The Growth Continues: Chris Bumstead Shares High-Volume Arm Training

The reigning Classic Physique Olympia champion explains how to build contest-ready arms in the waning days of his off-season.

Three-time reigning Classic Physique Olympia champion Chris Bumstead filmed a high-volume arm workout for a video he published on his Youtube channel on Aug. 21, 2022. The workout, completed on Aug. 19, 2022, featured Bumstead deep into his off-season, attempting to pack on as much mass as possible before attacking his Olympia prep.

Achieving larger arms, a taller biceps peak, and thicker horseshoe triceps is particularly interesting to Bumstead. He will attempt to win his fourth consecutive title at the 2022 Olympia, scheduled for Dec 16-18, 2022, in Las Vegas, NV, and larger arms are part of the equation to make that happen. Bumstead performed his high-volume arm workout at the Revive Gym in Stuart, FL. Check it out below, followed by the full workout details:

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Pre-Workout Meal

Bumstead opened the video by scarfing down his pre-workout meal consisting of white rice, ground turkey, zucchini, and pineapple. Bumstead ate the meal in his office with a row of three weightlifting belts behind him — one for each of his Olympia wins. When asked about a fourth, he retorted, “It’s on its way.”

Warm Up

Bumstead began his arm workout with three sets of rope pushdowns to pre-exhaust his triceps.

I’m gonna do a bunch of these until my arms are sore; pre-exhaust — protect my elbows, protect my shoulders.

Bumstead is a firm believer in pre-exhausting muscles, which he finds as effective as straight sets. However, they allow for lighter weight in compound movements, applying less pressure to his joints.

Seated Overhead Dumbbell Tricep Extension

Thoroughly warmed up, Bumstead started off the triceps portion of his workout with overhead triceps extensions using both hands and a single heavy dumbbell. This movement builds the long head of the triceps.

I got heavily into my comfort zone doing the same workouts every week and they all enabled my injuries.

Bumstead prefers sticking to a routine. Programming exercises that are effective for him work well, but he finds it beneficial to mix things up occasionally to prevent lagging body parts from remaining underdeveloped. 


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Close-Grip Incline Barbell Bench Press

Bumstead moved over to the incline bench press with a close grip to place more emphasis on the triceps. This is a meat and potatoes exercise for bulking the triceps. That added stretch at the bottom offers greater muscular stimulation by training them in the fully lengthened position.

Testing my limits today; trying to expand my horizons.

Bumstead started with 225 pounds for six reps and worked his way up to 275 pounds for nine reps before performing a back-off set with 225 pounds again for 10 repetitions.

Single-Arm Reverse Cable Pushdowns & Dips

Next up on the docket were reverse single-arm pushdowns. Bumstead performed two sets on each arm and followed them with bodyweight dips to failure, getting as deep in the bottom of the movement as he could.

Mobility really screws you up. Stay stretching kids. Don’t do the same exercises every day or you’ll end up…with no range of motion.

Bumstead performed the exercise to the best of his ability despite the nagging shoulder injury he has been working through.

Alternating Curls, E-Z Bar Preacher Curls & Barbell Spider Curls

For his biceps work, Bumstead performed standing alternating dumbbell curls working his way up to sets with 45-pound dumbbells before dropping back down to 35-pounds. Bumstead performed four sets of dumbbell curls: two standard sets, then two sets with single-arm curls with a static hold with the opposite arm.

If you don’t get a pump from these, you’re doing something wrong. The biggest arm pump you’ve had in your entire life.

Next up for Bumstead was the barbell preacher curl using an EZ bar to take some strain off his wrists. Bumstead worked his way up to 95 pounds for 10 striation-popping reps.

After the preacher curls, Bumstead kept the pressure on via spider curls — an excellent exercise for building the peak of the biceps.

A beautiful pair to the preacher curl is the spider curl —hitting it on opposite ends of the spectrum. One pulls down and the other…the elbows are locked and you’re pulling higher.

Olympia judges have a history of rewarding well-developed biceps peaks. Those are a strength of Bumstead’s physique, and he intends to leverage them to another championship.


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Cable Curls and Reverse-Grip Barbell Curls

At the cable station, Bumstead performed standing biceps curls to failure. He performed them with thicker handles for added forearm recruitment. Cable variations keep tension on the working muscle through the full range of motion rather than just at the top of the contraction. This added time under tension is an anabolic trigger that can result in more significant muscle hypertrophy.

Finishing off his arm workout with some forearm work, Bumstead performed reverse grip barbell curls.

A lot more volume than I am used to. But sometimes you’ve gotta live outside your comfort zone to grow.

Bumstead prioritized exercises he doesn’t typically perform and kept the volume high. Ideally, this gives him some last-minute arm growth before his Olympia prep.

Chris Bumstead’s Arm Workout

Below is each exercise in the order performed by Bumstead at Revive Gym during his back and biceps workout:

  • Rope Pushdowns
  • Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extensions
  • Incline Close Grip Bench Press
  • Single Arm Reverse Grip Pushdowns 
  • Standing Alternating Dumbbell Curls
  • Preacher Curls superset Spider Curls
  • Standing Cable Curls
  • Reverse Barbell Curls

Bumstead trained with greater volume and variation than he typically does. He did a thorough warm-up with some pre-exhaust work, performed supersets, and programmed for form and function over weight. He maintained his intensity with weight within a range he could control through his full range of motion.

Featured image: @cbum on Instagram