father's arms, though never once having felt the resistance
of a barbell or dumbbell, easily measured 17-18 inches
around the upper portion and probably 15-16 around the
forearm. These measurements were incredible considering
the fact that he stood 5'10" and had a natural bodyweight
of 200 lbs. He was, in many ways, my first and lasting
inspiration for building my own set of big, muscular arms.
My father had grown
up on a farm in an era when working a farm meant exhausting
and backbreaking work from sun-up 'til sundown —
every day. His hand and arm strength, development and
endurance capacity were his major allies as he went through
the grueling hours of daily life. Knowing his history,
I knew his arms rarely rested. This knowledge would help
me in the theory of building my own arms later in life.
His powerful arms also gave me realization early on that
a man could gain incredible respect by the sheer appearance
of his arms.
spent a great deal of my young life fascinated with arm
strength and development. For many years I arm-wrestled
and entered curling contests. I worked my arms every day
from the day I turned 12. By the time I was 24, I had
developed 17-inch forearms relative to an eight-inch wrist,
and my upper arm measurement was approaching 20 inches.
It wasn't until I was stationed overseas in the Air Force
that I decided to compete in bodybuilding and, consequently,
I started training on my arms less, putting emphasis on
the other parts of my body.
I am 43. My arms though perhaps more shapely and larger
than my father's were at my age, have participated in
very different events than his. His felt the torturous
daily routine of survival, while mine used the more pleasant
— yet nonetheless painful — routine of the gym.
Intense training, coupled with my knowledge of nutrition
and recuperation, allowed me many advantages in building
my arms and the rest of my body. Ironically, my father
never once thought of strength and development as having
much use for anything except labor.
years of observation and training, there is little doubt
in my mind that the arms can take, and actually require
(for long-lasting strength and development), the greatest
amount of punishment and intense work. Having said that,
however, I have found that many short and intense workouts
are better than a few or many long, drawn-out ones. Before
we look at the workout itself, however, let us try to
understand some pre-determining factors for arm strength
was not genetically designed to be the mesomorphic work
dynamo that was my father. I'm actually a cross between
his rugged structure and my mother's more lean, ectomorphic
build. But I did inherit a good percentage of my father's
large wrist and elbow size (a key indicator of bone circumference),
while the length of my ulnar and radius (bones of the
forearms) and humerus (that of the upper arm) were actually
longer than my father's, giving me an even greater advantage
to develop big and powerful arms. Of course, when I started
lifting weights, I had no idea of my genetic potential
or what strengths might lie ahead. I simply wanted big
arms and I set out with an intensity that only a skinny
young boy could kick into motion.
recap genetic indicators: First, the larger your wrist
and elbows — and therefore, the thicker the ulnar,
radius and humerus - the more weight your arms can support.
Second the longer your arms are, the more leverage you
have to curl and pull weight; consequently, you have a
distinct advantage in developing the ulnar flexor (the
inside head of the forearm) and the biceps themselves.
Third, the length and insertion points of the tendons
and attaching muscles themselves give you either a greater
advantage or disadvantage for lifting capacity and development
potential depending upon how long they are relative to
the bone they attach to. This includes where the triceps
attachments are found relative to the elbow and shoulder.
one thinks of an arm, we tend to think of the biceps first.
Ask someone to "make a muscle" and inevitably
they will pose their biceps. This gives way to two interesting
revelations as to why the arms are such a symbol of strength.
First, it is the incredible human hand that makes so many
of these feats of strength possible. The arms, by design,
provide the directional and strength for the hand. It
is actually the biceps that turn the wrist and hand; therefore,
this relationship is extremely important both anatomically
all the fuss, the biceps are the smallest part of the
upper arm. In an attempt to maximize overall arm size,
however, many people work the skin off their biceps hoping
for a big arm, while neglecting the triceps and forearms.
The key is to think of the biceps as a muscle group that
needs heavy, intense, short training sessions. The heavier
exercise gives you the size and power, while peaking motions
can be added on occasion to help heighten your biceps
build your biceps, pick one major exercise — like
standing straight barbell curls — as your heavy,
intense exercise, doing three all-out sets of eight reps,
using all the weight you can handle without throwing your
back out. Don't let age deter you, but do be sensible.
On alternate days, do preacher or alternating dumbbell
curls with great control and strictness. As for peaking,
perform bent-over concentration curls. Make sure you work
this body part three times weekly.
as impressive are the triceps, and they are no different
than biceps when it comes to training. Hit them hard and
heavy, and hit them often. Train the triceps with two
things in mind: As much weight as you can handle and as
much of a contraction as you can manage under the load.
For instance, do pushdowns and overhead dumbbell extensions
almost every triceps workout because with these two movements
you really feel your triceps "locking out."
Coupled with the greatest amount of weight manageable,
triceps growth is relative to the intensity of the contraction.
Don't do one-arm kickbacks and overhead extensions unless
you have a really heavy dumbbell in your hand; so-called
"shaping" exercises don't work. Instead, push
as much heavy weight as possible to full contraction 10-15
times and your triceps will grow. Do 4-5 sets of two different
exercises, three times a week.
build massive upper arms — even after 40 it is imperative
that you train like you really want them. That means hard
work, performed frequently. It's not only quantity that'll
develop your muscles, however — you must use quality
for each movement. The one thing I learned from my father
is that there is no substitute for hard work, yet he also
preached that every job should be a job well done. I believe
these are also the keys to molding muscular upper arms.
Work hard and work smart, making sure not to cut any corners.
The results will speak for themselves.
Taken from Exercise
For Men Only (Paul Burke's Over-40 Fitness Column)