Arms like Sean Penn in the Gunman

Arms Like Sean Penn in The Gunman

If you have seen anything of Sean Penn’s latest film “The Gunman” you may have noticed how good he looks, especially for a guy in is mid fifties!

What struck me most were his arms: thick vascular and lean!


All you guys out there might want to note that he has been said to train heavy, in the 5 repetition range, which would certainly explain the hard look his muscles have.


Heavy loads and a smart diet tend to leave the muscles looking as hard as the iron they hoist.


Sean penn arms


Now heavy is obviously relative to each of you and one man’s 5RM may well be impossible for even one rep for another man, or could just as easily be another’s 15RM (15 repetition maximum).


From what I could find out about his training for The Gunman are details of him as having performed much of his work along the lines of good old sets of five with big compound movements and isolation movements in there too…no favouritism here…just what works.


Similar to Hugh Jackmans now famous routines of heavy deadlifting, dips and chin ups would be locked and loaded (see what I did there…The Gunman:) into the workout with some isolated arm specific work such as curls and triceps extensions for good measure.


Without having spoken with Penns Personal Trainer it is not possible to know his exact routine but I’d put together a smart routine that would include a workout like this one in there along with other goal specific workouts:


Chin ups 3×5 (chin grips works the biceps hard)

Dips 3×8 (work the triceps hard)

Deadlifts/Shrugs 1×6/3×8 (work the forearms damn hard)

Knees to elbow 3x maximum reps (who doesn’t love abs?)

Reverse barbell curls 3×8 (to fill in the gaps left from chins)

Barbell pullover and press 3×8 (hit that tricep long head nice and hard)

Dumbbell side raises 3×10 (round delts never hurt a physique)


Warm ups:


Take as many warm up sets as you feel you need to establish your weight and attitude for the main working sets.


If time is short then I highly recommend super setting two moves at a time so you are not simply standing around in-between sets wasting time OR you could run the big moves in a circuit fashion adding a little metabolic conditioning in the mix too….the ways in which a programme can be set up are vast.



Jacked man :)




How often you run a workout like this really does depend on lots of factors, such as age, training history, life stresses and diet.


As a general guideline if you are over 30 then once each four or five days or roughly twice per week at the most will work well. Once per week may well suit your lifestyle and recovery abilities better.


If you are are a young whipper snapper then you may do well on this three days per week for a short period of time…think 4 weeks before needing a break. Having said that…twice per week will also see great gains so if results are slow…drop a session per week.


Alternate between deadlifts and shrugs each workout.




As for what diet you’d need to consume to achieve maximum muscle growth (hypertrophy) in your arms from this will also depend on similar factors mentioned above.

I’d advise you to aim for 2 grams of protein per kilo of body weight and lots of water too…muscles are made up of mostly water and many forget to hydrate enough during a hypertrophy phase.

World deadlifting phenom Konstantin Konstantinovs speaks highly of the importance of hydration for both performance and injury prevention. I’d heed his wisdom as he deadlifts 400kg+ with no equipment assistance and that is Herculean!


The need to consume plenty of colourful vegetables is known by all and should not need expanding on…eat your greens…and reds….

Avoid sugary sweets and refined processed food stuffs to help you get that lean look and reveal your hard earned muscle.




As this workout consists of pretty low repetition work it may be beneficial to add in a higher repetition full body finishing move to generate metabolic stress. This will increase growth hormone production which is known to be a potent fat burner.


Perhaps try adding in 30 burpess or maybe even a some kettlebell work…think 20-30 snatches per side.

Now stretch. Always stretch.


Never let age be an excuse that stops you training hard for a goal. Now get to it.


  1. OK this is highly hard for me to understand. He looked crazy good in the gunman. Is he only doing 3 sets of heavy weight with 5 reps? What type of diet? Also hid shoulders were small while lats were huge. Can someone clear this up for s 56 year old male. He had no body fat, big arms?? Thanks

  2. Thanks for info im going to try my best im 54yrs 6’1 203lbs lets do this lol ?

  3. Author

    Never too old my friend! Work hard: effort is the key ingredient: well that and plenty of quality sleep and food!

  4. Author

    A handful of heavy sets with a few lighter sets is always a great place to work from: big basics and high effort mixed with good sleep and food will always work within the limits of your genetics….remember that diet allows the training effort to be realised. Diet is the route to low body fat.

  5. “I’d advise you to aim for 2 grams of protein per kilo of body weight ”

    Although many, especially bodybuilders etc, tend to go for that, it is actually a Scientific Waste, and has been known since the 70’s, that your body cannot use more than a max of .64 Grams per Pound, so anything above 1.28 Grams per Kilo, is simply wasted Protein…

    Good article though :)

  6. Author

    You’re close indeed but recent research has shown the ceiling in most cases is actually 1.6g per kg p/day. The reason I advise a slightly higher amount is that in my experiences, people tend to achieve a little below target, no matter the target. I say someone should get 100g per day…they inevitably get 80g…if I say 120g…they get 100g…weird how that works out but it does! Plus if someone is going to overeat any nutrient…I’d rather it were protein.

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