Back Squat for Big Arms


Your arms are stagnant, the growth is non-existent, you haven’t hit a curl PR in years and your arms don’t hold any tension to stimulate growth. Every trick in the book has been used yet you are still embarrassed to hit the arm circuit in your public gym. Hitting a pump is a massive struggle, the mind-muscle connection has been destroyed...all you want is some spark to ignite the growth of your arms!


What can be done…

Squatting has always been a problem area of mine. Long legs don’t make squatting overly easy, not to mention I am pathetically weak in my mindset when I get under a heavy bar. In the past, I have struggled to find that internal motivation, I have made excuses and quite frankly, I just liked to spend more time smashing arms and my bench press. That all changed recently.


My arm growth was stagnant around 19.5” and my bench press was stuck around 485lbs. A challenge ensued from two of my weightlifters. Jake Horst and Jordan Wissinger, both 67k lifters, challenged me to squat 600lbs by year's end. This was a tough challenge, not only did my squat suck (probably less weight than my bench press) but it also meant I had to push myself in a lift that I tend to HATE.


My bicep size had stalled and I hadn’t pushed myself in recent years physically, thus it was time to take on the challenge. Over the last 4 months, I have been squatting nearly every single day I train. Twice a week I train my upper body AFTER squatting. This means hitting high rep benches and stimulating sarcoplasmic hypertrophy after smashing my legs with 8-12 sets of back squat.


Over the last months, my squat double has climbed from 200 kilos to 230 kilos. My best set of four previously was 195k, it is now 220k. It’s clear, increasing my squat frequency has dramatically improved my squat and has led to better performance.


BUT, what the HELL does this mean for my arms?

During this time, I spent less time training arms but noticed something very positive. My arms have grown BACK over the 20” mark while my bench reps have improved from 405 for sets of 4 to 405 for sets of 8!

The biggest positive? My preacher curl AFTER squatting heavy is always heavier than if I did not hit squats prior to doing curls. Once I noticed this, I started to be more aware of my performance AFTER the squats. Over the last 10-12 weeks, this theme has repeated itself over and over again. Squats get smashed, arms get stronger and this has contributed to greater growth in the upper arm.

But why?

This has a lot to do with neural drive and heightening the nervous system ALONG with incredible hormone release. When executing a squat, our body is using over 200 various muscles. Science has also shown us that when we hit compound movements for over 6 sets, we have a higher release of testosterone and IGF-1. Couple this with smashing our biceps and triceps after squatting and all of a sudden, the growth period is bound to happen!

Give it away!


A typical squat to arm workout would ensue like this:

1A) Back Squat 6 x 2 starting at 80% and ramping up to a heavy double

2A) Back Squat Unbroken 2 x 5 at 70% maximum

3A) Preacher Curl 4 x 7/2 x 17

3B) Miracle Gro 4 x 7/2 x 17

4A) Tricep Pushdown 3 x 30

4B) Cable Curls 3 x 30

We use these principles in both Bize and Trize 1 and 2!



By heightening our nervous system through heavier squats and by increasing our neural drive, we know that this will lead to a greater overall performance from the body as a whole, leading to bigger weights on bicep and tricep exercises. When these weights are greater, we can hold more tension during higher reps, leading to a more intense metabolic response which then triggers impressive sarcoplasmic hypertrophic gains! Better rates of muscle protein synthesis are then achieved when hormones are released after heavier squats, transferring not only to incredible gains in the back squat but also bigger arms!

Dane Miller

Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of elite athletes building comprehensive programs for strength and sports performance. Several times a year he leads a seminar for coaches, trainers, and athletes.


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