mind pump male fitness myths

1601: How To Build Big Arms, The Best Way to Train To Increase Pull-Ups, The Truth About Lifting Belts & More | Mind Pump

Key Takeaways

  • The best way to improve pull-ups is to practice pull-ups frequently, at a low intensity – just doing 1-3 reps often
  • Low-intensity band-assisted pull-ups are beneficial in building strength until you can wean off
  • Once you can do a few pull-ups without assistance, start adding in 1-2 reps with load to see big improvements
  • To build arms: low reps, high weight for compound moves; high reps, low weight for isolation moves
  • Work with a few different angles in each set of bicep and triceps training for max growth
  • Develop shoulders to increase definition in biceps and triceps
  • If you want to be strong in the real world – don’t use a lifting belt; if you want to be strong in the gym – use a lifting belt when you’re pushing your maxes
  • Be careful with lifting belts because they change muscle recruitment patterns and you can become dependent for lifts
  • To recover from overtraining: get a good night of sleep, keep hydrated, be sure to hit protein intake, stay active with mobility and stretching – deep tissue massage and infrared sauna if possible


The Mind Pump hosts are Sal Di Stefano (IG: @mindpumpsal), Adam Schafer (IG: @mindpumpadam) and Justin Andrews (IG: @mindpumpjustin).

In this episode, the guys host a Q&A and answer listener questions about the best way to train for pull-ups, increasing arm size, the benefits of lifting belts, and methods recovering from overtraining.

Training For Pull-Ups

  • Practice pull-ups often: not in a workout – but literally practice a few minutes every day or several times per week
  • Get a few reps consistently throughout the week with bare minimum assistance
  • If you have a pull-up bar over the door, do 1-2 every time you walk by and just focus on that without overloading or trying to do max reps
  • Bands are helpful in getting strength for pull-ups and tapering down from there
  • Tips: keep intensity low, practice frequently, don’t load until you have a few down
  • To see pull-up progress once you can do a few unassisted: if you can do a few regular pull-ups and sprinkle in one loaded pull-up

Increasing Arm Size

  • There’s value in both low and high reps
  • In general: lower reps, higher weight for compound moves; lower weights, higher reps for isolation moves
  • Compound triceps moves: dips, close grip bench press
  • Isolation triceps: press down, skull crusher
  • Compound bicep: supinated grip chin up
  • Isolation biceps: curls, preacher curls, concentration curls
  • Where you position your elbows tends to change the strength development and can get you over the hump of training
  • Rule of thumb for biceps: do one exercise where arms are by side, one exercise where elbows are in front, one exercise where elbows are behind you
  • Rule of thumb for triceps: do one exercise where arms are by side, on exercise where arms are in front, one exercise where arms are overhead
  • Developing your shoulders makes your biceps and triceps look more defined
  • Occlusion training is effective to add in part of a solid program

Lifting Belts

  • Unless you are competing with a belt, there isn’t really a need for it
  • Lifting belts are not necessary but they will allow you to move more weight
  • If you want to be strong in the real world – don’t use a belt; if you want to be strong in the gym – use a belt when you’re pushing your maxes
  • You want to be able to lift and squat without any assistance but can pull it out when you want to push it
  • Lifting belts do stabilize your core but triggers recruitment patterns differently and can cause some dependency
  • Core pushes out against the belt which creates the stability
  • You want a belt that’s the same width around the whole way
  • There is a skill to using a belt – you have to learn to engage properly with the support
  • Be careful not to abuse lifting belts, wrist wraps, and any extraneous support

Overtraining Recovery

  • Get a good night of sleep
  • Stay active: do stretching, trigger sessions, and mobility work instead of sitting on the couch
  • Nutrition: hydration, high protein
  • The body needs every bit of macro targets during recovery
  • If you have access: deep tissue massage, red light sauna
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Notes By Maryann

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