Hey so over the last 30 days, I was testing out a thought I had about arms training.
‘Could I grow arms without curls or extensions?’
I measured my arms before the experiment and got the saddening result of 14.5 inches around.
This was after training arms directly 1-2 times per week for a long time and progressing on multiple exercises for biceps and triceps.
So for the next 30 days, the main exercises that would grow my arms would be:
-Incline Dumbbell Press
The only rule was that I didn’t use any direct or isolation arm exercises.
I figured I would be able to grow my arms by simply getting stronger at these exercises.
I started at these strength levels:
Bench: 230lbs x 1 rep
Chins: Bodyweight + 45lbs x 5 reps
Incline: 85lbs dumbbells x 4 reps
Rows: 195lbs x 6 reps
The new training split started, and I worked my face off as hard as I could to get stronger.
I did a powerlifting strength program for squat, bench, and deadlift, and more bodybuilding style work for chins, incline dumbbell press, and rows.
The squat and deadlift didn’t contribute directly to arm gains, but general strength and stability helps.
So 30 days flew by and here were my lifts:
Bench: 225lbs x 4 reps
Chins: Bodyweight + 55lbs x 5 reps
Incline: 85lbs dumbbells x 5 reps
Rows: 195lbs x 8 reps
I measured my arms again and despite a 1.5lbs weight gain, I added zero size to my arms.
14.5 inches on the dot again.
(Looking back at the video, I might have actually gained ~1/16th of an inch. Negligible.)
Sure, one month is a terrible time frame to measure muscle gain, but the fact that I didn’t lose any size is impressive to me.
I had cut out a lot of work on my arms and still maintained if not slightly gained size.
Would I have gotten better results if I trained my arms directly?
Here is my conclusion:
If you’re looking to grow some bigger arms, then get stronger on compound lifts AND curls and extensions for maximum gains.
If you don’t care about arm size but just want a better looking physique, then you can just focus on compound exercises.
To be honest, I can’t stand doing all those isolation exercises, so I’m going to continue training without them and maybe I’ll noticeably grow by day 90.
I’ll keep you updated!
And if you’re looking for someone to guide you through the confusing path to a better body, check out my coaching program here: