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Thread: Do i really need direct arm work?

  1. #26
    Senior Member BFGUITAR's Avatar
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    Song I have trained for 2 years. My lifts are pathetic but my progress IMO has been fantastic considering what I looked like before. I have done a lot of reading in those two years, so I'll take what you said as a compliment? :P

    I did the big compounds and only noticed ANY growth when I started doing isolation. Higher reps helped a lot. Now you could say this is a personal experience thing but than again doing those curls will not have made my biceps grow any slower.
    Last edited by BFGUITAR; 08-24-2008 at 09:16 PM.

  2. #27
    Senior Member youngguns's Avatar
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    this is what i love about these forums, people can have an intelligent, civil debate over a topic without insulting each other and trying to put the other down. bravo gentlemen.

    to the OP

    i personally think a little bicep work wont hurt, but i dont think its necessary, chins, pull ups, lat pull downs, and rows (which you should be doing any ways) work your biceps pretty well, or atleast they work mine. just make sure you dont over do the biceps, because the triceps are 75% of your arms so, treat them well, or hate them and make them pay for taking so much space (if you know what i mean).
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  3. #28
    Senior Member brihead301's Avatar
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    This is a never-ending debate. Direct arm work or no direct arm work?

    Do curls work your biceps? yes. Do skull crushers work your triceps? yes.

    Do chin-ups work your biceps? yes. Do bench and OH press work your triceps? yes.

    Personally, I don't do any direct work. Ever since I started doing the Starting Strength routine about 6 months ago, I have absolutely no need for any isolation work (except the 2 - 3 sets of situps I do at the end of my workouts). My arms are actually disproportionately (sp??) big compared to the rest of my body too. Then again, my arms always grew much faster then anything else.

    So that's just me.

    You wanna do direct arm work, go for it. Do you need it if you are already doing all the other major lifts? Probably not.

  4. #29
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    I realize I'm a little late on this thread but time for a VISUAL AID...this will answer some questions and create some more.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyKSE...eature=related

    Now this video answers those questions that just popped up in your mind...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mBxx...eature=related


    PS...the music sucks so mute
    Last edited by catman; 08-29-2008 at 12:28 AM.

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jorge Sanchez View Post
    A little bit off topic, but a lot of the male gymnasts in the Olympics have really big biceps - I mean disproportionately large - and I think it just looks kind of funny.

    If big biceps are really important to you, yes do a few sets a week, but don't go overboard. It's not really going to help you all that much if you have the rest of your training dialed in, anyways.
    Apparently the biceps do a lotta work stabilizing the body or something while executing a technique.

  6. #31
    Lifting addict powerboy93's Avatar
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    btw guys I do very little bicep work :

    2x 12 reps curls
    2x 12 reps hammer curls

    ----------------------------

    close grip bench 3x8
    skull crushers 2x8

    my arm work
    Lifting is my life

    I am 15
    @ 155 lbs

  7. #32
    SchModerator ZenMonkey's Avatar
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    I didn't read all of the posts before mine but in my opinion if someone feels they need more arm work the they should:
    1)look in the mirror- look at you legs, back and chest
    2)look at your arms

    If you still think you need more arm focus after this then by all means throw in some dips or something. I would be willing to bet that the majority of the "arm threads" should be dispelled if the OPs objectively judged their bodies. i would go so far to say that:

    If compound movements activate more muscle and induce more test production then this will induce better gains than otherwise. cp
    If the OP really and truly wants to get bigger then the OP would be obliged to focus less on non-compound movements. cp
    Compound movements do induce more test production and more muscle activation and result in more gains.
    The OP wants to get bigger
    ----
    :. The OP is obliged to focus more on compound movements than not.
    Last edited by ZenMonkey; 08-30-2008 at 12:40 PM.
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  8. #33
    SchModerator ZenMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by powerboy93 View Post
    btw guys I do very little bicep work :

    2x 12 reps curls ROW
    2x 12 reps hammer curls CLEANS

    ----------------------------

    close grip bench 3x8
    skull crushers 2x8 DIPS

    my arm work
    I think thats too much isolation. If you did the above suggested in red instead you would be a monster.

