This is a common question any guy who has just started lifting weights will ask, most new guys walk into the gym and the first exercise you see them perform is usually an isolation exercise targeting the arms “biceps or triceps”, after a few days or weeks they disappear, most likely disgusted because they did not see the gains they expected in the first place.
Big arms are every man’s dream, right? Every guy wants “big guns” but what they fail to realize is that there is more to the male physique than huge arms. In my opinion, arms are secondary. Sure they look good, but there is nothing worse than a guy with big arms and a big chest that walks around with chicken legs.
You need to have the attitude “if you build it they will come”, in this case, if you work out your core body parts with compound movements, not only will you gain strength you will build a solid foundation where every muscle will become big and proportionate “even your arms”, plus you will have the added benefit of being just as strong as you look.
When you go to the gym take a look around, you will see most people avoiding the squat rack, you will rarely see people doing deadlifts, if you do, they are usually not lifting much weight, most gym-goers are using pulley machines or dumbbells performing isolation exercises, when, in fact, there is little or no benefit to doing that if you want to build huge amounts of muscle mass.
In order to gain muscle you need to do a few things:
Lift heavy: in order to pack on muscle you need to perform compound exercises, deadlifts, squats, bench press, overhead press, and barbell rows, in fact, there is a great free guide on a website I came across called stronglifts.com which is a great guide for anyone starting out and wanting to build up strength.
Eating: it is very important, if you lift heavy you need to replenish your body with good food, this will all depend on your metabolism, I have a slow metabolism so I can get away with eating 3 or 4 meals a day, if you have a fast metabolism you may need to eat more, 5 to 6 meals a day making sure you get plenty of protein.
Plenty of rest: in order for muscles to grow proper rest is very important, getting a good night’s sleep is essential, that is when the pituitary gland produces the most HGH which is essential for muscle growth, not to mention this is when your muscles repair themselves.
Compound movements vs isolation exercises
There is a big difference when lifting for esthetics versus lifting to build muscle, performing compound movements is better for building muscle and strength, isolation exercises are better for improving definition and making the muscle more esthetic, when I say compound exercises I mean 70% to 80% of your max and keep the reps between the 6-8 rep range, many will argue this point and do between 8-12 but this will vary from person to person depending on genetics and physiology.
The advantage of isolation exercises is the benefit of completely controlling the movement and isolating certain muscle groups, this could be considered the sculpting phase.
If you have just stepped foot in a gym for the first time it can be overwhelming, we all have to start somewhere, depending on your athletic level you will want to start slow, your first workouts will produce some degree of soreness but if need be skip a day, try to get a feel for the weight, this is where I do encourage using machines to begin stimulating the muscles and play it by ear after you get used to the weight that is when you want to set up a routine of compound weight lifting to begin to pack on muscle.
After 6 weeks or so you will begin to get into the groove of things, which is when you need to take a look at your diet and begin fine-tuning it, just continue to lift heavy and increase the weights week by week. You will know when you are at the weight you want to be and that’s when you can begin to mix compound exercises with isolation exercises, you can then focus on your arms and other body parts that need more work.