Direct Arm Work?

I know it's been awhile since the last update, but I've been busy with work and spending a lot of quality time with my wife and daughter.

I wanted to wish each and everyone of you a Happy New Year. Everybody puts down "diet" and "exercise" on their resolutions list. So check out the latest issue of Planet Muscle. I have an article in there titled, "Bedroom Body." Bottom line is we workout to look good naked, and this article goes over how to train for a body that attracts women.

Also, the Strength and Physique blog is now available for subscription on the Kindle Reader. So if you got a Kindle as a Christmas gift, then subscribe to my blog.

Q: Hey James, I'm going to start off the New Year running a back to basics 5x5 program. 3 main lifts a day. A-B split. My question to you is: Is there room and/or need for direct arm work while running the 5x5?

Most of what I've read by various strength coaches say there isn't room or need for it, with rows, chins, bench, and presses hitting the arms "enough".

What's your take on it? How much direct arm work could be added? Here's what I'll be doing:

Workout A
Incline Bench

Workout B
Deadlift (working to 1 top end set)
BB Row
Millitary Press

Thanks for your time

My Answer: It depends on how long you're resting in between sets for the 5x5 program. If you're resting 3 minutes or more, then forget about adding direct arm work. However, if you're resting 2 minutes or less between sets, then you can some arm work (at most 3 sets for biceps and 3 sets for triceps).

Now if you've read my article Direct Assault: The "Case" for Arm Training, then you know why you should train the arms directly if you want maximum size.  But this doesn't mean you train them directly all the time. Your arms respond best when you alternate phases of direct and indirect training.

In other words, if you've been training your arms directly for some time, then you should switch to an abbreviated program (like the one you've outlined above) for a few weeks. Your arms will grow, because you're giving some time to rest and swell up in size. Then switch back to direct arm training for another few weeks, and your arms will grow again.

Switching back and forth between direct and indirect training takes advantage of the backcycling method that I outline in Volumes One and Two.  So my advice is to keep the 5x5 program as is, and then add the arm exercises a few weeks later.
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