    Doing 4 different arm movements will do comparitively nothing for someone who possesses your stats. Sorry, its the truth. I do no direct arm work except some dips from time to time and my arms are huge- actually somewhat disproportionately larger that they should be hanging at the rest of my body. YOU NEED TO FOCUS ON MAJOR COMPOUND MOVEMENTS NOT ISOLATION WORK. <......Period.
    Last edited by ZenMonkey; 08-30-2008 at 07:19 AM.
    Sarvamangalam!

  9. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZenMonkey View Post
    I think thats too much isolation. If you did the above suggested in red instead you would be a monster.
    Three exercises is too much isolation, at two sets apiece? I don't consider close grip benches as an isolation movement, I'm surprised you do. Are wide grip benches an isolation movement as well?
    Doing 4 different arm movements will do comparitively nothing for someone who possesses your stats. Sorry, its the truth.
    Based on what? Compared to what? Doing isolation work only, OK. Doing isolation work with compound work, don't agree. Please tell us at what stats arm work will help someone. 1200 total, 1500 total?

    I do no direct arm work except some dips from time to time and my arms are huge- actually somewhat disproportionately larger that they should be hanging at the rest of my body.
    Funny that you even consider dips an arm movement, but OK. Take this however you want, but looking at your pics, I wouldn't consider your arms to be huge, unless they're just bad pics. Bigger than average, sure, huge, no. I don't have big arms either (just over 17"), so I'm not looking to put you down, but saying you have huge arms is subjective and misleading if the OP doesn't agree.
    YOU NEED TO FOCUS ON MAJOR COMPOUND MOVEMENTS NOT ISOLATION WORK. <......Period.

    I don't think anyone has said differently, the argument has been whether direct work will help or not, not to focus on isolation work. I'm off the arm work is bad bandwagon. After really thinking about it, my arms have always grown best when I had some direct arm work. Didn't have to be a lot, but something. I'm not foolish enough to say you have to have direct arm work because that's what worked for me, but I will say that I don't think a little arm work is going to hurt anything and even if it only helps a little, that's still a good thing, right?

  10. #35
    SchModerator ZenMonkey's Avatar
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    I dont know the size of them but they fill out a large shirt pretty well. Many times not at all. Maybe its may lats, I don't know. Also, the pictures are after 8 Weeks of no lifting from broken fingers.

    All I was getting at is compound movements would benefit the OP more than isolation. Yes a generalization. Dips are not an arm movement but can be varied to hit the tris more- I just used those as an example, not really thinking.

    I agree with everything you said.
    Sarvamangalam!

  11. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZenMonkey View Post
    I dont know the size of them but they fill out a large shirt pretty well. Many times not at all. Maybe its may lats, I don't know. Also, the pictures are after 8 Weeks of no lifting from broken fingers.

    All I was getting at is compound movements would benefit the OP more than isolation. Yes a generalization.
    I don't disagree with this at all, but I see compounds as a total benefit. I see arm work as a little extra. When people are working hard to get bigger, a little extra is a nice thing and does add up over time.

    Dips are not an arm movement but can be varied to hit the tris more- I just used those as an example, not really thinking.
    That's what I figured you were saying.

    I agree with everything you said.
    I just don't agree with the mentallity (not you, in general on this board) on this board concerning arm work. Too many are quick to say, do the compounds and your arms will get huge. There's good reasoning behind that (too many curl jockeys for one), but in a bodybuilding section with a ton of newer members, it can be misleading. Should someone focus on arm work, not if they want to get big. Can someone throw some are work in from time to time, sure. Will it be the main reason their arms grow, probably not. Will it help, maybe. Will it hurt gains, less likely than helping (from my experience).
    Last edited by Mike G; 08-30-2008 at 07:13 PM.

