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Is Anyone Able to Make 19-Inch Arms?


Here's a question we received recently:

"How many times a week do you have to train to achieve 19-inch arms?"

Allow me to share some hard-won wisdom. For a long time, I've been lifting weights. My arms were always a problem for me. The late Charles Poliquin used to refer to me as "Asparagus Tarzan," a German phrase. I'm not sure if he meant I was a half-naked barbarian raised in the jungle by an asparagus tribe or that I had arms that looked like spears of asparagus, but I believe it was the latter.

Regardless, I've tried every program, workout style, and gimmick known to bodybuilders, yet my arms remain my weakest body component. It's partly due to the length of my arms. Do you want that cereal box on the top shelf? It's no problem. Filling in the gap between my shoulders and elbows with muscle, on the other hand? Sigh.

Remotely, the only thing that ever worked was a bit of advise from Charles Poliquin once more. According to his experience, you need to gain about 15 pounds of bodyweight for every inch you add to your arms.

True, my "biceps" (more appropriately, my arms) expanded approximately an inch when I went from my regular fighting weight of 215 to 220 pounds to 235 pounds.

Still, according to his logic, I would have needed to gain another 15 to 25 pounds to reach anywhere near 19 inches. It wasn't going to happen. In any case, it wasn't the look I was going for. And when I returned to my fighting weight, I couldn't maintain the extra size for long, implying that some of the extra arm size was blubber.

What I'm trying to say is that your arm size is largely determined by genetics. I realize there are a bunch of genetically gifted guys reading this right now who are yelling all kinds of synonyms for bullshit, but these guys have no idea what it's like to be a hardgainer.

They might advise that someone like me should workout more, and if it doesn't work, they should train less. They may advise you to lift more, lighter, drop sets, work them once a week, twice a week, eat more, sacrifice a cow to the biceps god, and so on. Eff 'em, I say. I've tried everything. The majority of these guys, on the other hand, could fold laundry and still grow enormous arms.

What I mean is that if you're a regular person who wants bigger(ger) biceps, you should follow the standard bodybuilding rules:

Train your entire body.
Get comfortable with the heavy lifts.
Consistently consume more calories than your body requires.
Do a lot of pull-ups and bench presses with a close grip.
After that, you'll get your 19-inch biceps if it's in your genetic cards.

If not, concentrate on bodily parts that are less obstinate. But if you really want big weaponry, there's always steroids, in which case the old "grow 15 pounds rule" goes out the window.