Big Arms

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Big arms, man wearing green shirt, lion poster in background

A man has big arms. He walks by in his tight shirt.
How did he get such big,
thick,
meaty arms? When he moves his rock-hard muscles change shape. Think of all the things he could grab. He is a strong and durable man.

Tip:15-inch arms are big arms. A big-armed man often has a little extra body fat, but this is excusable.

15 inches

Proportion is the first consideration. 15-inch arms are viewed as larger on shorter and more compact frames than on taller men. If you are less than 6 feet tall, 15-inch arms will seem big.

Man with large, muscular arms flexing: 14 inches

Body fat is another consideration when judging arm size. If you have a high body fat percentage, 15-inch arms are less impressive.
If fat covers your biceps
and triceps,
muscle definition is not seen.

Note:I have been at different levels of body fat. My arms have measured between 14 inches and 17 inches.

Also:I have been at different levels of fitness. Some of the difference in arm size is body fat on the upper arm.

Muscle pictures, pecs, arms

Muscle insertions are another consideration. If you have a muscle insertion near your elbow joint, you have a low insertion. This will make your arm seem bigger overall. But you will have less of a biceps peak.

Tip:The insertion point of the biceps comes near to the elbow joint in some. These lifters are likely to have arms that seem big.

Perception

Strong young man not wearing shirt or pants

Perception is the second part of the answer. Some will consider your arms to be big. But others may not. Children are more impressed with 15-inch arms than professional bodybuilders are. And 15-inch arms are more impressive on a woman.

Big:I consider 15-inch arms pretty impressive on anyone who works out. Good job and continue with your workouts.

Also:The photograph of the arm at the top is around 15 inches when measured. It is not huge but still big.

Proportion

Man with large, muscular arm and shoulder

It is important to keep your body's musculature in proportion. I too often see men who seem to work out only their biceps and pectoral muscles. They are lacking in the legs and trapezius muscle regions.

However:From a functional, sports-oriented standpoint, this style of workout is worthless. Muscle imbalances are a negative.

LegsTraps

For these guys, 15-inch arms are too big. They would look better and feel better in the gym if they did more full-body exercises. One exercise to try is the barbell squat. It leads to thicker musculature all over.

14 inches

Man with big arms wearing t-shirt

This size of arm has all the same considerations as a 15-inch arm. The lower the body fat level and the shorter and smaller the overall frame of the person, the larger this arm will seem.

A 14-inch arm appears large on shorter men, around 5 foot 6 or lower. Many photographs of men with 14-inch arms are impressive. If you are in this category, you likely look strong in a muscle shirt or tank top.

14-inch arms:These are considered big on shorter men (less than or equal to 5'6" or 5'7").

Also:Big on average-size men (less than or equal to 5'9") when body fat is low.
With visible abs, 14-inch arms are probably impressive.

16 inches

Man with 16-inch biceps flexing

With 16-inch arms, you arrive in bodybuilder territory. This is where bulging muscles predominate. Except perhaps on men with very large frames, such as 6 foot 3 or taller, a 16-inch arm appears very large.

If the arm is covered in a thick layer of fat, it will be less impressive. But 16-inch arms with a low level of body fat are universally considered big arms. These are good football player arms.

16-inch arms:Universally big except when body fat is high. These are the kind of arms that make other guys look twice.

But:If your gut overhangs your belt on your pants by several inches, 16-inch arms are probably not impressive.

17 inches

Man with big arms wearing tight black shirt

At 17 inches and beyond, you should have no concern about whether your arms are big or not. 17-inch arms are probably considered "bigger than big" on most men who have low levels of body fat.

The guy in the pictures does not have a particularly low level of body fat. He is kind of chubby. So his 17-inch arms, which he gets at around 220 pounds, are less impressive than 15-inch arms with less fat.

17-inch arms:This gets you into "nice arms" territory. With low body fat, 17-inch arms are big arms regardless of height and frame size.

But:If you have a high level of body fat, 17-inch arms are more accurately described as 15-inch arms with an extra layer of fat.

18 inches

Plus

There is no doubt about it. 18-inch arms are really big arms. A man with low-fat, 18-inch arms has certain arm-related privileges. For example, he always has the biggest arms in a group of other men.

And:At this arm size, he does not need to read websites about getting bigger arms. 18 inches is big enough.

Ideal

Muscular man flexing triceps: side

Research has sought the ideal biceps measurement. A study selected 14 bodybuilders with incredibly fit bodies. These men were measured to find the ideal body shape. The average size of these men's biceps was around 14 inches.

The men with the ideal physiques were on average 26 years old. They were also low-fat. They had an average waist size of 78 cm or 31 inches. They were 73.50 kilograms or 162 pounds and 175 centimeters tall or 69 inches—5 foot 9.

Ideal man minimum biceps size:

35.30 cm
13.90 inches

Ideal man maximum biceps size:

35.78 cm
14.08 inches

So:The ideal men had arms of 14 inches. But because these men were 162 pounds and five foot nine, their arms looked strong and muscular.

