Why Are My Arms Not Growing? Can They Get Any Smaller?!

OH BIG ARMS, WHERE ARE THOU?

Have I ever mentioned that my arms used to be abnormally small? It was pitiful, I had the tatas that should have required a sports bra and the arms that a butterfly could crush (Now that’s a story for another time).

Twas a sad state that my arms were in, and people didn’t mind letting me know about it. But could I blame them? Society has determined that men have to have big arms (Because let’s face it, one day you’re going to have to lift a boulder to save a family of bunnies).

So what did I do? I became determined to get the biggest arms possible no matter what the cost! If anyone was going to save a family of bunnies, it was going to be me!

Why are my arms not growing?
Look at that bunny!

Time to Get Big Arms!

In case you didn’t read my earlier blog post about how I started my lifting journey (it was tragic), I had no clue how to get bigger arms (see that tragedy here). In my mind, getting big arms required two things:

  • A heavy dumb bell.
  • Lots and lots of reps.

So what did I do? I put on my trusty shorty-shorts (don’t judge me) and grabbed my 20lb dumb bell and went to work! And man, did I work!

I was blasting through reps, using every muscle I had, and grunting like a yeti in the Himalayas (they do exist)!

What I Did Wrong

Unbeknownst to me, I was trying to build arms in the worst possible way. By the worst way, I mean in the way that was going to not only cause me pain but also prevent my arms from growing. I didn’t do any preparation ahead of the workout, or research how to perform the lift, and it cause me a lot of pain.

Boy, was it intense pain.

My puny arms couldn’t take the intense amount of reps that I was trying to pull off, even if it was only 20lbs. My form looked as if I was trying to do the funky chicken instead of a bicep curl. The horrible form resulted in me getting wicked tendinitis in both my elbows, and my puny arms weren’t able to lift anything for a substantial period of time.

Why are my arms not growing?
Not a bad representation of my arms back then…

HERE’S HOW YOU REALLY BUILD ARMS

The secret to building arms is not in a high volume of reps, but low volume of reps with fantastic form. Here’s the thing, your arm muscles are not naturally large muscles covering a large area of your body. In fact, your biceps cover one-third of your arm, while your tricep covers two-thirds. For a muscle group that is this size, a high rep count is not the way to build.

If you work out a muscle group like your arms too much, you’re only hindering your repair and growth. That’s a big no-no when you’re trying to grow.

A great example for building arms is to practice your form and practice with a smaller weight. Also, you should concentrate more on your triceps than your biceps. Why? Look above: your triceps cover two-thirds of your arm. See how that makes a difference?

Arm Building Workout Example

Dumb Bell Bicep Curl

2 Sets of 8 Reps

1 Set to Exhaustion

French Curl

2 Sets of 8 Reps

1 Set to Exhaustion

Hammer Curls

2 Sets of 8 Reps

1 Set to Exhaustion

Tricep Kick-Backs

2 Sets of 8 Reps

1 Set to Exhaustion

T-Curls

2 Sets of 8 Reps

1 Set to Exhaustion

Tricep Press

2 Sets of 8 Reps

1 Set to Exhaustion

Keep in mind, everybody has their own way of building arms and knowledge of exercises that work best for them. However, this is a great example of lifting a small amount of reps with a moderate amount of weight and great form.

Use this motto when building arms: less is more!

IN CONCLUSION

I made a lot of mistakes when I first started my lifting journey. In fact, I didn’t know the proper way to lift and build my arms until a significant time had passed. Here’s what could have saved me: actually reaching out and trying to gain more knowledge on how to lift properly.

When it comes to your arms, less is more! Attack the right muscle fibers with the right consistency, without over working them, and you can build great arms in no time. So, to end this blog off in the Is This Lifting? way:

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

Why are my arms not growing?
Get to it!
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The Key to Success: Consistency

SUCCESS TAKES WORK

My workout structure and dieting was very hit and miss. By hit and miss I mean a total train wreck that consisted of a tub of cookies, garlic bread, and pushups every now and then.

To a sane person, that sounds like nonsense. To me, it sounds like the jagged beginnings of my workout adventure.

Why the Tub of Cookies?

That’s not a joke; I really had a tub of cookie dough that I ate through the course of a month (best birthday present ever). Cookie dough, garlic bread and fried chicken were the epitome of my diet back then. I’m not saying I ate bad all the time, but I had no idea how to eat right and what foods would work best to aid me in reaching my goals.

