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Big Arms: What to Know, How to Grow

Big Arms: What to Know, How to Grow

Average: 3.8 (34 votes)
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There are many myths and hyped claims about arm size in the realm of bodybuilding. Find out the truth, and grow your arms.

Everyone wants big guns. You do, I do, and heck…even my mother occasionally strikes a double biceps pose, and flashes her 65 year old pythons.

In this article, I am going to break down two aspects of the race for bigger arms:

  1. What to know. I will provide you with vital information on just how big you can expect your arms to get.
  2. How to Grow. I will provide you with training tips that will assist you in reaching your goal of bigger arms.

What to Know - 20 Inch Arms

It is nearly impossible for a natural bodybuilder to have 20 inch arms. I say nearly impossible, because I don’t want to rule out the possibility that a 6’10”, large-boned bodybuilder with 40% body fat is reading this article.

Some of the biggest natural bodybuilders in the history of the sport barely crept over the 18” mark. Remember, they also had a reasonably low body fat percentage. If you have a body fat percentage over 20%, your arms will be bigger by an inch or two.

I have had arms pushing 19 inches. But this was during times when my body fat was up around 25%. When I lost weight, and fat, my arm size dropped dramatically.

Shoot for 16-17” arms at a relatively lean condition. Your arms will look MASSIVE.

What to Know – Bone Size

Small-boned lifters have a harder time gaining strength. They also generally have smaller arms. Of course, we can’t rule out genetic freaks. But with that said, if you are large-boned, you are on the fast track to having impressive pipes.

It may seem like small-boned lifters are cursed, but there is good news. Because of their tiny wrists, ankles and waists, 16 to 17” inch arms will look bigger, and aesthetically pleasing. On the other hand, big-boned bodybuilders often look blocky, and have less-pleasing lines.

Big Arms

What to Know – Genetics

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Larry Scott have two of the most impressive bicep peaks in the history of the sport. Sergio Oliva had thick, beast-like triceps. Following their training routines won’t help you.

You are a prisoner of your genetics. You can’t carve a bigger peak with hard work, nor can you plaster a Oliva-sized horse shoe on your triceps with endless sets of pushdowns.

They is what they is.

Understand, I am not telling you to give up. By all means, keep working hard! You have no clue where your genetics might lead you. (Well, some experienced lifters might have a clue) But if you have flat, lumpy biceps with a peak like a slow-rolling hill, more muscle mass will only exaggerate their current shape.

You can’t change the genetic shape of your biceps and triceps with hard work.

How to Grow – The First 2 Years

The fastest way to grow huge guns during your first several years of training is by focusing on heavy, compound lifts. These exercises include bench press, squats, deadlifts, and barbell rows.

If you only focus on your arms, you’re in trouble.

The first couple years of training produce the best results. The body is ready and willing to add muscle. And the fastest way to add muscle is by pushing for crazy strength on heavy lifts.

By adding more muscle across your entire body, your arms will grow. You can still do several sets for your biceps and triceps, but your primary arm builders should be compound lifts.

How to Grow – More Effort!

You can’t continue to use the same weight week after week, and expect to add inches onto your arms. It doesn’t work that way.

Big arms are made by big effort. Push yourself on every set of every exercise. Try for one more rep! And when you can perform 8-12 reps, add more weight! Effort!

Don’t waste sets. There’s no point in heading to the gym if you’re not pushing your body to the limit. Make it your goal to improve each week. This is the fastest path to quick arm gains.

How to Grow – Volume

High volume is not the way to go. I’m not telling you to perform only one working set like Mr. Olympia, Dorian Yates. What I am telling you is this – you do NOT need to perform 20 sets for biceps and triceps each week.

Most natural bodybuilders grow MORE with lower volume. Each of us is different – obviously – but very few of us need more then 6 to 10 working sets for biceps and triceps.

Hard work is a good thing. Steroid using bodybuilders need higher volume, and a greater number of contractions. Steroids work better under these conditions. But natural bodybuilders are not playing the same game, and should back off the volume.

How to Grow – Triceps

Many young lifters focus too much on the biceps, and neglect serious, and heavy tricep training. Did you know that the tricep muscle makes up 2/3rds of your arm volume? Simply put, if you want bigger arms, you need to focus on the triceps first and foremost.

And don’t just train the triceps with light weight, isolation style movements. The triceps are a big, brawny, beefy muscle group. They need to be stimulated with heavy weights.

