Bicep And Tricep Workout Leroy Colbert Chuck Sipes

Two Old School Legends’ Bicep And Tricep Workout

If there’s a place to learn and to have an idea where to begin with your bicep and tricep workout it’s through the old-school legends who KNEW how to get big arms.

These greats developed big arms without most of the drugs we have today.

Before listing who they are, what their training philosophy was, and of course, their bicep and tricep workout, there’s very similar philosophies they all commonly shared when it came to developing bigger arms.

And like in the previous article: Nine Mistakes You’re Doing To Get Bigger Arms,  you’ll find that they avoided most of the mistakes that 99% of helpless people that is not armed and dangerous in the iron jungle is doing.

Old School Principles On How To Get Bigger Arms

Old School Principles For Bigger Arms Bicep And Tricep Workout

Old School Legend #1: Leroy Colbert

 Leroy Colbert Bicep And Tricep Workout

While some people debate the legitimacy of this claim; Leroy Colbert was the first man to achieve 21-inch arms, DRUG-FREE. 

He achieved this in a time where 16-inch arms were “huge” and 18-inch arms got you the “he’s on steroids, and his mother was a mutant from mars, and his Father was more beast than man” comment.

Leroy was also the first one to say “you know what they say about big arms…Big penis” (while I made that up, I wouldn’t put it past him if he did).

Leroy Colbert Bicep And Tricep Workout Philosophy

  • On how much work he did: ” Usually I did 15 sets for most parts and sometimes went as high as 20 sets a workout for those parts that were really stubborn.” (1)
  • On listening to the body: “If I found that I was beginning to lose the pump in an area I was working, I would stop exercising it even if I hadn’t completed the number of sets I planned to do. I found that any sets that weren’t increasing the pump were a waste and perhaps were even overtraining the muscle. On average, though, I usually did about 15 sets for most areas” (2)
  • On Keeping the tension: “I found that working with very heavy weights that forced you to do the exercises slowly was not as effective as working with a weight in a continuously moving manner until you completed the set. I don’t mean working so fast that you use sloppy form, but I mean that you don’t actually pause at the top or bottom of a repetition but just keep moving the weight in a controlled, steady way” (3)
  • On variety: “I used to change my workout around every two or three months. I found that if I tried to stay on exactly the same program month after month, I would go stale. Sometimes I would change several of the exercises. Other times I would just rearrange the order of the exercises” (4)
  • On rest periods: “I always began my next set as soon as my breathing returned near normal. I found that the more work I could do in a given period of time, the better I would respond.” (5)

For Bicep Workouts

  • He would pick two exercises and do at least 8-10 sets for 6-10 reps. He believed that anything under 6 would not be “stimulating it enough” but admitted it was great for strength.
  • Favourite exercises: Alternating dumbbell curls (for him, preferably seated), “scoop curls”, seated barbell curls, reverse barbell curls, 21 barbell curls

Leroy Colbert Bicep And Tricep workout

Notes on form from Leeroy Colbert:

  • For seated barbell curls, as soon as the barbell touched his thighs he’d bring it back up.
  • All the curls he did was all the way up to the shoulder.
  • Dumbbell curls started at the side of his body hanging down (not the thigh when seated)
  • Scoop curls is basically a concentration curl, but instead, doing a scooping motion

For Tricep Workouts: 

He would do at least 8-10 sets for 8-10 reps.

  • Favourite exercises: “Tricep curls” (he called skullcrushers tricep curls) with barbell, dumbbells, single or two arms, Bench dips, bent arm pull overs

Leroy Colbert Arm Routine

From the above, Leroy Colbert picked two of his favourite exercises, and would either superset triceps and biceps together or superset two of the same muscle group exercises together depending on how he felt.

It should also be noted that he did a full body workout after the initial arm routine. He did the same thing as he did for his arms explained just above.

Thus an example would be the following:

Leroy Colbert Arm Workout

More Words Of Wisdom From Leeroy On His Bicep And Tricep Workout:

  • BUILD YOUR WORK TOLERANCE: When he did 16-20 sets, he said not to copy him too quickly and that he already built his muscles to withstand that kind of volume. Too much too quickly, in the quest for bigger arms, he adds, will make you burn out and give you lack of results.

