Watch Fitness Influencer Attempt Rich Piana’s Insane 8-Hour Arm Day

Rich Piana's arm day

Rich Piana brings lifters past what science prescribes, leading to an insane arm pump. 

In pursuing well-built arms, you’ll come across numerous arm day workouts. Yet, Rich Piana’s 8-hour arm day workout belongs to a league of its own and dares to promise up to 1 inch of muscle growth in a single session. 

So, who is Rich Piana? The late bodybuilder started lifting at eleven and competed in the Classic Physique and 212 divisions. By age 30, he had over two decades of bodybuilding, and he was an entrepreneur who founded a leading supplement company 5% Nutrition. Sadly, he passed away in 2017. 

Full Name: Richard Eugene Piana
Weight Height Date of Birth
221- 315 lbs 6”0’ 09/26/1970
Division Era Nationality
212 & Classic Physique 1980s – 2010s American

Recently, YouTube influencer and bodybuilder Jesse James West decided to attempt Rich Piana’s 8-hour arm day workout. He did this with fellow trainer Brandon Walsh. As they slugged it out, West notes that this is not a workout any trainee should try, so let’s look at what this monster entails.


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Rich Piana’s 8-Hour Arm Day Workout

This workout consists of two supersets done in eight rounds within eight hours. It sounds simple, but wait until you discover the routines involved that had Jesse James West and Brandon Walsh struggling to move their arms around the halfway point. “It’s just torture,” West expressed. “It’s a different type of sore.” 

Before getting started, both men measured the circumference of their biceps. After the training, West adds a whooping one and a half inches to his biceps but admits it’s inflammation and swelling. Both athletes also start to feel uncomfortable in their joints, which, on a typical day, is a sign to stop and not go further to prevent symptoms of overtraining

The Rich Piana 8-hour arm workout includes barbells, dumbbells, and a mini workout every 30 minutes. There’s also alternating between both supersets to complete 128 sets within the eight-hour mark.  Below are the exercises involved in this brutal arm day training.

Superset 1
Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Skullcrushers 4 10
Barbell Curls 4 10
Superset 2
Dumbbell Hammer Curls 4 15
Dumbbell French Presses 4 15

Superset – Barbell Skull Crushers & Barbell Curls 

Before doing the first rep, West and Walsh discuss the total number of sets they’ll be doing. They point out that science says you only need about ten sets per muscle per week for hypertrophy (1). They’d be doing much more than that for this arm day workout, so they expect it to be rough.

“Most of the science people would say you’d only need around three to ten sets per muscle per workout for optimal results, and this was gonna be a lot more than three to ten. This is gonna be so rough.”

Barbell Skull Crushers

Barbell skull crushers are one of the best exercises for adding muscle definition to your arms. Another name for this routine is the lying tricep extension because it focuses on your triceps. For bigger arms, barbell skull crushers specifically focus on the medial head of your triceps. It allows you to load heavy weight to engage your triceps, which comprise two-thirds of your arm. So barbell skull crushers are one of the best arm movements you can do for arm muscle growth. 

Doing barbell skull crushers has carryover to throwing things overhead, as in sports like baseball and football. You can also use this exercise to improve your bench press form since your triceps are a secondary muscle. 

Barbell Curls

The barbell curls, the second routine in this arm day, target your biceps, as the name implies. It also recruits your brachialis and forearm flexors, leading to stronger and bigger arms. Barbell curls are a functional exercise miming our everyday movement, such as carrying a box of items. 

Barbell curls are easily accessible as all you need is a barbell available in most gyms. With this movement, you can improve your grip strength, which helps with other exercises, like pull-ups, rows, and deadlifts

Superset – Dumbbell Hammer Curls & Dumbbell French Presses

Before and after doing the first superset, Jesse James West and Brandon Walsh took protein shakes and tried out different flavors. Research shows that protein supplementation pre-workout and post-workout improves physical performance, recovery, strength, and muscle growth (2).

Dumbbell Hammer Curls

While looking deceptively simple, the dumbbell hammer curl is an efficient way to increase the girth of your arms. It targets your biceps, brachialis, and brachoradialis. Dumbbell hammer curls help to focus on the short head of the biceps, which makes it less stressful to do. And since it’s a unilateral movement, it can help strengthen any lagging muscles on either side. 

Dumbbell hammer curls activate your muscles differently from the bicep curl because of the grip. They’re done with a neutral grip where your palms face each other, making the focus on the short head of the biceps and allowing you to use a heavier weight. 

Dumbbell French Presses

The dumbbell French press, the last routine in this second superset, focuses on your triceps. It is an isolation exercise but can also recruit your lower back muscles, delts, pecs, abs, obliques, and glutes for stabilization. Doing a French press with a dumbbell puts less pressure on your elbows than with a barbell.

The dumbbell French press builds the long head of the triceps to add mass to your arms. This routine can be done seated or standing, and you can hold a single dumbbell with two arms or use one dumbbell each for both arms. 

Although they got through the workout, West admits he would never prescribe an eight-hour arm day for anyone.

“Although training arms for eight hours is something I would never recommend, today brought me back to the feeling I had when I first started training…When I’d go on YouTube and watch videos of Rich Piana or any of those guys from that era who were spreading motivation and inspiration.”

Watch the full workout here:

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  1. Schoenfeld, B., Fisher, J., Grgic, J., Haun, C., Helms, E., Phillips, S., Steele, J., & Vigotsky, A. (2021). Resistance Training Recommendations to Maximize Muscle Hypertrophy in an Athletic Population: Position Stand of the IUSCA. International Journal of Strength and Conditioning, 1(1). 
  2. Stark, M., Lukaszuk, J., Prawitz, A., & Salacinski, A. (2012). Protein timing and its effects on muscular hypertrophy and strength in individuals engaged in weight-training. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 9(1), 54.
Terry Ramos
As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ISSA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.