not the reason I thought they were big, it's the sheer muscular size of their arms in respect to their body that draws attention.
  5. Lol

    Lol Super Moderator Staff Member

    Some gymnasts' arms look massive but they actually aren't as big as you might think, a) because they usually aren't very big people and b) because they are very lean, so the difference between flexed and un-flexed muscle size is large. (Genetics plays a big roll here too because length of muscle belly makes a big difference to overall mass.) However, they've probably put in ten years of solid regular training. Some of the movements they do put a huge amount of strain on their arm musculature. Do ten years of that and see what you get at the end of it. :)

    I couldn't give a monkey's about my arm size so I hardly ever do any specific arm work. It shows, as my arms are nothing to speak of. Just measured them: my right arm is currently at around 16.5" flexed and my left is around 16.25". I'm not that lean ATM: probably in the region of 12-13% bf. Current bw: ~187lb

    Here's a pic I just took of my left (smaller) arm:


    As I said, nothing to write home about but then I'm not training arms. Of course, I won't be at all worried if they happen to grow a bit from any indirect back, chest and shoulder training I do. :)

    Check out my weedy wrist too.
    Last edited: May 18, 2013
  6. Lol

    Lol Super Moderator Staff Member

    Some folks store a lot of fat on their arms. If you can't see veins then there's a good amount of fat on that big arm. :)
  7. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    No visible veins in the sense that I wasn't examining their arms closely to see if they have visible veins, and quite frankly, veins and esthetics belong to opposite poles :)

    By that picture I can't see how your arm would look unflexed, but you do seem to have a large arm. I saw those guys' arms unflexed while resting between sets. You're right in that it's probably the result of about ten years of consistent exercise. Whatever the strain gymnasts' arms experience in their specific sports (if those guys indeed have any sports experience outside of gym), can't that load be simulated by gym equipment? So if it's just a matter of time, I'll wait. My right bis flexed is 14.5 inches (wrist being 6.30") after almost 4 years of consistent training, so I'm not sure how much more I've got left in the tank size-wise.
  8. Old and Grey

    Old and Grey Super Moderator Staff Member

    Shorter arms always look better than they would on the identical person but who has longer arms, especially unflexed but bent like leaning with your arms on a table. Obviously you cannot control the length of your arms.

    However the secret to getting large arms is not in the biceps, it is in the triceps. That is a larger muscle and gaining mass there is much easer than on the biceps. Train the hell out of the triceps. I am currently training 4 times per week and besides lots of unintentional triceps work, presses, dips, pushups, etc., I do a giant set starting with a close grip bench press, then a push down using either a bar or a rope followed by a reverse push down using various size bands. The "unintentional" tricep work and the CGBP give me bulk and strength and the last 2 sets in my giant set are to get as much definition in the tricep head as possible. I have zero rest periods during my giant set. The other 'habit' I have developed over the years that has really benefited the shape of my triceps is to periodically during the day, and also when I have finished working triceps, use an old Charles Atlas "Dynamic Tension" trick whereby I have my arms by the side of my body, flex the triceps by simulating pushing down and then twisting them in either direction. I hold the position for 10 seconds or so and repeat 4 or 5 times. You can do them anywhere at anytime and they will give you a 'pumped' feeling but actually do anaerobically work the tricep. Do not do them during an SD period naturally. I find I can still get that good 'sore' feeling in my triceps after I come off a short SD and start doing them again. I am sure some science guys will disagree and say that I am wasting my time but it seems to work for me and it takes no time out of my day. But do this when you are alone or in the gym as you want to do it with such force that you actually grimace from exertion.

    For biceps I just do one set of seated strict DB curls. I get lots of other bicep work because I am currently doing 5 -7sets of pull ups, chin ups or lateral hand position pull ups 5 - 7 days per week. I am concentrating on my lats to increase my chest size but my biceps benefit. They don't need much direct work anyway.

    Anyway, to summarize my $.02 worth of experience, work the triceps a lot harder than the biceps to get larger arms.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2013
  9. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    Heavies of these:

    -CG BP

    Oh yeh ... eat.
  10. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    Old and Grey, so much for 1-2 sets per exercise! Looks like the more muscle one has already put on, they more they have to work out to keep progressing. I.e. it isn't enough to just become stronger and put more strain on a muscle, volume has to go up too.

    AlexAustralia, those guys aren't crucially stronger than me. Well, they are stronger (for example, my flat bench from half a year ago was 90 kg (198 lbs) x 3 when fresh, I've seen one of them do 110 kg (242 lbs) x 4 max effort when fresh. Since then I've switched to incline bench and probably become 5% stronger - my 35-40 degree incline max is 82.5 kg (182 lbs) x 5), but not much stronger. So their arm size advantage may be in the fact that they do more volume, or in that they prefer 8-12 rep ranges (i.e. nothing like 3-5 reps I do most of my cycle). I've tried incorporating higher rep sets during my 5's after them for the past couple of months.
  11. Old and Grey

    Old and Grey Super Moderator Staff Member

    HST_Rihad, I consider my tricep giant set to be one set. I do not count my tricep dynamic tension as sets as they are done when and if I think of them and they are not a lifting exercise, per se. As for my lats, they have always lagged my chest and I am trying an experiment to see if I can 'shock' them into a bit more growth. It is not a normal thing for me to do and is just for this one 6 week cycle.

