Written by Ron Harris
14 November 2017


The Best Arms In Bodybuilding?

How Roelly Winklaar Built Them




Meant to Own Large-Caliber Guns

No matter where we hail from in this big world, most of us bodybuilders were inspired by the great Arnold Schwarzenegger early on in life. So it was with Roelly, growing up in Rotterdam, a city in the Netherlands, as an immigrant from the tropical island of Curaçao. A photo of Arnold hitting a pose with both arms out straight had him awestruck. “I wanted arms like that one day,” he told me. Little did he suspect that years later, his own arms would be talked about in the same breath as The Austrian Oak and other legends of the sport.


In part due to his years spent as a gymnast in his youth, as well as what can only be called incredibly gifted genetics, Roelly’s shoulders and arms responded extraordinarily well once he took up bodybuilding in his early 20s. So it wouldn’t be accurate to say that Winklaar had to do anything special for his arms. As long as he trained them hard, they kept growing and growing. Still, he did train for four years under the watchful eye of Sibil “Grandma” Peeters, which afforded him an advanced education on proper exercise technique to get the most out of every movement. Here are some of the exercises The Dutch Beast has relied on to build those 22-inch cannons.



Barbell Curls

“I do barbell curls with either a straight bar or an EZ curl bar,” Roelly told me. “I think it’s actually pretty important that you don’t use the same one all the time, because your biceps will get used to it. My biceps don’t grow anywhere near as easily as my triceps, so I’ve had to work them with a lot more variety and different intensity techniques to see good results. A lot of times, I do barbell curls first in the routine and I do them as ‘21s.’ You don’t need very heavy weight for 21s, so they are a really good warm-up.”


Being warmed-up is always important for anything, but especially biceps. It’s a small muscle group and if you have fairly small joints and tendons like Roelly does, you have a greater risk of injury if you’re not careful. “With a lot of curl movements, Grandma liked to have me do ‘eight and eight,’” Winklaar says. “That means I did eight regular reps, then eight reps where I let my elbows come up and I focused on a maximum contraction of the biceps. Anyone who thinks it’s best to always keep your elbows down by your hips is really missing out. Once I started doing these, my biceps grew quite a bit more than they had in a long time.”



Alternate Dumbbell Curls

Roelly is a man who has had great success with basic movements, so his biceps workouts usually have a handful of classic free-weight movements before he touches a cable. He will do alternate dumbbell curls either to start biceps off, or else as the second movement after barbell curls. At some workouts, Winklaar will do this movement standing, and at other times he sits down. “I like to look at the working arm when I do these so I can better focus on a good contraction,” he says.


Concentration Curls

“My shoulders are very strong, so I have to be careful or else they take over on a lot of things, like chest work and also biceps,” Roelly explains. Once his biceps start getting fatigued after a couple of exercises, he usually either goes over to a preacher bench and does one-arm dumbbell curls, or sits down on a bench where he can brace one arm on his inner thigh for concentration curls. “Either way, my arm is locked into position and this takes my shoulder out of the motion so my biceps can do all the work.”


Hammer Dumbbell Curls

Since his biceps have to be as big as possible to match his more gifted triceps, Winklaar can’t afford to ignore anything that can possibly give them an advantage. Hammer curls work the brachialis muscle that’s between the lateral head of the triceps and the long head of the biceps. It’s not a large muscle group, but it will add thickness to the area when fully developed. It also helps your biceps peak by pushing the long head up and away from it. And of course, it adds more detail and separation to the whole upper arm once you’re in shape, if you’ve built it up properly. Note that he curls the dumbbell across the body toward the opposite shoulder, which allows for a more complete contraction.


Rope Hammer Curls

Most of the time, Roelly prefers using dumbbells for the hammer curl, but on some occasions he does like to hook up a rope attachment to the low cable pulley instead. “I find I can get a slightly better squeeze of the brachialis at the top of the reps using the rope,” he notes. One other thing to note about hammer curls is that they also give the forearms plenty of work. Part of what makes Winklaar’s arms so very impressive is that they are thick and full, from shoulder to wrist. There have been quite a few men over the years with huge bis and tris, yet their forearms were underdeveloped in comparison. It does take away from the overall visual impression.