Honestly, I would stray away from the fried foods every now and then. However, school and work would take its toll on constantly, and I would find myself buried in a tub of triple-chocolate chip.

Sad but delicious.

Cookie Dough Dieting
You can’t tell me this doesn’t look good.

You Only Did Pushups?

No way! I did pushups AND crunches. I wasn’t going to try another curl after that horrifying adventure (laugh at my pain here). Pushups just seemed like the next viable course of action for a guy like me. Tiny arms, flabby chest, big stomach, I was all about those crunches and pushups!

There was only one problem: not only could I not find the time to perform my “workout routine”, but I didn’t consistently workout. I would always make the same excuses:

  • I’m tired.
  • I’ve been working all day.
  • I haven’t eaten enough cookie dough for energy.

Same old excuses got me the same old result: I saw no changes…and I felt miserable.

The Key to Success: Consistency
The Storm Trooper has the right idea.

MY SOLUTION

As funny as it seems, my solution was found in the most cliché way. As a New Year’s resolution, I decided I was finally going to take charge of my life and push myself to become healthier and stronger. From there, well…I actually stuck to it. I challenged myself to a new healthy lifestyle that I would consistently work on and not stray from.

I’m not going to say it was pretty, but I did quit eating tubs of cookies and instead started running on the treadmill. I did it all in baby-step increments: running 15 minutes, then 30, then an hour. I didn’t necessarily know what foods were the best to eat or how much of it to eat, so I did my research and started to consistently keep up with my diet.

I Started Noticing Changes

The title explains it all. I was in the gym 6 days a week just running and tracking my diet 7 days a week. From here I started to notice that I wasn’t just losing weight, but I was also getting more tone. My runs started to improve, my flab was no longer as flabby, and I gained a workout partner in the process.

Consistently running on the treadmill got me thinking, “What if I wanted to put on muscle?” I had never considered it a possibility before. In fact, I had never been put on muscle before so I had always had a stigma against it. However, I knew this was a new goal that I wanted to accomplish.

What did I do next?

I Conducted Research

I was a mad scientist behind my computer screen. I started my lifting journey with absolutely zero knowledge of how. So I hit up the internet, the library, and even some workout buddies. After what seemed like days of pure head banging (you try learning something from scratch) I finally came up with a workout and diet plan that I thought would work best for me.

From there, the rest is essentially history. It took a decent amount of trial and error for me to figure out what diet plans worked best for my body and what workouts worked best for my muscle groups. This process took a while because:

  • My muscles were not actually used to a weight training workout routine.
  • I had never put my diet to a strict lifting diet.

*All of this is natural for first timers, although I did get a couple of laughs when used a barbell the wrong way (don’t ask).

Putting myself in the gym consistently, and constantly testing out diet plans, helped me train myself and learn which avenues of health and fitness would work best for me. It was hard work, but putting in that constant time and effort was well worth it.

IN CONCLUSION

So what do I believe is the key to success? Consistency, hands down.

Sure, it wasn’t always the most glamorous thing to watch (definitely not for the other people in the gym). But consistency is the only way to actually succeed in your fitness goals.

If you don’t consistently stick to your workout routine, your muscles are never going to grow. If you don’t consistently stick to your diet plan, you’re never going to see results with your body and health. Improving your life takes time, commitment and hard work. If you don’t put in the consistent time and effort, you’re not going to see the results.

And news flash: you only have yourself to blame.

So, what do I always say?

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

The Key to Success: Consistency
Get it? It’s the Key to Success!

 

 

My Mistakes: I Couldn’t Lift Anything

MY STORY IS NOT A PRETTY ONE

I couldn’t lift anything…

No seriously, I couldn’t lift anything. It was actually pretty funny.

It was the summer of 2011, and I had just turned 19. I was determined to get stronger and riddled with muscles like all of those fancy male models. My goals were high and I had determination like no other. There was only one problem…

I had no idea how to reach my goal.

My Mistake

Here’s the deal, boy scout: raw determination means nothing if you don’t know what you’re doing. My stubbornness mixed with determination left me with the unwillingness to actually do any research to what it would take to get big and strong. I was 19, and all I wanted was to be eye candy for the ladies.

So with this new attitude on lifting, I decided to build my own workout plan and schedule (again, a no-no for a novice like me).

