Biggest Bodybuilding Arms

Welcome to the gun show! So, the question is: which bodybuilder has the biggest arms? Before we look at the answer to that question, let’s get something straight:

Most bodybuilders lie about arm size!

What did you expect? Did you really think that 20 inch pipes were are prevalent as tattoos at a biker bar? It’s hard to achieve 20 inch arms.

And for natural bodybuilders…it’s impossible. Impossible? Yes, impossible. Unless, of course, Mr. Natural is carrying around 58% body fat.

Arnold Schwarzenegger claimed to have 22-23 inch arms pumped. Arthur Jones measured Arnold’s arms when they were pumped, and they taped out at 19 3/4 inches. Quite a tall tale told by the Austrian Oak.

manfredhoeberlArthur Jones is on record as saying that he taped the arms of Ray Mentzer and Sergio Oliva around 20.5 inches – much larger then Arnold’s. Looking at Oliva’s arms, I tend to believe Arthur Jones.

Some say that Manfred Hoeberl had the biggest arms. Manfred was a strongman competitor, and not a bodybuilder. It is claimed that his arms measured out at 24-25 inches.

Mr. Olympia champion Ronnie Coleman has 22 inch arms on competition day. If you look at photos, and consider the fact that Ronnie was taking far more drugs then Arnold, it isn’t hard to believe that Ronnie’s arms where much bigger.

And what about natural bodybuilders? Reg Park had 18.5 inch arms, Steve Reeves supposedly had 18 inch arms, and John Grimek’s arms were 18.3 inches. Unless you’re incredibly tall, or a genetic freak, you will never hit 18 inch arms as a natural. (of course, these men were relatively lean too).

The biggest arms in bodybuilding ever, is probably between Victor Richards, Ronnie Coleman, Paul Dillet and Markus Ruhl. Take your pick!

victor richards
Victor Richards’ huge arms

However, the BEST arms in the history of bodybuilding probably belong to Arnold or Lee Priest, who both have epic proportions and the most aesthetically pleasing arms.

Check out this awesome Lee Priest arm training video in his prep for the 1999 Mr. Olympia and make up your own mind about just how awesome the Aussie blond myth’s guns really were!

Who has the Biggest Arms in Bodybuilding Right Now?

IFBB pro’s don’t typically reveal how many inches their arms are, at least to the general public.

…A gentlemen never tells.

However, if we were to judge IFBB pros at the time of writing this article, you’d have to say Big Ramy, then possibly Roelly Winklaar are the biggest of the bunch.

However, the biggest arms aren’t always the best arms – hence how neither of these two have ever won a Mr Olympia. Roelly’s arms (to be fair to him) are very aesthetic-looking and he possibly has some of the best triceps bodybuilding has ever seen.

biggest arms bodybuilding

So what arm size is respectable for the Average Joe natural bodybuilder? 15-16 inch pipes. If your guns are that big, people will consider you strong, and most likely will recognize you as a bodybuilder.

And if a natural claims to have 20 inch arms, ask for photos. He just may be the greatest of all time. No photos equals a load of bull. Anyone with arms that big would love to show them off.

It’s also worth noting that 15 inch arms can look bigger than 17 inch arms, if they are lean and ripped – rather than being covered in fat and looking smooth. This is because they have that ‘wow factor’, with cuts and striations, aka a lot more impressive, compared to someone with higher body fat.

Maximizing your Biceps Potential

We all have a genetic potential to how big our biceps can get. But the truth is that very few of us get anywhere near that level of development in the upper arms department. You may not be able to develop a Mr Olympia level pair of arms but you can develop the biggest arms that your unique frame is capable of carrying.

The biceps are most bodybuilder’s favorite muscle to train. Despite the biceps relative small size in comparison to the thighs, back and chest, our love affair with them no doubt arises from the cultural association of big biceps with strength and masculinity.