When’s the last time you used closegrip bench presses to hammer your triceps? How about seated overhead tricep extensions with a heavy dumbbell? And how about skullcrushers?

It’s Time to Get to Work!

Now you’re armed with arm knowledge. There’s nothing complex about growing big arms. Understand your potential, and make reasonable goals. Lift heavy, hard and smart. Don’t overtrain, and don’t forget the triceps.

A ripped, 17” arm looks darn impressive! It might not sound stunning on paper compared to the 22” inch arms of a steroid-gorged professional, but it is. I guarantee you one thing…If you walk out in public with 17 inch guns, people will stare.

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  • About The Author
    Ian Coleman has written over 150 articles on muscle building and fat loss, and is recognized as one of the most knowledgeable muscle building trainers on the planet.
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Comments (48)

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Daniel
Posted Sat, 04/03/2010 - 06:25

Hi Steve

Just curious, I was thinking about how some people advise to target both fast and slow twitch muscle fibers through using different rep schemes and was thinking instead of performing 4 sets of 5-8 reps would performing 2 sets of 12-15 reps then 2 sets of 5-8 reps yield better results since you're targeting both types of fibers? Or would it just be better to keep it simple and perform your 4 sets at a 5-10 rep range?

Thanks in advance!

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Sat, 04/03/2010 - 13:38

You can work in various rep ranges. I recommend doing 4 sets in the 5 to 10 rep range for every 2 in the 12 to 15. But one factor to consider is that if you are using high rep schemes for your major muscle groups - like bench press for chest - your triceps are getting hammered with high reps. So the best way to approach high rep sets for major muscle groups is to use an isolation exercise for higher rep ranges, that way you're not overdoing high rep range work for the arms in a given week. Because arms use fewer sets, don't do an excess of isolation or high rep work. A couple of high rep burn sets a week are enough.

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manoj
Posted Tue, 10/26/2010 - 11:03

my english is not so good
i excersise for 2year almost my body is good but my arms is not grow
please give me some tips to grow my arms fast
i have also use supplement but it does work

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Wed, 10/27/2010 - 08:41

Hi Manoj,

3 tips:

1) Make sure you are eating properly. If you don't eat properly your hard work in the gym won't pay off. Here are 2 articles that can help:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/your-go-to-guide-to-gaining-m...

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-create-a-bodybuilding-...

2) Push yourself in the gym. https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/your-go-to-guide-to-gaining-m...

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-create-a-bodybuilding-...

3) Stay persistent! Never miss a workout.

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manoj
Posted Tue, 10/26/2010 - 11:05

with step by step and day wise

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scott
Posted Tue, 12/13/2011 - 19:58

im a natural lifter and have 20 inch arms and low body fat it is possible im only 5 foot 9 aswell , well one 19 and half and one 20 but noones perfect lol

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Eric tai
Posted Sat, 09/08/2012 - 06:30

Hi Steve,
How did you do that?., please let me know..I'm stuck with 16in arms like forever!
No matter what price,I need to know!
Thanks!!

Eric

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Eric tai
Posted Sat, 09/08/2012 - 06:33

Hi Scott!
Please let me know how I'd to do it to have 20in arms,I'm stuck with 16in,and it seems forever!
I'll do anything to get that size!! Please,please help!

Thanks!

Eric

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Rohan
Posted Mon, 01/30/2012 - 02:10

Hiiii,,,

Thanks for Sugggest me for improving my arms,,

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Keirav
Posted Sun, 04/01/2012 - 08:07

I agree with scott. I'm 16, 6 foot and I've only been working out 3 months and I have 17 inch arms. Btw im not ripped but my body fat is below 15%.

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prateek
Posted Thu, 04/12/2012 - 13:36

hi Steve i have started working out after 2 years and within 3 months have gained 1.5 inches to my biceps , but my gym coach says that these gains are initial and at the later stages would be less,is it like that??i have a great metabolism and am following a high protein diet.Will the gains decrease later??

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prateek
Posted Thu, 04/12/2012 - 13:40

hi Steve i have started working out after 2 years and within 3 months have gained 1.5 inches to my biceps , but my gym coach says that these gains are initial and at the later stages would be less,is it like that??i have a great metabolism and am following a high protein diet.Will the gains decrease later??

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Lojack
Posted Thu, 05/03/2012 - 01:45

Damn! Seems everyone on the internet has 16+ inch guns. 0_o
I know people that lift weights(including me) for over 2 years and cant get past 16inch. Hell, reaching 15.5 was difficult.
Can anyone tell me what is the best way to make triceps as strong as biceps?
DUMBELLS: Incline bicep curl 50lbs x 5 ending set. Skullcrushers I can only handle 35lbs x 5reps ending set.

