Ask The Super Strong Guy: How Do I Build Massive Powerlifter Pythons?

Pro powerlifter Mark Bell answers your questions about building bigger arms.


You have some massively huge pipes! How big are they? More important, how do I build bigger arms?

Listen up, big son: only fools and meatheads measure their arms. If I had to take a SWAG (Scientific Wild-Ass Guess), I'd say my guns at their biggest measured 22 1/2 inches. Now, at a lighter body weight, they're probably 21 1/4 inches.

Not that I'd ever actually measure them - how ridiculous!

Now, my boy John Cena's pipes are so huge that he wears headbands on his biceps, and YOU can do the same. Be what you set out to be. You want 20-inch arms? Then go get 'em, son!

Real men like Bell and John Cena don't shake hands; they shake forearms.
Real men like Bell and John Cena don't shake hands, they shake forearms.

The summer sun is still high in the sky, and like my dad always said, "Suns out, guns out!" This brings us back to how you can build sleeve-rolling, shirt-bursting, seam-popping elbow-movers.

  • Is there only one way?
  • Is there only one way to do anything?
  • Is there only one way to make a sammich?
  • Is there only one way to eat a peanut butter cup?
  • Is there only one way to skin a cat? God, I hate cats!
  • Any-who, you smell what I'm cooking.

There are multiple ways to do all kinds of stuff. To obtain big arms, you have a few options:

  1. Get in a lot of volume (i.e. sets x reps)
  2. Use a high intensity (i.e. a heavier weight)
  3. Over-train with heavy weights and high volume. Not!
  4. As a power athlete, I prefer Option No. 2: lifting heavy. In fact, I believe lifting heavy weights at low reps is a huge factor in turning your guns into cannons.

    The author looks on, wondering why other guys have such skinny pipes.
    The author looks on, wondering why other guys have such skinny pipes.

    Powerlifting training is so effective that many dudes who never specifically train biceps are walking around with 20-inch armaments. However, many powerlifters are fat as all hell, and while they may boast a 20-inch arm, you probably wonder if they're better at bench press or food-cram.

    The moral of that story: your diet always needs to be in check. To become big, you'll have to eat big - but not like a pig. Avoid fast food, fried foods and sugary drinks. (If you're going to be a piggy, it can only be after gruelling workouts.)

    Always try to eat protein first, and eat it often. There are numerous protein drinks and other supplements available to help you build 'dem guns.

    Now comes the workout, which you should only perform once per week. We'll be lifting progressively lighter weight with higher volume, starting heavy and then going high. For man-eating pythons, there's nothing better than supersets

    Superset 1: Heavy Work

    Technique Tips

    Close-Grip Bench Press: Place your hands on the beginning of the bar's bumpy portion, known as the knurling. If you're on the smooth part, your grip's too close. Tuck in your elbows and bring the bar down toward your nips, not your upper pecs. Perform this exercise off a few (2-3) boards, a pin in a rack, or a phone book. Doesn't matter what you choose, just use something to cut down the range of motion. If you really want to be popular, you can bench press off a bible. Warm up using sets of 5 and work up toward a 3-rep max.

    Zottman Curl: Do a normal dumbbell curl and turn the palms up as you come to the top of the lift. As you begin to descend, point your palms towards the floor in a reverse-curl fashion. Lower the weight for about 4 seconds. Slower is better on the descent! Perform these between your main working sets of close grip bench. Use 3 sets of 6-8 reps.

    Superset 2: Light Weight, Higher Reps!

    Technique Tip

    Hammer Curl: It's ok to use a little body English (swing) on these if necessary.

    Superset 3: Sky-High Reps

    Technique Tip

    Incline Dumbbell Curl: Use only a slight incline. (Most people go 45-60 degrees.)

    Post Workout

    After you're done screaming, please remember that heavy squats, deadlifts, bench press and back training will help build big arms, as well.

    Do you feel like I've answered your question yet? It's taken me awhile to get here, but I built huge guns by powerlifting, powerlifting, and - oh yeah - powerlifting. You can too!

    Big pipes take a long time to build. It ain't easy out there, kids. You got people who will say you can't or you shouldn't, but you can, you should and you will!