  12. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike G View Post
    I don't think anyone has said differently, the argument has been whether direct work will help or not, not to focus on isolation work. I'm off the arm work is bad bandwagon.

    No one has said direct arm work is bad. It is best left for those who are NOT newbies however for the reasons I listed above and in other threads. Newbies should be training the big compounds as in SS or Bill Starr's 5x5. Once they have got those down and are moving some respectable weight in those lifts, they can start thinking about adding arm training.

    After really thinking about it, my arms have always grown best when I had some direct arm work. Didn't have to be a lot, but something. I'm not foolish enough to say you have to have direct arm work because that's what worked for me, but I will say that I don't think a little arm work is going to hurt anything and even if it only helps a little, that's still a good thing, right?

    A little arm work isn't going to hurt anything...the problem is that it rarely stays at just a little for most new trainers. It tends to become a major distraction. Which is probably why Rippetoe doesn't include direct arm training in his routine for new trainers.
    Look at all the arm questions in the last few weeks on just these forums alone. If they were leg and back questions (which they might become once we get their focus off arms) then it may have much more relevance to their training.

  13. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Songsangnim View Post
    No one has said direct arm work is bad. It is best left for those who are NOT newbies however for the reasons I listed above and in other threads. Newbies should be training the big compounds as in SS or Bill Starr's 5x5. Once they have got those down and are moving some respectable weight in those lifts, they can start thinking about adding arm training.
    A little arm work isn't going to hurt anything...the problem is that it rarely stays at just a little for most new trainers. It tends to become a major distraction. Which is probably why Rippetoe doesn't include direct arm training in his routine for new trainers.
    Look at all the arm questions in the last few weeks on just these forums alone. If they were leg and back questions (which they might become once we get their focus off arms) then it may have much more relevance to their training.
    Why would you want to limit newbie gains? If a little arm work isn't bad and might help, why not add it in? I know about your reasoning, but I don't agree with it. I know it's from 20 years of experience, mines from 14 and training over a hundred football players and even more members at the gym I worked at. Almost everyone of them was new to lifting when I started to work them. When I would explain the importance of focusing on compound work and adding some isolation work in, they decreased their isolation work. A few added sets isn't a distraction and if it keeps the lifter happy, it's a good thing. I've gone the route of telling them not to do direct arm work and have always found it to be a negative. When I tell them to do it at the end of a workout (like Paul Stagg has said many times), they make better gains. In my personal experience I've always had the best gains when I had some arm work, especially for my biceps.

    Rippetoe isn't a bodybuilding program, so using him as your example is poor. He doesn't even like bodybuilding, so it's even less relevant. Considering part of this section is bodybuilding, that does matter.

    We mostly agree on this topic, so I'm not going to argue with you over minor details. Arm work isn't going to hurt and might help. It should be limited and an addition to heavy compound work. I think that sums it up best.

  14. #39
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    I didn't do much if any direct arm work in the first 6 months of my training (mostly from the negative posts about direct arm work on this board), didn't get much arm growth in that time.
    I've just recently incorporated arm work in my routine and notice much better gains on my arms.

  15. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike G View Post
    Why would you want to limit newbie gains?

    Biceps are a small bodypart. I doubt newbies are going to see any noticable gains from doing curls apart from the heavy compound work their arms are involved in already. If anything, it's the other way around. Most people who complain about not seeing gains are those who do arm work and plenty of it to boot

    If a little arm work isn't bad and might help, why not add it in? I know about your reasoning, but I don't agree with it. I know it's from 20 years of experience, mines from 14 and training over a hundred football players and even more members at the gym I worked at. Almost everyone of them was new to lifting when I started to work them. When I would explain the importance of focusing on compound work and adding some isolation work in, they decreased their isolation work. A few added sets isn't a distraction and if it keeps the lifter happy, it's a good thing.

