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Who has the biggest biceps in the world and the best arms in bodybuilding history?

Here are the bodybuilders with the largest biceps ever recorded.
Written By  James Jackson
Last Updated on 13th January 2022
A bodybuilder flexing his arms; the biggest biceps in the world

If you want to know who has the largest biceps in the world, then this article is for you. In addition to showing you the biggest biceps ever built by a human, we're also going to give you a rundown on the top 10 world's biggest arms.

This guide follows a similar format to our world's biggest forearms post in that we have a section for each kind of record. You can use the links below to navigate to the part that interests you the most.

Disclaimer: As this guide is about the biggest arms ever, it naturally contains discussion of anabolic steroids and site enhancement oils, neither of which we recommended or endorse for increasing muscle mass.

Who has the biggest biceps in the world?

Who has the biggest biceps in the world?

The man who has the biggest arms in the world—a whopping 31 inches—is Egyptian bodybuilder Moustafa Ismail. He used to hold the Guinness world record for the world's largest biceps until suspicions arose that he'd used site enhancement oils (synthol) to artificially inflate the size of his arms. [1]

While Moustafa Ismail is undoubtedly the man with the biggest arms in the world, he certainly doesn't have the best biceps ever because his arms don't look muscular and are way out of proportion with the rest of his physique.

Additionally, his so-called biceps are not comprised of strong, force-producing muscle tissue. This is because his arms were evidently built using synthol, which doesn't increase one's muscle mass or strength.

Who has the biggest arms in bodybuilding history?

Who has the biggest arms in bodybuilding history?

The man with the biggest biceps in bodybuilding history is Ronnie Coleman, who won eight consecutive Mr. Olympia titles. His arms measured a colossal 24 inches in circumference at their peak, thanks to his titanic triceps and sleeve-busting biceps.

Coleman's biceps were undeniably huge, and he definitely had the biggest arms in bodybuilding history, if we are to believe his 24 inch bicep measurement. However, it's debatable whether his biceps as an individual muscle group had the most mass of any Olympia competitor.

In terms of overall biceps mass, German bodybuilder Markus Rühl arguably had the biggest bodybuilder bicep size in Olympia history. Rühl's arms as a whole were a similar size to those of Ronnie Coleman, but he appeared to have even bigger biceps than the eight-time Olympia winner. [2]

Who has the best arms in bodybuilding?

Who has the best arms in bodybuilding history?

In the opinion of many bodybuilding experts, the man with the best arms in bodybuilding history is seven-time Mr. Olympia winner Phil Heath. Phil "The Gift" Heath has arms that measure a massive 23 inches in competition condition.

Heath's arms are genetically gifted in multiple ways. His brachioradialis, for example, is freakishly big and is virtually unrivaled in terms of aesthetics. Similarly, his small wrists only serve to accentuate his already full and long muscle bellies, which have show-winning separation and size.

Of course, any opinion regarding the best arms in the world has a significant subjective component to it. While we might be able to agree on a top 5 list of the best arms ever, it's unlikely that everyone is going to agree on the number one pair of arms in bodybuilding history.

You could easily argue that Lee Priest had the best bodybuilding arm genetics because he had no weaknesses in the arm department. His forearms were monstrous, and his biceps and triceps were incredibly big for his height (he was only 5'4").

Who has the biggest natural arms in the world?

Who has the biggest natural arms in the world?

The man with the biggest natural arms in the world is Doug Miller. His massive arms measure 20 inches and have helped him to win numerous natural bodybuilding competitions. [3]

His biceps have colossal peaks, and his triceps have an incredible amount of mass, earning Miller the award for the largest natural biceps ever recorded by a bodybuilder.

All of this is while being absolutely shredded. Miller's physique has an enviable combination of size and leanness that makes him one of the most successful natural bodybuilders of all time. Having the biggest natural biceps, which he built through high-volume training, also gives him a massive edge on stage against other natural bodybuilders.

Who has the strongest biceps in the world?

