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Size Matters! All You Have To Know About 17-Inch Biceps

 Written by 

Julien Raby

 Last updated on 

Are you ready for the hard truth about how big your biceps are? In this article, we are going to tell you everything you need to know about arm size measurement, 17-inch biceps, and how to build them. Let’s get started.

Anatomy of Biceps Brachii

The biceps brachii muscle, commonly called biceps or for all you weight-lifters out there, is a large, thick muscle of the upper arm.

A muscular man with 17-inch biceps working out
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The surface of the anterior side of the upper arm is formed by the biceps. While both its origin tendons are covered by the deltoid, its insertion tendon can be easily seen and palpated in the crook of the arm.

The biceps brachii consists of two heads, the long head and the short head. Both heads unite to form one large muscle at the anterior side of the humerus.

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Functions of the Biceps

The long head pulls the arm away from the trunk and turns it inwards, or what we call internal rotation, whereas the short head pulls the arm back towards the trunk.

When both heads contract simultaneously, it leads to an arm bend also known as flexion. In the elbow joint, the muscle bends the forearm and rotates it outwards which is known as supination. The supination is strongest in a flexed elbow. So, the biceps have important movement functions.

How to Measure Your Biceps

You need measuring tape. The correct way to measure the biceps muscle size is to take the measuring tape from the highest peak of the bicep going through the highest point of the triceps (about 3 inches from the underarm).

You may want to take this arm measurement a few times. You may also want to measure both arms as the dominating arm may be slightly bigger.

Arm Size Flexed vs Unflexed

Your bicep can increase by about 5-10% in size when you flex your arm. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the average biceps size is:

Average Bicep Size By Age For Men

AgeFlexed Unflexed
20-2914.4 inches (36.6 cm)13.4 inches (34.1 cm)
30-3915.2 inches (38.6 cm)14.1 inches (35.9 cm)
40-4915.1 inches (38.4 cm)14.0 inches (35.6 cm)
50-5914.7 inches (37.3 cm)13.7 inches (34.8 cm)
60-6914.6 inches (37.1 cm)13.5 inches (34.4 cm)
70-7914.1 inches (35.8 cm)13.1 inches (33.2 cm)
80+13 inches (33 cm)12.1 inches (30.8 cm)

Average Arm Size By Age For Women

AgeFlexed Unflexed
20-2913.3 inches (33.7 cm)12.4 inches (31.5 cm)
30-3913.9 inches (35.3 cm)12.9 inches (32.8 cm)
40-4914.1 inches (35.8 cm)13.1 inches (33.3 cm)
50-5913.9 inches (35.3 cm)12.9 inches (32.8 cm)
60-6913.7 inches (34.8 cm)12.8 inches (32.4 cm)
70-7913.5 inches (34.3 cm)12.6 inches (32 cm)
80+12.5 inches (31.8 cm)11.7 inches (29.6 cm)

5 Biggest Biceps in the World

1. 31 inches – Moustafa Ishmail

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Credit: NBC News

This Egyptian got himself into the Guinness Book of World Records for having the biggest biceps on the planet.

2. 30 inches – Romario Dos Santos Alves

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Source: The Mirror

The Brazilian screwed his body up after using Synthol oil. His biceps looked unnatural and deformed.

3. 29 inches – Arlindo De Souza

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Source: HuffPost UK

This Brazilian admits to having taken hormones, steroids, and horse vitamins.

4. 28 inches – Gregg Valentino

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Source: The US Sun

He had the record for the biggest biceps in the world for a long time. Gregg used the Synthol oil to make his arms bigger.

5. 26 inches – Manfred Hoeberl

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Source: Wikipedia

He is an Austrian former bodybuilder whose arms are taped out at 26 inches.

By the way, Arnold Schwarzenegger had 22-inch arms at his peak.

Are 17-inch Biceps Big?

17-inch arms are definitely bigger than average. If you have 17-inch biceps, your arms are bigger than 7 out of 8 men. For women, if you have 17-inch biceps, your arms are bigger than 9 out of 10 women.

Arm Size Calculator

To find out your maximum muscular potential, use this calculator. The ankle and wrist are the most important measurements for muscular potential. Also, you can use this calculator to determine your lean body muscle mass, body fat, and fat-free mass.

Are Biceps Hard to Grow?

Biceps are not hard to grow. But if your biceps are your biggest trouble spot and you don’t have big arms, you probably make a lot of mistakes in your workout routine. Here is why your biceps aren’t growing and how to fix that.

