Bodybuilder Shaun Clarida Breaks Down an Intense Arms Workout

Shaping a tremendously aesthetic physique requires tremendously intense training. It is evident that 212 Olympia winner Shaun “The Giant Killer” Clarida has no such issues with his commitment. On April 12, 2022, the IFBB Pro shared an intense upper body workout that seemingly attacked every aspect of his arms on his YouTube channel.

As Clarida explains, he does not usually have a wire-to-wire training day devoted to his arms during his off-season. Due to simmering fan support and demand (over 25,000 subscribers on YouTube), Clarida decided to give the people what they wanted and record an arms session.

It’s an inside look into the stellar strength of the 2020 212 Mr. Olympia Champion and the second-place finisher at the 2021 Mr. Olympia.

Clarida’s Arms Workout

Clarida does not waste any time diving right in. He starts the video session by working his triceps and taking care of them with appropriate care and balance right away.

Rope Pushdown

Sets and Reps: 6-7 x 10, double drop sets on final set.

Clarida starts the session with a triceps pushdown using a rope attachment. He says he likes to start his arm workouts with an isolated, single-joint exercise to warm up his triceps muscles before attempting heavier compound lifts (lifts that engage more than one joint simultaneously). Research shows that single-joint exercises can be a significant boon to muscle growth when applied practically. (1)

Clarida performs two warmup sets, two feeders (or build-up sets that are challenging but aren’t pushing to failure), and three working sets (sets where the athlete pushes close to or reaches actual failure).

Cable Curl

Sets and Reps: 6-7 x 10

Once rope pushdowns are in the rearview mirror, he transitions to a cable machine for cable curls. Like the pushdowns, cable curls allow Clarida to warm up the muscle group before heavier sets. Using D-handles for a more comfortable grip than a bar, he follows the same set and rep layout as the pushdowns.

We’re gonna keep it pretty basic, straight sets here.

Once Clarida reaches the final set, he institutes a unilateral variation where an athlete does x-number of reps on one side before switching to the other and doing the same. One study shows that unilateral training may lead to balanced, significant strength gains – up to 29 percent increases in tested people over an extended training period. (2)

[Related: Bodybuilder Breon Ansley Explains His Decision To Retire From The Classic Physique Division]

Dumbbell Single-Arm Overhead Triceps Extension

Sets and Reps: 3 x 10

After finishing his first set of overhead extensions, Clarida does something unexpected – he removes his hoodie to work out in a tank top for the rest of the session.

For you, just for you, all my followers… today only, I’m going to show you a little bit of skin.

Notably, Clarida maintains the single-arm dumbbell overhead triceps extension is his favorite, foundational triceps movement.

EZ-Bar Curl

Sets and Reps: 3 x 10

Before Clarida starts this movement to work out his biceps, he notes that he prefers an EZ-bar, which has a unique curl shape, over a straight barbell because it’s easier on his wrists. The bodybuilder starts with 30 pounds on his first set before eventually finishing with 100 pounds.

Underhand Cable Pushdown

Sets and Reps: 3 x 10

Clarida wastes no time after his curls and immediately proceeds to a superset with cable triceps pushdowns. He again uses D-handles but with an underhanded grip to isolate the long head of the triceps (the triceps muscle closer to your body). It’s a move he says he picked up from his coach, the late John Meadows.

Taking care of every triceps muscle is important, but the long head might especially play a prominent role in strength development. Past data has shown that the long head is far more of a factor in muscle activation and force than the other triceps brachii. (3)

[Related: Watch Bodybuilder Kyle Kirvay Squats 685 Pounds For 5 Reps]

Dumbbell Hammer Curl

Sets and Reps: 3 x 10

Clarida then performs cross-body dumbbell hammer curls. In offering more clarity, it’s all a means to keep his workouts simple but effective.

“Let’s stick with the basics. The basics have always worked, ”Clarida says.” You’ve got some great machines. I more so utilize that when I am in prep versus now. I feel like now is my growth season for me personally. Compound movements that work the best for me. So barbell, dumbbell work. That’s what I like to rely on mostly during my growth season. ”

Overhead Cable Extension

Sets and Reps: 3 x 10

Clarida’s last triceps workout of the day centered back with the cables – this time while seated on a bench and performed at shoulder height. Per Clarida’s rationale, he saved this unique triceps movement for a good reason.

“They really open the triceps head, get some of my blood in there and stretch the fibers,” Clarida says. “They’re full of blood, nice and tight. I’m gonna go stretch them out and then get one more big contraction out of them. ”

It’s an essential closer to Clarida because of what quality blood flow can do for a muscle. In optimal circumstances, an athlete’s blood flow must match the demands of whatever muscle it is they’re contracting. Anything less, they risk failure and, in the worst-case scenario, might even put themselves in danger of potential injury. (4)

Bisolator Curl

Suggested Sets and Reps: 3 x 10

Clarida caps his arms workout with an apparent set to fail for each arm on the “Bisolator” – an older machine concentrated on biceps and working their peak.

Any athlete seeking to maximize their power output will eventually come around to work on a muscle’s peak. Over time, findings have shown training routines that place merit on working peaks will bear out with the athlete having a more efficient strength foundation. (5)

Mr. Olympia Is Next

One of the crown jewels of professional bodybuilding – the Mr. Olympia event – is still a way off. Circumstances could change for someone elite like Clarida between April and December 2022. If he’s planning to reclaim the 212 Olympia title from Derek Lunsford, this off-season arm workout certainly doesn’t hurt his chances.

The 2022 Mr. Olympia will take place on December 15-18, 2022, in Las Vegas, NV.


  1. Gentil, P., Soares, S., Bottaro, M. (2015). Single vs. Multi-Joint Resistance Exercises: Effects on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy. Asian Journal of Sports Medicine. 2015 Jun; 6 (2)
  2. Green, LA, Gabriel, DA (2018). The effect of unilateral training on contralateral limb strength in young, older, and patient populations: a meta-analysis of cross-education. Physical Therapy Reviews. 2018 Mar; Vol. 23; p. 238-249
  3. Kholinne, E. et al. (2018). The different role of each head of the triceps brachii muscle in elbow extension. Acta Orthopedics and Traumatologica Turcica. 2018 May; 52 (3); p. 201–205.
  4. Joyner, MJ, Casey, DP (2015). Regulation of Increased Blood Flow (Hyperemia) to Muscles During Exercise: A Hierarchy of Competing Physiological Needs. Physiological Reviews. 2015 Apr; 95 (2); p. 549–601.
  5. Sarabia, JM, Moya-Ramón, M., Hernández-Davó, JL, Fernandez-Fernandez, J., Sabido, R. (2017). The effects of training with loads that maximize power output and individualized repetitions vs. traditional power training. PLOS One. 2017 Oct; 12 (10)

Featured image: @shaunclarida on Instagram

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