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Exercise with Compound Movements for Bigger Arms

Exercise with Compound Movements for Bigger Arms


Ever since bodybuilding became a thing, training the biceps and triceps as well as forearms became necessary for a physically appealing look. Even average lifters often focus on these body parts first. Unfortunately, most are missing out on possible gains due to miserable training plans.


As a training novice, where do you start in your quest to gain bigger arms? Some will actually conduct research on the web to find optimal strategies, but most will buy popular magazines and look at pro bodybuilders. What they typically suggest is a high volume, high isolation approach. 

A sample training session involves 3 sets of 12 hammer curls, 3 sets of 12 incline curls in a superset with 3 sets of 12 kickbacks and 3 sets of 12 triceps extensions. 

It looks like a plan to destroy both biceps and triceps and will actually just do that. To a small extent, your arms will grow. But very soon growth declines and your arms stay the same even though you add more massive amounts of volume.

This is because our bodies don’t like asymmetry. Having huge arms, without a huge back and chest does not only look stupid, it’s also functionally unnecessary. In real life scenarios, we never just use the biceps. We pull an object towards us, or the body towards an object using a chain of muscles, such as the back of our shoulders and the lats (latissimus dorsi) muscles. The greater amount of strength derives from the latter muscles, making an increase in muscle mass in your arms pointless.
In addition, weight training is complicated and does not simply occur by increasing volume. At first, your arms will grow, because of the new stimulus. But the hormonal response to weight training plays a big role too and is neglected during an arm day. To increase the necessary hormone production, an overall shock to the central nervous system is required. This is achieved by doing movements that target many muscle groups simultaneously, which will also solve both problems at once.

At first, your arms will grow, because of the new stimulus. But the hormonal response to weight training plays a big role too and is neglected during an arm day. To increase the necessary hormone production, an overall shock to the central nervous system is required. This is achieved by doing movements that target many muscle groups simultaneously, which will also solve both problems at once.


Let’s look at chin-ups for example. The common alternative to conventional pullups uses a supinated grip and trains almost the entire upper body. Tons of stabilization muscles are involved in keeping the body upright and moving in a straight line. Furthermore, pulling yourself upwards will target the lats and upper back. The biceps are passively overloaded by a much higher weight than they could possibly move in isolation. As an added bonus, grip strength will increase tremendously. The result: Much greater gains in all pulling muscles and bigger arms. The chain of muscles, starting from your hands all the way down to your lats will even its strength out in the most functional way. Over time, you’ll achieve a greater, stronger and more appealing physique. And you have to do much less work with chin-ups as well. It will save you time while keeping the gains up.

The result: Much greater gains in all pulling muscles and bigger arms. The chain of muscles, starting from your hands all the way down to your lats will even its strength out in the most functional way. Over time, you’ll achieve a greater, stronger and more appealing physique. And you have to do much less work with chin-ups as well. It will save you time while keeping the gains up.


Some people might even go as far as incorporating just compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, and bench press. Even they manage to build huge arms, without any direct arm work and much less direct pulling work. The principles of hormonal response and anabolic milieu are so important, that they outweigh the missing direct work for the biceps. Of course, this is a special scenario and I would highly recommend supplementing some direct back work to further shape their physiques. But the idea is, that functional, compound movements will most often be a better choice than isolated, bodybuilding type work. Implement them in your training regimen and see how it works out for you.


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