I had arms that could be snapped by a butterfly, and man-boobs that should have required a man-bra (maybe one day those will come into style). Naturally, I wanted to work on my arms the most to intrigue the ladies with the best gun show in the west! Armed with my shorts that were way short (I’m talking about some major knee cap game), spider man t-shirt (I needed his strength, okay…), and my headband (don’t ask), I started my workout process!

My Mistakes
The Shorts of Shortness…Thank your lucky stars you didn’t see me in these.

My Workout

I had a rinky-dink 20lb dumb bell that I found at a garage sale in high school. I’ve always held onto it, telling myself that I was going to use it someday to get big and strong. Now I was going to use it for my arms.

The 20lb dumb bell felt unnaturally heavy when trying to curl it (I told you my arms were puny), but I decided I would push through the pain no matter the cost! Here’s a breakdown of my routine:

  • Two Handed Curl – 100 reps
  • Right Handed Curl – 100 reps
  • Left Handed Curl – 100 reps

Now, if any of you reading this story know anything about lifting, you know this was a big mistake. When curling, or any exercise for that matter, extremely high-reps are definitely not the way to go. Trust me, I also had zero form to go with my zero knowledge of how to perform the lift. I was swinging my back, jerking my elbows, and slamming my arms more violently than a cocky rooster in a hen house (I apologize, I’m southern).

At the end of the workout I could barely lift my arms and couldn’t feel my elbows. Let me tell you, I felt accomplished and felt 20 times stronger than when I started.

My Mistakes
The Dumb Bell of Death…it was more intimidating back then.

The Aftermath

Lordy, I will tell you this was a whole new world of pain I had never felt before in my life!

The next morning when I woke up, not only could I not lift either of my arms, but my elbows were screaming louder than a pre-teen at a One Direction concert (they’re still the “in” thing right?).

My first thought was, “Am I dying?”

My second thought was, “Definitely. I’m definitely dying.”

In my stubbornness to actually read up on how to perform lifts or even plan a workout properly, I had completely neglected the fact that doing 300 reps with a 20lb dumb bell THE WRONG WAY would give me insane tendinitis in both of my elbows.

It was painful, awkward, and I had to try and explain to my boss why I dropped hot coffee on my lap my first morning at work. My tendinitis took a substantial amount of time to go away, causing me to wince in pain at the simplest of tasks.

IN CONCLUSION

Why do I mention this story to you? It’s simple, dear reader: I don’t want you to make the same mistake that I did.

I was stubborn, cocky, and didn’t have the right goals in mind in order to put together both a safe and beneficial workout. Instead, I grabbed my 20lb dumb bell and shorty-shorts, and went to town. All this did was put a bad taste in my mouth when it came to exercising, and turned me away from working out for a full 6 months.

Fast forward to now, and for the past two months I have been writing about the complete basics of lifting, body types, diet planning, and more. Never once did I fully go into detail about my workout horror story that turned me away from lifting. Not until a New Year’s resolution on 2012 did I actually return to the gym (after reading up on some how-to pamphlets). Four years since changing my mindset, it’s all been a great ride and I’m excited to see where my training will get me.

Now I have a new goal: to help those who are just beginning their workout journey to have a better understanding of lifting and training by informing them of best practices, dieting tips, and motivation. I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I did, I want you to succeed. If I can update my lifestyle from a shrimpy 19 year old guy who has string-bean arms and zero understanding to the lifter that I am now, anybody can do it.

That’s why at the end of every blog post I always leave my motto…

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

From Yours Truly
See you next time!

Fast Food for Muscle Gains

That’s right, the above title is correct, this blog is about fast food that can be eaten to gain muscle!

(Ah, I can smell the fried chicken now!)

Bodybuilders and people looking to gain muscle generally never look towards fast food as a viable option to gain muscle. In fact, fast food is widely considered poison for gains (Oh no! Not the Fat Fairy!). Truth be told, fast food restaurants can actually be more than just a cheat meal if you’re looking to make extra gains.

Let me show you how you can still keep your Big Mac game strong while packing on that muscle.

McDONALD’S

Though McDonald’s is widely considered a sin in the health community, the fast food chain has made strides towards healthy food options that are stuffed with protein and fiber. These options can be an easy go-to for anyone who is short on time or is just too lazy to go make their meal. Skip over the chicken nuggets and french fries, instead go after these meals.

