Written by Ron Harris
01 January 2018


Build Bigger Arms Now

Roelly Winklaar Shows You How



Roelly Winklaar burst on the pro bodybuilding scene in early 2010, making his debut on the same Arnold Classic stage he had earned his pro card exactly one year prior at the Arnold Amateur. His appearance there was via the automatic invitation that each Arnold Amateur winner receives to compete in the pro show the following year. Nobody was expecting much from this soft-spoken guy with the enormous shoulders and arms from the Caribbean island of Curaçao in the Netherlands Antilles, a place with a population of a mere 141,000 souls. All the talk that year centered on the big names entering: Phil Heath, Kai Greene, Dexter Jackson and Branch Warren. But the breakout star of that show was undoubtedly Roelly, whose full, round muscle bellies and aesthetic shape bore more than a passing resemblance to future four-time Mr. O Heath. Two months later, Roelly scored his first pro win at the New York Pro. In the years that followed, he became a fan favorite— massive, rock-hard and with amazing shape and symmetry.

 Destined to Be the Owner of Large-Caliber Guns

      Like many of us, the first photo Roelly ever saw that made him want to be a bodybuilder was of Arnold Schwarzenegger, a side shot with both arms thrust in front of him to show off both the triceps (of the arm closer to us) and his astounding biceps. Roelly wanted arms like that one day, and luckily for him, his genetic makeup allowed him to get them. “Once I started training, it was my shoulders and arms that grew the quickest,” he told me. “Some guys at the gym would even get mad because they had been training so much longer and my arms were already bigger than theirs! So I have to give a lot of credit to my genetics for my arms.”

      His triceps have been compared in arguments about whose were the best of all time to MD’s own Kevin Levrone, and they grew so easily that Roelly has had phases where he trained them just once every three weeks. His background in gymnastics as a youth (he can still do a backflip) certainly gave those tri’s a hell of a head start too, along with his melon delts. He really only trains them more often leading up to a contest, as he finds his triceps look more dense and detailed with more frequent workouts. His biceps aren’t quite as responsive, so it’s been a challenge for them to keep pace and match his giant tri’s. Here are the exercises Roelly uses to blast those monster guns, along with his explanations on why and how he does them.

 Barbell Curls

      “I do barbell curls with either a straight bar or an EZ curl bar. 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 time 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 I do, you have a greater risk of injury if you’re not careful.

      “With a lot of curl movements, my former coach liked to have me do ‘eight and eight.’ That means I do eight regular reps, then eight reps where I let my elbows come up and I focus 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.”


 Incline Dumbbell Curls

      “There is always some kind of dumbbell curl in my biceps routines, and usually more than one type. If I don’t do alternate curls, I like to lie back on an incline bench. This is a really old-school exercise that guys with giant biceps like Arnold and Lou Ferrigno used to do all the time, but not too many guys do them these days. Too bad for them! You get a total stretch of the muscle at the start of the rep that you can’t achieve when your torso is straight up and down, as in any type of standing curl.”


 Preacher Dumbbell 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. Once my biceps start getting fatigued after a couple of exercises, I usually go over to a preacher bench and do either one-arm dumbbell curls or a barbell curl using a close grip. The bench locks me into position and takes the shoulder out of the motion so my biceps can do all the work.”


 Hammer Dumbbell Curls

      “Since my biceps have to be as big as possible to match my more gifted triceps, I can’t 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.”


 Lying French Presses

      “Probably the most effective exercise for my triceps has been lying French presses, or as the American bodybuilders call them, ‘skull-crushers.’ These are the basic movement for tri’s, just like the barbell curl is for biceps. I like to do them on a flat bench and an EZ-curl bar. Unless you have big, thick wrists, a straight bar will eventually cause a lot of wrist pain once you become pretty strong on these. You should always use a spotter, too, so you don’t ‘crush your skull’ once you reach total failure.”


 Cable Pushdowns

      “Once I’ve done the basic movement for tri’s, I like to move on to some type of cable pressdown. I use different grips all the time, like a short straight or cambered bar, a V-shaped bar or the rope attachment. 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

      “Early in my training, I learned 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. The only way to really work that part of the muscle is with a reverse grip, or some type of overhead extension. Overhead movements tend to get my shoulders too involved, so I like doing reverse-grip pushdowns with either two hands at once, or the more common single-arm version. Honestly, I get the same feeling with two arms at the same time so that’s the one I do the most— you get the exercise done twice as fast, and I don’t want to spend too long on triceps!”


 Dumbbell Kickbacks

      “A lot of people think kickbacks are no good for building triceps size. Where do they get this idea? I think someone made it up a long time ago and it just kept getting passed on. It’s a free-weight extension movement that has always worked well for me. 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. Again because I don’t want to spend too much time on my triceps workout, I do these with both arms at the same time.”



     “Along with French presses, dips are what I consider the best triceps builder you can do. If I do the parallel bars like you see here, I go slow and squeeze. It’s usually at the end of the workout, so I normally don’t need to add extra weight. More often I like to do bench dips. That’s the variation that Victor Martinez prefers, and I got to train with him a couple of years ago in Holland. You put plates on your lap with your feet up on a bench in front of you, and the heels of your hands are behind you on another flat bench. One reason I prefer these is because your shoulders can’t get involved too much. With parallel bar dips, it’s pretty easy for the chest and shoulders to take over and do most of the work.”


Training Split*

 Monday               Chest and triceps

Tuesday               Quads and hams

  • Thursday             Shoulders and traps
  • Friday                  Back and biceps


   *Roelly hits the larger body part at 6:00 a.m. and returns at 4:00 p.m. to work the smaller one. Sometimes, depending on his energy level that day, both are trained in one session. In the final weeks leading up to a contest, body parts are all worked twice a week.


Sample Arm Workouts

 Workout 1


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

 Hammer Dumbbell Curls                    3 x 12

 Barbell Curls (straight or EZ)             3 sets— 8 reps standard, 8 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

  The 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.


Workout 2


 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