Some people can build big arms no matter how they train. They just have the perfect genetics for arm size… The natural, genetically average lifter has to work a little harder and a little smarter to build his arms. Sound like you? Then this is your videoguide. In his ground-breaking research, Brian DeCosta broke down the major mechanisms of muscle growth. You’ll need to understand all three to really build your arms.
A beginner in the gym will need to build up a base so they can have the ability to handle higher workloads. The biceps and triceps, like other muscle and will need to have a foundation before jumping to higher frequencies. For this reason, training the arms (in addition to volume of training pulling and pressing movements) 2x a week directly can serve as a beneficial starting point.
1 – Mechanical Tension
This is achieved by using substantial weight and performing exercises through a full range of motion for a certain amount of time. The time you spend under tension (TUT) creates mechanical tension in the muscles. The more significant the time, the more significant the mechanical tension.
So lift heavy, use slower eccentrics (negatives) and get strong like bull. The stronger you are, the greater your ability to recruit muscle fibers. And the more muscle fibers you recruit, the more muscle fibers you can blast into oblivion until they grow.
2 – Metabolic Stress
The pump. When you train with longer duration sets, short rest periods, and moderately heavy weights, your muscles accumulate lactate, hydrogen ions, creatinine, and other metabolites as the byproduct of muscular contractions. Because your muscles are under constant assault, blood can’t escape, creating an occlusion and blood pooling effect.
3 – Muscular Damage
You know the deep soreness you feel after squatting for the first time in ages? This is muscle damage, often a result of breaking down muscle fibers and the subsequent inflammatory response. This can signal adaptation and trigger the delivery of recovery resources to repair beat-up tissues and bring them back stronger.
How do you use this info to build bigger arms? Well, training only for mechanical tension will get you brutally strong, but it won’t maximize muscle growth. That’s why competitive weightlifters aren’t as jacked as bodybuilders. If you train only for metabolic stress and/or muscular damage you might look 15 pounds bigger when you walk out of the gym, but without a sufficient baseline of strength you won’t get much more jacked.
You don’t need to train like a powerlifter and always chase one rep max, but a foundation of strength will help you to create enough tension and make higher-rep pump work more effective. If you’ve been training non-stop, yet seeing no results, your body has either become desensitized to the stimulus you’re giving it, or you’re not giving yourself ample time to recover.
Athlete model – Brian DeCosta @briandecosta