I have been training now, on and off, for about 4 years. however i still class myself as less than a beginner. Why? Well because im one of those poeple that THOUGHT the key to getting big arms was simple, the more weighted dips and bicep curls i do the bigger my arms will grow, period. I am learning though, and this has helped me and may help others, it may have been posted before but it really does hit home.
By Stuart McRobert
To get big arms, get yourself on a basic program that focuses on the leg, hip and back structure without neglecting the arms themselves. As you improve your squatting ability, for reps and say 100 pounds, your curling poundage should readily come up by 30 pounds or so if you work hard enough on curls. This will add size to your biceps. While adding 100 pounds to your squat, you should be able to add 50/70 pounds to your bench press, for reps. This assumes you've put together a sound program and have worked hard on bench. That will add size to your triceps.
If you are desprate to add a couple of inches to your upper arms you'll need to add 30 pounds or more over your body, unless your arms are way behind the rest of you. Dont start thinking about 17" arms or even 16" arms so long as your body weight is 130, 140, 150, 160, or even 170 pounds. Few people can get big arms without having a big body. Your unlikely to be one of the exceptions.
15 sets of arm flexor exercises and 15 sets of isolation tricep exercises with a few squats, deadlifts and bench presses thrown in as an afterthought will give you a great pump and attack the arms from "all angles". However, it wont make your arms grow much, if at all, unless your already squatting and benching big poundages, or are drug assisted or genetically gifted.
As your main structures come along in size and strenght ( hip, thigh and back structure, and the pressing structure), the directly involved smaller body parts are brought along in size too. How can you bench press or dip impressive poundages without adding alot to your triceps? How can you deadlift the house and row big weights without having the arm flexors, not to mention the shoulders and the upper back to go with those lifts? How can you squat close to 2 times bodyweight, for plenty of reps without having alot of muscle all over your body.
The greater the development and strenght of the main muscle structures of the body, the greater the size and strenght potential of the small areas of the body. Think it through. Suppose you can only squat and deadlift 200 pounds, and your arms measure about 13" . Your unlikely to add any more than half an inch or so on them, no matter how much arm specialization you put in.
However, put some real effort into the squat and deadlift, together with the bench press and a few other major basic movements. build up the poundages by 50% or more, to the point where you can squat 300 pound for over ten reps, and pack on 30 pounds of muscle. Then, unless you have an unusual arm structure, you should be able to get your arms to around 16" . If you want 17" arms, plan on having to squat more than a few reps, with around 2 times bodyweight and on adding many more pounds of muscle throughout your body.
All of this arm development would have been achieved without a single concentration curl. This lesson in priorities proves that the shortest distance between you and big arms is NOT a straight line to a curl bar.