Squat for big arms

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by EFFORT, Jul 10, 2005.

  1. EFFORT

    EFFORT Master Don Juan

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    This is an article by Stuart McRobert from his book brawn, and i think it'll be helpful to a lot of people here.


    To build muscle mass, you must increase strength. It’s that simple. You will never get huge arms, a monstrous back, a thick chest, or massive legs without lifting heavy weights. I know that probably doesn’t come as a revelation to anyone. But despite how obvious it seems, far too many people (and not just beginners) neglect power training and rarely make increasing the weights lifted in each successive workout a priority. You must get strong in the basic mass building exercises to bring about a significant increase in muscle size. One of the biggest mistakes typical bodybuilders make is when they implement specialization routines before they have the right to use them.

    It constantly amazes me just how many neophytes (beginners), near neophytes, and other insufficiently developed bodybuilders plunge into single-body part specialization programs in the desperate attempt to build big arms. I don’t fault them for wanting big arms, but their approach to getting them is flawed. For the typical bodybuilder who is miles away from squatting 1 ½ times their bodyweight for 20 reps (if you weigh 180 lbs., that means 20 reps with 270 lbs.), an arm specialization program is utterly inappropriate and useless.

    The strength and development needed to squat well over 1 ½ times bodyweight for 20 reps will build bigger arms faster then focusing on biceps and triceps training with isolation exercises. Even though squats are primarily a leg exercise, they stress and stimulate the entire body. But more importantly, if you are able to handle heavy weights in the squat, it logically follows that the rest of your body will undoubtedly be proportionally developed. It’s a rare case that you would be able to squat 1 ½ times your bodyweight and not have a substantial amount of upper body muscle mass.

    This is not to say that you don’t need to train arms, and squats alone will cause massive upper body growth. You will still work every body part, but you must focus on squats, deadlifts, and rows—the exercises that develop the legs, hips, and back. Once you master the power movements and are able to handle impressive poundages on those lifts, the strength and muscle you gain will translate into greater weights used in arm, shoulder and chest exercises.

    In every gym I’ve ever visited or trained in, there were countless teenage boys blasting away on routines, dominated by arm exercises, in the attempt to build arms like their idols. In the ‘70s, they wanted arms like Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the ‘80s Robby Robinson was a favorite and currently Mr. Olympia, Ronnie Coleman, has set the standard everyone wants to achieve. Unfortunately the 3 aforementioned men as well as most other top bodybuilders have arm development far beyond the reach of the average (or even above average) weight trainer. But arm size can be increased. However, not in the way young trainers, with physiques that don’t even have the faintest resemblance to those of bodybuilders are attempting to make progress. Thin arms, connected to narrow shoulders, fixed to shallow chest, joined to frail backs and skinny legs, don’t need body part specialization programs. Let’s not have skewed priorities. Let’s not try to put icing on the cake before the cake has been baked.


    Priorities
    Trying to stimulate a substantial increase in size in a single body part, without first having the main structures of the body in pretty impressive condition, is to have turned bodybuilding upside-down, inside-out and back to front.

    The typical bodybuilder simply isn’t going to get much meat on his arms, calves, shoulders, pectorals and neck unless he first builds a considerable amount of muscle around the thighs, hips and back. It simply isn’t possible—for the typical drug-free bodybuilder, that is—to add much if any size to the small areas unless the big areas are already becoming substantial.
    There’s a knock-on (additive) effect from the efforts to add substantial size to the thigh, hip and back structure (closely followed by upper body pushing structure-pecs and delts). The smaller muscle groups, like the biceps, and triceps will progress in size (so long as you don’t totally neglect them) pretty much in proportion to the increase in size of the big areas. It’s not a case of getting big and strong thighs, hips, back and upper-body pushing structure with everything else staying put. Far from it. As the thigh, hip, back and upper-body pushing structure grows, so does everything else. Work hard on squats and deadlifts, in addition to bench presses, overhead presses and some type of row or pulldown. Then you can add a little isolation work—curls, calf raises and neck work (but not all of this at every workout).


    The “Driver”
    The key point is that the “engine” that drives the gains in the small areas is the progress being made in the big areas. If you take it easy on the thigh and back you will, generally speaking, have trouble making gains in the other exercises, no matter how hard you work the latter.

    All this isn’t to say just do squats, deadlifts and upper back work, quite closely followed by some upper-body pressing work. While such a limited program will deliver good gains on these few exercises, with some knock-on effect throughout the body, it’s not a year after year program. Very abbreviated routines are great for getting gains moving, and for building a foundation for moderately expanded routines. They are fine to keep returning to on a regular basis. The other training isn’t necessary all in the same workout but spread over the week. This will maintain balance throughout the body and capitalize upon the progress made in the thigh, hip and back structure.

    Just remember that the thigh, hip and back structure comes first and is the “driver” (closely followed by the upper-body pushing structure) for the other exercises. These other exercises, though important in their own right, are passengers relative to the driving team.


