Hi Paul. I have been reading your articles and you said that you can predict how big someone’s biceps can be by measuring their wrist. Is this true? And: Can you tell me how I should exercise my arms by certain measurements?

SIDE SHOT NYCThe answer to both questions is, yes. I have learned, by gathering data and continually taking measurements of clients and patients, and then utilizing those musculoskeletal measurements to predict circumferences of various muscle potentials; as well as the “correct” exercises for each body part based on the measurements of the joints and lengths of the bones in question (with 20 years of trial and error—always keeping the data whether it worked or failed).

This works best with the extremities, although I can take the thoracic measurements and know what the best exercises for chest and back are based on both the two types of measurements (those being, joint circumference and length of extremities, combined with thorax circumference, and “type” of breast plate and the clavicle width).

Let me give you an example with the measurements that you gave me for your arms. You say that your wrists are 8.35” inches in circumference and the length of your arm from AC joint to wrist crease is 26”.

These measurements tell me that you have medium size bones in thickness, and length in the forearm and the combination, i.e., ulna and humerus length: This is quite long. I can take a scientific calculation and tell you that you are 6’3” to 6’4,” just from these two measurements. This would also mean that you have good potential to build big triceps and biceps (assuming the attachments are fairly low and the muscle bellies are medium size on each body-part). Your forearms are in that same area of having good potential because of the wrist circumference.

The best exercises for your biceps are going to be: Heavy Standing Curls with a straight bar (never use a cambered bar to curl for it prevents your hand and wrist from fully supinating at the top of the motion). Also, Preacher Curls and Concentration Curls all to failure for three hard and heavy sets would be perfect for you.

Now, for Forearms, I have found that wrapping a towel around an Olympic bar and grasping the bar and sitting on the end of a bench with forearms on thighs, curling the wrists back and forth; from where the wrists are in line with the forearms, pulling the bar back as far as possible with just the ulna flexor (The belly of the inner forearm)—doing this until failure, curling just a bit less towards the end of the set, when it begins to burn like mad; then you will get a huge pump and be on your way to huge forearms and a great grip. This is the only exercise that I did and my forearms are enormous. The more that you can roll your wrist back and forth with a moderately heavy weight, the more your hands and inner-forearms will grow in strength and thickness. The key to forearm training is really endurance while never letting go of that thick bar—that is the key. They do sell thick bars now; so that is a potential for you also.
To work the outer side of the forearms, the best thing is Zotman Curls with “the curl bar.” (Ironically, the so called “curl bar is best for reverse curls and triceps).

For your triceps, I predict that you will have a bit of trouble with these, because of the arm length. I believe that you have wide shoulders and big Pecs; which in most cases, at your height, would leave you with triceps that haven’t been worked very heavy. (Those with great triceps often have weaker Pecs). So, you will have to do straight-to-failure, Heavy, Triceps Pushdowns, doing 12-15 reps, and between sets, doing a set of bench-dips without weights, and doing only 10-12 reps, and getting right back to the heavy pushdowns. You want to do these until you can do no more and go directly to the seated pushdown machine; buckle yourself in and go for as many as you can with weight that you can normally do 10-12. Here, you want to go at it with as much push-down force as you can muster. Sear should be set low, so that it makes it extra hard for your long arms. Three sets to failure and that is all for Triceps. On another day, you want to try to do French Curls. With your wrists, you should be able to do these with a cambered bar with ease. You want to get 10 reps for three sets—again, doing light bench-dips between sets. When doing bench-dips so often, you should try and break your last mark each time.

According to my charts, with the length of your arms and the circumference of your wrists; I predict that you can build your arms to be 19.45” to 20” in circumference at 6-8% body-fat. I predict your forearms potentiality to be in the neighborhood of 15” flexed, but with a lot of intense work, could be larger.  These are both measurements that are truly only if you are to train naturally, without steroids, GH, or any other type of muscle enhancing drugs or supplements. This measurement should be taken at the end of the day, but not during or after you workout, for obviously there would be a change in measurement if your arms were pumped-up.

The length of your arms are a bit long, and since I don’t have the width of your clavicles, I can only tell you that for your chest work, it would be best to do Dumbbell Decline Presses, Flat Fly’s and perhaps a type of upright peck-deck. Again, three sets of each to failure are all that you will need. My advice is to do one warm up set of Decline Presses with light dumbbells, and then go right to what you can normally get for 8-10 full-reps. During each of the three heavy sets, you want to do as many full-reps as you can; then half-reps and then just move the dumbbells an inch down and back up and squeeze as many times as possible. As soon as you are done with these, you should go right to the peck-deck and bang out as many as possible; making sure that you squeeze very hard when the handles are in front of you—pectorals contracted. Do this for three cycles.
Now, do your Fly’s directly after; and, in between sets, take a set of dumbbells and lay on a flat bench and just push them up and squeeze very hard and then bring them down for an inch and repeat until twenty seconds has gone by and then go back to the regular Fly’s. This way, you are using your pectoral muscles all the way through the workout; however, you are always going to be using different parts of your arms and shoulders to execute each set. One is a press and one is a pull. Try to keep this in mind with chest and back.

The key to this is to give you a set of exercises that best suit how your musculoskeletal system is set up. Since I would need your entire joint and bone lengths before I can be sure of each potential and exercise; here I have worked with two measurements and I feel confident that what I have given you will be perfect for your body. We all have to remember that each of our musculoskeletal systems are as unique as our finger-print—then each of us has to find our perfect, “correct” exercise for each body part.

In my upcoming book, I will be giving the charts, graphs and data that I have been gathering for twenty years; and utilizing for the past two when helping others through the Internet. Quantification can never be perfect, for there are physiological factors that cannot be quantified. So too are their parts of a person’s pain threshold and attitude towards training different in all of us. The key here is to utilize this quantification as a guide. Most of the people who come to me are often following a program that is from a Pro, who has a physique that this person “admires,” yet they do not have a similar musculoskeletal system at all. In fact, usually they don’t realize that they are often 5-8 inches taller than the Pro he has chosen as his Icon. The fact is that while reading what Pro’s do is interesting; realizing what you have to do is altogether a different reality. The idea is to build the best you that you can be.

About the author :

Paul T. Burke has a Master’s Degree in Integrated Studies from Cambridge College, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is presently in a Doctorate Degree Program at A. T. Still University, and will be a Doctor of Health Education upon completion. Paul has been a champion bodybuilder and arm-wrestler; and, he is considered a leader in the field of Over-40 and Over-50 fitness training. You can purchase his book, “Burke’s Law,” A New Fitness Paradigm for the Mature Male, from his website, or the Home Gym Warehouse, call (800) 447-0008, or visit ** His second book: “The Neo-Dieter’s Handbook,” A Guide to Finding Your Nutritional Root; Past, Present and Future, will be out in March, 2009 and his third book, “Burke’s Law II,” Reaching Your Muscular Potential through Musculoskeletal Designation (Book Surge/Amazon Publishing, 2013) will be available soon.

Contact Paul Burke: website
Call Paul Directly: Toll free 855 308 2200


  1. esteban


    May 26, 2013 3:25 pm

    Hi, you think in thick bars for training forearms, but I found that if I use a thinner bar I am able to flex my fingers more and include the flexor digitorums in the exercise. Am I wrong?