| How To Build 20 Inch Arms in 5 Weeks

Author / John

5 - 8 minute read

In a perfect world, the easiest way to get 20 inch arms is to start with 19 inch arms and get a decent pump. But for most average gym goers this isn’t a realistic starting point. Most well-trained men are in the ~16 inch arm category which means we have our work cut out for us. If you are new to strength training, this might not be ideal for you today, but in the near future after hammering the linear progression on Bedrock, 20 inch arms will be right in your crosshairs. 

With that said, let me re-frame the question – how do I get bigger and more muscular arms?

There are three keys to any good arm routine – volume, frequency, and exercise arrangement. 

For the following program, I am going to tweak all three variables to ramp up your arm size and build a set of pythons that would make Hulk Hogan scream, “Oh ya!”. 

This program is done 3 days a week independent of your other training sessions. That means continue following your current training program like Jacked Street, Field Strong, Grindstone, Johnnie WOD or HAMR. Remember, we are executing this arm routine away from your regular training sessions. Let me repeat that part, we are executing this routine AWAY from your regular training. 

I usually train at 6 AM so this arm workout would start around noon and end around 4 PM. If you train later in the day at 5 PM, start the program in the morning and be done around noon. 

This program can be done on with a Monday, Wednesday, Friday or a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday cadence. 

I just want roughly 48 hours between sessions – give or take a few hours. 

The overview of the program will include a 5 part block where we hit arm work at top of each hour. Each block is meant to be super set’d so you should be able to blast through these sets in less than 15 minutes. All blocks will be done with the same set of dumbbells so you can put a set of dumbbells (or cinder blocks) next to your couch or desk and be ready to smash some arms at the top of each hour. 


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When I started the program, I used 40 pound dumbbells and by the end of the off-season I was using 55 pound dumbbells. You can start with 20s or 25s but it really depends on what you have access to. Let you in on a little secret that cinder blocks weigh ~30 pounds a piece and less than 2 bucks a piece at Home Depot. 

If you are stuck at home in Quarantine and binge-watching Netflix, just put it on pause at the top of every hour and hit your sets, then go back to your regularly scheduled program. 

The program is going to cycle over 5 weeks. The first week is laid out down below with sets of 8. The second week you add a rep for sets of 9. The third week you add another rep for sets of 10. The fourth week you add yet another rep for sets of 11 and the fifth and final week you add one more rep for sets of 12. 

Block 1 @ 0:00 – 0:15 mins
3 sets x 8 reps – Alternating Bicep Curls
3 sets x 8 reps – Lying Triceps Extensions
3 sets x 8 reps – Alternating Hammer Curls

Block 2 @ 1:00 – 1:15 mins
3 sets x 8 reps – Hammer Curls
3 sets x 8 reps – Triceps Kick Backs
3 sets x 8 reps – Standing Concentration Curls

Block 3 @ 2:00 – 2:15 min
3 sets x 8 reps – Alternating Bicep Curls
3 sets x 8 reps – Seated Bench Dips
3 sets x 8 reps – Seated Hammer Curls

Block 4 @ 3:00 – 3:15 mins
3 sets x 8 reps – Standing Bicep Curls
3 sets x 8 reps – Standing One Arm Triceps Extensions
3 sets x 8 reps – Hammer Curls

Block 5 @ 4:00 – 4:15 mins
3 sets x 8 reps – Alternating Bicep Curls
3 sets x 8 reps – Lying Triceps Extensions
3 sets x 8 reps – Alternating Hammer Curls

Remember, to keep the same movements and arrangement for the complete cycle of 5 weeks. The only variation is coming from the increase in reps over the course of the 5 weeks. 

Once you have finished the 5-week program, pull out the tape measure and smile as you observe the progress you have made. 

If you are still not satisfied and want more…then find a slightly heavier set of dumbbells and start the program over again for another 5 weeks of sleeve burst, arm poppin’ training.