‘Front Double Biceps’ Cable Curls

One final cable movement that Roelly will do every once in a while, more so in the contest-prep phase rather than in the off-season, is the dual curl using both high cable pulleys at once— an exercise that’s never had an official name, but that I have attempted to dub “front double biceps” curls for about two decades now. “I can emphasize both the stretch and the contraction parts of the rep with these, and it’s a great way to finish off the biceps,” Roelly says.



Cable Pushdowns

Until a few years ago, Roelly almost always started triceps off with a basic movement like dips or more often, skull-crushers. As time went by, he adopted the more common, and more cautious tactic of using cable pushdowns to warm up and pre-exhaust his triceps. “I use different grips all the time, like a short straight or cambered bar, a V-shaped bar or the rope attachment,” he tells us. “They all work the muscle a little bit differently, so it’s important that you try to rotate them from workout to workout or at least every few weeks.”


Reverse-Grip Pushdowns

“Oma (the Dutch word for grandma) taught me the importance of doing a reverse-grip pushdown for the long head of the triceps, the part that gives your triceps that full, round look from behind,” Roelly says. If any of you out there haven’t been doing any underhand grip pushdowns in your own workouts, either with one arm at a time or both as shown here, you could very well be missing out on some potential triceps beef.


Single Arm, Reverse-Grip Pushdowns

This is actually the variation that most bodybuilders choose for the reverse-grip pushdown, and Roelly will select it from time to time if he is bored with the two-arm version. “I am able to get pretty much the same feeling with both arms,” he says. “The only advantage to using one arm, and the only reason I will do them sometimes, is because you can change up the angle of extension and go toward your other hip for a stronger contraction of the rear head of the triceps.”


Dumbbell Kickbacks

“A lot of people think kickbacks are no good for building triceps size,” Roelly notes. “Where do they get this idea? I think someone made it up a long time ago, and it just kept getting passed on.” I have to agree with The Dutch Beast. It’s a free-weight extension movement that has always worked well for him. Why do so many others feel it’s nearly worthless? Poor form! One key is making sure your elbows remain up high. I have seen a lot of people do kickbacks with their elbows pointing down at the ground, which means the triceps have almost no stress being put on them at all. Keep the elbows high and don’t let them swing, and squeeze the weight up with pure triceps contractions.


Single Arm, Overhead Dumbbell Extensions

Because Roelly’s shoulders are such a dominant body part, he typically avoids any overhead extension movement using free weights. “My shoulders just take over the motion no matter what,” he says. He did find that if he saved the exercise until the end of the workout and went lighter, he was able to recruit the triceps better.


The Guns Are Loaded and the Beast Is Roaring

Roelly could have easily been one of the many new pros who burst on the scene on a wave of hype and cashed in on a freaky body part or two, before quickly fading into B-level obscurity. Instead, he has consistently proved again and again that he is one of the best in the game. As of this writing in early August, he has six pro wins on his résumé, including the recent Sheru Classic. He would have probably had two more wins earlier this season if Dexter Jackson hadn’t decided to compete at the New York Pro and Arnold Classic in South Africa. He’s a lot more than just some guy with huge arms. Winklaar is a solid threat for any contest he decides to enter, with a formidable package of outrageous, dense mass and pleasing shape. Keep an eye on The Dutch Beast in 2017 as he aims his 22-inch guns at his fellow pros, because he has now firmly established that he can pull the trigger and shoot to kill!






 3 Sample Arm Workouts for Roelly



Alternate Dumbbell Curls                  3 sets – 8 reps with standard form, 8 reps with elbows high

Hammer Dumbbell Curls                   3 x 12

Barbell Curls (straight or EZ)            3 sets – 8 reps with standard form, 8 reps with elbows high



Dips (parallel bars or bench dips)        3 x 12-15

French Press/Skull-Crushers               3 x 12-15

Dumbbell Kickbacks                            3 x 12-15

Above may be done as all straight sets, or it could be done as three tri-sets, doing all three exercises in a row with no rest between.