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Abhi
Posted Tue, 05/22/2012 - 15:47

Hi Steve,

Wonderful explanation I found in your comments.

Hnece, let me tell you the purpose. I had been working out since 6 years. However, I started doing heavy workout for bicep since 3 months. My bicep is weak at the bottom side of the bicep and not getting the pic at all. It is 14.5". I am very confuse and worried for this.I tried doing circuit, drop set, heavy n moderate with more rep but still there is not a great improvement.Even forearms are little weak though I am working on that. Could you please assist me on this matter? This will be greatly appreciated.

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Matt
Posted Fri, 06/08/2012 - 11:18

hi steve i've been working out for about 4 months and got great results in everuthing exept my arms i increased weight alot but not size how often should i eat and what should i eat

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ankit
Posted Wed, 08/08/2012 - 14:32

use supplements like universal gain fast it is best supplement for gaining lean mass best part is that it is more effective on arms i have increased 8 inches on arms only in 4.5 kg pack

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jumpysven
Posted Tue, 07/24/2012 - 06:00

I am 6'2", 176 lbs, and have 15.5" bis. I usually do bis after back, and tris after chest. It has taken me about 6 months to get from about 13.5". I assume my progress will slow, but I follow a pretty unique strategy that has worked so far. I DO NOT claim to have too much knowledge about the universality of this approach, but it's worth a try: In general, I follow a set scheme of 15 sets for large muscle groups, 12 for small. For bis and tris, I start with several sets of super-heavy weights for 2-3 reps (for me that's about 65 lbs for biceps and 110 lbs for triceps) of seated hammer curls (bis)/ skull crushers or overhead dumbbell triceps extensions (tris). I do drop-sets with each, following with reverse grip barbell curls (bis) / reverse grip triceps extensions using the rope or dumbbell kickbacks (tris) for about 6-7 reps. I try not to worry about swinging the weights as long as I try my hardest to let the weight return to starting position as slow as possible (usually not so dang slowly to be honest) Then I do 2 sets of idiot curls and 2 sets of concentration curls, and with tris I just mix it up. Here's where it gets tricky - I then do a sort of micro-periodization scheme where I do 1 really long set of curls or triceps extensions (kinda need to be at a stacked plate work station or else you basically need the entire dumbbell station to yourself). I do one rep of heavy followed by 5 reps of light over and over again, slowly working my way lighter but all the while mixing it up. If the plates range in weight from 1-10, here is how it might look:
Weight: Reps:
10 1
5 5
9 1
6 5
8 1
4 5
5 1
3 5
7 1
4 5
6 1
2 5
5 1
1 5
7 1
1 5
6 1
1 5

And that's it. It's brutal and I end up sweating like a pig at the end of these last sets. But it's worked well so far. I also eat like an animal. Am very open to critique as well. Perhaps it's not optimal, but I guess I assume, don't fix something that isn't broken.

-Jumpy

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Travis
Posted Fri, 08/17/2012 - 14:21

im 17, 6-0 220lbs with 16.5 inch bicp. don't beleve the hipe, my arms dont look that big, they look rounded off and i have gained 3 inches in 6 months, what i am saying is don't be worryed about how big they are just worry about how they look, if they look good be happy, look bad get off your ass and just do it. and keep trying untill your satisfied with the, you will thank yourself later.

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KH
Posted Fri, 09/28/2012 - 21:05

Lot of peeps talk about getting bigger guns 16 inch, 17 inche etc, but what a lot of people fail to realize that if you're gun's are unproportioned to the rest of your body, you're going to look like a tool.

Hi, my name is KH, I stand 5'7 170pounds lean, 16 inch arms pump 15.5 inch non pump. My calves are 16 inches.

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John G
Posted Sat, 10/06/2012 - 12:04

I have been bodybuilding for over 30 years. When I started in my early years I also trained in martial arts, and worked out with marines and navy seals (during my military years). You would think that I should be huge by now, but my skinny genetics never allowed me to get huge. I studied proper nutrition guidelines from every article and book I could find with no luck. Today, at 56 years old I look healthy, made some progress with some muscle and minimal fat. I have semi-pointy chest which is embarassing and slim looking lower arms, but I am still working out and not giving up. Is there anything an older guy can do to gain more size without getting a heart attack? (Just joking)

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Brent
Posted Sun, 10/21/2012 - 01:12

Hi Scott, I have platued my arms at 17. I'm 5"10' at 225 lean. I can't get my arms past the 17. What can I do to grow?