Optimum Anthropometric Criteria

Triceps

Triceps brachii muscle flexed

At first it seems that the biceps muscle on a strong man is the largest one on his arm. After all, we flex our biceps to show off.
But another muscle group,
the triceps brachii,
is actually larger.

After working out for months to years, your arms become larger and more muscular. And the triceps shape reveals itself when you lose enough body fat. The triceps brachii has an interesting horseshoe shape on a muscular person.

Tip:It is fun to flex this muscle.
As the muscle contracts, the back of the arm changes shape.
It becomes a ridge or horseshoe shape.

And:You can feel this even with smaller muscles. For ways to develop your triceps, please see the section further down this page.

Stretch mark

Stretch mark on bodybuilder biceps

If you have big arms, one sign is that you have stretch marks on them. This is not generally thought of as a positive thing. People dislike stretch marks.
They look ugly,
like scars
or a nasty rash.

Note:Stretch marks are complicated.
Some bodybuilders develop them more easily than others.

But:Having stretch marks on muscular arms makes them likely to be big. If you have stretch marks, wear them with pride.

Stretch Marks

Cuffs

Caution: exclamation mark

Doctors often take your blood pressure. The blood pressure cuff is adjusted to fit the arm. The standard-size cuff only fits arms up to 33 cm or 13 inches. You need the large cuff if your upper arm measures more than 13 inches.

Incorrect cuffing of a muscular arm leads to significant errors in the measurement of [systolic blood pressure] and [diastolic blood pressure], similar to that observed in miscuffing of nonmuscular arms.

Medium and large adult cuffs

A doctor will consider your arms to be big if they measure more than 13 inches around. This is an unflexed measurement of the upper arm. You should remind your physician to use a larger cuff if you are a bodybuilder.

Insertion

Insertion point for biceps muscle

You can check your insertion point. Place two fingers between your biceps and your elbow. A near insertion point is better for potential muscle mass. This is mainly because the overall muscle area is bigger.

If only one or two fingers can fit between your muscle and the joint, then you have close insertion points. This is likely a sign of the potential to have large arms. And you probably have already been told you have big arms.

1. Position arm at 90 degree angle.This is a right angle.
You probably want to use your dominant arm for measuring.

2. Measure space.Use your fingers to measure between the inner joint of your elbow and muscle.

Measure

Steps

How can you measure your biceps? The first point to consider is whether you want to measure your muscle girth when flexing. If you are measuring for clothes, the flexing size is not important.

The most important point here is that you measure in the same way as you chart your muscular development. And some guys prefer to look at themselves in the mirror to chart their progress.

1. Flex.Choose the same arm each time. Usually right-handed guys have bigger right arms, so they choose to measure that side.

2. Wrap tape measure around flexed arm.With your other hand, attempt to wrap the tape measure around your flexed biceps.

3. Tighten tape measure.But don't make it too tight or stretch it. If you ruin the tape measure, your arms won't get any bigger.

4. Record your measurements.And possibly repeat these steps as many times as necessary until you get consistent measurements.

5. Optional:Make something up.
Many men exaggerate all their physical measurements.
If you do not, you may look inferior to them.

Forearms

Muscular forearm flexing: 13 inches

If you have nice forearm size, this is perhaps more impressive than large biceps. Big forearms are probably rarer to see than muscular biceps. Muscular forearms are a combination of genetics and certain exercises.

Instead of training your forearms specially, consider focusing on full-body workouts. These involve squats or deadlifts. Doing isolation exercises for the forearms could cause injuries. The movements are not natural.

Tip:Please remember the muscle is your biceps, even if you are talking about one muscle. There no "bicep" muscle.

Bigger arms

Muscular man flexing triceps

What should you do if you want bigger arms? The best strategy is to lift weights. If you are already lifting weights, lift heavier ones. Doing full-body exercises like the heavy barbell back squat is important.

Barbell Squat

Info:Muscle protein synthesis is involved.
Lifting weights doesn't directly make your arms bigger.
It changes your hormonal status.

And:At night, extra growth hormone is released. This will cause your entire body to become more muscular.

Arm exercises. There are many great arm-muscle building exercises. The bench press is useful. I like parallel bar dips—and weighted dips. These work your pectoral muscles to fill out your chest.

Pecs

Average

Strong young man posing in shorts

What is the average biceps size,
on men,
on women,
and by frame size? Scientific data does not measure the upper arm when flexed. It instead measures the mid-upper arm circumference.

Body fat. Men who have a high level of body fat will have larger upper arms than those at lower levels. This doesn't indicate anything about muscle size. It just means that some big arms are fat arms.

Therefore:The size of biceps muscles can be compared between people of similar body fat levels.

But:Men with different genetics will have different size arms. Genetics determine how muscle and bones are positioned and shaped.

Bodybuilding

Book cover of Strength Training Anatomy

The average biceps size of bodybuilders is a topic of controversy. It is possible that bodybuilders exaggerate their biceps measurements. Men often exaggerate anything related to money or their body parts.

