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Rich Piana Arms Workout: Join the 5%

If there’s one thing Rich Piana knew, it was how to rear vascular and venomous pythons. His colossal arms were what set him apart from the rest, alongside awesome tattoos and a badass attitude.

Rich also preached the 5% philosophy to all who would listen. As he said, these were the lifters grabbing life by the balls, doing everything it took to make their dreams a reality.

Are you ready to join the 5%, bro? If so, it’ll take nothing but hard work and outright dedication to get you there. Oh, and maybe an insane passion for lifting.

Before he died, Rich Piana told interviewers he lived for bodybuilding, and would ultimately die for it too. That’s what made him part of the fearless few, the ones who dared to follow a path towards greatness.

Don’t believe us? Try to recall the last time you ever heard of mere mortals training arms for eight hours in one single day! Rich Piana did it over twelve times in his incredible career.

Join The 5%

If you’re ready to join the 5% and build bursting biceps and t-shirt tearing triceps, then look no further. This is the only arms workout you’ll ever need.

SpotMeBro’s dedicated team of trainers researched Rich Piana’s favorite burn-inducing moves. Now, all you need to do is put up or shut up punk.

Rich always said he chased the pump above anything else. If you’re as serious a bodybuilder as you say you are, you’ll know what he means.

That’s why in true Rich Piana style we’re embracing the powerful potential of supersets. Challenging both the agonist and antagonist, back-to-back until they scream.

If you’re a pussy – don’t even look at this routine. Dare to try it, and you’ll be eaten alive by all the real bros who can handle the fire. You have been warned.

The Rich Piana Arms Workout

pro bodybuilder Rich Piana showing muscular arms

Exercises are split into pairs to create badass supersets. So that means sets are to be completed one after the other with minimal rest. (Again, don’t be a p*ssy!)

For example; absolutely destroy exercise 1a. And before bending over to catch your breath, pick up a pair of DBs and hit those hammer curls for 1b. Then, and only then, do you get your 45 seconds to rest.

If you’re wondering what the hell is up with the changing rep range then let us explain. It has been used and abused by Rich himself for years upon years and who are we to argue?

He openly said he never cared too much about reps and always gauged his work by feeling the burn. But, as our team of trainers has confirmed, he’s always in hypertrophy territory for creating monster growth.

1a. Skull Crushers20, 16, 12, 10445secsTriceps
1b. Hammer Curls20, 16, 12, 10 445secsBiceps
2a. Incline Close Grip Bench Press20, 16, 12, 10445secsTriceps
2b. Cable Contraction Curls20, 16, 12, 10445secsBiceps
3a. Reverse Grip Push Downs20, 16, 12, 10445secsTriceps
3b. Preacher Curls20, 16, 12, 10445secsBiceps
4a. Standard Grip Tricep Pushdown20, 16, 12, 10445secsTriceps
4b. EZ Bar Bicep Curl20, 16, 12, 104-Biceps

1a. Skull Crushers

bodybuilder performs skull crushers as rich piana arms workoutReps: 20, 16, 12, 10  Sets: 4 

Muscles Activated: Triceps

How to do it:

  • Grab an EZ-bar and lay flat in the supine position with arms perpendicular to the floor.
  • Lower the weight until the elbow is flexed and the bar is situated behind and lower than the head.
  • Keeping the arms still, contract the triceps and extend the elbow to raise the weight in a controlled arc. Ensure that there is no rocking or “cheating” involved to get the load from A to B. (Don’t be a bitch!)
  • Make sure not to lock out at the top. We’re not here to rest, we’re here to work baby!
  • Lower the weight back down slowly to increase eccentric time under tension and tear that tri to shreds.
[infobox] Get yourself a spotter for these, bro. They’re called Skull Crushers for a reason. [/infobox]

1b. Hammer Curls

rich piana performig hammer curls as part of arms workoutReps: 20, 16, 12, 10  Sets: 4 

Muscles Activated: Biceps

One exercise the late great said every single deadly python rearing bro needs to train, is the hammer curl.

Rich himself told interviewers he never hit any arm day without them – they were his go-to lift for increasing pump and size.

They’re awesome at targeting the brachialis. Which, if you haven’t heard bro, is “the” deep muscle residing under the biceps brachii. It’s this baby, that when developed, makes arms appear thicker and meatier from all angles.

