What do you guys do for arms?

What routines/programs have you guys used to get good arms size? I’ve been training for about a year, am about 6’ at 170 lbs, get about 120-150 grams of protein a day. My arms are seriously lacking in size.

First up your protein to at least 170 to 200 grams per day. Then get on Ian King’s Great Guns program at T-mag. Search the archives for Poliquin’s arm programs too. There are several. Good luck!

This is my favorite program for size. I’ll superset barbell cheat curls with weighted dips for 5 sets, I’ll move on to seated dumbbell curls and close-grip bench press for 4 sets, and finally on to wide-grip preacher curls and decline tricep extensions for 4 sets. I’ve never maxed out on any of these so I generally stay between 6-8 reps.

Listen to TEK!!!

John U’s way is pretty good - I do a lot of supersetting with lower reps myself. Otherwise, give giant sets a try - do something like standing barbell curls for 6 reps, then immediately grab a pair of medium-weight dumbbells and crank out 8-12 more reps of dumbbell hammer curls afterward. Always change your programs every 6-8 weeks (I’ve ranted about this before,) as no program works “best” and no program works forever. Another thing to watch is volume. I see so many people, doing 15 sets for both biceps and triceps, when many of them who are not seeing results could be doing far better for gains if they’d cut down to 4-8 sets max per part. Overtraining is the surest way to see your progress come to a screeching halt. Perhaps you could list your current program and how long you’ve been doing it so as we could have more info to work with.

Flaxoil, I’m concerned about the King program. When I started it my gains shot up, and I added visible size to my arms (and measurements to verify it). But since then it’s slowed, even though I’m on phase three. My concern is that the King program causes the very overtraining you warn against, since it requires abundant reps with little rest, going on and on and on, and lasts more than an hour is followed completely. I’m worried that all these endless reps are just causing muscle burn, and might be annihilating rather than stimulating. Any thoughts?


I really don’t know much about the King program; I personally have been using a modified Fred Hatfield periodization program for the past year divided into 6-week periods. I’ve taken a month off twice to train with a generic program just to give myself a break every 6 months, and I must say that it helps.

With the true Hatfield periodization program, it sounds like the King program with the never-ending sets (i.e. Dumbbell curls done 6 reps to near failure @ 85-90% of 1rm, then immediately do 10-12 reps @ 75% if 1rm, then do 30-40 reps @40% 1rm…I never made it past 10 reps in that scheme!

I’ve noticed my results being best when doing 3 sets of my 6rm, each set giant setting with whatever weight I can eke out 8-12 more reps with. I do one more exercise the same way, 3 sets of giant setting as well. I typically don’t do supersetting of opposing muscle groups due to time constraints (I lift for 30-40 minutes max during my lunch hour at work) but I do find time for it with biceps and triceps since there is little switching of weights since I typically will do the same weight for my 6rm in barbell curls as I will in skullcrushers, (I may have to add a few lbs. for tricep exercises, but never enough to require a hassle.) I’ve just found that all-out intensity sets done in lower numbers is key for me - I spent a long time overtraining because I believed all the magazine hype of people squeezing out 15-20 sets per muscle group. Sure, if you’re on a gram of test and a few other things you’ll have the recovery capabilities to deal with that kind of volume, but for those of us who aren’t always on cycle, (if even at all,) they’re a horrible means for making gains. I used to do 10-14 sets for all body parts, gained nothing, then cut the sets in half and, lo and behold, things began to work! So, I think that if the King program is working well at first and then not giving you the returns that you saw in the beginning, then do one of two things: either switch to a new program of different reps, volume and exercises, or modify it so that it suits you better. Either way, it should help you get past the sticking point you say you’ve reached.

Hope this helps!


I just finished the Great Guns workout and I noticed a couple of things. I reduced some of the warm up sets, mainly doing very few later in the session. This fixed the time so that I was finished in about 50 minutes for the volume days and low 40s for the strength.

Also - make sure you follow Ian's advice to go easy in the first week. This is the big counter measure against overtraining.

And, to keep you motivated, I made enormous gains in the last couple of weeks of Phase 4. This is when it all comes together. Just make sure you don’t train completely nuts all the time or you will quickly overtrain with this workout.

Incidentally - I almost completely cut out chest and back during Phase 4. Did this help? I have no idea.

Akicita, my workouts on the Guns program never went over an hour with 45 minutes being average. I did reduce some of the warm-up sets later in the workout as King suggested in a Heavy Metal column. Followed properly (only doing maintenence on your other body parts, sticking with the rest recommendations etc.) this program won’t cause overtraining in the average guy who’s eating right and getting enough sleep.

Up your protein and take as much of it as possible in the 5 hours after you’ve trained (with carbs). Train biceps and triceps seperately on their own days, each for 30-40 mins.

For triceps, do heavy weight in the 3-6 rep (except for pushdowns) range, resting sufficiently between sets. Close-grips and decline skull busters rock!

For biceps, lighter weight in the 6-12 rep range with not too much rest between sets. Straight bar curls, ez curls, preachers… You may wanna superset forearm exersizes with bicep exersizes.

Change the workouts often, training each once a week and you should grow. Form is important as usual. I now have 45cm arms and I started out with 28cm… (yeah I was REAL thin) and they’re still growing without a platea in sight! I got the biggest improvements (and broke through the 40cm plateau) using these methods.

First off, I eat 1 gram of protein per pound of your goal lean body weight (200 lbs @ 8%BF = 184 lbs of lean body mass = 184 grams of protein).

The workouts that I like go something like this:

workout #1
Tempo 3210
Rest 2 minutes
A1) Close Grip bench presses - six sets of six
(use sets #1 and 2 as warmups)

A2) Preacher Curl with a barbell - six set of six (sets #1 and 2 as warmups)

B1) Nautilus Wrist machine - 3 sets of 12
doing all 3 exercises back-to-back

Workout #2 Same rest and tempo

A1) Rope pushdowns - six sets of six
(sets #1 and 2 are warmups)

A2) Seated Incline DB curls - six sets of six
(sets #1 and 2 are warmups) - on the negative, rotate the wrists palm down, on the positive rotate the wrists palm up.

B1) Nautilus Wrist Machine - 3 sets of 12, all exercises back-to-back.

This program helped to bring my arms up from 13 inches to just under 16 in about a year.

seriously I don’t think it matters much what you do for arms as long as you are training them hard. To increase your arm size you need to increase your overall body size. There is no way that your going to have 20" guns when your only 170 lbs. Focus on getting bigger overall and your arms will grow.

How about trying to get your whole body bigger? At 6’, 170lbs, you aren’t all that big. I’m 6’, 192lbs, and I’m only big in my posterior chain, lats and traps (lots of chins and deads). If you want to have big arms, I would hold off on specific work until you develop more body size, otherwise, I don’t think your body will respond to any specific work, nor do I think specific is in order. Just my opinion.

At least for me, doing a lot of reps for arms is very counterproductive. This is because the bis and tris pump up so much that it’s hard to get a good contraction or even a decent ROM. Low rep intersetting between bis and tris has worked the best for me. The bicep, like its lower body counter-part, the hamstring, has alot of fast twitch. Knocking out 15 rep pump sets is not the best way to stimulate them.