On April 29, 2022, bodybuilder Chris Bumstead shared a video from his YouTube channel where he challenged his upper body in seemingly every way possible. The reigning three-time Classic Physique Olympia Champion (2019-2021) notably called it his “favorite arm workout.”
At the time of writing, Bumstead has over 1.6 million subscribers on YouTube. As a result, the man some call “CBum” says he decided to film an arms workout at the request of his many supporters.
My arms are definitely something I want to grow more, so I just want to show you a workout routine I’ve been doing that allows them to grow.
On the whole, it’s a taste of how the stellar bodybuilder pushes himself in the gym.
Bumstead’s Arms Workout
Before he dives in, Bumstead prefaces the workout with a note that these lifts are about him training harder and smarter.
Rope Tricep Pushdown
Sets and Reps: 2 x 10
Bumstead’s workout begins with tricep rope pushdowns on a machine. To work his muscle pump, he does two sets from a static standing position and supersets with two overhead sets. Bumstead explains that these first few triceps sets have been a foundational part of his workouts recently.
“I’ve been starting with this for the last four months, pretty much” Bumstead says. “You get a pump from the normal tricep extensions, and then when you go overhead and stretch, it gives you this crazy burn.”
EZ-Bar Preacher Curl
Sets and Reps: 3 x 8
Bumstead alternates his triceps work by focusing on his biceps with EZ-bar preacher curls to continue warming up. The preacher curl is where an athlete will perform a traditional barbell bicep curl but does it while seated with their arms resting on an elevated bench.
Notably, Bumstead says this is one of the parts of his workouts where he really tracks his weight — most recently stacking 25-pound plates on both ends of the bar. He tracks the weight because he finds it an incremental part of his overall training.
“This right here, this blue machine, is the GOAT biceps machine for me, personally,” Bumstead says of the EZ-bar bench. “It’s what I figured out is the best way to contract my biceps on a heavy load and push the intensity while keeping the load on my biceps. It’s a lot easier on a preacher curl because your arms are in a forced, stiff position.”
Indeed, research backs up Bumstead’s ease assertion. One study showed that the preacher curl is generally less challenging than the traditional variation as it activates the bicep muscles less. (1)
A seasoned professional, Bumstead assuredly understands the distinction between the two as he’s performing a warmup.
[Related: Bodybuilder Shaun Clarida Breaks Down An Intense Arms Workout]
Incline Dumbbell Skull Crusher
Sets and Reps: 3 x 10
With his warmups finished, Bumstead transitions to skull crushers with dumbbells from an incline bench position. Per Bumstead, this piece of the workout allows him to give each arm equal attention, especially as he contends with right shoulder discomfort. He says the movement is a great way to push his triceps.
“When you do these, if you start pushing them overhead and try to move your elbows as far as back as possible, you’re a lot weaker,” Bumstead explains. “But as you get tired, it’ll turn into a little bit more of a press, and it allows you to exhaust your triceps a bit more on the last few reps.”
Seated Incline Dumbbell Biceps Curl
The next portion of Bumstead’s workout sees him shift back to his biceps. While seated on an incline bench, he supersets a few sets of regular dumbbell bicep curls and some dumbbell hammer curls. It’s a method to cover all his triceps bases.
“The last one [EZ-bar preacher curls] we were in a really strong position in front of the body while leaning over,” Bumstead says. “This one, you’re kind of leaning back, with your arms behind you, to get that stretch in your biceps. What I’m trying to accomplish is to keep my elbow behind my body, and just pull up with my biceps.”
Research shows that implementing both movements into a workout can be integral to growing stronger, bigger biceps. Each activates the biceps from a slightly different angle, allowing for a wholesale focus on their development. (2)
Cable Hammer Curl
Sets and Reps: 3 for reps
Bumstead next challenges his biceps by doing hammer curls for reps on a cable machine. It’s another favorite for the bodybuilder.
Cross-Body Cable Tricep Extension
Sets and Reps: 2 heavy sets, one drop set, for reps
Bumstead closes the arms workout by engaging his triceps with standing cable pushdowns. He likes this lift as a cap because he can push out a few sets for reps before fatigue sets in.
“One more tricep movement, then go home and cry.”
Defending a Title
One of modern bodybuilding’s elite athletes, this arm workout is undoubtedly part of Bumstead’s coming defense of his Classic Physique Olympia title. He will take to the stage and go for his fourth consecutive championship during the 2022 Mr. Olympia, which will take place on December 15-18, 2022, in Las Vegas, NV.
- Young, S., Porcari, J.P, Camic, C., Kavacs, A., Foster, C. (2014). ACE Study Reveals Best Biceps Exercises. ACE Prosource.
- Oliveira, L.F., Matta, T.T., Alves, D.S, Garcia, M.A.C., Viera, T.M.M. (2009). Effect of the shoulder position on the biceps brachii emg in different dumbbell curls. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. 2009 Mar; 8(1): 24–29.
Featured image: @cbum on Instagram