How to do it:

  • Stand straight upright with a neutral spine and a dumbbell loaded into each hand.
  • Ensure arms are fully extended and by your side, with the elbows pulled in close.
  • Without using the ground, momentum or any other cheap tricks, curl that sucker towards your chest. Keep the elbow still, contract the bicep and concentrate on feeling the muscle work.
  • Once the dumbbell reaches the summit, contract and squeeze the flexed antagonist. This will help create extra tears inside the muscle and increase time under tension.
  • Eccentrically lower the dumbbell under control to the starting position slowly. Then, hit another rep!

2a. Close Grip Bench Press

bodybuilder performs close grip bench press for arms workoutReps: 20, 16, 12, 10  Sets: 4 

Muscles Activated: Triceps

How to do it:

  • Find a bench that isn’t littered with scrawny CrossFit dudes or distracting #fitgirl’s and assume the supine position.
  • Take hold of the barbell with a close grip at shoulder width or just inside. Any narrower is bullsh*t and can automatically increase your risk of injury – don’t believe the broscience old timers.
  • Let that baby loose from the rack and hold it above your chest at arm’s length.
  • Breathe in, and lower her down slowly until the bar touches the mid-section of your massive chest. Keep your elbows in close and make sure to put your mind into the muscle.
  • Don’t pause here too long before powering the load back towards the starting position. Once you hit the top, contract again and mentally engage with the triceps.
  • Do it again for the desired number of reps.
[infobox] Tip: Yeah, asking for someone to spot you might be ego-shattering. But it ain’t half as bad as needing to be rescued from under the bar. Grab your best hypeman and get him to keep you safe with this one. [/infobox]

2b. Cable Contraction Curl

cable contraction curl performed by bodybuilder in rich piana workoutReps: 20, 16, 12, 10  Sets: 4 

Muscles Activated: Biceps

How to do it:

  • Set yourself on a bench around 2-3 feet away from a cable stack.
  • Grab ahold of a D-handle and attach it to the cable on the lowest level setting.
  • Squat down into a seated position with the stack located at the side of you.
  • Then, grab the cable with the closest hand and legs at 90 degrees.
  • Slightly lean forward and support your weight with your free hand on the outside leg. The triceps of your working arm should be resting comfortably on the inside of the nearside thigh.
  • Contract the bicep and flex at the elbow, this will raise the plates and challenge the muscle.
  • Return slowly under control to the starting position, then go again.

3a. Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdown

bodybuilder doing tricep pushdown as part of arms workoutReps: 20, 16, 12, 10  Sets: 4 

Muscles Activated: Triceps

How to do it:

  • Attach a straight bar to the high pulley machine and hold the load with arms locked out down and straight.
  • Keep the elbows tucked in, spine in neutral alignment and ensure you’re using an underhand grip.
  • Control the ascension of the cable until the bar is in line with the chest.
  • Then, using the triceps to extend the elbow joint, lower the bar back to the starting position. Make sure to carry out this movement slowly to increase time under tension and muscle pump.
  • Do it again until all the reps are firmly in the bag.

3b. Preacher Curls

Iconic bodybuilder Larry Scott performing preacher curlReps: 20, 16, 12, 10  Sets: 4 

Muscles Activated: Biceps

How to do it:

  • Pick that EZ-bar back up and take hold of a wide Larry Scott-esque supine grip.
  • Get tight in the saddle and rest the triceps and chest firmly on the pad.
  • Raise the EZ-bar to shoulder height and take a moment to stabilize yourself. This right here is the starting point.
  • Slowly lower the bar until the elbow joint is fully extended and the bicep is in a stretched state.
  • Then, use the power of the biceps to curl the bar back towards the starting position. Keep a controlled arc throughout the motion and ensure that the mind is in the muscle.
  • When the bar reaches the top squeeze the life out of that bicep.
  • Go again until you’re done, bro!

4a. Standard Grip Tricep Pushdown

Rich Piana tricep push down

Reps: 20, 16, 12, 10  Sets: 4 

Muscles Activated: Triceps

How to do it:

  • Attach an angled bar to a high pulley and set yourself up with an overhand grip.
  • Keep the spine straight and lean the entire body slightly forward.
  • Lower the cable and bar until the elbow is flexed to a right angle with the elbows tight to the torso. This is the starting position.
  • Engage the triceps and lower the bar down until you feel it touch the thighs.
  • Hold for a moment, contract the tris, and then slowly reverse the movement and return to the beginning.
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat, until all the reps have been hit.

