Written by Ron Harris
05 October 2017


Jose Raymond is Bringing Big Guns to Kuwait

Building Massive Bi's & Tri's with the Boston Mass


On paper, it may not seem as if Jose Raymond would be a favorite to win the Kuwait Pro show tomorrow. He recently lost to two men who will also be going after the title. Ahmad Ashkanani has beaten him all three times they have faced off, and Iran’s Hadi Choopan bested him more recently at the Asian Grand Prix. But anyone who underestimates Jose and what he is capable of simply doesn’t know their bodybuilding history. He has 10 pro wins. Jose was the first Arnold Classic 212 champion in 2015. He’s also been top four at the Mr. Olympia 212 show for the last nine years in a row, with a second place in 2015. Jose is also one of the few 212 competitors who have ever beaten Flex Lewis in a pro show. Most of all, Jose is ravenous for a win. “I haven’t won a show in a long time now,” he says, referring to his post-O win in Prague two years ago. “So I’m ready for another one!” Let’s take a look at how one of the most thickly muscled men in history trains his legit 21-inch arms, those same arms his foes will have to reckon with over in Kuwait.


Yes, His Arms Have Always Been Damn Good

When you read a training article about a pro with an outstanding body part, odds are that it’s a muscle group that responded well for them from day one. Branch’s legs grew like crazy, as did Wolf’s delts, Johnnie Jackson’s traps, and so on. While it’s often a bit more informative and useful to learn how a pro brought up a lagging body part, the reality is that rarely does that particular body part ever become truly impressive. So to stoke your motivation, and especially since we men are visual creatures, we do photo shoots and training articles based on the best body parts of the pros.


With that out of the way, I can tell you that Jose Raymond started showing signs of a gift for building biceps and triceps muscles as early as 5 years old. Yes, 5. “My favorite TV show was ‘The Incredible Hulk,’” he recounts. “I used to run around doing the front double biceps pose and growling all the time. Most of the pictures of me taken when I was a kid, I was flexing my arms. My arms, forearms and hands were all disproportionately big when I was little.” And his arms would continue to be exceptional. “By the time I was 10, I had arms the size of 15-year-old kids who trained,” he says. “By 15, they were the size of college-age kids who lifted. And by the time I was 20, they were bigger than anyone’s I knew except for a few high-level bodybuilders in the Boston area.”


When Jose started competing as a teen in 1993, all he really had was good arms and legs. His chest, back and shoulders all trailed behind his limbs in development. By the time he started competing as a pro in 2009, he had grown substantially, of course. Yet the disparity remained to an extent. “I looked around at the other pros in the 202 division, which was still new at the time,” he tells us. “I saw that very few of them had me beat on arms and legs, but a good amount of them had better chests, backs or shoulders. So those were the areas I focused on and worked hardest to improve.” Clearly, he succeeded in that goal. You don’t win 10 pro shows including the Arnold Classic, second in total wins only to Flex Lewis, and achieve the rank of second-best 212-pound bodybuilder in the world, without balanced and even development. But now that he has achieved all that, Jose is back to working his 21-inch arms hard again with the aim to make them even freakier. Here are his 10 favorite exercises to blow them up.


1. Barbell Curls

Why he does it:

“Barbell curls are the mack daddy of all biceps exercises,” Jose pronounces. As such, they have been a staple in his arm training since he was 10 years old. Yes, he has been training that long. “It puts your wrists in the fully supinated position so you use as much biceps as possible, and it also allows for the heaviest resistance possible.”


How he executes it:

Some bodybuilders like Arnold were famous for doing heavy cheat curls with a barbell, but Jose prefers a much stricter style. “I keep my elbows back so the bar stays pretty close to my body at all times,” he notes. “Doing them this way, I eliminate the front delts from the movement and get more biceps involvement.” The heaviest he goes on barbell curls is 135.


2. One-Arm Cable Curls

Why he does it:

“I love these because the tension on the biceps is constant,” says Raymond. “At no point is it easier, and there is no sticking point either.” He also likes the fact that he can get excellent contractions without having to use a lot of resistance.


How he executes it:

Jose adjusts his body position until he finds the exact angle where he can curl and the cable forms nearly a perfect vertical line as he looks down, to the center of his biceps. “If you find yourself curling either in toward your body or away, you need to correct your position,” he advises.


3. One-Arm Machine Curls

Why he does it:

Jose doesn’t perform his machine curls with one hand by choice, exactly. It’s more a case of his anatomy not being compatible with the standard two-arm style. “If I squeeze into the machine and grab the bar with two hands, my palms face each other,” he explains. “I need to use one arm and angle my torso a little bit away from the working arm to get the proper palms-up hand position.”