    In general, I don't think you have to continue to increase volume as you get more muscle IF you follow HST guidelines and SD regularly. However, if like most BBers at places like Gold's Gym, etc., you just continue to train and never SD, you would probably need to increase volume because you will hit a plateau on how much load you can do. Hence you would need more volume. My current program consists of 10 sets, 4 times per week for a total weekly count of 40 sets (plus my 5 day/week or so lat shock routine.) With the lats, my total weekly set volume is still under 70 sets. On a 'regular' HST thrice weekly program, I do about 45-50 sets in total per week. I know some guys who have not progressed any in years who will do that number of sets per day on one body part. They end up frustrated and turn to drugs to get their bodies to grow and then claim that volume is the key. I have given up trying to convince them otherwise. Not my problem! I set up a nice home gym to get away from those skinny fruitcakes who would come up to me and critisize me for using baby weights. Fug 'em! :cool:
  12. Old and Grey

    Old and Grey Super Moderator Staff Member

    Also, just for the record, I do not feel the need to increase the number of sets as my reps go down. I do, for example, one set for biceps whether it be 15 reps or 6 reps. However, do slow my ecentric movement down appreciably as my reps decrease to increase my growth time under tension.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2013
  13. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    Old and Grey, you're doing 40 sets per week per body part (arms), right? Or do they cover your whole body?

    Yes, I always take 10 days off every 6 weeks (10+5+5RM). In my current cycle I've extended the cycle by 3 more weeks for the first time, as I'm dieting (so far lost half an inch from my arm, they didn't look bigger when I was fat - although I've been able to at least maintain or progress in strength for most of the exercises (leg press, shrugs, pull-ups, bis, tris), with the sole exception being incline bench where I somehow managed to lose in strength (was: 182lbs x 5, now: 165lbs x 3).

    Neither do I maintain total reps as load goes up. Normally I do 2 sets of 10's per body part (although arms probably get double work in push-pull compounds). As I move into 5's I start with 3 sets and then naturally do 2 or 1.5. I'm not saying this is the right thing to do, but trying to maintain total reps takes a great toll on recovery.
    Last edited: May 18, 2013
  14. Old and Grey

    Old and Grey Super Moderator Staff Member

    That is 40 sets per week for my whole body!
  15. Sci

    Sci Well-Known Member

    To echo what others gave said: Volume is not the answer. Load and frequency are more important. I used to think volume was super important, but I don't any more.
    HST works, but you have to eat enough to gain weight of course.
  16. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    Agreed, but it's quite easy to chronically eat over maintenance, and all it does is get you fatter (assuming you're past 20-25 years of age where growing stops).
    Last edited: May 18, 2013
  17. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    Who bulks without controlling calories? A proper bulk where you count calories and eat appropriately takes many months to make you fat.
  18. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    Which is essentially eating at maintenance, no matter how it may be defined? Wow. Remember when you saw Brad Pilon write essentially the same thing - eating sensibly at maintenance and fasting once a week to keep fat growth in check - you then said it's impossible to grow muscle without eating in surplus.
  19. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    Except for the fact that by definition, eating at maintenance means eating enough to maintain weight, so unfortunately you just fell completely flat with that one. Wow, remember when you failed at arguing the same thing back when you brought up Brad Pilon? Did I say "eating enough to maintain weight" or did I say "bulking?" It appears you may have read an entirely seperate post from the one I actually made.
    Don't bring up Brad anymore. Brad Pilon has recently shown himself to be an idiot when Lyle owned him for his outrageous claims, so I wouldn't be going to that guy as backup for your argument. Someone with intellectual integrity shouldn't need to delete posts that disprove what he says in order to save face. So why don't you go ahead and put Pilon to rest and stop bringing him up. That one has been argued to death. The moral is that he is wrong, you need to accept that.

    Pretty obvious to every single person on this entire forum that when I say "bulk" I mean "bulk" not "maintain." Bulking means adding weight to the body. As I already explained, a properly setup bulk with a proper surplus will not result in massive fat gain in a short period. This is the reason that Borge made the argument about idiotic bulks where they are eating 1000 calories over maintenance and turning fat in short periods. Bulking does not mean you eat whatever. A proper bulk is one where you count calories on a daily basis and always hit your caloric and macronutrient goal without exceeding it by much, if any, and as long as you started out the bulk in a fairly lean state, it takes on the order of months to become fat.
    There are plenty of examples of people on this forum at this very moment who have done this with success. Nativetroutbum is one that comes to mind right off the top of my head, he is considering ending his bulk soon but has made tremendous gains without turning into a fat slob and he is still making gains. Sci is another example of someone who is doing this right now. I helped him set up a proper bulk with a reasonable surplus, along with a solid training plan and now he is the biggest he's ever been without being the fattest he's ever been.

    You yourself have bulked with reasonable success even though you did not do it optimally by controlling calories appropriately, so why are you even arguing against the methods with you yourself have used??
  20. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    Is it in archives somewhere? How long ago was it? I could be lucky and dig it up. His deletions could have been mistaken for moderating out people mentioning competitive ideas or links, he does often delete those from his blog. The truth is people following Lyle's advice lose fat, and people following Brad's advice lose fat, so I'm having a hard time understanding how either one of them could be fundamentally wrong.

    Because I got very fat, probably 20-25%. My waist was 39" at height 67.3". Now it's 35", and still going, by simply eating less (I don't do any kind of fasting except for night's sleep).

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