1. Wrong Movement

There are mechanical things you’re going wrong. Literally, how you’re lifting the dumbbell. Are you twisting? Are you raising your arm up to get complete bicep contraction?

2. Wrong Arm Training Frequency

First of all, as far as training frequency goes, you have to understand that the biceps are pretty limited in terms of their function. Because of that, you have to realize that any time you’re bending your elbow in any exercise you do on your pull day (any back exercise, chin-ups, rows, inverted rows, one-armed rows) you’re working your biceps.

Your biceps are an incredibly small muscle, believe it or not, only occupying a very small portion of the anterior side of your arm. Too much volume and too many times hitting them in a week are going to be inefficient.

If you’re training a push-pull leg system, and you’re training each function twice a week, if you throw any direct bicep work in on top of that, you’re truly hitting your biceps too much and not giving them enough time to recover.

It’s not about muscle protein synthesis every 48 hours. It’s literally about giving that muscle group a chance to recover and get back to being able to be stimulated again in a meaningful way.

3. Lack of Variation

The next thing you’re probably doing wrong is lack of variation of bicep training techniques. Varying the way in which you’re doing your barbell curls will help you get better biceps in the long run.

A strong man working out to reach 17-inch bicep size
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Best Exercises to Get 17-inch Biceps

Long Head Exercises

The long head of the bicep makes up the outer portion of your upper arm which is responsible for giving your bicep its peak. Due to its higher and more outward origin, it actually crosses over the shoulder joint. Therefore it can be emphasized with your elbows placed behind your body, a movement known as shoulder extension.

In this body position, the long head can contribute to a greater extent since the stretch on the bicep allows for maximal force output. To achieve this, many exercises can be employed. With a barbell, your best option is the drag curl.

1. Drag Curl

Firstly, grab the barbell with an underhand grip at around shoulder width. Then lift the bar straight up towards the ceiling keeping it as close to your body as possible. Drive your elbows back until your forearms are parallel to the ground then slowly lower the bar back down.

2. Incline Curl

Next with dumbbells are incline dumbbell curls. Placing your head against the top, lie back on a bench. Then roll your shoulders back, puff out your chest, and curl the weight up to your armpits while keeping your elbows locked in place. Squeeze at the top and slowly lower the dumbbells down.

3. Bayesian Curl

Finally, with cables is the bayesian cable curl. Adjust the head of the cable to lower the hook down and attach a handle to the machine. Then with your shoulder extended behind you drag the weight up to your armpit while keeping your elbow locked in place and resist the weight back down by fully extending your arm.

Short Head Exercises

The next part of your bicep is the short head. This head makes up the inner portion of your upper arm which is responsible for giving your bicep its width. Unlike the long head, the short head does not cross the shoulder joint. Therefore due to its lower and more inward origin, it can be better targeted with your elbows placed in front of your body, a movement known as shoulder flexion.

In this position, the short head can contribute to a great extent since the stretch of the muscle is significantly decreased causing the tension on the long head to weaken.

To achieve this, many exercises can be employed. With a barbell, your best option is the cheat curl which allows you to overload the eccentric portion of the lift.

1. Cheat Curl

To perform this, slightly hinge your hips back and tilt your upper body forward. Then use just enough momentum to get the weight moving by thrusting your hips and moving your torso back into an upright position.

Allow your elbows to slightly drift forward in order to curl the weight to your shoulders. Then slowly lower the barbell back down.

2. Seated Curl

Another barbell option is the seated curl. This exercise is pretty much the opposite of a cheat curl. Instead of utilizing momentum to your advantage, you actually want to remove it entirely.

By starting each rep from a completely dead position, the short head has to work twice as hard in order to get the weight moving. Therefore instead of overloading the eccentric portion of the lift, you’re able to overload the concentric portion.

So, to perform this, sit on a bench with a barbell resting on your thighs and curl the weight up to your shoulders allowing your elbows to drift slightly forward.

3. Preacher Curl

Next with dumbbells, your best bet is the preacher curl. This can also be performed on a machine but you can do it on a bench.

Firstly, place your armpit on the top of the bench with your shoulder locked in place and your other hand on the side. Then curl the weight up by bending your arm and turning your pinky outward while keeping your elbow on the bench. Make sure to keep your shoulder locked in place and fully contract your bicep at the top before slowly lowering the weight back down.

4. Spider Curl

Another great option is the spider curl. This can also be performed with a barbell but you may find that dumbbells give a much better contraction.