  • Chicken Caesar Salad

This salad has a lot of protein (about 30g) and only 220 calories. Skip out on the fatty ranch and too excessive cheese and this could actually be a great meal for any diet.

  • Premium McWrap with Chicken and Bacon

If you’re looking for a wrap on the McDonald’s menu, this is a good one. With 37g of protein, 420 calories and only 13g of fat, this could be a viable option if you skip on the cheese and sauce.

SUBWAY

If you’re looking for a great and affordable option for fast food on your training diet, look no further than Subway. With a menu full of healthy and beneficial options, it’s hard to find a sandwich NOT meant for gains.

  • 6” Turkey Breast & Black Forest Ham

This sandwich is awesome for a diet. Coming in at only 280 calories, 4g of fat and 18 grams of protein, this is easily a great option post workout to give your muscle vital nutrients.

  • 6” Oven Roasted Chicken

This is the mac-daddy of Subway sandwiches to eat while gaining (I didn’t mean to reference McDonalds there, but that’s a great use of slang). This sandwich has 320 calories, 5g of fat and 23g of protein. Throw in the fact that it has an ample amount of carbs and vitamins, then it’s easy to see why this is a great option.

KFC

Admit it, you knew I was going to throw fried chicken into the mix. Chicken is one of the best foods for gaining muscle, see why here. However, when you fry it, it gets better! And if you avoid sauces and other fat dense options, you can enjoy KFC even on a tough diet.

  • Original Recipe Chicken Breast

This fried food option comes at only 320 calories and 14g of fat. Shocking considering that it’s FRIED. Include the fact that it has 37g of protein, and it’s a winner-winner-chicken-dinner (literally).

  • Original Chicken Sandwich without Sauce

Notice, without the sauce! Excluding the sauce from this fast food delight, you can get a meal at around 430-450 calories, 18g of fat and 25g protein. Note the best option, but it’s possibly the best fried sandwich option available.

IN CONCLUSION

Do I condone eating fast food on a lifting diet? Yes and no.

I will be the first to admit that during my bulking season I have a cheat day rather than a cheat meal. I like this aspect of my diet because I feel like it gives my body more fuel to work with when building up my muscle, and I’m willing to risk slight fat gains because of this. Also, having a cheat meal greatly increases the opportunity of successfully staying on track with a diet.

So therefore, eat at your own caution. But if you’re going to cheat, or desperately need some quick food to get you proper gains, these are great options!

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

Fried Chicken
                                              Fried chicken…need I say more?

The Best Dorm Room Workouts

Welcome back to college, young scholar! Or class-skipper, whichever fits you better.

Either way, welcome back!

So, did you get pressure from the family over the holidays to hit the gym? Gain a little extra from that amazing holiday food? Think that you can’t get a good workout routine in just because you live in a dorm room?

WRONG!

In this blog, we’re going to go over some of the best workouts to do in a dorm room.

  1. Pushups (Chest)

The pushup has got to be one of my favorite workouts ever made. Perfect for limited space, and requiring no equipment, the pushup is the hidden gem of dorm room workouts.

When down on the ground, place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Your feet should be set up in a way that feels right and comfortable to you and keep your body a straight. In a controlled fashion, lift yourself up – and then let yourself down.

With a Desk

If you’re looking to make the pushup more difficult, add a desk to the mix. Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, your body straight, and with your body angled do a pushup off the desk. This will give you a whole new alteration to the usual pushup, and will help you use your entire surroundings.

  1. Body Weight Squats (Legs)

Looking to sculpt those legs after a long holiday? Look no further! Body weight squats are awesome, and just like the pushup don’t use any equipment. The technique to this workout is to have good form.

Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, place your hands behind your head. Start by flexing your knees and hips, sitting back with your hips. Descend down to the depth that you are able, and quickly reverse to the starting position.

Add Some Knowledge

To make the workout more challenging, try adding some books, I hear those chemistry and history books are pretty thick. Keep the books chest height, and follow the same motions above. Remember, form is key!

  1. Shoulder Pushups

Never fear if you don’t have a dumbbell or bar to work out your shoulders, all you need is your dorm room floor! (Preferably cleaned of any trash or dirty laundry that it may have accumulated).

Begin in a standard pushup position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width, keeping your elbows locked. Raise your hips towards the ceiling with your toes planted on the ground. Your body looks like an upside down V. Slowly lower the top of your head towards the ground, but please don’t head butt the floor.

