15, 16, and 17-inch arms are already 10%+ larger than average. (Yep, we did the math.) 18 inches creeps in on the doubt-filled “how is that even genetically possible?” theories.
By the time you reach 19 inches, you join a very exclusive club that includes the likes of the Austrian Oak, Arnold Schwarzenegger. So can you really build 19-inch arms naturally?
Discover the truth below!
Table of Contents
- What Is the Average Arm Size In Men?
- Are Natural 19-Inch Arms Realistic?
- How Long Will It Take to Get 19-Inch Arms?
What Is the Average Arm Size In Men?
19-inch arms aren’t just well-above average. They’re so enormous, in fact, that you’d stretch your tape measure a full inch further than modern bodybuilding hero Jeff Nippard.
But to really put this upper-arm measurement into perspective, these are the average biceps measurements in men (by age group):
- Ages 20–29: 13.27 inches
- Ages 30–39: 13.78 inches
- Ages 40–49: 13.90 inches
- Ages 50–59: 13.54 inches
- Ages 60–69: 13.39 inches
- Ages 70–79: 12.91 inches
- Ages 80+: 12.17 inches
(Side note: these measurements were taken on cold, likely unflexed arms. Most bodybuilders measure their biceps while flexing, sometimes even pumped.)
Based on the CDC’s data, the typical male twenty-somethings would need to add 5.73 inches to his biceps to get 19-inch arms. Or at least 3.73 inches to account for flexing.
Again, is that even possible to do naturally?
Bodybuilders & Athletes With 19-Inch Arms
(While absurdly large, 19-inch arms would still leave you a full five inches shy of Roelly Winklaar’s 24-inch anacondas, ranked the biggest biceps in bodybuilding history.)
But, if you can build 19-inches, you’d be in good company, alongside elites like:
Three-time Mr. Olympia (‘51, ‘58, ‘65) Reg Park stood at a lean 6’1”, 250 pounds in an era where the “classic” physique reigned supreme.
Park’s proportional build included 19-inch biceps and earned him a narrow second-place finish at the 1950 Amateur Mr. Universe, second only to the legend himself — Steve Reeves.
The 6’2”, 235-pound Arnold Schwarzenegger collected dozens of titles during his bodybuilding career, including seven Mr. Olympia victories and four first-place finishes at Mr. Universe.
Schwarzenegger claimed to have 22-inch “pumped” arms in his prime. Yet, equipment pioneer Arthur Jones disputed those claims, measuring the Austrian Oak’s arms at 19.75 inches.
(He also admitted to anabolic steroid use with no
“The Champ” John Cena is best known for his illustrative career in the wrestling ring, nabbing 16 WWE world titles to tie the legendary Ric Flair.
In his prime, the former bodybuilder-turned-wrestler-turned-actor stood at 6’1”, 250 pounds with 19-inch arms to match his massive 50-inch chest.
Are Natural 19-Inch Arms Realistic?
Natural 19-inch arms aren’t “impossible” to build. But for the average guy in the gym, is 19 inches a realistic size goal? To answer that question, we need to consider:
The Steve Reeves “Hercules” Formula
The original Hercules Steve Reeves collected Mr. America (‘47), Mr. World (‘48), and Mr. Universe (‘50) titles early in the so-called “Golden Era of bodybuilding.”
However, his true claim to fame was his lean, proportional physique. It later inspired him to write “Building the Classic Physique,” where he revealed formulas for the “perfect” proportions:
- Arm = 252% of wrist
- Calf = 192% of ankle
- Neck = 79% of head
- Chest = 148% of pelvis
- Waist = 86% of pelvis
- Thigh = 175% of knee
Based on this logic, 19-inch arms would best pair with 7.54-inch wrists. Polls also show that the average male has 7.28-inch wrists, and those with ~7.5-inch wrists fall into the 59th percentile.
In English: 19-inch arms are both proportional and at least somewhat realistic for 41% of men.
Neither of these calculations is an exact science.
The Genetic Factor
We all know somebody who blames s**tty genetics for stubborn or lagging muscles … but accepts full credit for noticeable progress. (Or, maybe that somebody is you.)
But just how much of your muscular potential does DNA actually control?
According to one study published in 2012, the lean mass could be up to 50–80% genetic. So if your parents or siblings have naturally massive arms, genetics might just be on your side.
Scientists have also linked several genes and mutations to muscle growth and mass.
Athletes with the ACTN3 RR genotype tend to have higher testosterone levels, more fast-twitch (power) muscle fibers, and generally larger muscles.
Those with MTSN mutations have naturally bulky muscles with little body fat.
Being a “genetic freak” isn’t the only way to build au-natural 19-inch pythons. But if you have a genetically high ratio of slow-twitch (endurance) fibers, 19 inches could be nearly impossible.
Body Fat *Does* Make a Difference
OK, yes, the constant 2007-era “bro speak” is an all-out cringe-fest. Yet, fitness forums offer an unprecedented inside look into what’s realistic for the average person who lifts weights.
(Plus, most users are honest about cycling, and if they’re not “natty” like they claim, you can sure as hell bet a brigade of users will confront them about it.)
