Monday, May 20, 2024

Building Big Arms - Dennis Tinerino

 Building Big Arms

By Dennis Tinerino (Mr. America 1967) as told to Joe Abbenda

Strength & Health February 1968

Big bulging biceps and clearly outlined, massive triceps form one of the bodybuilder’s most impressive body parts.  The muscles of the arms are the most in the eyes of everyone.  I’m sure almost everyone has felt the arm of the neighborhood strongman or flexed his arm muscle to impress someone. Perhaps a reason for this concern with the arms is the fact they are almost constantly on display, especially in the summertime.  Since winning the Mr. America title, I have traveled throughout the United States and recently through Europe, and 90% of the questions I am asked are about the arms. My arms have been pinched, poked, prodded, measured, and even punched at by spectators at these shows. The point I am making is that the arms are a very impressive body part to the majority of people, whether they are bodybuilders or not.

Pride alone is reason enough to train your arms, but there are several other reasons as well. The arms are used day in and day out in hundreds of activities from strenuous sports like football and weightlifting to lifting yourself out of bed in the morning. Fully developed arms are important to our daily life as well as to our appearance.

I hope I have made my point clear. I have found several exercises to be most effective for increasing my arm size and shape. When exercising the arms, remember that the triceps are 2/3 of the arm’s mass so they should be worked at least as hard as the biceps if not harder.

I would like to say that I have never specialized on my arms. I believe that in most cases, as one trains over the years, he will eventually develop his arms to their maximum along with the rest of his body. We must remember that the arms are worked on almost every upper body exercise, except abdominal work. I have at times over-trained my arms and have noted a decrease in muscular size rather than a gain. I believe that a lasting pair of sturdy arms are not developed overnight. To develop  a pair of arms that will not shrink when away from the weights a month or two, will take hard work and time. I have met a great number of novices who are convinced that they will find a method that will turn their arms into Bill Pearl-type arms in two weeks. I have not found any such program. If someone finds one, I will be the first to try it. In order to build big arms, one must get rid of this fallacy that they will become huge overnight. When you realize this, you are on the path to building bigger arms. The following are the exercises I have found best for my arms. You will notice that I work my triceps first.


 #1 Dumbbell triceps extension

To do this exercise correctly, you should be seated on a bench with one hand under the elbow. This will eliminate arm sway and put more tension on the triceps, particularly the lower portion, which is vital for a complete looking arm.

#2 Triceps push-down on pulley

Press down with an even, smooth motion, keeping the elbows locked in to the sides. Do not sway back and forth on this exercise. The benefit comes from doing the exercise correctly.

#3 Lying barbell extensions

Pull the bar over the head to the starting position in front of the forehead. From the forehead, straighten the arms completely, keeping the elbows as stationary as possible.

#4 Standing barbell extensions

Stand straight and tall with the barbell behind the neck and your elbows hight. Push the bar overhead with pure triceps power. As with the other exercises, do not use such a heavy weight that you cannot use proper form. If you stagger and bend back, you are not getting the triceps stimulation you need. Remember to lock the elbows completely out with each exercise. Concentrate on putting the stress on the triceps!

I work my triceps twice a week when I am not preparing for a contest. When I’m competing, I work them three times a week. I do 5 sets of each exercise doing 5-12 repetitions per set. Beginners should do two sets of 6-10 repetitions. I normally work my triceps on my upper body workout days.

For the biceps I prefer the following movements:

#1 Preacher Curls

I like this movement because you can put a great deal of stress on the entire biceps and develop a complete muscle rather than the lumpy development that some bodybuilders have. I prefer doing this exercise with barbells, but I change off to dumbells every so often to insure a complete development.

#2 Dumbell Incline Curls

If there was one exercise I had to point to as the exercise that gave me the best results, I would say this is the one.  To develop full biceps, you must get a complete extension and contraction. This exercise insures complete development.

#3 Close grip barbell curl

Every weight trainer has done this exercise at some time or other. For best results, start this exercise in a complete hang position, insuring a complete extension. Curl the weight to the neck and squeeze the biceps into a full contraction at the top. This will help to build a high peak as well as full biceps.

#4 Lying dumbbell curls

To get the best results from this exercise you must pay a great deal of attention to foot and hand position. The hands should not be next to the sides but rather out in a type of lateral movement. This will work the outer head of the biceps, which is often not worked by regular curls. Remember to concentrate and let the biceps do the work.

Beginners should do 2 sets of each exercise from 6-10 reps. I do 5 sets of 6-10 reps. I have done many other biceps and triceps exercises but these have given me the best results.

In conclusion:

1.      Do each exercise as outlined… concentrate on doing the exercise correctly.

2.      Work your triceps more than your biceps as they are a larger muscle group.

3.      Do each exercise slowly and smoothly.

4.      As far as poundages go, use a weight that will allow you to complete the set number of reps without cheating – strive to increase the weight, but not to the point where you sacrifice form.

5.      To increase your arm size appreciably, you must add to your body weight. I have never seen a bodybuilder with a 20” arm who didn’t weight at least 220.

6.      Stick with this program at least 6-8 weeks – by the end of this time you will know whether this routine is suited to your body structure.

7.      If this area is really lacking in your physique, then work it first in your program before you become too tired to perform the exercises properly.

There are no secrets to building big arms. It takes determination and hard work, combined with all the scientific knowledge you can obtain from reading and experimentation. Now go to it and build yourself a pair of ARMS!

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