    But the question here is, do a few sets of curls really make a difference? If you did NOTHING but a few sets of curls every workout, would you grow much? This seems to directly contradict the posters on here who claim they see curl jockies who have really big well-developed arms. The curl jockies didn't get those by doing a few sets of curls.

    I just find it really hard to believe that all people change in their routine is to simply add four or five sets of curls and suddenly their arms explode with size, given that the bicep isn't even the biggest arm muscle (I'll get back to this later)


    I've gone the route of telling them not to do direct arm work and have always found it to be a negative. When I tell them to do it at the end of a workout (like Paul Stagg has said many times), they make better gains. In my personal experience I've always had the best gains when I had some arm work, especially for my biceps.

    Well in mine and many others that I have trained, I've found that focusing on compounds and eliminating arm work for a while has bought about better results. If you have plenty of time and energy go ahead throw in a few curls. But if you have limited time and energy (like most peope these days) IMNSHO you'd be better served by focusing it on getting your compounds up, if size and strength are your goals.

    Rippetoe isn't a bodybuilding program, so using him as your example is poor. He doesn't even like bodybuilding, so it's even less relevant. Considering part of this section is bodybuilding, that does matter.

    WHAT? Strength and bodybuilding programs are NOT exclusive. Therefore it is very relevant. At the elite level yes there may be specific differences which matter, at the beginner level (which we are discussing) no. That's why so many people recommend Starting Strength for beginners regardless. Later on as they become more advanced, they can experience and specialise.

    We mostly agree on this topic, so I'm not going to argue with you over minor details. Arm work isn't going to hurt and might help. It should be limited and an addition to heavy compound work. I think that sums it up best.
    Depends on the ARM work. Curls aren't the only thing here. (I told you I'd get back to this) Triceps make up nearly 2/3 of the arm size. What would you do to gain size for them?
    Kickbacks/pushdowns (isolation) or dips/bench (compound)?
    Stimulation (as long as diet provides enough calories) makes muscles grow. All other things being equal, compound exercises stimulate the muscles more.
    Last edited by Songsangnim; 08-31-2008 at 08:30 PM.

  16. #41
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    I live by squat bench and deads but doing direct arm work once a week gave my arms alot more size. I just do two excersises per muscle


    Bi's- Barbell curls
    Preacher curls

    Tri
    CGBP or weighted dips
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  17. #42
    IRL my name is Trent Hazerboy's Avatar
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    Oh lord, another one of these threads. Sometimes I feel like we're going in circles. How about we go back to the OP's question?

    Quote Originally Posted by powerboy93 View Post
    Can I just do the Bench,DL,Squat and still get great arm growth?
    Yes, up to a point. Will you have gotten better gains if you had done curls, tricep extensions, etc? This is essentially the question everyone here has been trying to answer. I will spell it out for you:

    No one on this board knows *your* body and what will work best for *you,* so ya'll stop arguing about it.

    All we have is our own personal experience. "I did this and this and this and it worked REAL well for me, thus I have proved my point." Take this with a grain of salt. On specific stuff like this you really just have to out and try it yourself.

    My advice to you? Gain 20 lbs. Add an inch to your quads, your chest, your back, all using deadlifts, squats, bench, rows, etc, and eating a ton of food, then see how much bigger your arms have gotten. Your body likes to grow as a unit--- your not a bunch of parts--so train it that way. Once you've done this, then decide how much direct arm work you want or need. Whichever you do, afterward don't can come back here and say something like:

    "Well, once I started doing direct arm work my arms started progressing nicely," completely forgetting that the guy you're giving advice to is a newbie and would probably benefit the most by just getting bigger all around, not focusing so much on specifics, cause at the noobie's level its not such a big deal. There's more than one way to skin a cat, and at his level something like this isn't going to make much of a difference. How much bigger do you really think his arms are going to get by adding/not adding direct arm work in the next 12 weeks? Half an inch? A quarter of an inch? Not even that. What about the next six months? None of us know. Just let the kid figure out what works best for him and save us all a bunch of grief.

