Build Biceps Like Strongman Joey Szatmary

Owner of The Lions Den Elite Training gym in Montgomery County, PA, Joey Szatmary, has years of strength training under his belt as both a competitive strongman and strength coach. When he shares his hypertrophy and strength gains insights, it is safe to lend one’s ear.

On Jan. 24, 2024, Szatmary published a YouTube video that featured biceps training in his home gym, where he disclosed his extensive warm-up and a full breakdown of his arm programming. Check it out below:

[Related: Fadi El Masri Wins 2024 Middle East’s Strongest Man]

Joey Szatmary’s Arm Training

Below is the warm-up and programming Szatmary performs on arm day:


Pass-Throughs x 15 

Band Pulls x 15 

PVC Windmills x 20-30 

Z-Curls x 15 

To ensure ligaments and tendons are ready for training, Szatmary, who has previously suffered a biceps injury, programs an extensive warm-up. The pass-throughs and band pulls loosen the shoulders while the PVC windmills warm the forearms and wrists. The Z-curls provide adequate elbow flexion, switching between supinated and pronated grips.

Biceps & Forearm Workout

EZ Bar Curls: 3-4 x 10-12 (two to three reps in reserve)

Fat Grip Alternating Dumbbell Curls: 3 x 8-10 (two reps in reserve)

Belt Curls: 3 x 8-10 (two reps in reserve)

Crusher: 3 x 15-20 (static hold last rep)

[Related: Fadi El Masri Wins 2024 Middle East’s Strongest Man]

EZ Bar Curls

For this first exercise, Szatmary focused on his full range of motion, achieving a deep stretch at the bottom and a tight contraction at the top, with the bar almost hitting his nose. He trained for reps in reserve, meaning he did not rep to complete failure. Doing so allowed Szatmary to maintain sufficient training intensity without compromising form.

Szatmary added 50 pounds to the EZ bar for his working sets, explaining that to grow a specific muscle group, direct training maximizes growth (i.e., isolation movements rather than compound exercises. However, both single-joint (isolation) and multi-joint (compound) exercises have shown to be “equally effective for promoting increases in upper body muscle strength.” (1)

Szatmary implored high-quality reps, even in the final set or final reps when fatigue sets in. The biceps are a relatively smaller muscle group that can be trained multiple times a week. The higher training frequency recommendation can reach a range of 12-20 weekly sets. (2)

Fat Grip Alternating Dumbbell Curls

Moving onto the second movement, Szatmary incorporated fat grip dumbbells to further bias his forearms during the cross-body curls. Szatmary maintained a supinated grip so as not to slip into hammer curls. Hammer curls bias the brachialis (an elbow flexor that originates from the distal anterior humerus and inserts onto the ulnar tuberosity). (3)

Szatmary said that strict form is essential for hypertrophy. By resisting momentum, Szatmary can load the biceps with the full weight used for maximum stimulus.

Belt Curls & the Crusher

Szatmary threaded a belt through a kettlebell handle and gripped the belt to curl the weight. He drives his thumbs up and out as the kettlebell rises from a dead hang to midway up his torso. Szatmary maxed out at a 70-pound kettlebell.

Completing his arms workout, Szatmary used a contraption called the “crusher” to strengthen his grip. He squeezed his fingers into his palms with 90 pounds.

By letting the weight hang, Szatmary stretched in his fingers and forearms. Each set ended with a static hold at peak contraction.

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Gentil P, Soares S, Bottaro M. Single vs. Multi-Joint Resistance Exercises: Effects on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy. Asian J Sports Med. 2015 Jun;6(2):e24057. doi: 10.5812/asjsm.24057. Epub 2015 Jun 22. PMID: 26446291; PMCID: PMC4592763.

Baz-Valle, E., Balsalobre-Fernández, C., Alix-Fages, C., & Santos-Concejero, J. (2022). A Systematic Review of The Effects of Different Resistance Training Volumes on Muscle Hypertrophy. Journal of human kinetics81, 199–210.

Plantz MA, Bordoni B. Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Brachialis Muscle. [Updated 2023 Feb 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from:

Featured image: @szatstrength on Instagram

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