    Big Arms
    To get big arms, get yourself on a basic program that focuses on the leg, hip and back structure without neglecting the arms themselves. As you improve your squatting ability, for reps and by say 100 pounds, your curling poundage should readily come up by 30 pounds or so if you work hard enough on your curls. This will add size to your biceps. While adding 100 pounds to your squat, you should be able to add 50-70 pounds to your bench press, for reps. This assumes you’ve put together a sound program and have worked hard on the bench. That will add size to your triceps.

    If you’re desperate to add a couple of inches to your upper arms you’ll need to add 30 pounds or more over your body, unless your arms are way behind the rest of you. Don’t start thinking about 17” arms, or even 16” arms so long as your bodyweight is 130, 140, 150, 160, or even 170 pounds. Few people can get big arms without having a big body. You’re unlikely to be one of the exceptions.

    15 sets of arm flexor exercises, and 15 sets of isolation tricep exercises—with a few squats, deadlifts and bench presses thrown in as an afterthought—will give you a great pump and attack the arms from “all angles”. However, it won’t make your arms grow much, if at all, unless you’re already squatting and benching big poundages, or are drug-assisted or genetically gifted.

    As your main structures come along in size and strength (thigh, hip and back structure, and the pressing structure), the directly involved smaller body parts are brought along in size too. How can you bench press or dip impressive poundages without adding a lot of size to your triceps? How can you deadlift the house and row big weights without having the arm flexors—not to mention the shoulders and upper back—to go with those lifts? How can you squat close to 2 times bodyweight, for plenty of reps, without having a lot of muscle all over your body?

    The greater the development and strength of the main muscular structures of the body, the greater the size and strength potential of the small areas of the body. Think it through. Suppose you can only squat and deadlift with 200 pounds, and your arms measure about 13”. You’re unlikely to add any more than half an inch or so on them, no matter how much arm specialization you put in.

    However, put some real effort into the squat and deadlift, together with the bench press and a few other major basic movements. Build up the poundages by 50% or more, to the point where you can squat 300 pounds for over 10 reps, and pack on 30 pounds of muscle. Then, unless you have an unusual arm structure, you should be able to get your arms to around 16”. If you want 17” arms, plan on having to squat more than a few reps with around 2 times bodyweight, and on adding many more pounds of muscle throughout your body (unless you have a better-than-average growth potential in your upper arms).

    All of this arm development would have been achieved without a single concentration curl, without a single pushdown and without a single preacher curl. This lesson in priorities proves that the shortest distance between you and big arms is not a straight line to a curl bar.
     
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  2. Warboss Alex

    Warboss Alex Master Don Juan

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    Wholeheartedly agree, but don't neglected the deadlift either: ever seen a guy deadlift 500lbs who has small arms?
     
  3. AbAbber2k

    AbAbber2k Don Juan

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    Deadlifts have the extra benefit of greatly increasing grip strength, which in turn increases forearm size, something a lot of people seem to have trouble with/neglect.
     
  4. thefonz

    thefonz Master Don Juan

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    I always notive my arms get their biggest after a chest or back day. Chest day is like a full upper body workout. But you're right, just doing curls won't do **** for your arms.
     
  5. Warboss Alex

    Warboss Alex Master Don Juan

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    I actually hate all bicep exercises, and there's a good argument that no direct bicep work is necessary if you hammer squats, deadlifts, rows and the like.

    Although, preacher curls and hammer curls seem to be the most effective, barbell curls too.
     
  6. Obi_Wan's_Apprentice

    Obi_Wan's_Apprentice New Member

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    Great!

    This is a great post! Thanks for it man! It makes sense, you can't shoot the Canon from one of the "Tall Ships" out of a canoe. LOL I'm not sure if those tall ships had canons...lol but you know what I mean, the big wooden ships with sails that pirates used haha. YaaahaarrgSARS!
    Steve
     
  7. TedJustAdmitIt

    TedJustAdmitIt Senior Don Juan

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    Can anyone confirm what measurement people are generally refering to when they speak of arm sizes?

    Is it tensed or relaxed?

    Cos 16" RELAXED arms are fecking HUGE...my calves are 16" inches and no way would I want my arms to be that big.

    Now 16" TENSED are what I'm shooting for,currently at 13" relaxed and just shy of 14 3/4" tensed....still look small to me tho.
     
  8. AbAbber2k

    AbAbber2k Don Juan

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    I'd agree to a point. I absolutely love weighted pull-ups/chins, which is a pretty "direct" bicep workout... of course they have the added benefit of working other important parts of your body too, but you get my point. Aside from that, the only other direct bicep work I do is dumbell curls, though I'll often skip them depending on how intense I decide to make my pull-up set (number of sets, exercise variation, etc).
     
  9. AbAbber2k

    AbAbber2k Don Juan

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    Tensed/Flexed.
     
  10. EFFORT

    EFFORT Master Don Juan

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    BUMP



    I see a lot of people worrying about minor details instead of getting strong in the lifts that promote the most growth, so this article should clear up a lot of that.
     
