With the right plan and the right discipline, you can get seriously shredded in just 28 days.Read article
Class is in session. The subject is everyone’s favorite: arms. The teacher is Roelly Winklaar, fresh of a breakout year and owner of arguably the two best arms in the world. Anyone who wants to debate his arm superiority, raise your hand and wait to be called on. (We see you, Phil Heath.) Now, take careful notes as our teacher explains his arm alphabet. With a few digressions as the lecture progresses, these are the tenets of Winklaar’s bi and tri construction from A to Z.
Winklaar’s biceps training has changed little over the years. He typically does three or four exercises for a total of 12–15 reps. Bi’s are trained with tri’s on their own arm day, but, pre contest, he’ll often add some biceps sets to the end of his back workout, as well.
Winklaar was born and raised on this tropical island in the southern Caribbean Sea of the coast of Venezuela. In late 2012, he resettled there, and now attributes the gains he's made to his peaceful homelife and warlike gym life. He
Machine dips work the tri’s, but also the pecs and front delts. That’s why Winklaar does these near the end of his triceps routine when his tri’s are preexhausted by isolation exercises.
Like most pros with football-size forearms (and even—to their detriment— those with lagging forearms), Winklaar never directly trains his lower arms. They grow from merely gripping weights.
This is the nickname given to Sibil Peeters, who was previously Winklaar’s trainer, nutritionist, and all-around drill sergeant. After four years, her most celebrated client parted ways with her when he returned to Curaçao. He also shed her greater reliance on intensity techniques like dropsets, supersets, and reduced rest between sets. Over the past year, working without a “guru,” Winklaar relied more on straight sets with longer rest periods.
Click "Next Page" to continue >>
He utilizes less intensity techniques than he did in the past when Peeters was barking orders, but Winklaar spent the past year pushing his sets to failure. Thus, his intensity remained high. “I’ve been working at getting stronger in the basic lifts, and that’s helped me add new muscle and keep the muscle when I diet,” he explains.
Winklaar is always learning new ways to stimulate growth. It was his desire to learn that led him to take on such an unorthodox trainer/ nutritionist as “Grandma.” He seeks out advice from legends like Dennis James. And he approaches every workout as an opportunity to gauge what works best for his changing physique.
He’s long relied on this free-weight basic to pack muscle on the long head of his triceps. “This has always been a staple of my arm workouts,” he says. “Don’t get sloppy with these just to use more weight. Keep your elbows locked in place and focus on keeping your arms tensed.”
Overall, Winklaar focused more on free weights over the past year, but his triceps workouts consist of mostly mechanical exercises. He finds that cable pushdowns and machine dips allow him to keep more tension on the crucial contractions of triceps exercises.
This is where the Dutch-speaking Winklaar lived for 31 years. After his father’s death, when Roelly was 4, his mother moved the family to the Netherlands from Curaçao. Still, Winklaar often felt the island of his youth tugging him home. He’s the rare top IFBB pro who’s never lived in the U.S., and was also the highest placing non-American resident in the last Olympia.
Winklaar uses palm pads to provide a more comfortable grip. In the past, he used sponges. He now uses neoprene pads that stay in place via fabric rings that slip over his fingers. “They keep my grip secure and comfortable,” he says. Check out his arm-training photos, and you’ll notice he’s always “padding.”
This could be Roelly Winklaar’s motto: Quality muscle comes from quality sets. By doing strict reps with full stretches and contractions, he’s avoided gym injuries and built arms bigger than most people’s legs.
The rope lets me separate my hands at the end, to get a stronger contraction and focus more on the outer heads of my triceps,” he says of his favorite pushdown handle.
This term simply means sets done without such intensifying techniques as forced reps, dropsets, or supersets. Training under “Grandma’s” tutelage, Winklaar loaded up his workouts with all sorts of intensifiers. They limited the amount of metal he could move. In 2013, he returned to mostly straight sets, and the result was a bump in strength and size.
As with biceps, for triceps he typically does three or four exercises for a total of 12–15 reps. Pre-contest, he’ll often throw in some triceps sets after working chest.
He does at least one exercise for biceps and another for triceps that hits each arm individually. This exercise is placed at or near the end of his routines. Going unilateral lets Winklaar better focus on the contractions of his left and right biceps and triceps.
Most of the time, he trains arms once weekly, though he will do some extra work for biceps (with back) and triceps (with chest) during his contest prep.
In 2009, at 227 pounds, he won the super-heavyweight and overall Arnold Amateur titles. When the rookie won the 2010 New York Pro, his arms were among the best ever seen. All of which is to say, the most important component of his success is not sets or reps, but DNA mixed with willpower. Unlocking his genetics for packing on arm mass is the X-factor that took him from nobody to legend in one giant leap.
Winklaar is so soft-spoken and his eyelids are so heavy (a lingering result of the car accident, which nearly caused him to lose his sight) that he sometimes seems to be sleepwalking. Many assume he just doesn’t care enough to be an Olympia contender. Nothing could be further from the truth. What drives him more than anything is the need to prove his doubters wrong. His 2013 season shut a lot of Internet smack-talkers up, but, to Winklaar, it was only Step 1. He has a yearning to keep improving and to show everyone, especially himself, that he fulfilled every ounce of his potential.
In his time in the IFBB Pro League, Winklaar has entered numerous pro shows, won two, and finished in the top four of eight others. And yet he hasn’t cracked the top six in either the Arnold Classic or Mr. Olympia. In 2012, after his disappointing 12th in the Olympia, he seemed to be just “a guy”—as they say in the NFL. Like a veteran football player who can always make a roster and sometimes make a highlight reel but never make a Pro Bowl, Winklaar seemed destined for a mid-level career that would never propel him to bodybuilding’s upper echelon.
But then came 2013. After triumphing at the Chicago Pro, he finished a startling seventh in a deep Olympia lineup (many thought he deserved at least sixth). He was no longer just “a guy.” Instantly, the conversation changed from “wasted potential” to “unlimited potential.” Roelly pictures himself in the first callout next time—and last man standing the time after that—fuels set after set, rep after rep. Roelly Winklaar’s greatest lesson is this: “Do not doubt me or my drive to be the best.”
Click "Next Page" for Winklaar's full arm routine >>
EZ-BAR CURL: 4 sets, 10-12 reps
ALTERNATE DUMBBELL CURL: 4 sets, 10-12 reps
ONE-ARM PREACHER CURL: 3 sets, 10-12 reps
HAMMER CURL: 3 sets, 10-12 reps
ROPE PUSHDOWN: 4 sets, 10-12 reps
LYING TRICEPS EXTENSION: 4 sets, 10-12 reps
MACHINE DIP: 4 sets, 10-12 reps
ONE-ARM PUSHDOWN: 3 sets, 10-12 reps