Want A Huge Upper Body? Squat, Clean And Deadlift!

Want a big upper body? Don't forget the big three!

I'm sure you all have heard the phrase "you ain't squat unless you squat." To me, I would consider that true. I've seen guys in the gym literally killing their arms with biceps exercises, and won't gain an inch on there arms. That's because their main lifts pretty much suck. I would consider your main lifts squats, deadlifts, t-bar or barbell rows, and bench press. Doing any type of curl isn't really necessary for big arms, but I would recommend that you do some type of curls so that you are actually tearing down the biceps muscle. The reason why your biceps won't grow very fast by doing an exercise regimen taken over by curls is because your bicep is one of the most smallest muscles on your body, and nothing else is growing along with them. So then your biceps stay the same size as well. Just your Quads, Hams, and Glutes are at least 60-70% of your body's muscle. Your upper only has the pecs and delts, and the lats are the biggest of the upper body. I would consider your whole arm equal to your calves (your calves should be the exact same size of your upper arm to be 100% proportioned). So if your lower half grows your upper body is bound to grow along with it.

How will you row 255 with some 13 inch biceps? How will you bench press 405 without having huge triceps? How will you deadlift 600lbs plus (without wraps) with 10 inch forearms? If you have not put squats in your routine please do so. You will grow so much faster than you would without them. I try to explain this to my school friends. The excuses are usually "they are too hard," "i have bad knees" or "I heard they do more bad than good." My answer is usually "OK then, stay small." As long you where a belt, wrap your knees, keep strict form, and don't go below parallel (when your thighs are parallel to the ground) you will be fine and you lower your chances of injury. But don't half rep it either. You should be able to squat your bodyweight X's 1 and a half for at least 20 reps or more. For instance Tom Platz could get under 315 and do 35 reps with it, and then after less than 60 seconds of rest do 25 more reps. If you really, truly have bad knees do the next best thing and that's either half squats or leg presses. I asked my friends dad which is a chiropractor about a couple of my friends having bad knees, and if they should be doing squats. He said "half squats are actually therapeutic on the knees, and doing heavy full squats puts less force on the knee than heavy leg extensions." Most people think the complete opposite of that. Then he said that leg presses are the next best thing from a squat. As for growth that goes. And as for the people who say that they are too hard. That's probably because you're trying to be superman, and lift more than you actually can. When you are in the gym you cannot have a big head, your ego hat on, or whatever you want to call it. Stick with your weight, and don't even pay attention to what other people are doing.

Instead of training your legs for power you should train them for endurance because your legs are being used the whole entire day. Doing a bunch of 1-10 rep sets doesn't cut it for me. So, I get under 225 and do as many reps as possible which is usually 12-15 reps. Then put the weight on the rack for only 10-15 seconds and get back under it again. I continue to do this until I reach 100 reps and then squats are over. Let me forewarn you to keep a trash can near by if you plan to do squats this way. If I had a nickel for every time I puked in the gym I would have a shit load of nickels. You will feel your whole entire body fatigue and not just your thighs when you do squats this way. Ever since I have discovered training my legs like this my upper half has increased a lot. In July I didn't do one curl the whole month and put a 1/4 inch on my arms.

I also train with doing very, very, very heavy deadlifts and will definitely make every part on your body grow. On deadlifts I usually start by doing the bar for about 100 reps to get every joint and muscle limber. I max out on every night I do deadlifts to build lots of power in my body. After getting stretched and warmed up I do 25, 25, 20, 18, 15, 12, 10, 6, 1or2 reps with 60 second breaks except for the last one give yourself 3-5 mins and then max out. You might want to keep a trash can near by on this one too.

And the last of endurance high rep training is clean and press. This exercise will bring you a broad shouldered Herculean look to your upper body. It includes the same movement as a deadlift except you must lift the weight over your head. I do high reps with this exercise just because it involves the legs, and forces your upper body to do another rep because your lower is not the least bit tired. I do 25 sets of clean and press, and the reps yoyo up and down. One set I'll do 50 reps and the next change the weight heavy enough to where I fail at 4 and the only break you get is when you change the weight.

Now bench press, military press, and rows. I approach these exercises completely different because they are upper body exercises. You don't walk on your hands all day....do you?? I don't think so. So, I keep the reps at 8-12 on all three exercises with 25sets and 90 sec to 2 min breaks.

This is how I do my off season training. It is completely all compound exercises for mass building, not muscle shaping. And I eat 6-7,000 calories a day, but that's another article. Here's my routine.

  • Monday - 100reps of squats with weight you fail at 10-15 reps and 10-15 sec breaks

  • Tuesday - 25 sets of T-bar rows 8-12 reps 90sec-2min breaks

  • Wednesday - 9 sets of deadlifts with the following reps and breaks above

  • Thursday - 25 sets of bench press 8-12 reps and 90sec-2min breaks

  • Friday - 25 sets of clean and press vary the weight up and down in between sets like from 45 lbs to 165 lbs on every set but you need to put enough weight on and take enough off to fail at...let's say 4 and 20 reps

  • Saturday - 25 sets of military press and 90sec-2min breaks

At the end of Monday and Fridays workout do a few sets of any kind bicep and triceps exercise. Every workout should not go passed 45-50mins. I do not recommend this workout to people who are just starting out, people who can't get enough sleep, play other sports, or can't eat enough. I do recommend this to competitive or recreational bodybuilders for "BULKING UP" training not cutting up. If you do play other sports it is very hard to go to practice and give it your all after a workout like this one. I found it too hard to even get in my fullback position after a day of squats, and I fell, I mean literally fell onto my QB and took him straight to the ground, oh what a horrible day that was. So, I stuck to basic strength training the rest of the season. And to the people who say this is too much training in a weeks time I respect your opinion and the way you train, but this is the way I train.

Daniel Martin