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Even with the best intentions, we ALL get drawn in to working the ultimate t-shirt muscles – the BICEPS! Your height, weight and whether you are a natural lifter or not all impact how impressive those pythons of steel can look – so here we break down WHY and WHEN 14 inch biceps are GOOD!
At a glance…
- Arms should be measured when FLEXED
- 14 inch arms are good in the context of those who are shorter and/or with low bodyfat
- Shorter lifters have shorter limbs, so 14” by comparison is proportionately chunkier!
- Lower bodyfat improves the aesthetics of your arms with muscle separation around the bicep, tricep and deltoids. Further it enhances vascularity and therefore makes those bicep veins ‘pop’!
- Triceps make up around 2/3rds of overall arm size so do not neglect them!
- An average man has biceps of 13.5” – 14”, so 14” biceps are great!
A quick note: Measure your biceps when FLEXED
Unlike every other body measurement we measure our biceps FLEXED. So tense those muscles and get the tape measure ready. All the measurements in this article are based on FLEXED figures!
Measure your biceps by:
- Making a fist (thumb outside) and SQUEEZE it
- Pull it towards your face and tense your bicep as hard as you can holding your arm parallel to the ground
- Use a flexible tape measure around the thickest part of your arm
Some like to stabilise their arms by resting on a worktop or counter – personally I tend to freestyle it standing up.
Record your measurements over time to track your progress!
Personally I am around 5’7” tall with a reasonably low bodyfat. This makes my biceps – around 14” ‘cold’ – look well sized and defined on my otherwise fairly slight frame. So if you’re 5’7” I would say 14 inch arms are GREAT if combined with an otherwise good physique (13% – 14% bodyfat).
This is driven by shorter lifters (ahem…) having smaller limbs and muscles themselves – so PROPORTIONATELY 14” bi’s look much bigger on a shorter upper arm!
That said if you are tall or carry a lot of bodyfat which blunts the definition of the bicep then you will likely want to shoot for bigger arms.
Through a long bulk I ended up around 195lbs with a bodyfat percentage higher than I want to admit (around 25%). I had 16” biceps at this point.
Yes my arms took up more space than they do currently (14”) – BUT I got FAR less compliments on them simply because of the lack of definition. Lower bodyfat cuts nicely around the muscles showing some muscle separation particularly under the bicep where it joins with the tricep.
Another benefit to lower body fat is the traditional bodybuilder vascularity. That’s when your veins POP. This draws attention to the muscle and generally looks AWESOME! To trigger it we need to get our bodyfat percentage down towards 10% depending on your body. Note your veins are more likely to pop after a workout so you might want to check them out straight after your session!
So I would say that if you are a lean individual then 14” arms look great! BUT if you prefer to carry a bit more weight then it would be beneficial to shoot for bigger arms.
Triceps are VERY important to overall arm size as they make up around 2/3rds of our overall arm muscle mass. When we flex and measure our biceps we’re ALSO catching our tricep which runs along under the arm too.
In fact hitting direct tricep work is one of the easiest ways to GROW your arms size in my experience.
Try some kettlebell overhead tricep extensions, dips (weighted and unweighted) as well as skull-crushers (all for high reps – feel the burn!) to smash your triceps with volume and encourage them to GROW!
Can 14 inch biceps be considered ‘big’?
No, 14” biceps are not considered big. Not for an adult male around average height anyway. While I’ve picked up compliments on my biceps I am under no illusion that they are ‘big’.
14” arms would be better thought of as the entry level to the ‘looks like he lifts’ club!
I hit arms regularly and am aiming to grow my arms significantly – I would like to hit the 15” club through my next bulk while keeping bodyfat under control!
How to get big arms naturally
There are a TON of ways to grow your biceps naturally, here are a few of the simplest ways to get started:
Heavy compound lifts likely form the basis of your workouts – squats, deadlifts, bench pressing etc.
Many of these recruit the biceps – particularly pulling movements such as the chin up and row. These will give your biceps a bit of work when performing, but probably not enough on their own to really make your arms GROW massively on their own!
Direct isolation work
Direct bicep work will likely be needed to really grow your arms naturally.
I like to start simple by rotating in 3x sets of barbell bicep curls for sets of 8 at the end of a couple of workouts a week.
After that I like to then mix it up – rotate barbells out for dumbbells, do drop sets, myoreps, curling everyday, you name it and I have likely tried it!
The reason for the diversity is simply to keep it INTERESTING. I find bicep work fairly mundane so mixing up the modality of training keeps me interested and has ensured I have kept the volume up through a bulk & cut cycle!
A quick work on diet – if you want to gain MUSCLE we need to feed our body with enough calories and protein to ALLOW that to happen. We won’t delve in to the details of what to do in this article – but suffice to say we need to eat a high protein diet with reasonable calorie intake to BULK that muscle on to our arms.
This means when dieting – so in a calorie deficit – we are UNLIKELY to meaningfully add muscle to our biceps unfortunately (ask me how I know!) So if you want to lose weight AND get big arms you might need to pick one to focus on first.
There are some exceptions to this – for example those who have NEVER trained arms may be able to get some ‘noob gains’ in terms of arm size while cutting weight initially but these will fall away.
Arms typically grow an inch for each 10-15lbs of bodyweight added
As a rough rule of thumb I found my arms grew around an inch for every 10 – 15lbs of body weight I put on.
You can likely beat my results with more direct arm work than I was doing, but it’s a rough gauge that can be useful.
Average bicep sizes are…
ON AVERAGE – so ignoring height and bodyfat, two of the most important factors we spoke about above – females will have arms of approximately 13” diameter and the average man has biceps of 13.5” – 14” in diameter.
Those who lift more, are taller or carry more fat will be more likely to sit ABOVE these, and vice versa. This means those of us with 14” biceps are ABOVE average.
The obsession with HUGE arms
There has been a proliferation of HUGE arms in the bodybuilding world for a number of years. Do not be disheartened as 14” – 15” arms can still look GREAT on the right person.
Ask yourself: are YOU happy with YOUR arms? Remember that comparison against professional bodybuilders (with more time and commitment to their workouts and, from time to time, supplements!) can be the thief of joy!
14 inch biceps are GREAT – in the right context. If you have low bodyfat and are a shorter lifter then they can look HUGE! Conversely if you are really tall or carrying a few extra Christmas pounds then your arms may not give that aesthetic POP at 14” circumference.
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