Scientific studies have measured biceps muscle size. This is actually done with an MRI machine. These are expensive medical imaging machines that are not available to the general public.

Magnetic resonance imaging measured the biceps muscle cross sectional area (CSA).

The muscle strength and size responseInstant, huge muscles

After a heavy workout, bodybuilders experience a "pump." The muscle becomes filled with blood. This alters the exact measurements of the biceps. It is hard to correctly measure biceps.

So:When measuring your arms, make sure to measure them always before, or always after, a workout—and at similar levels of hydration.

Survey

Biceps flexing: three frames of muscle movement

I took an informal survey of my friends and family members to determine their biceps size. I only asked males. My sample size was five people. Two of the people I asked were at my gym.

In the survey, the right or left biceps muscle was measured while flexing. The person's dominant side was measured. Some measurements were taken without my supervision. They may be exaggerated.

Note:The first two results were taken from gym members. The final three were taken from untrained males.

Survey results:

14.00 inches (35.6 cm)
15.25 inches (38.7 cm)
13.25 inches (33.7 cm)
13.50 inches (34.3 cm)
13.00 inches (33.0 cm)

Average:

13.8 inches (35 cm)

13 inches—or 33 centimeters—is the most common figure I have seen reported for the average biceps size when flexed on men. But if you have a larger arm than this, it may be due to factors other than muscle size.

Thus:The average biceps size is meaningless when comparing yourself to others unless the rest of your physical form is similar.

Show off

Bodybuilder buttoning shirt up

How can you show off your arms? We live in a society where appearances are important. Our bodies become objects. One thing that is easiest to display for men is their arm muscles.

A sleeveless shirt is one way to show off your physique and arm muscles. But sleeveless shirts are not always appropriate in public. At formal events you will not want to wear a tank top style shirt.

Tip:At the beach, at the park, at a stadium: these are appropriate locations for a muscle shirt.

But:In other locations, I have found that a shirt with an athletic-cut fit is a good way to show off one's arms.

Shirts

Young man with strong arms flexing

Some clothing retailers call athletic cut shirts "muscle fit" or "muscle cut". This indicates that the waist size of the shirt is smaller. The chest is larger and the sleeves are shorter.

Shirts are hard to buy. Some stores may not carry many shirts of this sizing. Retailers that emphasize style—such as those in malls or even Target—are also likely to carry athletic cut shirts.

Comfort:Sleeveless shirts are more comfortable to wear with big arm muscles. The triceps seem to rub against my sides a lot.

And:If you like excess attention in public, a sleeveless shirt is a good choice. You might turn some heads.

Sizing

Muscle man in blue polo shirt

Sizing is a complicated question. It depends on the retailer you buy the shirts from. I suggest you keep different sizes of clothes. As a bodybuilder I tend to rapidly change body size. I vary between medium and large shirts.

Tip:Arm muscles are a great style attribute to have.
They change how people perceive you.

But:Wearing overly-revealing clothes has its downside. And if you are built, you don't need to wear revealing clothes.

Muscular Butt

Stereotypes

Man with muscular back wearing tank top

If you wear sleeveless muscle shirts and have a shaved head, you will get stereotyped. This is true even if you are a mathematician or an accountant. Tone down the style a bit—unless you like the excess stares.

Often the guys I see showing off their arm muscles are lacking in that department. Perhaps the more you need to show off your muscles, the less noticeable they must be. The best way to show off your arm muscles is to have big arm muscles.

So:It's the cost of being big. And more than enough can be told from your general body shape.

Story

Dumb man flexing muscles

I still remember that day. I was in high school and a girl told me I had big arms. The only problem was that I didn't. They were 14 inches. And I measured them in a way that made them as big as possible.

Muscle Man

I lifted and lifted and my arms got bigger right away. I also pulled on some things. I knew in those days that some day would come and I would be a muscle man. I enjoyed the lifting—it made me happy.

When I was a young boy, I had a nagging pain on the inside of my left forearm. After a couple months of dumbbell curls in my early teens, that nagging pain went away. I even got some little biceps lumps.

CurlsNow

Now:As a grown man, a muscle man, I get those head turning, double takes throughout life.

And:I wear normal shirts, nothing too tight, nothing too revealing. I put on my short sleeve shirts and I am the star of the show.

Muscles, blond man chest flexing

Big arms make a man more interesting to observe. Every man's muscles are a little different, even among bodybuilders. They are unique. They connect and bulge and move and twitch in different ways.

Then:When winter comes, I put on a sweater. And suddenly no one pays any attention to me anymore.

And:It's like that sweatshirt turns me invisible, like the Invisible Man. I like that anonymity.

But:Those shapely arms, that rock-hard masculine strength and dominance. I have no regrets. It is something to experience.

Summary

Strong and healthy: tips

Measuring arm size is complex. There are many considerations to take into account. Big arms are important. But undertaking a strength training program is healthy regardless of how it affects arm size.

Muscle:It improves health. It boosts self-confidence, raises energy levels, and it makes you a leader, not a follower.

Strong