Chris Bumstead's Favorite Arm-Building Exercises

Chris Bumstead including has included more dedicated arm sessions this year and focused on the mind-muscle connection. (Image via IG @cbum)
Chris Bumstead has included more dedicated arm sessions this year for the 2022 Olympia. (Image via Instagram/cbum)

Professional bodybuilder Chris Bumstead recently uploaded an arm-building workout on YouTube, drawing 1.67 million views. The three-time reigning Classic Physique Olympia champion said that he has seen the most growth in his arms by including dedicated arm sessions and focusing on mind-muscle connection.

The 27-year-old is in his early off-season form, with plenty of time left to make improvements before the 2022 Olympia on December 16 to 18 in Las Vegas.

Chris Bumstead's Arm Workout Routine

Bumstead certainly knows how to get big arms, and his list of favorite arm exercises is a good place to start for anyone looking to build impressive cannonball triceps.

If you want to keep your focus narrow, there are plenty of other top bodybuilders who can provide similar insight into the best exercises for muscle growth. However, Bumstead’s list of favorites gives you a good foundation to work from, and it can only steer you in the right direction if you want big guns.


On that note, here's a look at his favorite arm exercises:

1) Triceps Pushdown and Overhead Extension

To work his triceps, Bumstead starts with a superset of cable triceps pushdowns and an overhead extension variation. He performs back-to-back exercises with no rest in between.

Bumstead performs two supersets of rope pushdowns and rope extensions. He uses a double-rope attachment, which allows him to push the handles down and out from his chest.

He leans forward as he faces away from the cable machine, placing his back against it while performing extensions. That challenged his core, and he contemplated adding direct ab training in his routine.

2) EZ Bar Preacher Curl

Bumstead uses a double-rope attachment to do triceps pushdowns, pulling the rope down and out for added emphasis on the outer head of the muscle.

For extensions, he faces away from the machine and leans against it while doing his reps. This exercise challenges his core. He contemplated adding direct ab work back into his routine, performing two supersets.

Chris Bumstead's favorite movement for bi's is a close-grip dumbbell lateral raise. He works up to a 25-pound weight plate and two tens on each side for two sets and finishes off with drop sets to burn out his bi's.

3) Incline Dumbbell Skull Crusher

Bumstead hits incline dumbbell skull crushers, a variation of the overhead extension.

The champ is training through a pre-existing left shoulder issue, so he prefers unilateral movements, where he can focus on each arm individually and work on building symmetrical strength.

To make the exercise more difficult, Bumstead shifts his arms forward and squeezes out a few more repetitions. He does three sets.

4) Incline Dumbbell Curl/ Hammer Curl

Chris Bumstead's hammer curls are a combination of an incline dumbbell curl and a hammer curl.

He starts out by lying on an incline bench and doing an incline dumbbell curl with a neutral grip, which emphasizes the stretch where the biceps cross the shoulder joint. After reaching failure, he switches to hammer curls with 40-pound dumbbells to end his biceps workout.

5) V-Bar Hammer Curl

Bumstead does hammer curls with a V-bar cable attachment, as the movement feels good for him. He intensifies the contraction in his biceps by bringing his elbows forward at the top of the rep to stimulate more muscle fibers.

6) Cross Body Cable Tricep Extension

Chris Bumstead ends his arm workout with a cable triceps extension variation that he learned from his brother-in-law and Open division bodybuilder Iain Valliere. Bumstead stands sideways to the cable pulley and initiates the movement from the shoulder, pulling in the opposite direction.

Changing the angle of the arm or body when you do an exercise can make that move more challenging. Chris Bumstead does two sets of heavy curls and drops the weight for one last set.


Chris Bumstead’s arm workout can serve as a great starting point for both novices and seasoned bodybuilders.

His focus on heavy weights and performing as many reps as possible with those weights is a tried and true way to build muscle — no matter where you are in your fitness journey.

The best thing about Chris Bumstead’s training is that it’s balanced. After a brief warm-up, he immediately begins addressing his weaknesses and keeping his physique symmetrical in all areas.

The abs, chest, shoulders, and back are equally prioritized. When combined with higher volume work for upper body muscle groups, the result is impressive growth.

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