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kanhu
Posted Tue, 10/23/2012 - 00:18

hi my name is kanhu i lived in india i am 19 years old my problem is my arm is not growing and i am 75kg i want 6 packs in my body and i have no tricep and i also want big tricep like john cena plese some body help me

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Amit Naik
Posted Sat, 10/27/2012 - 13:18

Plz tell mee food tht i have to eat after coming from gym........i want arms to grow faster so wht should i eat......

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arijit chatterjee
Posted Tue, 10/30/2012 - 14:50

Hi i'm arijit .I have been working on my arms with no good results in four months. Its close to 15 inch. What shall i do in order to make it 17

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Dhrumil Ajay Dave
Posted Sun, 11/11/2012 - 12:21

23 Yrs. old and hit the gym 6 days a week. Working hard since 2 long years I am a vegan dieter. Just got the perfect shape but not getting lean muscle mass, have only 11" arms.
What to do?

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Kiran
Posted Wed, 11/28/2012 - 11:54

Help me! Hi..it,s bin 4 months and 20 days since I startd gym.My height is 5"9 inches,age..20frends always used 2 say dat i've gud biceps evn without gym,13" in shape..evn I also know I had amazing biceps peak since i grew to teenages..I was 61 kg(135pounds)b4 i kickd off workin outs..after 1st 80 days of gym,i became 65 kg(144pounds),but since then i haven't grown even 2pounds..evrybody at gym says i'm the fastest strength gainer they'v seen..Can bench pres 27 kgs on each side(total 54kgs) just in 4 months.. I'v around 13.8" biceps now..I feel so sick to realise I'm not growing my size since 2 and a half months,nt even 1 kg... Y? Wat sud i do now?

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Rajesh
Posted Tue, 12/18/2012 - 01:10

myself 65kgs, 5.7' height and 33 yrs,with a body fat of 18% started working since 2 months, genetically i have a good chest physique. i need to develop ripped abs and arms for that i now a days i jog 4km/20-25 min, after that some weighted workout like bar/dumb bell and some other weight workout including dips/pushups/chinups and crunches,this total schedule keeps me in gym about 1:15 hours daily and 6 days a week. is this much is sufficient to get the desired in a span of 3 months or so ???on the diet front i am careful and taking around 1.5 lit of low fat milk daily and started whey protein with that also ...

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arghya
Posted Sun, 01/06/2013 - 02:34

listen friends i started my exersize be4 12 yers... now am work out at home only with out suppliments.my 16.7 inch biceps........ i need 18 as soon as ... how??

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gary
Posted Sun, 02/10/2013 - 16:37

hello,i have a question here.
I have muscles but my arm dosent have shape.
what should i do in a situation like this?

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mnsjason
Posted Wed, 02/13/2013 - 19:02

It sounds like you need to lower your body fat percentage. Definition is a combination of muscularity and low body fat. You'll need to lose some excess body weight to show off your arms.

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gary
Posted Thu, 02/14/2013 - 21:44

thanks for the tips jason,
and,any workouts good for lowering body fat?

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mnsjason
Posted Fri, 02/15/2013 - 17:15

No problem Gary. There are actually some great routines on the site, so feel free to look them over: http://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/tone.html

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Charles Lowe
Posted Sun, 02/17/2013 - 20:16

One thing I find in this article about building bigger arms that is kind of mentioned is genetics. Some people, like Carrot Top, can have impressive biceps because of the structure of his arm. If you notice, I following boxing, when I see fighter with impressive guns, black, hispanic or white, the common thing is their arm. If you have a high tricep muscle, meaning when you hold your arm at a 90 degree angle, if the detent for the tricep is higher up on your arm that means your biceps are going to be pushed out more than if your tricep muscle is detent is lower on your arm. If anyone would like to know what I am talking about, I can show you picture after picture. Now the higher tricep muscle placement is much more comment among African Americans and Hispanics, than Caucasians. However, some Caucasians have this trait, my son does and he can hold his up and not even flex and his biceps stick out. He has never lifted a weight in his life. I'm stating this as fact and I can prove empirically quite easily. If people remember a boxer by the name of Tommy Morrison, he spent a lot of time in the gym, but in the ring when he was in his boxing stance his arms had no shape or bicep pushing out. He did a lot of weight training because he was in Rocky 5. Now look at current heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, he doesn't life weights. He just has the genetics and when he is in the ring in his boxing stance, without flexing, his biceps are well defined. Again, it is do to the fact that his tricep muscle is structured higher on his arm. Unfortunately, I am one of the unlucky ones, I can work out my arms all I want and I will never have the defined biceps like Roy Jones Jr.