Notable quotes (paraphrased): “The more muscle mass you have on your arm the more work it can tolerate”

“If you force yourself you put another hole in the bucket…It’s easier to patch one hole, not two”.

  • ON RECOVERY: “If you’re damaging the muscle tissue more than it can recover from, you won’t grow”
  • ON MAKING ARMS THE FOCUS: He worked his arms FIRST in every workout he did then went on to do the rest of the workout
  • DID FULL BODY WORKOUTS: He’d train the whole body every other day and believed that split training was only good for drug takers and you couldn’t recover from it (Personal note: I’ve had great success with full and split training, it’s all in how you recover)
  • BIGGER FOCUS ON THE TRICEPS: Always said the bicep only has two heads and the triceps has three, and the triceps has more mass than the bicep
  • ALWAYS BASE SETS ON THE DAY ON HOW YOU FEEL: says “base sets on your bodies’ response…It (the body) will tell you, listen to it”.
  • DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME DOING CARDIO: He believed you’d get your cardio requirements by making your workouts fast paced and said; “don’t waste your time running”. He philosophy was to conserve all your energy for what your ultimate focus was; lifting weights and making your arms bigger.
  • DIDN’T DO ANYTHING ON HIS REST DAY: His rest day was just that; a rest day to attack the next day he trained.

Before we move onto the next legend and their bicep and tricep work out, just to note all the above is straight from his own mouth and if you’re more interested in hearing exactly what he says, the videos are below.

Otherwise skip them, and let’s move on to the next legend.

Old School Legend #2: Chuck Sipes

chuck sipes

Chuck Sipes was a badass. There was a lot to learn from the man himself. Before we get into what, here’s why he’s a credible source in our quest on how to get bigger arms and planning out a bicep and tricep workout to get us there;

  • Chuck Sipes had an upper arm measurement of 19 1/2 inches
  • His forearm measured 18 inches
  • He bench pressed 570 pounds
  • Did all this drug free

If you want to read all about the man himself and his other training routines like how he achieved his Bench Press Prowess, here’s an article all about Chuck Sipes and his training methods: Motivation Monday #4: Chuck sipes

Chuck Sipes Bicep And Tricep Workout Philosophy

  • He believed in training both heavy and light: He would recommend high repetitions with isolation type exercises (8+) and lower reps (2-4) on compound movements. He would often superset the compound and the isolation exercises
  • Believed in volume, and lots of it. 
  • Was a big believer in the cheat curl 
  • Kept rest periods short: He was quoted as saying he only rested a good 15-20 seconds in between exercises!
  • Used heavy partial repetitions in his training: He did many partial repetitions for compound lifts like 1/4 barbell back squats, deadlifting at the knees and above the knees etc.
  • Believed forearms to be the most important part of the arm: He says the reason he was able to perform feats of strength such as bending nails, was largely due to his forearm strength. He also added it was a good influence for his bicep growth.

Chuck Sipes Bicep And Tricep Workout

Here is three of Chuck Sipes workouts for his upper arms, and one for his forearms he recommended when corresponding with Dennis B. Weis:

Chuck Sipes Bicep And Tricep Workout #1: Heavy And Light Superset

Bicep Superset

A) Heavy Barbell Curl 5 sets of 2

B) Dumbbell Seated Concentration Curls 5 sets of 8

Tricep Superset

A) Skull Crushers (to forehead) 5 sets of 4

B) One arm Dumbbell Tricep Extention 5 sets of 6

He made a note that doing it this way would “flush blood into the arms, and give added tendon and ligament strength” and as the arms grew in strength, the inches packed on the arms would start coming.

This was done three times a week

Chuck Sipes Bicep And Tricep Workout #2: Total Tonnage System

He had something called a total tonnage system. This was where you were expected every workout to do more and more work.

Whether that meant more reps, sets or more weight. You started with a “light” weight, then proceeded to end with a heavy weight.


Set 1 and 2: 200 pounds x 8 reps

Set 3 and 4: 210 pounds x 4 reps

Set 5 and 6: 240 pounds x 2 reps

Set 7: 260 pounds x 1 rep

Set 8: 260 pounds x 0 (you tried)

The next workout, you’d try to lift more reps for the poundages used, or try to add more weight (like 5 pounds extra to each set) or try to do more sets.

