Build Your Best Biceps After 40

After the big four-oh, too many people get sucked into the miasma of fat-loss and functional training. Take back your training with this 6-week arm-specialization protocol!

Build Your Best Biceps After 40

All marketing gimmicks aside, most guys think 40 is no big thing. Maybe they sense the vague enormity of a round number, but most of them successfully bury their feelings and fears. And like the fools men can be, they go right on doing the same shit, day after lousy day, failing to even consider the possibility of a shift taking place.

When they do hit the gym—maybe because they've been told they should by a partner or doctor—it becomes clear that something is different. They're subjected by smug, young trainers to hour after hour of unending balance work, corrective work, and other torturous indignities. Everything they do is presented as a solution to the problems they've created in their lifestyle and nutrition. They're not improving; they're doing penance. And the worst part: They pay for this abuse!

It would be like graduating from high school and showing up again the next day. One moment you belong, and the next, you most definitely don't. Somewhere along the line, you start to forget that you were ever cool, sexy, or admirable. You're just there.

Enough is enough! You deserve to feel good, look good, and get comments for more than losing weight. In short, you deserve strong, ripped arms. Now here's how you'll get them.


When you're 15 and beyond stoked about your first barbell set, there's no question what you'll do with it. Curls! Low reps, high reps, 21s, reverse spider curls on the back of a dining room chair—you name it, you'll do it. Maybe you'll sloppily clean and press it, too, but mainly, it's curls man!

Throw the sand bags, push the sled, and do whatever else you need to do to lose weight and feel good, but man, don't forget about the pure joy of curls.

Things change the next few decades, and eventually, the days of curling madness and iron-fever are forgotten. In the gym, younger people fill the free-weights area while the middle-aged flit from machine to machine, like they're trying to do anything but lift weights.

Somewhere along the line, a question rose up in their minds: Why would any grown man or woman pick up a barbell and curl it? They no longer had an answer.

Curling, as all good CrossFitters know, is a vanity exercise. Large, peaking biceps clearly do not enhance weekend athletic performance. Nor do they make you smarter, taller, or richer.

They won't help you lose the spare tire or heal your bad back. And if you believe the people who don't have them, they'll single-handedly (or armedly) make you shallow, egotistical, and prone to making your sleeves dance while waiting for your entree to arrive.

Know what else they are? A choice. They're something you enjoy training, and which produces results you enjoy just as much. (As I have heard reported, they also come in very handy if you find yourself back in the mid-life dating scene.)

So sure, throw the sand bags, push the sled, and do whatever else you need to do to lose weight and feel good, but man, don't forget about the pure joy of curls.


OK, you're in the gym. Let's get down to action. I know your brain wants to assure you that this is all the same as it was yesterday. But that's just your ego talking. Things have changed. Follow this advice like your life depends on it, because it does.

Alternate Dumbbell Bicep Curl

Today, you'll focus on the classic barbell curl. EZ-curl bar or straight? I prefer the straight—because that's what Arnold used—but you can make that call. Just make sure that the barbell is loaded up and waiting for your force to animate it.

As your wiser, more awakened self, walk purposefully to meet the weight. Place your hands firmly on the bar and take a moment to feel the ground beneath your feet. Now let the energy from the solid ground climb up through your entire body as you take three deep, charging breaths. Breathe in full and out with great force, like a martial artist does to elevate his chi before breaking a board.

With your mind centered, focused, and clear of any thought, and your body charged, pick that barbell up and curl it like it matters.

With your mind centered, focused, and clear of any thought, and your body charged, pick that barbell up and curl it like it matters. Like it's the last rep of your life. Like you're madly in love with it and like you want to kill it at the same time. Curl it with complete and total control and absolute reckless abandon.

That, my friend, is how you do it after 40. You don't try to isolate muscle; you pull strength and tension from every fiber of your being and direct it at your target. You lift a heavy weight with power and purpose. That's the real secret too few ever come to know. That's how you battle back the years and fight for your place on this tiny, temporary planet.

Decide that from this point on, not a single rep shall pass where you don't celebrate that you are here in this gym, through all the incredible odds against you, being blessed enough to move this weight. You may have been taking life and the gift of strength for granted before, but that is no longer excusable. Your justification, the ignorance of youth, has just expired.


Face it, life is better with resistance. When you're challenged, you grow stronger. This is a fundamental truth in every chapter of life, but more so as you face the prospect of getting older.

You can wait for challenges to make you reluctantly change course, or you can actively develop and express your strength of body, mind, and soul, through the regular confrontation with gravity and iron.

Triceps Pushdown

From now on, there is only growth or decay. The choice is yours.