Build Strong Arms For Lasting Size and Shape

The following arm program was written by ‘Ray Routledge’ in 1961..Furthermore this oldtime bodybuilder was serving with the US Forces in Europe! – Mr. Berg

“There have been many arm routines published in this magazine through the years written by men, including Mr. America, with superior arm development. Since most bodybuilders, both novices and veterans, are interested in stronger, better shaped arms, this topic always rates high with reader. This month I would like to discuss what I have learned about arm development and describe my own favorite arm exercises.

I was fortunate when I first began my arm routine, as I was gifted with very high biceps peaks on both arms. At the start, as with many beginners, I trained entirely on biceps alone, without any thought to triceps or forearms whatsoever. This unfortunately led to far superior biceps development, overshadowing triceps and forearm development.

I trained about four years, doing nothing but a variety of curling exercises. My arms taped almost 17 1/2 inches before I had even begun triceps or forearm work. I had heard of fellows who had attained 18-inch arms, and in my early arm training, this was one of my greatest desire – to possess an arm that measured a solid 18 inches. It was in this quest for a larger arm that I learned from more advanced bodybuilders that I must, in addition, do a lot of triceps and forearm work if I wanted larger arms.

Almost overnight, as though by magic, my arms responded in measurement to the added triceps and forearm training. They went over 18 inches in a short period of six months of triceps training alone. It was not until a little later when I noticed that my upper arm made my lower arms look out of proportion. Again I consulted more advanced bodybuilders with better developed arms and received some good advice on advanced forearm training.

Not all the advice I received was good. It seems that many bodybuilders have varied opinions of arm training. I accepted all the advice that was freely given, sorting out the good from the bad. I did find out, however, that one can always learn something new in development even from beginning bodybuilders. One must always keep his exes and ears open, and an open mind as well.

I have experimented with many different types of exercises, set and repetitions. I have found that to build a good looking, large developed pair of arms, one must have 
strong arms.

There have been fellows who have built large arms through countless pumping repetitions. But the fellow who builds his arms this way, or any other part of his body for that matter, must continually work his arms or they will go down very fast.

A fellow who builds his arms for strength and shape will always have the better arms. One who builds his arms for power can miss a workout occasionally, and his arm development will not suffer. But the “pump” artist must constantly keep his arms blown up to maintain appreciable size. In a physique contest of any standing, one with an experienced eye can always spot the difference between power and “pumped” arms.

In experimenting with my own arm development, I have found that the quickest way to build large, muscular, mature arms is to train for strength with ample repetitions. By ample repetitions I mean between 8 and 12.

There is no such thing as a “secret” exercise or special exercise for a body part development. Of course, some exercises are better for concentration on certain muscle groups. The whole story in maximum development lies in progressive weight increases to the next heaviest weight.

In plain language, if one accomplishes four sets of 10 repetitions with two-arm barbell curl with 130 pounds, he must then advance to 140 pounds and then work up to four sets of ten repetitions with this weight before he goes to 150 pounds.

This is called “progressive resistance.” Naturally one cannot be expected to constantly achieve 10 repetitions every time he adds 10 pounds. He probably will get only five or six repetitions with the new weight. He then works up to 10 repetitions with the new weight until all desired sets have been accomplished. This progressive resistance is what breaks down muscle cells, allowing the body to rebuild with lather and stronger cells.

bill pearl curling biceps bodybuilding

When the bodybuilder strives for larger, stronger and more muscular arms he must not expect to build them in a week, month or even a year. He must always look ahead to hard training of months to come. Fellows like Bill pearl, Melvin Wells, John Grimek and others with exceptional arm development did not get this overnight. It took them years to mold mighty arms.

Many of the “muscle pulp” magazines mislead the bodybuilding public with sure-fire methods of adding inches to the arm overnight. I’m afraid of these so-called “blitz „methods may pump or blow up the arms for a day, or a week or so, but this is not a lasting thing. What I am trying to say is it takes plenty of old proverbial “mid-night” oil to get those arms that command admiration.

I have not tried to discourage those who desire more muscular arms. In training for strong, large and shapelier arms, one also receives the slow personal admiration of accomplishment in strength while building his arms. if one just does endless exercises and sets with no plan or goal-in mind but larger arms, this person is in for some very dull uninspiring training. 

ray routledge bodybuilding oldschool

A famous bodybuilder of note once told me when I asked him how to build larger biceps, “If you can curl with 200 pounds, it is a chinch your arm won’t measure 16 inches.”

What he was trying to say in essence was to train for strength through repetitions and the size will follow. Now, of course, all of us cannot obtain a 200 pound curl, or a 200 pound triceps press, or even a 200 pound forearm rise. I am just trying to bring out that one must strive for added weight and repetitions constantly.

