5/3/1 Direct Arm Work

I seem to have lost my copy of forever in my somewhat recent move… glancing over some protocols found online I’m not seeing any direct arm work. Is there ever any? Is it kinda of an add it in where you want deal?

It’d be considered either pushing (tricep) or pulling (bicep) assistance work.


This. His stance on it is do it if you want, but he doesn’t write it into programs because he doesn’t want people programming arm work.

He says in one article about assistance work: “it doesn’t fucking matter.” What I think he meant was all that all that really matters is that the main lifts are going up.

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Not anywhere you want it. It would be after your pushing and tugging exercises, or on off days. Anywhere else and it will interfere with the main movements.

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Thanks guys. I’m gonna try and find my book! Trying to narrow down what I plan I’m gonna do come June

If you want to sprinkle in arm work during a training session I like supersetting say a chin-up/row with direct triceps work and say push-ups/dips with a curl variation.

Also one of those things that I sometimes do outside the gym or off days before a lower body workout.

What do you think about direct arm work as a strength athlete? Aside from joint lubrication and for secondary assistance (stronger triceps = stronger log press to an extent etc) do you ever perform “fluff” exercises for aesthetic value?

I personally found hitting big compound lifts was never enough to get my arms bigger. Everything else would get bigger from doing them, but my arms would stay the same!

Invaluable. Big strong arms are important for being big and strong.

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Interesting. I was able to amass what I’d consider somewhat respectable deadlift for a rec gym goer of my size (around 475lb conventional 1RM at 160lbs) yet my arms are puny. I have excellent back development/posterior chain development, but no arms.

Even chinups/pullups, I can do like twenty five chin to sternum with ease… didn’t help with arm development. I can bench press a novice/intermediate amount of weight (around two and a half plates for one) and whatnot. This may have been genetically mediated… or perhaps I don’t/didn’t eat enough, I don’t know

For me to accrue ANY size on my arms, high volume, very frequent direct arm work is required. Unfortunately it appears I’m going to need surgery soon, so my heavy lifting days may be over for a while.

I do very infrequent direct arm work, but I make it meaningful. I do 1 set of Poundstone curls a week and go for rep PRs each time. Last one was 158 reps with an empty axle.

I HAVE started daily band pushdowns of 25 reps, mainly because I’ve been bad about direct tricep training.

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I used to do rear delt flies as one massive drop-set for 100 reps. Those high rep sets are killer!

tbh daily/EOD direct tricep training was the only way I’ve EVER been able to get my triceps to grow. That and taking a page out of (I think it was) @BrickHead’s advice wherein I’d focus on isolation exercises first THEN move onto dips/CGBP and really try focus on the triceps contracting.

I’ve had to stop training now though as one of my hernias has become quite painful. I was told to stop training weeks ago, and I was like “hehhhhh I can go light”. Got a little bit carried away the other day when someone asked me if I wanted to come in for a set of heavy squats and now I actually can’t train at all :laughing:

I don’t think the hernia is strangulated, rather one of them appears to now be “non-reducible”.

Different strokes for different folks. I love strength training, though I’ve never understood the dogmatic ideology against direct arm training/isolation movements as can be seen in strong lifts, starting strength etc. To say “you’ll get bigger arms” though squatting, bench pressing and deadlifting seems like disreputable advice to me. Sure, it’ll work if you’re a beginner… even intermediate for that matter; but it isn’t’ an optimal way about doing so.

For those such as myself who have the worlds worst genetics for building bigger arms compound movements on their own simply won’t cut it.

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When you consider that both authors of those programs are silly people that were never successful in the field of producing big strong athletes but instead in the field of producing material, it all starts to make sense.


Our Heavenly Father, Mark Rippletits, is confusing because he does actually advocate for direct arm work — specifically lying triceps extensions (with an extended ROM) for the bench — but in the next breath with deny it. I think his point is that he doesn’t want beginners to get hung up on their curl numbers, but because of his “style”, it comes off very dismissive and dogmatic.


Shot’s fired!!! You’ve triggered an entire community.


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I think some hammer curls or reverse curls would be good for elbow health. I tend to do those on upper body days for 2-3 sets at 10-20 reps. I may do some banded stuff too like band curls or Pushdowns due to their low level of fatigue on my elbows.