    And Here's where I go on a rant: Ever think about how impossibly difficult it is to quantity terms like "progressing nicely" when people talk about lifting? "After I added this exercise in my [insert bodypart or lift] started progressing nicely. By the way some people talk about their gains you'd think they'd done a double blind university funded study to prove how many inches an extra two sets of curls a week added to their biceps. Shoot guys, most of you probably just ate an extra few cheeseburgers over the weeks, and your arms got bigger from the same old crap you've always been doing. Your conclusion? CURLS MAKE MY ARMS BIGGER CAUSE I PROVED IT WITH MAH ROUTINE SO THIS IS TRUE FO' EVERYONE NOW LETS ARGUE ABOUT IT!

    We know what generally works for people, and then there's what works for us. Confusing the two is just arrogance.
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  18. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Songsangnim View Post
    Biceps are a small bodypart. I doubt newbies are going to see any noticable gains from doing curls apart from the heavy compound work their arms are involved in already. If anything, it's the other way around. Most people who complain about not seeing gains are those who do arm work and plenty of it to boot
    I've said that adding some curls probably won't make much of a difference, thanks for agreeing with me. Please stop with the "plenty of it: argument, since I am not advocating doing much direct work.

    But the question here is, do a few sets of curls really make a difference? If you did NOTHING but a few sets of curls every workout, would you grow much? This seems to directly contradict the posters on here who claim they see curl jockies who have really big well-developed arms. The curl jockies didn't get those by doing a few sets of curls.
    If they add even a little and by your own account, aren't going to hurt, why is it a big deal to add a few sets a week? Again, I've said before they will most likely not be the reason your arms get bigger, but they might help.

    I just find it really hard to believe that all people change in their routine is to simply add four or five sets of curls and suddenly their arms explode with size, given that the bicep isn't even the biggest arm muscle (I'll get back to this later)

    I've never said adding a few sets made my arms explode. I don't have big arms for one and I've agreed with you on this several times already.

    Well in mine and many others that I have trained, I've found that focusing on compounds and eliminating arm work for a while has bought about better results.
    How do you know what the results would have been if they had a few sets added in? Of course their arms will get bigger as they get stronger, but just like my experience, there are too many variables to say this one change is the reason.

    If you have plenty of time and energy go ahead throw in a few curls. But if you have limited time and energy (like most peope these days) IMNSHO you'd be better served by focusing it on getting your compounds up, if size and strength are your goals.

    How much time do you think four sets of curls a week adds in? A few minutes, tops? With as much time as you spend on here, you probably have the time to do some. Again, what's the harm? You've already said there is none. Concerning compounds, read my other posts, I've said the same thing already.

    WHAT? Strength and bodybuilding programs are NOT exclusive. Therefore it is very relevant. At the elite level yes there may be specific differences which matter, at the beginner level (which we are discussing) no. That's why so many people recommend Starting Strength for beginners regardless. Later on as they become more advanced, they can experience and specialise.

    I didn't say they were exlusive, but when you are using a strength routine that focuses on strength, not size, it loses some relevance. Throw in that the founder of the program does not advocate bodybuilding and it does make a difference. It is a good program, I don't disagree with that.

    Depends on the ARM work. Curls aren't the only thing here. (I told you I'd get back to this) Triceps make up nearly 2/3 of the arm size. What would you do to gain size for them?
    Throwing out a very well known fact on this board isn't impressive. Or maybe you think I'm new to this and this was going to be a shocker to hear.
    Kickbacks/pushdowns (isolation) or dips/bench (compound)?
    I would focus on the compounds, like I have said many times. I might add in some skull crushers, just like I would add in some heavy curls if I was worried about size.
    Stimulation (as long as diet provides enough calories) makes muscles grow. All other things being equal, compound exercises stimulate the muscles more.
    If you followed your own sig, you would see that we pretty much agree on this topic. Neither think arm work will hurt, neither think it will make much of a difference. Where we disagree is on the thinking that even if it makes a minor difference, it's worth the small amount of time and effort. I'm done with this, as I'm sure you will find another sentence to disagree with, because that's what you do.

