Week 4 Progress: Bicep Size Gains?

  • Hi Body For Lifers!

    I have a question regarding my progress (I have just completed Week 4).

    Firstly here's a quick picture update; some changes are now starting to become apparent:

    Upper Body At The Start of BFL:

    Upper Body At The End Of Week 4:

    My question regards my Biceps/Triceps. Here goes:

    1) Over the last 4 weeks I have increased the weight used for Biceps and Triceps exercises successively each week (i.e. I am getting stronger).

    2) I am following the Intensity Scale TO THE LETTER (i.e. going all out at level 9/10)

    3) I am measuring my Bicep/Tricep size with a tape measure each Sunday morning to track my size gains.

    4) In the 4 weeks I have been doing Body For Life, my Bicep/Tricep size has done this:


    Pre-BFL = 34.0cm

    End Week 1 = 34.5cm (i.e. increase)

    End Week 2 = 35.5cm (i.e. increase again)

    End Week 3 = 34.2cm (i.e. measurement has reduced from week 2!)

    End Week 4 = 33.8cm (i.e. measurement is now smaller than before I started Body For Life!?!)


    In summary, my Bicep/Tricep measurement has gone DOWN, despite me lifting more weight each week.

    This has knocked my confidence and demoralized me a bit. As I am lifting more weight than ever, and trying as hard as I can, I thought I should see an increase in muscle size (rather than a decrease)?

    What do you think could cause this to happen?

    I have brain stormed what I think could be causing this effect, and I have come up with the following (which I will investigate further):

    1) Measurement error on my part when measuring Bicep/Tricep (seems unlikely to me but will check)

    2) Fat may have been lost from my Bicep/Triceps, hence causing the measurement to go down (although if you look at my BEFORE BFL picture, I was pretty lean to begin with?).

    3) Not training hard enough (I am REALLY making sure I give EVERYTHING I've got on the intensity level 9/10 sets though. I am even doing extra reps if I I hit failure before reaching the required number of reps (I catch my breath for 6 seconds after hitting failure, and then do as many more reps as I can before I hit failure again).

     4) Lack of food. I have used the "fist sized portion" for carbs/protein/veggies since I started BFL. Reading around the subject, I see that Ectomorph body types (i.e. me) should eat up to 20% more than their "maintenance" calorie intake if they wish to build lean muscle mass.

    What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts.


  • You need to eat a lot more food, protein & carbohydrates.  If you want to gain muscle eat like it's your job.  20% over would be a minimum 40-50% better. Suppliments like creatine and HMB couldn't hurt either.  Don't neglect your lower body. exercising those big muscles has a positive hormonal growth effect. also no extra reps do ur sets and call it a day.

  • Thanks for the advice diverdog!

    "Eat like its your job" LOL!!! Well thats great, cause I love eating haha! :-)

    My "gut feeling" too is that I am not eating enough for my Body Type with the normal "fist sized" portion size for BFL.

    I have ALWAYS struggled with building large muscles in the past when doing weights, and I have always been very careful not to "over-eat". Possibly this "small portion" aspect has been limiting my growth for many years, I will start tucking in then!

    Thanks for the lower body advice. I am hitting it as hard as I can too. I am squatting with more weight than I ever have before, and the weight I'm lifting has increased week on week. Interesting that my Quadriceps measurement has also dropped (!) since I started BFL.

    The only measurement that is going the "right way" for me at the moment is Body Fat %. I started at 14.6% and now I'm at 8.4% after only 4 weeks (seems like a large drop) - maybe this points to insufficient food too.

    Thanks again for your help man ;-)

  • What Diverdog said is all true. To add a little to it

    You may just have lost a little water weight from eating less salt the past 4 week then you have been pre BFL.

    Also as the BFL book state if you dont need to lose fat and want to gain more muscle eat 2 portions of carb per meal. I suggest milk, lots of milk. if you drink a galon of 2% a day on top of your 6 "1 carb +1 protien" meals a day you will gain.

  • Also are you getting enough rest? you feel ready for your arm day and not very sore/weak from the last arm day?

  • For the record, Your progress looks fantastic! Your muscles are much more defined!

  • First I think your progress is very admirable,  I would suggest creatine (used in a cycle manner, 4 weeks on two weeks off) along with some EAS Muscle Armor or  EAS Beatagen to help you out.  I think you may not stil be getting enough protein, perhaps the SOy or Whey protein in a glass of water or low fat milk added might help out. Keep Moving Forward your photos show great improvement and  obviously you are quite dedicated to the Challenge.

  • I just wanted to comment on your pics. The progress is very evident!! Much much more defined. Keep going.


  • I was in the same boat, very long story short, I downloaded an app (cause theres an app for that).  My fitness pal, went from eating less than 2000 to 3600 calories a day....  I have packed on 33 lbs, with 3% body fat,  1 week left.   So as everyone has said...EAT   and load up on creatine, and find protein with branch chain amino acids built in.  My humble opinion, hope it helps.

  • Mykal, thank you for the awesome app recommendation! I have downloaded it. You can find me under the same user name as here. I have never counted calories before in my life. I am excited to learn how to work this, it seems fun.


  • For sure, i thought i told you about it earlier, but it is a great app indeed, it has helped me stay on track many times.

  • Thank you all for your advice! This is really helpful, and thanks for the encouragement too!

    @Linden: Glad you agree with diverdog. I am not sore when I come round to work out with weights for the "second time" each week, so rest is not an issue at the moment.

    @Mykal: Thanks for commenting man - you are the one person on the forum that resembles my physique the most. If you had to up your food intake, then that is the only route for me to take too! :-)

    I read a second fitness book that I have (Complete Guide To Strength Training by Anita Bean), and following the advice in the book, my recommended Calorie intake per day to gain lean muscle is 3900kcal per day! (so very comparable to you).

    That is WAY more food than I have EVER eaten before, but it very clearly explains why my body has ALWAYS plateaued when doing weights over the years - I always worried about eating too much food. Turns out I was always eating too little.

    Oh well, I know better now!

    I'll check that app out you suggested - thanks man!

  • Very welcome, keep pushin it brother!

  • Aurora82, as you can see by the various responses you’ve gotten, diet has a lot to do with what kind of size gains your body will display. Increasing protein uptake to around 150 grams per day (guessing you weigh around 150 lbs) will help your body repair the damaged muscle tissue in your arms by growing the actual muscle cells. I take creatine and other pre-workout supplements, but to be honest, taking creatine is a way to make your arms look bigger without actually making them stronger.

    Creatine works by storing water in the muscle cells, making them look fuller. However, a bigger, fuller muscle does not equate to a stronger, more defined muscle. Keep this in mind. It also seems like your portion sizes have been limiting the nutrients your body needs, so consider stepping up how much you eat, while still watching what you’re actually eating.

    Finally, try adding some exercises to your workout. My favorite bicep/tricep exercises are weighted dips, weighted close-grip chin-ups and twenty-ones. If you need any help figuring out how to do some of these, feel free to check out my site for some instructional videos. Don’t let your results discourage you. Too often people get discouraged right before they are about to make extraordinary gains. I hope this helps, and keep up the hard work.



  • I really think that you're worrying about nothing.  The problem is that you're losing body fat over the muscle, not the muscle itself.  Unless you were 6-8% BF when you started the program it was going to happen.  You're muscles will grow, but it's going to take time, and like others have said if you want to bulk you will have to eat more, but then you're going to add bodyfat as well and some of the inches gained will be bodyfat.  I would stick to the program as written and you'll be rock hard ripped at the end of 12 weeks!