 Pushdowns                               1 x 20 (warm up)                                                

                                                    4 x 12, 10, 8, 6 (increasing weight)

 Decline EZ-Bar Extensions        4 x 6-8

 Dumbbell Kickbacks                  4 x 12

 Seated Machine Dips                 4 x 8-10


Barbell Curls (straight bar)                   1 x 20 (warm-up)

                                                              4 x 12, 10, 8, 6 (increasing weight)

 Incline Alternate Dumbbell Curls         4 x 8

 EZ-Bar Curls                                        4 x 6

 Preacher Curls                                     4 x 8



EZ-Bar Curls                                4 x 10-12

Alternate Dumbbell Curls             4 x 10-12

Dumbbell Preacher Curls             3 x 10-12, each arm

Hammer Dumbbell Curls              3 x 10-12



Rope Pushdowns                         4 x 10-12

Lying Triceps Extensions             4 x 10-12

Machine Dips                               4 x 10-12

Single Arm, Reverse-Grip            3 x 10-12



Roelly’s Pro Record

2010 Arnold Classic                                   Seventh Place

2010 Australian Pro Grand Prix                 Third Place

2010 New York Pro                                    Winner

2010 Mr. Olympia                                      14th Place

2011 Arnold Classic                                  Eighth Place

2011 FIBO, Germany                                Third Place

2011 British Grand Prix                             Second Place

2011 European Pro, Spain                       Second Place

2011 New York Pro                                   Ninth Place

2012 Tampa Pro                                       Fourth Place

2012 Europa Supershow                          Fourth Place

2012 British Grand Prix                            Sixth Place

2012 Arnold Classic Europe                    Third Place

2012 Prague Pro                                      Eighth Place

2012 Nordic Pro, Finland                         Winner

2012 Sheru Classic, India                        Fourth Place

2013 Chicago Wings of Strength             Winner

2013 Mr. Olympia                                    Seventh Place

2013 Arnold Classic Europe                    Sixth Place

2014 Chicago Pro                                   Winner

2014 Nordic Pro, Finland                        Winner

2014 Mr. Olympia                                   12th Place

2014 Dubai Open                                   Third Place

2014 Prague Pro                                    Fourth Place

2014 Arnold Classic Europe                   Fifth Place

2014 San Marino Pro                             Fourth Place

2015 Arnold Classic                               Sixth Place

2015 Arnold Classic Australia                Sixth Place

2015 Nordic Pro, Finland                       Second Place

2015 Mr. Olympia                                   Seventh Place

2015 Arnold Classic Europe                  Fifth Place

2015 Prague Pro                                   Sixth Place

2016 New York Pro                               Second Place

2016 Arnold Classic, South Africa        Second Place

2016 Mr. Olympia                                  Sixth Place

2016 Arnold-Europe                              Fifth Place

2016 Prague Pro                                   Fifth Place

2016 Kuwait Pro                                    Fourth Place

2016 Sheru Classic                               Winner


Ron Harris got his start in the bodybuilding industry during the eight years he worked in Los Angeles as Associate Producer for ESPN’s “American Muscle Magazine” show in the 1990s. Since 1992 he has published nearly 5,000 articles in bodybuilding and fitness magazines, making him the most prolific bodybuilding writer ever. Ron has been training since the age of 14 and competing as a bodybuilder since 1989, and maintains the popular website www.ronharrismuscle.com, most notable for its blog “The Daily Pump.” He lives with his wife and two children in the Boston area.






FACEBOOK: MuscularDevelopment Magazine

TWITTER: @MuscularDevelop

INSTAGRAM: @MuscularDevelopment

YOUTUBE: http://bit.ly/2fvHgnZ