  19. #44
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    I've said that adding some curls probably won't make much of a difference, thanks for agreeing with me. Please stop with the "plenty of it: argument, since I am not advocating doing much direct work.

    (I haven't been on here in a while I've been on vacation so I just saw this)

    That was not my argument to begin with. I was simply pointing out that it appears that those who complain about lack of arm size are already doing direct arm work.


    If they add even a little and by your own account, aren't going to hurt, why is it a big deal to add a few sets a week? Again, I've said before they will most likely not be the reason your arms get bigger, but they might help.

    It's not a big deal, I simply think that newbies should focus on the compounds and not get side-tracked on what adds up to cometic work.


    I've never said adding a few sets made my arms explode. I don't have big arms for one and I've agreed with you on this several times already.

    But there are people on here claiming that when they added direct work that their arms became bigger (noticably so) even more so than compounds

    How do you know what the results would have been if they had a few sets added in? Of course their arms will get bigger as they get stronger, but just like my experience, there are too many variables to say this one change is the reason.

    How do I know? Because when arm work was removed they grew. Now a couple of sets may not have hurt...but if it ain't broke, don't fix it. This is what is wrong with many trainees today. They can't resist tweaking an already successful program and tweaking it and tweaking it until it is a completely new program (all in the name of finding the optimal one) Invariably this is the case with almost everyone I've trained


    How much time do you think four sets of curls a week adds in? A few minutes, tops? With as much time as you spend on here, you probably have the time to do some. Again, what's the harm? You've already said there is none. Concerning compounds, read my other posts, I've said the same thing already

    As much time as I spend on here? Aside from the fact that personal jabs such as this add nothing to the argument at hand, I teach 13 hours a week but am on-site for 40. Now if you have something relevant to say, go ahead. But personal attacks simply make people think that is all you have, because you can't refute the arguments.

    I didn't say they were exlusive, but when you are using a strength routine that focuses on strength, not size, it loses some relevance. Throw in that the founder of the program does not advocate bodybuilding and it does make a difference. It is a good program, I don't disagree with that.

    I guess we will have to agree to disagree on the relevance part.

    Throwing out a very well known fact on this board isn't impressive. Or maybe you think I'm new to this and this was going to be a shocker to hear.

    Since you've been focusing on bicep curls all this time, I wasn't sure.
    However I was simply pointing out that compound exercises hit the triceps harder than any isolation exercises.
    Kickbacks/pushdowns (isolation) or dips/bench (compound)?

    I would focus on the compounds, like I have said many times. I might add in some skull crushers, just like I would add in some heavy curls if I was worried about size.


    And as for finding another sentence to disagree with...well I wasn't going to respond to this as it seems you completely misunderstood what I was trying to say...but I didn't want to disappoint you.

    HAND
    Last edited by Songsangnim; 09-08-2008 at 07:26 PM.

  20. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by BFGUITAR View Post
    I can't believe you guys honestly think this...

    3-4 sets of bicep work a week cannot hurt and will improve bicep growth!
    After my ME DL workout, I couldn't do 3-4 sets of bicep curls if you paid me to.

  21. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Songsangnim View Post
    Others may have reached this level of strength but might be holding back for some reason (a sub-conscious fear of injury for example).
    I think you hit the nail on the head. What's holding me back is more psychological than physical.

    e.g. fear of a lower back injury with deadlift or fear of tricep/forarm injury with chest.

    For isolation movements - There is no harm of a few sets of bicep curls after working back & a few skull crushes after chest.

    I am looking to spend 70-80% of my time in the gym on compounds and finishing off on isolation exercises. This is time spent not reps spent because I take far longer rests after doing a deadlift than on bicep curls.

    The exception with isolations (for me) is shoulders where I do quite a few upright rows/sides/lats/shrugs after presses .
    Last edited by alex11012; 09-09-2008 at 10:08 AM.

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