Hand Stand Anyone?

To alter this workout takes a little work. Slowly wall crawl your way up your dorm room wall. In a slow and controlled fashion, slowly lower your head to the floor and back up to the starting position. This should look just like a hand stand while you’re leaned against a wall. Please, do not do this if you are unsure that you can do a handstand, this could cause injury.

  1. Bed Dips for the Win

I promise, the name of this exercise is meant to be G and PG rated. This is another take on the classic bench dip, just utilizing the bed rather than a bench.

Using your bed, place yourself on the edge of the bed with your hands next to your hips. Move your hips to the front of the bed, then bend your elbows to lower yourself a few inches. Keep your butt close to the bed and dip your shoulders to at least 90 degrees. From this spot, push back up to the starting position.

Really? More Knowledge?

To alter this workout, we’re going to add your backpack to your knees while doing the dip. To increase the difficulty, add some books to your backpack. See, isn’t knowledge power?

  1. Crunch Time

This one is simple, just do a crunch! No equipment needed, minimal space, and really not much explaining to do. While lying on your back and your feet planted on the floor, raise your shoulders up until you feel tenseness in your abdomen. From here, lower yourself back to the floor slowly.

I Can Levitate!

Honestly, levitation has nothing to do with the name. I just couldn’t come up with something fancy for this alteration (sorry!). Raise your feet off the floor, in the shape of an upside down V, and balance them while doing a crunch. This will force you to keep yourself balance while utilizing all abdominal muscles to keep your form.

IN CONCLUSION

Just because you’re in a dorm room doesn’t mean that you can’t keep fit and work out on a daily basis. I hope that these exercises give you a good idea of what you can do with a small space and minimal equipment.

So, no excuses, get lifting!

 

Dorm Room
                                    A dorm room can also be a great place to exercise!

Endomorph Training

Following up on our Body Type series, this blog post will look into the endomorph body type and the best ways to train them.

TRAITS OF AN ENDOMORPH

An endomorph is characterized by being stocky, heavy and rounded while easily gaining fat. Although just because the endomorph type gains fat easily, they also have the ability to gain muscle easily. That’s why I like to call this body-type the “double-edge sword” body type. Training will give the endomorph great muscle gains and weight gains, however with each pound of muscle gained, they also gain fat.

FEAR NOT!

With the proper training regimen and diet, an endomorph can easily see more pros than cons in their body type.

So let’s dive in!

THE TRAINING

Training for an endomorph is fun! Not only do they gain muscle easier than an ectomorph, but they can also train their muscles groups more often than most. Keeping both the weight and work high will ensure the best results. Here are some tips to keep in mind with your endomorphic training:

Tips:

  • Strive to keep both reps and weight high while lifting. Anywhere between 8-15 reps will both break down the muscle while burning a lot of calories.
  • Include cardio frequently in your workout. A stationary bike or a fast walk on a treadmill, at least two times a week, would be a good start.
  • Your workouts should be at a high intensity utilizing compound movements. Working out with high-intensity basic movements will increase muscle building and hormones. Such workouts include: squat, bench, dead lift, etc.

THE DIET

The best way for an endomorph to improve their muscle mass in comparison to their fat percentage is to get to the gym! Endomorphs should be in the gym all the time, training repeatedly. Although, just as important as the training is the DIET.

Yes, rest days are important, along with not over training, but the best possible way to do this is to build up muscle mass so that the body has a higher metabolic rate.

Here are some tips to keep in mind with your diet:

Tips:

  • Keep your protein intake between 1g-1.5g per pound of body weight, this will ensure that you have the right amount of protein for muscle growth. At the same time, keep your carb intake limited, not completed depleted but less than your usual intake.
  • Increase your saturated and mono-saturated fat intake. I know, I know, aren’t we supposed to be avoiding fat? Not necessarily. These fats help with hormone levels, and the omega-3 fatty acids help with metabolism and heart function, so don’t be afraid to eat up!
  • Look for foods with a low glycemic index. Eating these foods will help keep glucose levels down, thus keeping the fat gains down as well.

IN CONCLUSION

The best thing to keep in mind as an endomorph is that you’re going to gain muscle easily, just at the expense of some extra fat. Don’t worry! With a proper diet, training program, and cardio routine, you can have great gains and progress!

Have fun, prepare, and get lifting!

Endomorph Training
                                               Train hard and eat right as an endomorph!