Monday, March 14, 2022

How to Build Bigger Arms - Arthur Dandurand (1941)

We are reading this article courtesy of Michael Murphy
and Joe Roark's Iron History Forum
Thanks Again, Sirs! 

This is part of a series on arms Dandurand wrote for Joe and Ben Weider's Your Physique magazine. Part One dealt with the forearms, and I will get that here shortly. Here is another part of the three in this series:

From This Issue
March-April 1941

81 years ago, men seeking what you seek 
were reading this article . . . 

Describing ways and means of improving the upper arms, and wherein the author gives advice to the beginner as well as to the advanced physical culturist. 

The Author in the full glory of manhood. 
This photo was taken after forty years of
physical culture. The chest he displays measures
a full 52.5 inches. 

Melvin Wells

In the preceding article, concerning the problem of developing the arms to their ultimate in strength and size, I outlined a schedule to follow, for those who after months or even years of faithful adherence to some system or other have yet failed to realize their objective.

About a month and a half has passed since then, and already the editor has received numerous letters from bodybuilders who have claimed to have improved their arm development in this short period. Letters have been received both from beginners and advanced barbell men, asking for specialized advice, and it makes one feel proud to know that he can be of help to his fellow body-builders, helping them along with their problems and showing the best and shortest route by which to achieve their physical ambitions. 

As you will understand, it is impossible to explain in an article of this nature all the problems which the enthusiast may encounter, but this part, which is the 3rd in this series, I shall try to touch on the most important points in furthering the development of the arms to their ultimate. It would be worthwhile to reread the preceding article which was published in the February issue, as some important points were explained therein; and in combination with this article will help you choose our individual schedule of exercises.   

To begin with, there are a number of muscles that compose the upper arms, but the ones most important to the body builder are the Biceps, Triceps and Brachialis Anticus. When working on these three muscles, the rest (or allied) muscles get their share of work as well in the process of enlarging the arm.

The biceps is a twin muscle, its main function lies in bending the arms. It arises from the scapula in two separate tendons and unites into a single tendon, which inserts itself deeply into the hollow of the elbow. 

The triceps is a threefold muscle, arising from the scapula, it unites in one tendon on which attaches itself to the ulna bone of the forearm. The three portions of the triceps are known as the external [outer] portion, long head portion, and internal [inner] portion. Its main function is to straighten the arm from all bent positions. It forms the space on the back of the upper arms, the biceps, the front. 

Brachialis Anticus lies between the biceps and triceps and is completely hidden by the biceps muscle. It helps in bending the forearms. This muscle helps a great deal in bringing the arms up to their ultimate in size and strength. 

The above briefly describes the muscles and the work they do. 

The beginner, who is about to begin developing his arms, should see to it that all parts of the body receive their share of work. In fact I would advise him to forget his arms until he has at least put in about six months of all round training. After this period, he should be in a better position to judge whether his arms need specialization or not. If his arms have developed in proportion to the rest of his body, he should  continue to carry out the same plan of all round training for the time being, as this will pay him in the long run.

For those whose body has developed in greater proportion than their arms, it is then time to start specializing, and not before, as this will help in bringing his arms up to the standard of his physical make-up. When I say specialize, I don't mean to drop all other exercises and just work on the arms, as this is one sure way of decreasing the arms and not of increasing! By specializing I mean to give the arms 3 extra exercises, which are to fit in with the routine training.  

An all round schedule as mentioned above should include the following arm exercises:

1) The Two Arm Curl
2) Two Arm Reverse Curl
3) Two Arm Military Press
4) Press Behind Neck
5) Alternate Curl with Dumbbells

This should be enough for the beginner in developing his arms. But in some cases it fails in doing the job; thus by adding 3 or so exercises to them, we are specializing on the arms. Remember, never do more than six exercises in total for the arms. 

The reason for this was thoroughly explained in the last issue. After about three months of specialization on the arms, one should give them a rest for about two weeks to a month. That is, giving the arms no special exercises whatsoever, but continuing along with ones' all round training, leaving out the arm movements. After this lapse of time the arms should have increased in size and in proportion with the rest of the body. If still interested in developing the arms to greater size, one should increase his bodyweight as much as possible, thus his arms will increase in proportion to his physique.

The triceps muscle is about one third larger, and much stronger than the biceps. For this reason, always give the triceps more exercise than the biceps. If any favor is to be given to any of these muscles, I prefer to favor the triceps. Always finish off your workout with an arm exercise when interested in increasing arm size. See to it that all arm movements are carried out from extreme extension to extreme contraction. Concentrate on what you are doing by putting your mind, as well as your muscle, into your exercises. 

Now we will move on to the exercises.

There is one exercise that I never get tired or doing, or advising body-culturists interested in building bodily power as well as powerful arms to do. This exercise is the CONTINTENTAL CLEAN & JERK WITH DUMBBELLS, or the CONTINENTAL CLEAN AND PRESS. In these two exercises it takes a really powerful man to register a high total in. I have seen the French Canadian strongman

Horace Barre

take a pair of separate dumbbells, one weighing 156 pounds and the other 135 pounds, continental them to his shoulder and jerk them overhead 3 times in succession. This lift did not exert him to his limit, for if he wished, he could have done more that same evening.

