The quest for bigger arms probably goes back to the beginning of mankind. Every kid that picks up a bodybuilding magazine is probably doing so with the hope that the secret to big arms will be contained within. However, after following a program for six months that was designed for some bodybuilder that takes buckets of steroids, trainees are often disappointed that they did not get the results that they wanted.
Well, if you have at least six months of training down using compound movements such as: deadlifts, squats, weighted dips, and chin-ups, then it is time to try GTG (greasing the groove) to add some size to your arms. GTG is a technique that I learned from top strength coach Pavel Tsatsouline, author of "Power to the People." It is a technique that he used with the Russian Spetnez to improve strength tremendously. Moreover, Russian Olympic lifters use similar techniques to build their legendary strength. So what exactly is GTG? Glad that you asked.
In a typical bodybuilding program, lifters often train their arms 1-2 times a week. This may work well for some. However, such infrequent lifting is not going to give most lifters the stimulus that they need. GTG shocks the muscles and stimulates growth by applying the law of repetition. The law of repetition basically states that one will get better at any given activity the more often that one practices the activity.
Why should strength training or bodybuilding be any different? The answer is that it should not. GTG works by making your bodywork more efficiently by stimulating the muscles more frequently. In addition, to getting better at doing the exercises, your arms will adapt to meet the new stimulus. In other words, they will grow! Don't take my word for it though. Just try the following program for two weeks and let me know what happens:
Week 1 - Option One:
- 1x5 - Weighted pull-ups (Shown w/o Weight)
- 1x5 - Weighted Dips (Shown w/o Weight)
- 1x5 - Dumbbell curls
- 1x5 - Skull crushers
- 1x4 - Weighted pull-ups
- 1x4 - Weighted Dips
- 1x4 - One-arm dumbbell curls
- 1x4 - Skull crushers
- Do not train to failure. You should not feel tired or strained after each set
- Use perfect form. If you cannot, then you are using way too much weight
- Focus on flexing the working muscle as hard as possible when doing each exercise
- Do the exercises in super-set fashion. In other words, do chin-ups and then immediately after do dips.
- Cut out arm work in your workouts during the two week period and reduce training volume for the upper body by 50%
- Do not do this program for more then two weeks. After two weeks, train the arms three times a week for two to three weeks before doing another two-week cycle.
With this program you do eight sets of five on weighted dips and chins per day everyday. Ideally, you would do one set of each exercise each hour for eight hours during the day. However, this is not practical unless you work at home or have a dipping/chin up station in your office. Thus, try doing four sets in the morning and four sets in the evening.
Use a training load that you can handle for ten reps with perfect form, but just do sets of five. Use four-second negatives and a two-second positive on each rep. If this program is still not doable for you, then try the following:
Week 1 - Option Two:
I prefer compound movements such as dips and chins. However, the above program will also work well. Again, ideally do eight sets total a day spread out throughout the day. If that is not possible, do four sets in the morning and four sets in the evening every single day. Use a training load that you can handle for ten reps with perfect form, but just do sets of five. Use a four second negatives and two-second positive on each rep.
Week 2 - Option One:
This week increase the weight by 5% on both exercises and do two additional sets per day for a total of ten sets a day, seven days a week. This time around, use a five second negative and two second positive on each rep.
Week 2 - Option Two:
Same thing with option two, increase the weight by 5% on both exercises and decrease the reps by one. Again, do two additional sets per day for a total of ten sets a day, seven days a week. Use a five second negative and two second positive on each rep.
Okay, there you have it. Try this program for two weeks and watch your arms grow right in front of you. GTG is a very powerful method for increasing strength and size and can be used to blast through training plateaus for any body part. In the future, I will go over some programs for increasing chest size and legs.