To perform this, place your chest on the end of an incline bench and plant your feet firmly into the ground. Then hold the weight below you so that your arms are vertical and curl the weight straight up towards your chin.

5. Kneeling Cable Curl

Finally with cables is the kneeling cable curl. Adjust the height of the cable to lower the hook down and attach a handle to the machine. Then place one knee on the ground with your elbow resting on the other one. From here grab the handle and curl the weight towards your face until your bicep is fully contracted then squeeze at the top and slowly resist the weight forward.

Brachialis Exercises

Here is another way you can grow your biceps and that is by training the brachialis. The brachialis is a small muscle that lies underneath your bicep muscle. It contributes to the overall width of your upper arm. Even though it’s not technically part of your bicep, it will affect its appearance since growing this muscle will push your biceps outwards.

Similar to the bicep, the brachialis also performs elbow flexion so it’s already heavily involved in most curl variations. Despite this, the brachialis cannot assist with supination therefore it’s much better emphasized with an overhand or a neutral grip.

1. Hammer Curls

Hammer curls can be performed with dumbbells and a rope attachment on a cable machine. If you wish to perform a hammer curl, grab a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip so that your palms face inward. Then curl the weight up to your chest by bending your elbows while keeping them locked by your side and slowly control the weight down.

2. Reverse Curls 

This basic biceps exercise can be performed with dumbbells and a barbell or a curl attachment. For reverse, simply utilize this exact same technique except instead of utilizing a neutral grip employ an overhand one. Don’t be afraid to initiate slight wrist flexion where your knuckles point down if that’s more comfortable for you.

And with that, we’ve explained the functions of the bicep including how to emphasize each head and the arm exercises you can perform to do so.

How to Get 17-inch Biceps

So, as you can see, there’re many different exercises to choose from in order to grow your biceps. But just keep in mind no matter which one you choose as long as you’re performing elbow flexion, the long head, short head, and brachialis will all contribute just to a different extent.

That being said, in order to get the most out of your bicep training, it’s important to choose exercises at varying degrees of shoulder elevation to ensure that you’re maximizing each muscle to its potential.

1. Our Recommendation

We recommend choosing:

  1. one exercise where your shoulder is flexed and your elbows are in front of you to bias the short head;
  2. one where your shoulder is extended and your elbows are behind you to bias the long head;
  3. and one with a neutral or pronated grip where your elbows are beside you to bias the brachialis.

So, for example, if you’re limited to just dumbbells, you may choose incline biceps curls, creature curls, and hammer curls. If you only have a barbell, you can do drag curls, cheat curls, and reverse bar curls. Or if you want to use cables, you can do bayesian curls, kneeling curls, and rope hammer curls.

These are just a few examples. Feel free to mix it up however you like in order to choose exercises that are best for you to progressively overload.

2. Maintain your Fitness Routine

To add these exercises to your routine, it’s best to do 3-4 sets for around 6-12 reps for each exercise for a total of 2-3 sessions per week. And since your biceps are already involved in most pulling exercises including pulldowns and rows, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to train them at the end of your pull day. That way your biceps are already warmed up and you’re able to train them efficiently.

A muscular man working out with 2 dumbbells to reach 17-inch bicep size
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How Long Does It Take to Build 17-Inch Biceps?

If you do this routine, you put your best foot forward and push yourself with the weight that you’re using, you will see results in as little as 30 days.

Arms size is dependent on different factors, including age, gender, fat percentage, fitness experience, and body composition.

In the first weeks, you may gain an inch of muscle very fast. But in a couple of weeks your body will plateau and your results won’t grow so quickly.

Diet to Follow

Before you run off to do this workout, here is a key point to keep in mind.

1. Maintain a Calorie Surplus

You will have to maintain a calorie surplus of about 200-300 extra calories per day to build any muscle. You can use a calorie calculator to find out how many calories you should be eating to follow the perfect diet for your body.

2. Eating Enough Protein

To build an extra inch, you have to be eating enough protein every single day. This will be anywhere 0.7-0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

17-Inch Biceps: FAQs

What is considered a big bicep?

In general, 15-19 inch arms are considered big for most people. Having arms that measure over 16 inches around the widest part of the tricep and bicep is considered big for a man who performs workouts on a regular basis.

What is the average man’s bicep size?

For a man with an average body fat level and genetic potential, the average bicep size is 12-14 inches (30-35 cm).

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