Other powerfully built men, such as Louis Cyr, Joseph Steinback, Graff, Arthur Saxon, etc., were great performers in this lift. This movement is not only a lift, it is an exercise as well, when practiced as such. Perform it as follows: 

Load two dumbbells up to about half of what you can do in the clean & jerk. See that the end of the dumbbells have the large plates; in other words when loading the dumbbells the small plates should come first and the largest plate at the end. This makes it more comfortable to bring into the shoulders as shown in fig. 1 below. Model, Ed Theriault.

Place the dumbbells between the feet or at the sides, seeing to it that the feet are not more than 18 inches apart. Take a firm grip on each dumbbell and bring them to rest on the thighs, from there bring them in to the shoulders, and then jerk or push them overhead. Try to perform about 9 repetitions, without putting the dumbbells back on the floor. Bring them s close to the floor as possible, before bringing them in to the thighs for a second repetition. You can try yourself out about once every two weeks and see how much you can lift in this manner. When lifting very heavy dumbbells. it will help to rest them in front of the chest, before turning them in to the shoulders. The lifter is entitled in this lift to bring the dumbbells in contact with his body as often as he finds it necessary, in cleaning the weight.

The second exercise is that old reliable, the "two arm curl." I prefer dumbbells to barbells in this exercise, as well as for others when specializing on the arms. When using dumbbells, your biceps as well as your triceps will be given a greater extension, and a longer pull is thereby secured. Besides, they are more difficult to handle.

Take a pair of dumbbells in your hands, palms facing forwards. Bend your wrists inwards to the forearms. Slowly bring the dumbbells towards the shoulders by bending the arm at the elbow only. See that the arm gets all the work by keeping the body erect, and elbows a little away from the sides. 

You  can also practice the alternate curl with dumbbells, the one arm curl, side curl with knuckles facing front. 

Rowing Motion with Dumbbells. Bend your body forward at right angles of the waist and from this position do alternate rowing motions. Rowing and curling motions from any angle will give the biceps all the necessary work. 

Another favorite of mine is, keeping your arms extended sideways and level with the shoulders as in the photo below, bend the arms in to the shoulders. This will get at the brachialis anticus as well as the biceps. 

Gadzooks! You may be the only person alive who knows that the resistance at this position fades off quickly just before the lower arms reach 90 degrees. And again, the only person in the Cosmos living or dead who is saying the cable crossover setup would be more efficient. Congratulations! Now if we could just inform Ed Theriault of this before it's too late. 

The following exercises are best for the triceps -- lean forward from the waist so that the upper body is at right angles to the legs. Hold the dumbbells as shown in Figure 3, with knuckles up and the upper arm in line with the back, straighten the bent arms. [Triceps kickback, knucks up grip, body at right angle to ground.]

Another good exercise is as follows -- take a dumbbell to full stretch overhead, the arm should be straight and vertical and the upper arms should, accordingly, be against the side of your head. Without moving the upper arm or body, bend the elbow fully and bring the arm down to the position shown in Fig. 4, resting the dumbbell against the shoulder, behind the neck, then straighten the arm again back to its original position overhead. [standing one arm overhead triceps extension with full range of motion used at the bottom]. 

Holding a pair of dumbbells at the sides with palms facing the front, keeping the arms straight, raise the arm back as far as possible, bending only slightly forward from the waist. This is a severe triceps exercise. [standing straight-arm kickback, strict, hard contraction throughout]. 

Other triceps exercises are -- the two arm press, side press, bent press, one arm press. Above all don't omit the One Arm Snatch. This exercises the triceps and brachialis anticus, which helps in thickening the arms.

You should start by doing 9 repetitions and, over time, working up to 15. Choose the weights according to your strength so as to permit you to perform correctly the 9 repetitions to begin with. 

I believe some of my readers would be interested to know what size, and strength it is possible to develop the upper arms. 

Stanley Zbysko's upper arms measured as high as 22 inches in circumference. Louis Uni, better known as Apollon, with Cyr nd Barre also reached the same mark. Samukov, a Russian strong man and wrestler, had arms which stretched the tape to 21-1/2 inches. 

The greatest feat of arm strength I have ever seen performed was done by Horace Barre, in which he curled a 100-lb dumbbell with one hand. He did it on numerous occasions, once performing 3 repetitions with it. I believe he could have curled 120 to 130 lbs had he ever wished to exert himself to the limit. 

I hope this article and the preceding ones (the forearm installment will be next here) have enlightened my readers to some extent, at least, on the subject of developing a pair of mighty arms. If it has done so, and has proven of value to at least some of you, I shall feel amply paid for my time and effort in preparing these articles. 

I couldn't have said it better myself. 

Enjoy Your Lifting! 



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