Now I’d like to give you a glimpse of my favorite arm exercises. As I am constantly changing my routine every four weeks, I am always doing different arm exercises from month to month.

This of course stimulates the mind for more enjoyable training. This also attacks the muscles of the arm from a different angle. I cannot list all the arm exercises in this article, but it is my intention to give you a few of my favorite arm exercises at this time.

I’ll start with the biceps as this is the part of the arm I do first. This has no bearing on which part of the arm should come first – biceps, triceps or forearm. It is just that I have always done m biceps work before triceps and forearm work in that order. The readers may do their arm exercises in any order desired, with biceps, triceps or forearm work first.

The first exercise is the standing, two-arm barbell curl. This exercise should be done with the hands placed underhanded about shoulder width grip.

The feet should be placed approximately 12 inches apart for good balance. The barbell curl is started with the bar all the way down across the thighs.

The bodybuilder then takes a deep breath and brings the bar up under the chin with a fairly strict movement and down against the thighs again.

In this exercise the bodybuilder should not lean back or forward while executing the exercise. A little body movement cannot be helped while doing the exercise, but the bodybuilder must keep this to a minimum.

Our next biceps exercise will be the standing two-arm dumbbell curl. This exercise should be done the same as the standing barbell curl.

The only difference is that the bodybuilder brings the dumbbells up to deltoid height before bringing the dumbbells back down. pause a moment at the bottom of each repetition to eliminate the possibility of a swinging movement.

The third and final biceps exercise is the incline dumbbell curl on the incline bench.

The bodybuilder lies down flat on the incline bench and lets the arms hang completely alongside the bench.

Without body movement, he then brings the dumbbells up to the shoulder level with the hands underhanded. Be careful to pause momentarily at the bottom of this exercise, also, to avoid swinging the dumbbells and causing any undue body movement.

To start off triceps work, let’s try the standing triceps press with the barbell.

The grip should be placed with the hands touching in the center of the bar with overhand grip. in doing this exercise one must be certain the hands are balanced in the center of the bar to avoid more pressure on the once triceps than the other.

To execute this exercise, the bar is brought down behind the neck, keeping the elbows straight in line with the head.

The elbows must act as hinges. You must be careful that the elbows do not creep out to the side because the movement becomes similar to a behind the neck press and then does not concentrate on the triceps alone, but brings the deltoids into play.

The body should maintain good posture throughout the exercise and the head should not be moved with the eyes looking straight ahead. You may look in the mirror to make sure you are doing the exercise correctly.

My next triceps exercise is the lying triceps barbell press on the end of the flat bench. This is very similar to the standing triceps press. The only difference is that the subject is lying down.

The bodybuilder maintains the same grip as the standing barbell triceps press. He then brings the barbell behind the head, keeping the elbows high and together.

After this, the barbell is brought overhead to the completed movement and then back behind the head to begin the next repetition.

The builder must pause between repetitions momentarily to avoid bouncing of the barbell up and down.

The final triceps exercise is the barbell triceps kickout on the flat bench. This exercise is almost exactly the same as the lying triceps press on the bench.

Only instead of bringing the bar overhead, it is brought straight out from behind the head to rear of the bench and then back behind the head again to begin the next repetition. The grip in all three exercises is the same.

Last is the forearm work. The first movement is the overhand or reverse two-hand barbell curl. This exercise is done almost exactly as the two-arm barbell regular curl, the only difference being that the hand grip is overhand instead of underhand. This exercise should be done as strictly a possible with no excess body movement allowed to concentrate on the forearms only.

The final exercise in my arm routine is called the forearm barbell hand curl. This exercise is done sitting down on a chair or bench with an underhand grip grasping the barbell.

The elbows are resting on the knees and the forearms are extended out past the knees over the feet.

The hand grip is underhanded, with the palms facing the trainee. To execute this exercise, the hands are grasping the barbell and are pointing down toward the feet. The barbell is then brought up as high as possible in a curling movement and then back down again.

Throughout the exercise, at no tie are the elbows allowed to leave the knees and the feet should remain flat on the floor.

To really concentrate on forearms, this exercise can be done only in the strictest form.

This concludes my arm training program, and I think you will enjoy training for arm size, power and shape by trying it. It can be done by both beginners and advanced bodybuilders.

I would suggest that four sets of 10 repetitions be done in each exercise for complete arm training and best results. One should take as little rest as possible between sets and exercises for maximum development.

It would behoove the bodybuilder to keep close tabs on his training by keeping a notebook handy and jotting down all the repetitions on paper.

The reason for this is that the bodybuilder must concentrate and push himself for every extra repetition until he can accomplish the four sets of each exercise.

For the beginner it would be wise to do just one set of each exercise the first workout, adding another set each workout until all sets of the exercises are completed.

I hope you enjoy this routine, as I have and I know you will get positive results.”


Foto Thumbnail by Leo Stern

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