Contrary to what many people think, changing the position of the upper arm (humerus) does not affect the shape of the biceps. Some exercises have the upper arm pulled back, while others have it in front of the body or even out to the side. However, regardless of the position of the upper arm, the elbow does the exact same motion of bending to contract the biceps. The closer to horizontal the upper arm is, the greater the risk of danger to both the elbow and the bicep. For that reason, you should never do the high cable pulley curl.

While we’re on the subject of dangerous biceps exercises, if you have been doing the preacher barbell or dumbbell curl, you need to stop immediately. When you are in the start position of this exercise the resistance that you are holding is being pulled directly down as a result of gravity. In this position  the load on the biceps insertion point at the elbow is massive. The mechanical disadvantage created by this positioning is extremely dangerous and has caused many people to tear their biceps.

If you want to perform the preacher curl you should only do it in front of a low pully, use the cable as your resistance instead of a free weight. The angle of the cable completely changes so that the direction of resistance is no longer straight down. Instead, the direction of resistance follows the cable which is at an angle. This relieves that excessive strain on the biceps/elbow insertion point.

Keep in mind wht I pointed out earlier regarding the preacher curl – it will not build a peak on your biceps!

Use standing dumbbell curls, barbell curls and incline dumbbell curls to pack mass onto your biceps. Here’s how to get the best out of these exercises . . .

Standing Dumbbell Curl

Grasp the dumbbells using an underhanded grip (palms facing forward). Stand with your back erect, knees slightly bent and feet shoulder-width apart throughout the movement. Arms are fully extended, and the dumbbells are hanging straight down at your sides.

Exercise Technique

Initiate the movement by flexing at the elbow, curling the right dumbbell up toward your shoulder. The dumbbell is then slowly lowered to the  starting position, and the movement repeated with the left arm. Continue alternating arms until the desired number of repetitions is completed.

Incline Seated Dumbbell Curl

Lie on an incline bench, with your back pressed firmly against the padding and feet flat on the floor. Hang arms down at your sides, holding the dumbbells with an underhanded grip (palms facing upward).

Exercise Technique

Slow curl the right dumbbell toward your right shoulder. When maximum biceps contraction occurs, slowly lower the dumbbell to the starting position and repeat the movement with the left arm. continue alternating right and left arms until the desired number of repetitions is completed.

Standing Bicep Curl

Grasp the barbell using an underhanded grip (palm facing forward), with hands slightly less than shoulder width apart. Stand with back erect, knees slightly bent, and feet shoulder width apart throughout the movement. Arms are fully extended and pressed firmly against your torso. At this point the bar is resting across your upper thighs.

Exercise Technique

Initiate the movement by flexing at the elbows, curling the bar toward your shoulders. When your biceps re maximally contracted, lowly lower the bar to the starting position. Repeat the movement until the desired number of repetitions is completed.

Steve Shaw

Steve Shaw is the original founder of Muscle and Brawn, an experienced powerlifter with over 31 years experience pumping iron. During competition he’s recorded a 602.5lb squat, 672.5lb deadlift and a 382.5lb bench press.

5 Responses

  1. Yeah like 99% of this is shit. I had 18.5in arms at 21. I’m 6’2 and that wasn’t even that hard. I wasn’t fat either. Was sitting around 12-15% bodyfat. Nothing is impossible unless you tell yourself it is

  2. Oh Scott! That’s not nice. You can’t just make a statement like that without some backup. Do you know Elijah? Did you measure his arms when he was 21? At 6’-2” it seems plausible to me. For me, I’m 6’ and having a hell of a time trying bust over 16”. Someone told me, just wear smaller T shirts. Ha Ha

  3. I’m 15, 6ft-6ft1 tall, my bodyfat is probably 18-20% (205pounds with abs somewhat visible). I have 15inch arms and I really want to get them to 18inches in two years or less. So if any of u know if it’s possible and if so how(I won’t take PEDs until I’m 18) I would really appreciate it if u gave me some advice!

    1. Eat more than you ever have, sleep more than you ever have, and train harder than you ever have. There are unfortunately no shortcuts. But you’re mind is on the right path, keep it up.

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