Now that we know who has the largest arms in the world, it's time to find out who has the strongest biceps in the world. So, who has the strongest bicep muscles in history?

The man with the strongest bicep muscles in history is undoubtedly Ukrainian arm wrestler Denis Cyplenkov. Not only is Cyplenkov an accomplished powerlifter, but he also once held the strict bicep curl world record (113 kg), a feat that saw him curl more weight than most men can bench press.

Just how big do your biceps need to be to curl that much weight?

Around 21 inches, most likely. That's how big Denis Cyplenkov's biceps are. And even more impressively, his arms are extremely lean and consistent of almost nothing but lean mass.

Top 10 biggest arms in the world

When creating this list of the biggest arms in the world, we debated long and hard whether or not we should include obvious synthol users in the rundown.

We don't want to glamorize the use of site enhancement oils because they come with many adverse side effects and really ruin the aesthetics of the user's physique.

However, since we've already identified the best arms ever and the biggest arms in bodybuilding, we thought that we might as well create a separate section here based purely on circumference measurement.

The following individuals are a combination of male bodybuilders and everyday weight lifters who have some of the largest biceps ever recorded. You can check out our list of the biggest female biceps if you want to see which women have the best biceps ever.

1. Moustafa Ismail

Moustafa Ismail is the man with the largest biceps in the world. At an unbelievable 31 inches, Ismail's arms are bigger than the thighs of some Mr. Olympia competitors!

This astounding comparison with the legs of some of the most muscular bodybuilders goes a long way to proving that Ismail's world record biceps [4] are far from natural.

While Ismail certainly has the biggest arm muscles in terms of circumference measurement, he absolutely does not have the most muscular biceps. This is because the oil that he used to achieve his world record bicep size doesn't make your muscles larger or stronger; it simply fills the injected area with oil and other dangerous substances.

Ultimately, whether or not Ismail deserves the world's largest biceps award is up to you. Factually speaking, his arms are much bigger than anyone else's, but they lack the muscle mass to have real credibility in the bodybuilding world.

Still, Ismail is the guy with the biggest biceps and triceps if we're talking about overall circumference and not just muscle mass.

2. Arlindo De Souza

Brazilian bodybuilder Arlindo De Souza has some of the world's largest arms—a humongous 29 inches. Unlike Ismail, who insists that his blatantly fake muscles were built naturally, De Souza admits that his arm "muscles" are fake and were, in fact, created by injecting synthol.

Despite giving Moustafa Ismail a good run for the biggest biceps world record, De Souza decided to stop using synthol after his friend Paulinho passed from the same oil-injecting habit. Sensibly, he also doesn't advise anyone else to inject their arms with these dangerous oils and says that anyone with arms like his who claims that they're naturally is obviously lying. [5]

Besides the obvious health consequences of using these substances, another side effect that they come with is quick and often instantaneous results. De Souza notes how his bis and tris blew up (in the bodybuilding sense of the term) right in front of him shortly after taking the oil.

Arlindo De Souza seems to be a very nice man, and we applaud him for warning against the harmful effects of site "enhancement" oils. Hopefully, he hasn't done too much damage to his long-term health.

3. Gregg Valentino

Gregg Valentino was an accomplished natural bodybuilder before he started taking steroids, some of which he injected locally into his arms.

Although his biceps and triceps were already big and muscular during the early part of his bodybuilding career (his arms were reportedly 21 inches when he was natural), it wasn't until he traded in his natural status that his arms became record-breaking. [6]

At a mammoth 28 inches and with a considerable amount of muscle mass, Valentino's arms were far more developed than those of Ismail and De Souza. He also didn't use synthol to build his bis and tris, which, when added together, give Valentino some of the biggest arms ever.

4. Manfred Hoeberl

Manfred Hoeberl is a two-time Europe's Strongest Man winner who had some of the biggest arm muscles in the world. His world record biceps (in 1994) measured a massive 25.75 inches un-pumped, which he then inflated to 26 inches after being allowed to pump up.

