Bodybuilder Chris Bumstead Reveals Favorite Arm Exercises For Mass Gains

The three-time Classic Physique Olympia champion shares his training strategies that that level up his arms.

Due to popular demand, IFBB pro bodybuilder Chris Bumstead delivered a highly requested arm workout to his 1.67 million subscribers on his YouTube channel on April 29, 2022. The three-time reigning Classic Physique Olympia champion explained that he’s seen the most growth in his biceps and triceps recently by including more dedicated arm sessions and focusing on mind-muscle connection.

Bumstead is currently in his early off-season form with plenty of time left to make year-over-year improvements before the 27-year-old prepares to defend his title at the 2022 Olympia taking place from December 16-18 in Las Vegas, NV.  Check out Bumstead’s favorite arm-building routine via the following video:

[Related: Classic Physique Bodybuilder Terrence Ruffin Shares His Push/Pull Workout Routine]

Triceps Pushdowns and Overhead Extensions

Bumstead kicked off his arm workout by alternating cable triceps pushdowns with an overhead extension variation in a superset — performing the exercises back-to-back with little to no rest in between.

You get a pump from the normal set of triceps extensions…then…overhead and you stretch them, gives you this crazy burn.

Bumstead used a double-rope attachment allowing him to push the handles down and out which may emphasize the outer head of the triceps. For extensions, he faces away from the cable machine and places his back up against it while leaning forward into the movement. It really challenged his core, and he contemplated adding direct ab training back into his routine. Two supersets were performed.

EZ Bar Preacher Curl

Jumping into his favorite biceps movement of all time, Bumstead grabbed his preferred black EZ curl bar and set up on the preacher bench

It’s what I figured out is the best way to contract my bicep on a heavy load and push the intensity while keeping the load on my biceps.

Bumstead likes to train his movement hard and heavy, using a close-grip that allows him to lift the most weight possible. The Classic Physique champ worked up to a 25-pound weight plate and two tens on each side for two sets and then finished off with drops sets to really burn out his bi’s. 

Incline Dumbbell Skull Crushers

Going back to a triceps-focused movement, Bumstead pumped up his horseshoes with incline dumbbell skull crushers — an overhead extension variation. The champ is training through a pre-existing left shoulder issue and hence prefers this unilateral movement that allows him to focus on each arm individually and work on building symmetrical strength.


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A post shared by Chris Bumstead (@cbum)

Bumstead utilizes a mechanical drop set technique, shifting his arms forward to squeeze out a few more repetitions as the exercise becomes more burdensome. He did three sets total. 

Incline Dumbbell Curls/Hammer Curls

The incline dumbbell curl is one of the few exercises that fully stretch the biceps, especially where it crosses the shoulder joint, by positioning the arms behind the body. Bumstead throws in this movement for the opposite effect of preacher curls, where his arms are positioned out in front of the body and emphasize the stretch.

After repping out to failure, the Bumstead assumed a neutral grip and utilized hammer curls to bang out a few extra reps. He used the 40-pound dumbbells for this combo movement and did three sets total. 

V-Bar Hammer Curls

Bumstead is a big fan of doing hammer curls with the V-bar cable attachment as it’s just one of those “feel-good” movements. To intensify the contraction in his biceps, the IFBB pro brings his elbows forward and squeezes at the top which may stimulate more of the muscle fibers. Three sets were completed for this exercise. 

Cross Body Cable Triceps Extension

To finalize the champion-worthy arm workout, Bumstead incorporated a cable triceps extension variation that he learned from brother-in-law and Open division bodybuilder Iain Valliere. Bumstead stood sideways to the cable pulley and initiated the movement from the shoulder, pulling in the opposite direction. 

Changing up body position and arm angle can make two similar movements feel very different in the muscle being worked. Bumstead cranked out two heavy sets and a drop set.


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A post shared by Chris Bumstead (@cbum)

[Related: Bodybuilder Nick Walker Incline Presses 200-Pound Dumbbells For Six Reps]

Chris Bumstead’s Arm Workout

Below are exercises in the order Bumstead performed them during his workout. Due to the video editing and provided details, the exact number of sets and reps per each movement isn’t precise:

  • Triceps Pushdowns Superset w/ Overhead Extensions
  • EZ Bar Preacher Curls
  • Incline Dumbbell Skull Crushers
  • Incline Seated Dumbbell Curls/Hammer Curls
  • V-Bar Hammer Curls 
  • Cross-Body Cable Triceps Extensions

Bumstead’s training is heating up as the Ottawa native is laser-focused on taking his physique to new heights. With the Olympia crown comes expectations to achieve all possible gains in the gym before stepping on stage to defend it, and it seems like Bumstead isn’t looking to vacate the Classic Physique throne.

Featured image: @cbum on Instagram