How he executes it:

Jose has tinkered around with various curl machines, and his best bet to get the right fit is to put the seat all the way down as a very tall man would, then kneel rather that sit on the seat. With his triceps flat on the pad, he purposefully curls up and squeezes each rep hard at the top position.


4. Dumbbell Concentration Curls

Why he does it:

Jose used to be all about pushing and pulling heavy weights and make no mistake, he still moves some serious iron. But as the years have gone by, he’s become far more concerned with working the target muscle as hard as possible. Concentration curls do just that, providing excellent isolation of the biceps when done properly. “This is an exercise you will see me do at just about every biceps workout,” he says.


How he executes it:

Jose does these the “old-school” way that men like Arnold and Robby Robinson did in the ‘70s. That is, rather than sit down and use his inner thigh as a leverage point, he stands and bends at the waist, allowing the arm to hang down. “Your arm should be straight from the shoulder to the wrist,” he explains. “If your elbow goes back toward your body or shifts at all during the reps, you’re doing it wrong.”


5. Hammer Curls With Rope

Why he does it:

Jose is diligent about working all the muscle groups that judges will scrutinize onstage, and the brachialis is on that list. He prefers to hit it with hammer curls using a rope attachment and a cable pulley rather than using dumbbells. “Again, it’s due to the constant tension the cables provide,” he shares. “I am able to get a good stretch and a good squeeze on every rep.”


How he executes it:

Before starting the set, Jose takes a step back from the cable stack so that there is tension on the cable at the bottom position of each rep. He also positions himself so that there is a straight line from his shoulders down to the ground via the cable. “On any type of curl, you always want to be careful to minimize the involvement of your front delts,” he adds.


6. Rope Pushdowns

Why he does it:

Every triceps workout for Jose begins with this movement, as he feels it’s the ideal warm-up. “It lets me get a lot of blood into the muscle and around the elbow joints, plus my wrists and elbows aren’t in a fixed position,” he says. “They’re free to move in the pattern my structure needs them to.”


How he executes it:

Typically Jose will do three sets of 15-25 reps, moving up in weight on each. His fourth set will start with the stack and be done as a triple drop set. Raymond also likes to incorporate “pause reps” to further ignite the intensity on any extension movement for triceps using a cable. “If I am doing 15 reps, I will do them in three groups of five,” he tells us. “The first five will be normal reps, then for the middle five I will hold the contraction on every rep for a full second, then finish with the final five reps at normal tempo again.”


7. Close-Grip Bench Press

Why he does it:

This is another arm-training staple Jose has been doing since before he hit puberty. “It’s a big-boy exercise,” he says, which is an understatement if you’ve ever seen him perform it. I’ve seen him do sets with 365 on many occasions, and he has done 405 for 10 reps on video, while on the road in Australia no less. “Like the barbell curl, it hits the belly of the muscle with as much weight as possible.”


How he executes it:

Everyone’s hand spacing will be just a little different, but Jose allows his elbows to flare out and finds a grip that is neither too narrow as to strain his wrists nor so wide as to be more of a chest movement. “If you can touch your chest with the bar, either your grip is too wide or you have your elbows tucked in,” he notes. Normally Jose does straight sets of these, but he also has an insanely intense version that’s the perfect finish for any chest and triceps session. It’s pretty long and drawn out, which is why we’ve never filmed it for a video. Simply put, he does 10 reps of a regular-width bench press, then immediately switches to a close grip for 10. He goes back to a regular grip for nine, then close grip again for nine, and so on until he can only get one rep with each. “When I was a teenager I could only use 135, but now I am able to use 225,” he says. If you are brave enough to try this, I strongly suggest both using a Smith machine for safety, and going lighter than you possibly think you should. Trust me— the pump and burn in your triceps, especially when done after several extension movements, is absolutely brutal.


8. Dual Dumbbell Extensions on Incline Bench

Why he does it:

This movement is relatively new in Jose’s arm-training arsenal. Five years ago, nagging elbow pain forced him to abandon skull-crushers, which had been a go-to triceps builder for many years. “I was experimenting with some different things using dumbbells, and I found this allowed me to reach back further and get a better stretch for my triceps, while putting much less stress on my elbows.” Raymond also likes the unilateral aspect of this movement. Having a dumbbell in each hand ensures that both triceps are working equally hard, rather than a dominant side taking over.


How he executes it:

Jose lies back on an incline bench, cleaning the dumbbells to the top position of a press, but with his palms facing each other in a “hammer grip.” Lowering them behind his head for a stretch, Jose extends both arms while rotating the dumbbells slightly away from the midline of his body. This allows for a more complete contraction.