Plenty of forum-goers brag about their 19-inch arms and even share photos of them with a measuring tape wrapped around them. But very few of these arms are well-defined or lean.
Heck, we don’t know if those biceps are actually just 10 inches of lean muscle.
If simply being able to say “I have natural 19-inch arms” is all that matters to you, a higher body fat percentage — somewhere in the 20–25% range — can add an inch or two to your arms.
They’ll be BIG, but they’ll also be big.
Gain 10 Pounds = Add an Inch?
The-late strength coach Charles Poliquin trained Olympic medalists and became a well-respected voice in the bodybuilding community.
His most widely discussed belief was that adding an inch to your upper arm is possible with 10–15 pounds of weight gain. Some sources clarify that it must be lean mass.
(According to Poliquin, the number grows to ~25 pounds once you top 18 inches.)
If this math checks out, as both Poliquin and V Shred creator Vince Sant insist, then eclipsing the 19-inch arm mark is possible if you currently have:
- 14-inch arms and gain 65 pounds
- 15-inch arms and gain 55 pounds
- 16-inch arms and gain 45 pounds
- 17-inch arms and gain 35 pounds
- 18-inch arms and gain 25 pounds
Guys who are rail-thin, 6’0”, and 145 pounds with 14-inch biceps can afford to gain 65 pounds of pure mass and still be lean.
Yet, if you have 17-inch arms and are nearing your body’s physical limits size-wise, 35 pounds isn’t possible without going Bear Mode or going up several body fat percentage points.
19-inch arms are rare without increasing body fat or using steroids (unfortunately). However, the only way to see your true size potential is to train specifically for arm gains.
Instead of curls, curls, and more curls, follow a routine that includes:
- Plenty of triceps focus, the muscle at the back of your upper arm that actually makes up about ⅔ of your arm mass
- 6–12 reps per set at about 65–85% of your 1RM plus heavy resistance training
- About a minute of rest between sets to maximize growth hormone release
- Progressive overload — adding reps, sets, or weight once you surpass your goals
- Exercise variation to target the biceps, triceps, brachioradialis, etc.
- Increasing your training frequency (unless performance begins to decline)
Again, 15–17-inch biceps might just be your genetic upper limit.
Diet & Supplements
Even with the genetic makeup of a literal Greek God, 19-inch arms aren’t even remotely possible without a proper diet and fitness supplements.
To maximize your muscle mass and boost your odds of 19-inch biceps, a bodybuilder’s off-season bulking diet is the most well-proven method.
According to a 2004 review, the ideal muscle-building diet is:
|Macronutrient||How Much Do You Need?|
|Calories||15% more than maintenance|
|Carbohydrates||55–60% of daily calories|
|Protein||25–30% of daily calories|
|Fat||15–20% of daily calories|
The caloric surplus (burning fewer calories than you consume) and high protein intake is the most important pieces of a mass-building diet.
Creatine is one of the most well-studied and reliable supplements for building lean mass. This amino acid draws water into the muscles — among other things — to create a fuller look.
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One 2003 trial revealed that a high creatine dose (30g/day for two weeks & 15g/day for another two weeks) can lead to 3.74 pounds of weight gain in four weeks, ideal for hard-gainers.
If you’re eating too little or the wrong macro split, 19-inch arms are almost definitely off the table.
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How Long Will It Take to Get 19-Inch Arms?
It’s becoming quite clear that 19 or 20-inch arms, while unlikely, aren’t impossible — assuming thick arms are in your DNA and your diet and training protocols are literally perfect.
But if every star in the universe aligns to bless you with this miracle, how long would it take to grow 19 inch arms?
How Much Can the Arms Grow In a Month?
Evidently, this isn’t a major concern in the scientific community, and studies into arm circumference with resistance training are far and few between. But we did find a few!
One 10–12-week resistance training study from 2020 concluded a 4.9% increase in arm circumference in 67 young men.
Another study analyzing the effects of resistance training styles on muscle growth found that a 10-week free weight routine led to a 1cm growth in circumference — or about 0.39 inches.
The Lyle McDonald Formula
Lyle McDonald has a reputation for being somewhat of a powerlifting expert. He’s also the genius behind the self-named McDonald Model for Genetic Muscular Potential.
McDonald puts a male’s maximum muscle gains at around 40–50 pounds over a lifetime, with newbies packing on mass at quicker rates than more experienced lifters.
If Poliquin’s theory (10+ pounds equates to an extra inch) holds true, and McDonald’s calculations are correct, it’s possible to add:
- 2–2.5 inches to your arms in your first year of training
- 1 inch to your arms in year two
- 0.5 inches in your third year
- 0.2 inches to your arms in that fourth year
Or about 4.2 inches to your day one, completely untrained arm size. If you have the average 13.27-inch arm (which could be an extra two inches flexed), 19 inches is a rare possibility.
(Then again, this assumes that these two formulas are true, an inch requires a flatten pounds of weight gain, disregards any outside factors that influence size, and forces you to train regularly and seriously for at least four years.)
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