Here’s how he used this for an arm workout, with an exercise and muscle he wanted to GROW:

Standing barbell curls: Total tonnage system

One arm dumbbell tricep extention: 6 sets of 4

Notes on this method

  • He recommended 4-8 total sets as a good base to work with. You’d have to experiment what’s best for you.
  • This is done only on heavy compound movements

Chuck Sipes Bicep And Tricep Workout #3: 4-21-16-4 concept

This is BRUTAL, and I have a hard time believing anyone doing this won’t have some type of growth.

The 4-21-16-4 workout had you doing FOUR total sets of a “21” type style (like barbell 21s), and SIXTEEN total sets of 4 reps of a heavy cheat movement.

This is how an example workout would look like:

“Alternate one set of Bicep Curl 21’s to each 4 completed sets of 4 reps of Barbell Cheat Curls.”

To make it simpler; after your fourth set of barbell cheat curls, you’d do a set of 21’s.

Chuck Sipes 4-21-16-4 Bicep workout:

  1. Barbell cheat curl x 4 reps 16 sets
  2. Barbell 21s x 4 total sets

Chuck Sipes 4-21-16-4 Tricep workout:

  1. Heavy french press x 4 reps 16 sets
  2. French press 21s (lighter weight) x 4 total sets

This was recommended that both of those workouts were done TWICE a week for the month he recommended he to do them. Four arm workouts a week.

Chuck Sipes Forearm Workout:

  1. Reverse Curl with E-Z bar 4 sets of 8 reps (he made a note this should be done slowly and controlled)
  2. “Sipes” Wrist curl 4 sets of 15 reps (more on this on the next section)
  3. Expander Cable Reverse curl 4 sets of 12 reps
  4. Squeeze Rubber Tennis Ball 4 sets 40 reps

Chuck Sipes’ Secret Forearm Exercise:

Chuck Sipes had his own “secret” wrist curl, which I renamed the “Sipes Wrist Curl”. Another legendary bodybuilder, Dave Draper, explains how this is performed:

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

“It is a variation of the old-fashioned wrist curl, using a dumbbell…The starting position is the same — the forearm is laid along the top of the thigh, with the hand and lower part of the wrist extending off the end of the wrist extending off the end of the knee. Now, look at the photo above. The torso is now twisted a bit, to bring the shoulder of the working side closer to the wrist. Continue leaning forward and to the outside until the upper arm of the curling hand is parallel to the floor, or as near as you can make it” (6)

More Words Of Wisdom From Chuck Sipes:

If there’s anything to be learnt with Chuck Sipes, it would be this about any workout you do:

“I think the problems of no gains is that you are worrying too much about everything – diet and workouts. Learn to enjoy your meals and training and have confidence in what you are doing. The key is not how much you take of this or that or not how many sets and exercises you are doing but how much effort you put into the set & how much rest and peace of mind you are enjoying”

Other than that he also said the following:

  • Wheat-Germ oil was his favorite supplement
  • Milk was something he always recommended
  • He had a tsp/tbsp of honey everyday
  • He loved papayas for digestion and often had this in conjunction with liver tablets. Digestion seemed to be one of the most important matters he took when it came to gains.

Again, if you want to read more on this iron-game legend check out the link;  Motivation Monday #4: Chuck sipes

Summary Of What We Learned From Two Old School Legends In Getting Their Arms Bigger

It can be easily summed up like this:

  • Volume and frequency is king! Stop doing one bicep and tricep workout a week and do them more frequent for bigger arms!
  • Do as much work as possible in as little time as possible: Supersetting exercises is the most efficient way to get more work done in a short period and seemed to work wonders for the old school bodybuilders.
  • Effort is the main ingredient
  • They avoided all the mistakes most gym-goers make when training arms: again, you can read about that by going in a previous article I wrote called: Nine Mistakes You’re Doing To Get Bigger Arms)
  • If you’re progressing you’re doing it right! 

Now get in the gym, and make the old school legends proud when you do your next bicep and tricep workout!

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  2. Ibid
  3. Ibid
  4. Ibid
  5. Ibid
  7. Echoes from the powerstorm that was Chuck Sipes

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