My Take on Direct Arm Work

Posted by Jason Ferruggia

Some strength coaches and “functional training” guys have a thing against direct arm work. You shouldn’t train bi’s or tri’s because doing so doesn’t help you on the field or develop real world strength they say.

Others tell you that training arms makes you look like a narcissistic douchebag.

I see this kind of stuff in articles and Facebook posts all the time. In all honesty, I’ve probably said something similar myself in the past just to make a point.

The anti arm training brigade says that you should only train for strength or function, looks and aesthetics be damned.

The only thing they forgot to tell you was that they were a bunch of hypocrites. Why do I say that? Well, just think about it for a second…

If it’s not cool or hardcore to train for looks then why do you eat healthy foods or do extra conditioning? Because you obviously care about the way you look and don’t want to end up a big flabby fat ass.

If you have made these kind of anti arm training statements then I’m sure you don’t have any tattoos, right? Because the only reason to get a tattoo would be because you thought it looked cool.

It’s also the reason you buy a certain t-shirt or pair of jeans or sneakers. You think they look good and you, my friends, want to look good. You care about your appearance and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s when you truly don’t care about the way you look that you’re in trouble. If you really didn’t care about the way you looked you wouldn’t shave in the morning or even bother showering. Nor would you buy new clothes more than once a decade.

Not caring about the way you look is a BIG problem. It means you’ve basically given up on life and need some professional help. So don’t say that training arms is an act of vanity if you do any of the aforementioned things. It’s hypocritical.

To follow that line of thinking means you shouldn’t do high rep kettlebell work, chin ups, presses, hill sprints, or for that matter… any form of training at all unless you are an athlete and the training is necessary to help you improve your performance.

Some people use the tired old copout, “I train for strength and I don’t care about how I look.”

Of course you do. That’s just an excuse for your inability to get bigger or leaner and a way to explain your lack of dedication.

Even if you’re a huge powerlifter with a 46 inch waist you can’t honestly tell me you don’t like being bigger than everyone else. Hearing people say, “Hey big guy,” is a highlight of any lifters day.

I train for a variety of reasons and getting stronger is a very high priority. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care how I looked. Anyone that tells you that is lying.

And the honest truth is this- doing a few sets of curls a week is going to have absolutely zero negative impact on your training or your sports performance. In fact, if you’re an athlete, it’s probably a good idea in most cases.

Why? Because big arms look better than small arms and can intimidate your opponent. It sends a message. Nobody should have the goal of taking the field or court with a pair of pipe cleaners hanging from your shoulders.

The bottom line is this…

Despite what tough guys tell you on Facebook, caring about the way you look is a good thing. Training for aesthetics is completely fine. GSP and Reggie Bush both care about the way they look. And because of the way they look they get more attention than they would if they weren’t in such great shape.

So after you’ve gotten your squats, deads and presses out of the way, do your curls and be proud, damnit.

Stay tuned for an upcoming follow up post where I’ll get into more detail and share some updated thoughts on how to build bigger arms.

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