If you’re like many — maybe most — guys who hit the gym on a regular basis, you’re frustrated by your arm size. You train them HARD with a lot of volume, yet they still don’t grow the way you want them to. It’s a common story, but it’s one that can be avoided if you stop to analyze the situation. In fact, very often the reason for lagging arms is because you are doing TOO much for them — you’re overtraining.
Let’s take a look at why arms are subject to overtraining and how you can avoid this “hidden” training problem that could be killing your arm size.
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Arms Are Small
We all have visions of our arms as huge pythons powerful enough to crush King Kong in battle and uproot trees with just a yank, but the truth is that arms are small body parts in the grand scheme of your physique. Especially when you compare them to your thighs, back, and chest, arms are really just assistants in the realm of moving big weight.
And that’s part of the problem with arm training.
Even though they are small muscles, biceps and triceps are hit hard every time you bench, chin, row, or press, so they are constantly being overloaded even when you don’t realize it. When you then come in with an hour or more of direct arm work, you’re adding insult to injury, and overtraining is a near certainty.
But it doesn’t have to be this way, and the remedy can save you time and effort WHILE building bigger arm size.
How to Avoid Overtraining You Arms
The good news is that you can avoid pummeling your arms with a bit of planning.
While they get a lot of stimulation from compound moves, your biceps and triceps usually will need some direct work if you hope to grow them to their max. The key to doing this without sending them over the cliff is to take a reasoned, three-pronged approach:
Choose the Right Exercises: Your biceps and triceps thrive when they are more or less isolated in their work, but when you can still load them with big weights. That means that major but simple exercises like barbell curls, lying extensions, incline curls, and pushdowns should form the core of your arm workouts.
Keep Your Volume In Check: In general, you shouldn’t be doing more than one or two sets per exercise or more than two or three moves for your arm muscles at any one session.
Schedule Your Workouts: If you split your routine — and you really should consider full-body workouts if you haven’t tried them — then make sure you’re not inadvertently training your arms every day. For instance, working biceps the day after back and the day before you do upright rows for your shoulders will have you smashing a very small muscle group three days in a row. Instead, group your body parts so that your arms get their full complement of rest — 2-7 days between workouts depending on your schedule.
Arm training is seductive because it feels good to pump your arms and it feels even better to walk around with big guns. Keep your enthusiasm in check, though, if you want to make the best possible gains and avoid overtraining for the long haul.