Not Gaining Arm Size?
For the newbie trainer, the arms are one of the body parts which receive the most focus when in the gym. The arms are on show when wearing a t-shirt and are often in the forefront of the people’s minds when they imagine a muscular or strong physique. Go into most gyms and you are more likely to see dumbbell curls than squats or deadlifts. If you fall into this category, this article is aimed at you. There is nothing wrong with wanting bigger arms, and this article will cover the main five mistakes newbie’s and intermediate trainers make when trying to gain more arm size. The article will also hopefully present a more balanced approach to training, diet and rest, however, leading to enhanced muscle gain for every muscle part.
1. Correct exercise choice
The dumbbell and barbell style curls are great choices for targeting the biceps and other arm flexor muscles, and are very popular. What is often overlooked, however, is the role the arm flexors play during pulling exercises. A typically back session which includes a verity of rows and pull ups will effectively stress the arms as well as the back. This is why a balanced training split is essential for balanced and optimal muscle growth – the muscles of the body work in an integrated manner during many movements, stressing multiple muscle groups. The same can be applied to the triceps, with the bench press and dip great exercises for stimulating the rear arm muscle.
In summary, do not neglect the exercises which recruit multiple muscles (called “compound exercises”) from your training program as many chest and back exercises will recruit the arm muscles. The arm flexors can be isolated with a handful of curling variations, as can the triceps with various arm extension exercises. The triceps dip and close grip bench press are also highly effective exercises for the triceps.
2. Training split
As mentioned above, an effective training split should include the major compound exercises supplemented with a handful of isolation exercises for the direct targeting of specific muscle groups. A training split should also allow for sufficient recovery between sessions.
There are countless training splits available to follow, so it would be best to search for one which is geared towards your goal. Someone wishing to gain arm size would be best seeking a training split which induces muscle hypertrophy (growth) – a bodybuilding style training split. Such splits will tend to focus on one or two muscles each session, with each muscle group exercises once or twice per week. By ordering the sessions correctly you can ensure the arms receive stress from back and chest session days as well as their own workout days. E.g. Monday – back, Tuesday – chest, Wednesday – legs, Thursday – arms, Friday – shoulders.
3. Don’t forget the triceps
Sorry for stating the obvious, but arm size does not only come from an increase to your biceps peak. Well developed triceps will add inches to the arms, arguably more so than the biceps as the muscle has an extra head and is naturally bigger than the biceps.
Place equal stress upon the biceps and triceps. If you train arms on one day, alternate which muscle you start the session with to ensure balance.
4. Eat to grow
This is likely the most important point and will impact overall muscle growth greatly. A surplus of calories and protein is essential for gaining muscle size. Eating sparingly during the day will not equate to larger muscle size, muscle growth requires plenty of energy and nutrients.
Bodybuilders will often go through a phrase of “bulking”, where training is intense and food intake is increased greatly to enhance muscle growth. For our bulking meal plan see – bulking meal plan.
5. Muscle growth takes time
Not what everyone wants to hear, but it is true. A newbie trainer will see notable results early on as the body quickly adapts to the new stimulus, but growth does slow down and it can take patience and determination to build a quality physique. Take each session as it comes, putting in 100% effort. Eat the right things out of the gym and have plentiful rest.