A little background on where this program came from, in my second year in the NFL I wanted to look the part on Sundays whether it be standing on the sidelines or on the field playing for the Eagles. My goal was to look like I was supposed to be there and seeing as the only thing that was exposed to the elements were my arms and neck, I figured I had better train those hard. 

During the off-season, I put a set of dumbbells next to my bed, another set in the kitchen and final set in the back of my 1992 Ford Bronco. When I woke up in the morning, I would hit my 9 sets first thing. Then head downstairs to the kitchen for breakfast with 8 whole eggs, 16 ounces of red meat, 2 cups of puffed rice cereal and a set of dumbbells waiting for me with another 9 sets. I would leave shortly thereafter to workout or go grocery shopping. All I had to do was pop the tailgate on my Bronco and crush my 9 sets. 

Before bed each night, I would slay my 9 sets and lay my head on the pillow knowing I had done the work that day to reach my goal of a set of muscular, thick arms on Sundays stacked with a permanent bicep vein. 

And let me tell you this, if you enjoy these little python snacks and you like how your arms are stretching out the seams in your t-shirt, then you are the type of person that belongs on Jacked Street. Jacked Street is a daily training program that I write and monitor; you attack heavy weights and accessory work every damn day. If you are ready to transform your whole body, you should take advantage of the 14-day risk free trial.

Click Here to learn more about Jacked Street

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AUTHOR

John

John Welbourn is CEO of Power Athlete and Fuse Move. He is also creator of the online training phenomena, Johnnie WOD. He is a 9 year veteran of the NFL. John was drafted with the 97th pick in 1999 NFL Draft and went on to be a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2003, appearing in 3 NFC Championship games, and for starter for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004-2007. In 2008, he played with the New England Patriots until an injury ended his season early with him retiring in 2009. Over the course of his career, John has started over 100 games and has 10 play-off appearances. He was a four year lettermen while playing football at the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Rhetoric in 1998. John has worked with the MLB, NFL, NHL, Olympic athletes and Military. He travels the world lecturing on performance and nutrition for Power Athlete. You can catch up with John as his personal blog on training, food and life, Talk To Me Johnnie and at Power Athlete.

11 Comments

  1. Kieran on May 15, 2020 at 10:43 pm

    Starting this immediately. This article was solid gold. Thank you John. Bless.

  2. jack on May 16, 2020 at 6:21 am

    Perfect little addition to my quarantine training. Excuse the ignorance, but what is a standing concentration curl?

  3. Adam T on May 16, 2020 at 2:39 pm

    In regards to how heavy the weight should be, are we aiming for like 4 – 5 reps in the tank or an RPE of around 5-6? Or are we closer to failure?

  4. Alex Fick on May 16, 2020 at 3:03 pm

    Assuming you could do something similar (or throw something) in for Delts too? Seems those need a lot more volume and respond well to that

    • John on May 22, 2020 at 2:23 am

      Was wondering the same for shoulders and traps. I just finished day 3 of this. Nice to pop off a few sets in between zoom call palooza.

      Are y’all doing this on training days or on off days? Or does it matter as long as you’re about 48hrs in between days?

      • John on May 27, 2020 at 9:16 pm

        Shoulders are a different animal. Usually two hard days a week should get you where you need to go – as you will find on Power Athlete’s program offerings. But if you need some extra shoulder, trunk, traps, chest, calf work…check out Johnnie BOD.

  5. Bobby Walker on May 18, 2020 at 12:58 am

    Yesss! Let’s go! Starting Monday baby. Jacked Street and This together = Glorious!

  6. Bobby Walker on June 19, 2020 at 3:46 pm

    Wrapping up Week 5 today. Thoroughly enjoyed it and looking to do a repeat with a 5lb increase in the dumbbells.

    Feeling a little beat up though, so the question is, do I roll right into it again? Or is would a week off be ok? I’m following Jacked Street currently on the Lightning cycle, if that makes a difference.

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