Unlike some of the other weight lifters on this list, Hoeberl was extremely strong. In addition to bench pressing 628 lbs raw and squatting close to 800 lbs, Hoeberl has also survived two near-fatal car crashes.

As for his arms, Hoeberl claims that his 25-inch pythons were naturally built without the use of any oils. [7]

While some bodybuilding commentators doubt the authenticity of this claim due to the admittedly distorted appearance of his triceps, his 6'3" frame and long arms obviously had a much larger capacity to store muscle mass than the small frames and short arms of most professional bodybuilders.

5. Dave Crossland

Dave Crossland has the biggest arms in the UK at an astounding 25 inches. Now, Crossland obviously isn't stage lean like many of the pro bodybuilders on this list (nor does he claim to be), but he's likely stronger than many of them and certainly has comparable levels of bicep and tricep mass.

He stands 6'1" and has also been 10% body fat while weighing over 300 lbs, which is an incredible achievement for someone who doesn't really consider himself a bodybuilder ("I'm just a guy that likes lifting weights").

So, just how much weight can Britain's biggest arms lift?

In the comments section of an RXMuscle interview that he did, Crossland listed his best lifts which include a 220 kg bench press and a 220 kg behind the neck press, both of which he performed for 5 reps.

6. Andre Rush

Andre Rush became an internet sensation in 2018 when his massive 24 inch biceps and hardcore training regime became the talk of social media.

That's right; this former White House chef has arms that are bigger than most gym-goers thighs. His arms are so big, in fact, that they wouldn't look out of place on a Mr. Olympia stage.

According to a Men's Health interview, Chef Rush, who had a 2 x bodyweight bench press as a teenager, performs 2,222 push-ups Monday to Friday in order to raise awareness for the 22 military veterans who take their own lives every day. [8]

To maintain his colossal arms and 275 lb physique, Chef Rush reportedly eats 3 or 4 whole chickens per day, 24 eggs, and a whole host of other protein-rich meals totaling around 10,000 calories. [9]

7. Ronnie Coleman

Ronnie Coleman had the biggest biceps in bodybuilding at a show-winning 24 inches (perhaps around 23 inches in competition shape).

The most unbelievable part?

His arms appeared to have no weaknesses. His biceps had the rare combination of being tall and peaked when flexed and yet full and long when relaxed, a clear display of his incredible biceps genetics.

Coleman's triceps had exceptional thickness from every angle due to the dense muscle that he'd acquired through years of hard and heavy training. Whether it was his signature front double biceps pose or a killer side tricep shot, his tris always stole the show when he was on stage.

8. Rich Piana

For someone who wasn't genetically gifted with big arms—his legs and back were his strong points—Rich Piana certainly had some of the largest biceps in the world at 24 inches.

It wasn't until Piana started focusing on achieving an intense pump and burn in his arms that he really began to see results.

After focusing on his form and putting his previous powerlifting mentality to the side (he used to curl really heavy back in the day after seeing Arnold do cheat curls in Pumping Iron), Piana's arms blew up and helped him to develop one of the most iconic physiques in modern bodybuilding.

Piana notes that the arms can grow via heavy, fiber tearing weights and from doing higher rep pump work, with the latter method providing the best results for him. With this in mind, Piana often did daily feeder workouts consisting of 100 rep sets of curls and tricep extensions to bring up his arms, a technique that has since produced results for numerous weight lifters.

9. Bill Pettis

While Bill Pettis never won any Mr. Olympia contests, he did have bigger arms—23.25 inches—than both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. [10]

Unlike many bodybuilders today, Pettis wasn't able to make a living through his physique. Instead, he was forced to take odd jobs such as a bouncer and bodyguard to sustain himself.

One has to wonder just how successful Pettis could have been as a bodybuilder if he'd had the opportunity to acquire sponsorships and other financial assistance.

Sadly, Pettis was also frequently homeless and appeared to suffer from mental health problems up until his tragic death in 2016.

