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Why Your Arms Won't Grow

Your Training Sucks

Before you get too angry, yes that was an attention grabbing subheading, though there is truth to the statement. In my experience, the people who would complain about their lack of muscle development in a particular muscle group are often the same people who are the least consistent when it comes to training, eating in a surplus and their programming, or lack thereof, is nothing any thinking human should follow. To build shirt busting arms worth strutting at the beach is a second job and requires a lot of long term consistency; barring incredible genetics, the guy or girl you see with sculpted and defined arms at the gym or beach has spent many years building them. Their programming is solid, their diet regiment is accounted for and most importantly, they’re consistent!

You Do The Same Thing Over and Over

Before starting my own fitness business I used to work at a big box gym and let me say, I’ve completely lost count on the amount of people who used to come into the gym at the exact same time, go to the same machine or had the exact same routine, do the exact same amount of weight, the exact same amount of reps and sets and hope for different results. Don’t dichotomize this and think that novelty is “the secret”, it isn’t. This is to say that your programming and periodization along with exercise selection play a massive role when it comes to the development of your arms and any body part for that matter.

You’re Not Using Full Range of Motion (ROM)

Stop me if you’ve seen this; the guy in the gym that’s using a gangster lean and plenty of body english to get his dumbbell or barbell curls up. The problem here is many fold, one, when you’re swinging the weight and your elbows back and forth, the relative position of your biceps often remains unchanged and you don’t get anywhere near a full muscle contraction. Two, you’re not using the primary muscles, your biceps in this case, the goal is to train your biceps, not to swing the bar up with your hips. And three, swinging the weight allows you to go heavier than you can control with your primary movers, if the weight is too heavy you won’t be able to adequately focus on the muscle contraction of your biceps, instead your body will utilize other muscle groups to assist the movement. You’re not Tom Brady, cheating won’t lead to greater outcomes. Leave your ego at the door, lower the weight and focus on your primary movers going through a full range of motion.

You’re Not Training Your Triceps

We have a vision bias in the gym, we focus a lot on what we can see (our front) and tend to neglect what we can’t. The tricep make up around seventy-five percent of the arm, larger more defined triceps will really show itself relative to the overall size of your arms. The triceps are also impacted with regards to pressing movements, something to keep in mind when formulating your overall programming.

You’re Not Eating Consistently

If you’re trying to grow, you need to eat! This doesn’t meaning eating in a surplus for one or two weeks, seeing the scale weight trend up, panicking and instantly going into a calorie deficit. Building muscle is a long game that takes many months and years of consistency, you’re not going to see results in two weeks and maybe even in two months. For novice lifters a higher calorie surplus can be had, two to four hundred is my rule of thumb. For intermediate and advanced lifters a smaller calorie surplus is what’s needed, one to two hundred.

Ending Thought

Don’t get caught up in the minutiae of the details that don’t matter like a magical set and rep range, magic “muscle building” foods or miracle supplements. The basics work and work well. Train consistently, eat in a sustain surplus and don’t lift like an asshole. I will also leave you with these helpful tips on your bicep busting journey.

  • Space out your training volume into multiple sessions. Example: It’s better to perform twelve sets of bicep curls over two sessions than doing them all in one session.

  • Stick to a higher rep range (12-15) and come within two to four reps of failure when training your arms

  • Select three or four different exercises and try to achieve excellent movement competency, once you have, expand your selection(s).

By: Peter Baboulas

IG: babs302


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