4b. EZ Bar Bicep Curls

arnold schwarzenegger performing ez bar bicep curl workoutReps: 20, 16, 12, 10  Sets: 4 

Muscles Activated: Biceps

No arms workout could be complete without a set of this iconic movement.

As bros we know it’s all about curls for the girls. Why’d you think Arnie did so many? He knew what was up…

They’re one of the most effective bicep bulging techniques there is. Plus, they’re also the nemesis of narrow shirt sleeves worldwide.

Here’s how to do them:

  • Stand straight with a neutral spine and a supine (underhand) grip grabbing hold of the bar. Tuck your elbows into the side of your torso and engage the core. This, as you’ve probably guessed, is the starting point.
  • Without moving anything else other than the forearms and elbow joint, contract the bicep and curl the bar towards your chest. Once the weight has reached the summit contract the working muscle.
  • Take a breath inwards and slowly lower the bar back to the starting position. Remember to focus the mind on the muscle and not on some other useless junk like Scarlett Johansson’s ass.
  • Do it again!

End of Workout

At this point, you should have the sickest pump you’ve ever experienced.

Your pythons will be vascular like you could never imagine. The burn will feel as if Satan himself possessed your body and stole it to blast out ten thousand push-ups in the fiery pits of hell.

Welcome to the b*tches love colossal biceps club, bro! You’ll be treated like a king around here. Every single inch added to those ‘ceps guarantees you ten more beautiful ladies.

Didn’t complete it? Better luck next time weakling. Close the door on the way out if you’re even strong enough…

(Super) Set For Success

close up image of bodybuilder rich piana's arms and chest

Smash every tricep exercise, and then without stopping, burn straight through the following bicep beasting. Welcome to the deadly yet Rich Piana pump approved world of supersets.

To be more precise, this style of working out is known as agonist-antagonist superset training. An arm annihilating method made popular by Arnold Schwarzenegger back in the 70s, and still used by elite bodybuilders today.

Benefits of supersets include:

  • Better Time Efficiency
  • Increased Strength
  • Incredible Pumps
  • Muscular Balance

The underpinning idea is to train one group and instantly switch to attacking the opposing muscles. This could be triceps to biceps, or simply chest to back (as Arnie did).

So not only are you fitting more metabolic stress into a smaller timeframe, you’re getting strong AF too. You’re strengthening the agonist and instantly paying attention to the opposing agonist. Something often missed by inexperienced or lazy gym rats.

Also, let’s not forget about creating a balanced muscular physique, which is important for any aspiring bodybuilder. More specifically for us Piana worshipers, a balance of might on both sides of the arm.

To achieve the ultimate goal of guns far beyond the average gym bros AK47s, we need both sides to be equally as massive and destructive. Supersets facilitate this alpha sh*t, so embrace the burn.

Final Thoughts: Arms Built Over A Lifetime

the late bodybuilder Rich Piana showing his incredibly muscular armsForging bulging muscular armor like that covering Rich Piana’s arms is not something that happens overnight.

No way, bro! There’s simply no substitute for an entire lifetime spent earning the right to bear godlike growth.

Rich was raised amongst strong and powerful people since birth. So it was inevitable that he would become fixated on the limitless potential of the human form.

As a child, Rich witnessed his mother sculpting and shaping her physique whilst preparing for bodybuilding contests. She and Bill Cambra, an old-school style competitor, would heavily influence the young star by exposing him to their lifting lifestyle.

It was at the age of six he began obsessing over the sport, and five years later began training to become a future champion. Then, at the age of 15, Rich would enter his first ever competition and set the ball rolling on a future lifelong career.

Piana won copious bodybuilding titles as a teenager before becoming the IFBB Mr. Teen California at in 1989. After winning this award at just 18, he would then continue to lay out his legacy over 25 years. Filling it with professional competition, entrepreneurship and inspiring the next generation of 5%ers.


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One Comment

  1. Nice article and some wonderful tips for fitness. It is very helpful for people who start first time.

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