10. Phil Heath

Although Phil Heath doesn't have the absolute biggest arms in the world in terms of raw measurement, he arguably has the best arm genetics of any professional bodybuilder.

At 23 inches and without any noticeable body fat, Heath's bulging biceps and triceps pack more muscle mass than many people's hamstrings and quadriceps.

His freaky forearms, which are a tape-tearing 17 inches, are bigger than most men's upper arms.

Add in his naturally small joints and Olympia winning conditioning, and you can see why The Gift has one of the best overall physiques in bodybuilding. His arms, as I said, are perhaps some of the all-time greatest.

Read More: Biggest calves

Conclusion: What does it take to build the largest biceps in the world?

A bodybuilder with some of the biggest arms in the world

First and foremost, building the world's largest biceps takes the right genetics. While anyone can improve the size and definition of their arms by training intensely and consistently, not everyone has the genes to develop world record biceps and triceps.

Building the biggest biceps in the world takes years and likely decades of heavy lifting combined with a high-calorie, high-protein bodybuilding diet. In other words, sculpting the world's biggest arms is a full-time job.

Maintaining a higher body fat certainly makes attaining a large circumference measurement easier. However, gaining too much body fat will make your arms look soft and likely a lot smaller than they actually are.

This is why we chose to distinguish between the biggest biceps ever recorded and the best biceps in bodybuilding.

References

  1. M&F Editors. (2014a, October 20). Largest Biceps World Record Holder Proves He’s Legit. Muscle & Fitness. https://www.muscleandfitness.com/athletes-celebrities/largest-biceps-world-record-holder-proves-hes-legit/
  2. Ash, A. (2018, March 8). Markus Rühl: Height | Weight | Arms | Chest | Biography. Fitness Volt. https://fitnessvolt.com/15544/markus-ruhl/
  3. Greatest Physiques. (2017, April 12). Doug Miller. https://www.greatestphysiques.com/male-physiques/doug-miller/
  4. Guinness World Records News. (2013, January 1). Guinness World Records statement: Largest upper arm circumference. Guinness World Records. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/news/2013/1/guinness-world-records-statement-largest-upper-arm-circumference-46757
  5. Burrows, B. (2014, March 11). Is this the real Hulk? Meet man with 29 inch BICEPS nicknamed ‘The Mountain’. Mirror. https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/arlindo-de-souza-real-hulk-3225685
  6. Prasher, S. (2017, July 22). The Story Of The World’s Most Hated Bodybuilder And His Exploding Arms. Www.Mensxp.Com. https://www.mensxp.com/health/body-building/36690-the-story-of-the-world-s-most-hated-bodybuilder-and-his-exploding-arms.html
  7. Burgess, P. (2012, April 2). Manfred Hoeberl’s 25 inch guns - Bodybuilder / Strongman (1990’s). Viking Strength. https://vikingstrength.com/2012/01/18/manfred-hoeberls-25-inch-guns-bodybuilder-strongman-1990s/
  8. Minutaglio, R. (2018, July 19). Jacked White House Chef Andre Rush Went Viral For His 24-Inch Biceps. Here’s How He Got Them. Men’s Health. https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a22142860/andre-rush-white-house-chef-fitness-routine-interview/
  9. Hosie, R. (2021, June 28). ‘Jacked Chef’ Andre Rush eats 10,000 calories a day, including 4 whole chickens and 24 eggs. Insider. https://www.insider.com/jacked-chef-andre-rush-eats-10000-calories-day-4-chickens-2021-6
  10. Davis, D. (2015, May 12). The Rise and Fall of Bill Pettis, the Man With the ‘Biggest Arms in the World’. Los Angeles Magazine. https://www.lamag.com/longform/rise-fall-bill-pettis-man-biggest-arms-world/
James Jackson
James Jackson is a personal trainer who uses his expertise in strength and conditioning to create helpful workout tutorials that show fitness enthusiasts how to build muscle while staying safe in the gym. He draws on the latest sports science data as well as tried and tested training techniques to get the best results for his clients without them having to live in the gym.
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