I’m 5’8″ and my weight is currently 133 pounds. I’m 20 years old and my body type is very lean and thin (hardgainer). I would really like to build bigger arms. My work schedule does not allow me to eat as much food as I need to really put on weight. Is this important for building huge arms? Should I buy a weight gainer supplement or do I need a protein supplement? I just want to add some serious muscle to my small arms!
If you want to add some serious muscle mass to your arms then yes, you will need a good amount of protein. Generally, 1 gram per pound of body weight is enough protein to encourage muscle growth. In order to get bigger arms you need gain overall body weight and pack on size by eating a high calorie diet each day. Protein and weight gainer supplements will certainly help, but they aren’t necessary since all you need is nutrient dense whole foods. However, since you have a busy schedule, a protein or weight gainer supplement will make it easier for you. Take your body weight and multiply it by 18 and this is how many calories you need to eat every day. Since you will be working out hard and you’re naturally lean, you shouldn’t gain much body fat, however at your weight, you shouldn’t have to worry about gaining a little fat along with a lot of muscle mass.
If you are not eating enough calories each day and slowly gaining weight, then your arms aren’t going to grow much, it’s just that simple. Bodybuilders and fitness experts will all agree that your diet is at least 50% (if not more) of your results. You’re only in the gym for an hour a day so make sure to optimize the rest of the day by eating enough nutrient dense calories to saturate your muscles to help them grow and get stronger.
This brings up another important point. Don’t overtrain in the gym working out for 2 hours per session thinking that you’ll shock your body into growth. If the muscles don’t repair then they’ll never get bigger. Hit them hard with short and intense workouts and keep your training sessions to a maximum of 60 minutes per workout for the best results.
For your diet, stick to lean protein sources (chicken breast, tuna, egg whites), clean carbs (brown rice, yams, oatmeal) and healthy fats (olive oil, nuts, all natural peanut butter). Since you have a hectic schedule, the supplements will help for a quick and convenient source of protein and calories but when in doubt, always choose whole food sources for the bulk of your diet. Consider cooking food ahead of time and packaging it for later, or bringing healthy snacks with you (almonds, protein bars) to munch on during the day. Pre-made protein shakes can be taken to work if you have a refrigerator in your office kitchen.
When you are eating right and getting enough overall calories and protein, your arms will grow. You obviously need to make sure you are training properly and increasing the weight being lifted every week. It’s critical to implement multi-joint compound exercises into your workout routines for gaining size and strength. Compound exercises consist of bench press, deadlifts, squats and military presses. At your size, you really need to focus on packing on muscle with these types of mass building movements that target multiple muscle groups.
The triceps are the largest muscle group in your arms, so make sure to hit them hard and avoid focusing too much of your attention on training your biceps. By hitting your triceps hard, you will be able to add considerable size to your arms. Choose exercises like skull crushers, overhead triceps extensions and dips which are great for targeting the triceps. Here are some great mass building exercises to include in your arm workouts:
You might also want to focus on doing heavy barbell rows and back exercises like the deadlifts which are great for stimulating your biceps into growth. Although deadlifts don’t directly work the biceps, this exercise stimulates every muscle in the body.
For protein powders, try out Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey which is great and you might also want to checkout Pre-Load Creatine which is a dextrose and creatine based product that you take post-workout.
Finally, just make sure to increase the weight and keep making progress every week. If you can’t increase the weight, then change up your routine and try again. Sometimes, you will have to shock the muscles to get them to grow. However, at your current weight you just need to lift heavy, eat a ton of food, sleep and grow. Stick to heavy compound lifts and eat like a horse during the day and you’ll have bigger arms in 2-4 months for sure!