  11. Warboss Alex

    Warboss Alex Master Don Juan

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    amen.

    but that's why 90% of gymgoers are skinny runts who argue the merits of 1g protein per kg bodyweight and are scared to deadlift because it'll hurt their back.
     
  12. wooly

    wooly Don Juan

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    im no wieght lifter, but i always heard it was 1g of protien per pound, never heard of 1 g of protien per kg

    im gunna start this summer, just doin some reasearch.
     
  13. Warboss Alex

    Warboss Alex Master Don Juan

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    it's actually 2g per lb .. (hotly debated) :)

    I was just speaking of how people intake so little protein and expect to grow
     
  14. brucevangeorge

    brucevangeorge Banned

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    1.5g+ per pound is the requirement. But what is wrong with direct arm work?

    Of course it's important to have nice DL and Squat but if you are a bodybuilder or are training just to be pretty (that's me! I won't lie) you need it to correct aesthetic imbalances.

    If all you do is squat and deadlift, sure you'll have big arms, but your legs and core+most of back will be bigger since you work them directly.

    And you will seem unbalanced. You will have an okay upper body with a well developed lower body and core+back.

    Direct work is necessary, but that is after the important lifts:

    Rows, chins, dips, clean (or clean & jerk), upright rows... you get the idea. And it helps growth if you finish with isolation at the end of the workout (THE END! You newbies that are reading. Do the big lifts first!)
     
  15. TheTrader

    TheTrader Don Juan

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    yes but rows chins dips and bp/mp should be enough for direct arm work. everything else waste of time IMO - unless your planning to perform on stage etc.
     
  16. [S]alvatore

    [S]alvatore Master Don Juan

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    I believe you have to get stronger before you get bigger. Say for instance you want to do a HST routine (Hypertrophy Specific Training) you've just started training, your 1RM for bench is 50lbs, and you need to find your 10RM, what, you're going to be benching 30lbs and expect to increase muscle size? Don't worry about size for now, get stronger and the size will come along with it, then once you've been training for a year, 2 years you can fu<k around with isolation exercises.
     
  17. Warboss Alex

    Warboss Alex Master Don Juan

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    which is why HST and all that stuff isn't appropriate for beginners. most of these programs need some sort of reasonable strength base down first.

    my opinion is that EVERYONE on here should be on a powerlifting program. train like a powerlifter, eat like a sumo wrestler, cardio like a pre-contest bber. actually that's kinda what I do.. and it works :D
     
  18. mrRuckus

    mrRuckus Master Don Juan

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    Why?
     
  19. Espi

    Espi Master Don Juan

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    Agreed...back requires a lot of ancillary work from the biceps...palms-faced-away pullups work the arms better than curls, IMO.
     
  20. A-Unit

    A-Unit Master Don Juan

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    Re:

    Maybe you've seem him Warboss, Dave Gulledge (sp?). I found him and his pics via intensemuscle.com, where DoggCrapp posts.

    TALK ABOUT proof positive.

    The workouts, and only workouts he did for years were the primary ones...

    Deadlifts, Squats, and Bench.

    He only isolated WHEN a part was lagging. He went from 320lbs, down to a ripped 24-250, and looks like a linebacker. I believe if you go to the site, you might find links or pics. The original site he's on REQUIRES your full name, real name, location, all that, because as I know it, it was a WESTSIDE BARBELL site, or some other HARDCORE powerlifting site.

    I studied and participated in a powerlifting only gym, and everyone in it got big, were dedicated, and fantastic people, because the purpose was to get HEAVY, not HUGE.

    I WHOLE HEARTEDLY AGREE, if you want overall size for the LONG-RUN take up powerlifting, compete in it, or use their principles. You would do the BIG 3 MOST of the time during the 5 days, going between heavy and speed workouts.

    However...the way it seems to work, in theory is that, when you're a newbie, ANY lifting is a shock to the system, so you grow. Then you plateau, at a neurological level. YOUR cns CAN handle that stress, it can handle the workload. The weight might be heavy, but that's only temporary. Temporary stress. Overall, when you compare bodybuilding stress to powerlifting stress, there's no comparison. MOST bodybuilding programs DO NOT focus on the BIG 3, or if they do the barbell bench, they do it wrong, or in a damaging way.

    The benefit to starting out a powerlifter is you learn the workouts correctly, unless you're fortunate to learn from a bodybuilder that is seasoned.

    It gets ALOT of bad press, because people see chubby or fat powerlifters, or think it's boring, or won't get you where you want. In fact, just the opposite, they're MORE effective at results THAN bodybuilding. I GUARANTEE if you go hardcore on SQUATS, DEADS, and BENCH or DUMBBELLS, and perhaps incorporate pullups and dips, you'll be styling. GUARANTEE. I've gotten back on regular squats at a fitness gym and have no problem doing it without a squat box, which I became accustomed to, and the SMYTH SQUAT makes me feel like I'm being COMPRESSED.


    A-Unit
     

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