Arm training is one of the simplest things in life. You don’t need more than 2 months to learn the basic biceps and triceps exercises (e.g., curls, close grip bench press, dips, pull-overs and others.) As expected, the industry wants to complicate things and sets many traps on your path. They produce video after video showing people on large doses of steroids trying to reinvent the wheel. The goal is simple – to make you believe that there is a magical routine that’s going to give you lean 18-inch arms or maybe even more naturally.
I believed the fairy tales until I put a measuring tape around my arm. This is when I realized that in order to build 18-20-inch arms, I will have to steal muscle from the bank. In other words, I can’t see this happening the natural way for most average people, especially if we are talking about muscle size. Many individuals eating at McDonald’s regularly have at least 16-inch arms, but we all know why.
To determine the maximum arm size that you can achieve naturally without playing with steroids, we have to start at the top of the pyramid. Who’s there? Professional IFBB pros, powerlifters and strongmen. I will use bodybuilders as an example because the other two categories are rarely lean. Consequently, their arm size is often inflated.
“I have 25-inch arms,” says the 350lbs/159 kg powerlifter. Cool story, bro. Tell someone who actually cares.
Most professional bodybuilders have arms between 20 and 22 inches in a lean condition. There are some exceptions, but this is the usual “pro arm” range. What do those guys do? They take steroids, insulin, growth hormone and other drugs to keep themselves lean and mean. Therefore, it becomes obvious that you can’t have arms that big naturally unless you are super fat or a mutant with incredibly thick bones which is not the case for the larger human population on Earth.
The difference between Arnold’s era and today’s “gut era” comes from insulin and growth hormone. Those drugs are the reason for the 50-70lbs/22kg–31kg difference between modern pros and those from the 70s.
The arms of the guys from the Golden Era were usually between 18 and 20 inches. One of the smaller guys, Frank Zane, is rumored to have 17-inch arms while Arnold’s alleged 22 inchers turned out to be 19 inches when Arthur Jones measured them. Is this true? I don’t know. One thing is certain, though – if the bodybuilders from the 70s had arms in the 18-20 range, you can’t have that naturally either because those people were eating Dbol and friends like candies.
Surprisingly, or not, this means that most naturals will never have lean 18-inch arms or close to it.
A note on bone structure. The thinner your bone structure is, the smaller your arms will be. A guy with 6-inch wrists will naturally have 2 inches smaller arms than a guy with 8-inch wrists. This fact puts people with skinny wrists at the bottom unless mutant genetics are present. Of course, there’s also the illusion factor – the smaller your wrists are, the bigger you arms look.
Most true naturals will have arms in the 13-16 inches range depending on genetics. I am talking about arm size in a lean condition – a state that’s exceptionally hard for some individuals to maintain. I know that this does not seem like a lot, but I can assure that it looks better than you think.
We have been convinced by the media that unless you have 18-inch arms, you are not training. This is not the case at all. It’s about time we stop falling for manipulations.
Work hard, get stronger and call it a day. There are far more important things in life anyway.