9. Dual Dumbbell Kickbacks, Facedown on Incline Bench

Why he does it:

This triceps move is the flipside of exercise number 8, literally. It also happened to be the result of Jose tinkering around in efforts to come up with new exercises he could use. It’s essentially just a dumbbell kickback for the triceps, but with two added benefits. It allows both arms to be worked at the same time, and the use of the bench as a stabilizing tool forces stricter form with less body rocking. “For me, it lets me hit the belly of the biceps much better than a standard kickback where you’re bent over or kneeling with one knee on a bench,” says Jose.


How he executes it:

Jose lies facedown on an incline bench so that his upper chest is off the pad. With a dumbbell in each hand, he assumes the top position of a dumbbell row for the lats, and keeps his elbows high and locked in place. From there, he extends his arms back and pauses for a contraction on each rep. “The real key to getting the most out of this is to pause and flex the triceps at the top,” Jose explains. “You won’t need much weight. I suggest learning the movement with a pair of 5s to get the feel I’m talking about.”


10. Overhead Rope Extensions

Why he does it:

Finally, Jose loves overhead rope extensions as a means of hitting the long had of the tri’s, the meaty part seen from behind. For many years, Jose did overhead extensions with a heavy dumbbell or barbell. But just as elbow pain made skull-crushers more trouble than they were worth, Jose had to say goodbye to those and switch over to a more comfortable alternative.

How he executes it:

Jose rarely does overhead rope extensions as a stand-alone movement. More often, they’re part of a superset. The weight isn’t heavy, which is the only way one can spread the ropes apart as you extend.


Jose’s Pro Record

2009 IFBB New York Pro*                                  Eighth Place

2009 IFBB Europa Super Show                          Ninth Place

2009 IFBB Atlantic City Pro                                Second Place

2009 IFBB 202 Showdown at Mr. Olympia           Sixth Place

2010 IFBB Orlando Pro                                      Third Place

2010 IFBB New York Pro                                   Second Place

2010 IFBB Tampa Bay Pro                                 Winner

2010 IFBB Battle of Champions, Hartford           Winner

2010 IFBB 202 Showdown at Mr. Olympia           Fourth Place

2010 IFBB Sacramento Pro                                Second Place                          

2011 IFBB New York Pro                                   Winner

2011 IFBB 202 Showdown at Mr. Olympia           Third Place

2012 IFBB Optimum Classic, Shreveport            Winner

2012 IFBB British Grand Prix                              Third Place, 212

2012 IFBB New York Pro Championships           Third Place, 212

2012 IFBB 212 Showdown at Olympia                Fourth Place                

2012 IFBB Sheru Classic, India                           Second Place, 212

2013 IFBB New York Pro                                   212 Winner

2013 IFBB Toronto Pro                                      212 Winner

2013 IFBB 212 Showdown at Mr. Olympia           Fourth Place, 212

2013 IFBB Phoenix Pro                                      Seventh Place, 212

2014 IFBB Arnold Classic                                  Fifth Place, 212

2014 IFBB New Zealand Pro                               212 Winner

2014 IFBB Korean Pro                                       Second Place, 212

2014 IFBB 212 Showdown at Mr. Olympia           Third Place

2014 IFBB Phoenix Pro                                      212 Winner

2014 Prague Pro                                               Third Place, 212

2015 IFBB Arnold Classic                                  212 Winner

2015 IFBB Showdown at Mr. Olympia                 Second Place

2015 IFBB Korean Pro                                       Second Place, 212

2015 IFBB Prague Pro                                       212 Winner

2015 IFBB Phoenix Pro                                      Second Place

2016 IFBB Arnold Classic                                  Second Place, 212

2016 IFBB 212 Mr. Olympia                                Third Place

2016 IFBB Korean Grand Prix                             Fourth Place

2017 IFBB Arnold Classic                                  Third Place, 212

2017 IFBB 212 Mr. Olympia                                Third Place

2017 IFBB Asian Grand Prix, Korea                    Third Place


*All pro shows except 2015 Phoenix Pro were in the 212 division, which was limited to 202 pounds prior to 2012.


Jose’s Training Split

Sunday:            Light back and chest

Monday:           Heavy quads, light hams and calves

Tuesday:           a.m. - Cardio, abs, posing                    

                        p.m. - Chest and triceps, 8-10 supersets of lateral raises and rear delts

Wednesday:      Back and biceps

Thursday:          Shoulders and abs

Friday:              Heavy hams, light quads and calves

Saturday:          Arms


Arm Workout

Rope Pushdowns                                                                     4-6 x 15

Close-Grip Bench Press                                                           4 x 8-12

Seated Overhead Cable Extensions                                           4 x 12

Dip Machine or One-Arm Overhead Dumbbell Extensions            4 x 12

Alternate Dumbbell Curls                                                           4 x 15

One-Arm Machine Preacher Curls                                              4 x 12

Barbell 21s                                                                               3 x 21

Hammer Dumbbell Curls                                                            3-4 x 10







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