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ratnakar
Posted Wed, 03/27/2013 - 06:26

i want to know, what can i eat for increase my arm muscle.? suggest me a diet chat for improve my arms n solder also. my height is 188 cm. n my weight is 78 kg. i will wait 4 ur reply. thanks.

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Rahul Aher
Posted Sun, 04/07/2013 - 09:36

hello,
I just want to say my body is very weak my currently weight is of 56kg and arms size is 8inch(readings are after 2month gym workout)
So i want make my body perfect(arms of 15-19") what will i do & my diet is also perfectly plz suggest me that in 2 months my improvement is ok or not.
(before joining gym i have no idea about my weight ideally it is near about 54_55kg)

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Big Bad Bob
Posted Fri, 06/07/2013 - 16:42

lol I am 51 and have been stressing that my arms are only 17 inch and only read this page because I thought I was doing something wrong, so 17 inch is about a good as I can expect, thx

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anon
Posted Fri, 07/19/2013 - 15:05

largely nonsense. at 2-3 weeks in im almost at 17 inches on my arms starting at 14 1/2. focus on your arms doing bodybuilding, eat and hydrate before, during and after your workout. abstain from sexual activity to save testosterone and increase your endurance. the skeletale stuff is nonsense. your a hard gainer only if your naturaly skinny. dont overdo cardio and gain weight when you bodybuild. if your not growing your not hydrating, eating or doing enough time lifting. big mo with the 31 inch biceps says he does 6 hours a day training. the rock and hugh jackman do 3 hours. thiers also an older cat on youtube that got 21 inch arms naturaly, blanking on the name he has pictures of himself younger with arnold.

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DDP
Posted Wed, 02/05/2014 - 13:54

Big LOL

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biggunmofo
Posted Mon, 08/05/2013 - 22:49

train arms everyday PERIOD!

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Shez
Posted Sun, 12/01/2013 - 03:39

Hey Guyz,
I am working out for about 6 months and i have seen a great improvement in everything except my Biceps. Tell me how can i pump my Biceps. My age is 17, I am 6" tall and my wt is 150 lbs. During workout with Biceps I do 4 sets of 12, 10, 8 and 6 with a weight starting from 20 kg to 25 kg. Please Help me.

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Irfan Khan
Posted Tue, 01/07/2014 - 17:52

Sir I joined jim now I want a manager for body growing tips please sir give me some more tips to better.............I waiting for your answer

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deva
Posted Wed, 02/05/2014 - 06:25

hi everybody,
am 21 yrs old and 53 is ma wght,can u give suggestions for improve my weight along with fitness and one thing am do workouts in ma home only.........

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Robert
Posted Thu, 03/20/2014 - 15:48

Hello,I was a bodybuilder at the age of 23yrs,and I've just gotten back into it after not training for years.Wow,was it ever a surprise to feel the pump I got right away,from working out.Truly it was amazing.I am now hooked on it again,at the age of 52yrs.The feel of the burn is fantastic.At 5,5 my bicepts are 14 and all natural.I hope to encourage other indaviduals to get active in it,bodybuilding,again.And have a healthy productive lifestyle.Remember,fitness is for everyone,so go for it.As Arnold says.Thank you.

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Adrian
Posted Sun, 04/27/2014 - 15:28

This measures are in pump or relaxed state? thanks

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Tyler Sumner
Posted Sun, 06/29/2014 - 17:13

What a bunch of closed minded, excuse making bullshit

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Steve
Posted Mon, 06/30/2014 - 08:14

I've done an extensive amount of research on the subject, and have spent time with the top natural pros in the game. This information is accurate.

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kyland
Posted Mon, 08/11/2014 - 19:52

I'm a natural pro and my comment doesn't make the forum :(

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vman
Posted Tue, 09/09/2014 - 18:29

Hi I'm 17 years old, 6ft 1in tall, weigh 150lb and have 17.5 in arms. I've been training arms only every day for the past 3 years( I don't train legs or back as I'm happy with their size) but now I'm stuck and my arms won't grow any bigger. My aim is to get 19in arms. Can someone help please?

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