Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Upper Body Workout

Arnold Schwarzenegger came to America in the late 60’s as a small-town Austrian youngster with great muscles and even greater dreams. And over the course of the following decade he helped develop the public image of bodybuilding from some kind of a freak show to the well-respected sport it is today.

During his heyday, the Austrian Oak was larger than life, winning five Mr. Universe titles and seven Mr. Olympia titles and becoming the most famous bodybuilder of our time.

His powerful appearance and ‘no excuses’ attitude then brought him the chance to pursue a great career in acting as well and soon his name was known all around the globe. But Schwarzenegger didn’t stop there – he got involved into politics and became the governor of California.

In short, his life is pretty much the perfect embodiment of the ‘rags to riches’ story. And regardless of who he eventually became, the gym remained the one true home of the Austrian Oak, for it was the place where he gained his greatest victories.

But what exactly helped him achieve his success, besides the genetic advantages?

It was the unprecedented rigorousness of his self-discipline. In terms of his training, Schwarzenegger had an impeccable work ethic that’s still talked about in bodybuilding circles. Strong-willed and persistent, he devoted himself to becoming the best bodybuilder he could possibly be and spent countless hours pushing himself to his limits and beyond until exploding into the most celebrated competitive bodybuilder of the era.

He started off by following a simple training plan designed by the elder bodybuilders in his first gym, but as he progressed he found out that he has a lot more to learn in order to build a real prize-winning physique.

Discovering the Weider Principles helped him tremendously in adding intensity to his workout. Soon enough, he found his golden method of building lean muscle that involved training twice a day for six days per week and utilizing the power of supersets.

Perhaps the most famous part of Schwarzenegger’s appearance was his mammoth chest. In his training, he paired chest with back in the context of a high-volume, high-frequency approach and made sure to hit these major muscle groups three times per week. So if you’re looking for a way to add some great size to your torso, Schwarzenegger’s chest/back routine is guaranteed to bring you the desired results.

The routine includes nine exercises combined into 45 working sets performed with no rest during the supersets and a minute of rest between supersets and it lasts about 45 minutes. Regardless of your level of experience, get ready for some serious action.

Superset 1: Barbell bench presses and wide-grip behind-the-neck chins

Begin with a warm-up consisting of 30-40 reps on the bench with 135 pounds, then perform 15 chins. Alternate between bench presses and chins during the next five sets while pyramiding up in weight and reducing reps. Schwarzenegger’s typical rep scheme looks like this: 15, 12, 8, 6 for each exercise. After finishing the superset, rest for two to three minutes.

Superset 2: Incline barbell presses and T-bar rows

Again, pyramid the weight and reps, starting with 15 and going down to 10. T-bar rows were among Schwarzenegger’s favorite exercises because of their effectiveness at increasing thickness and width in the lats.

Superset 3: Flat-bench dumbbell flyes and wide-grip barbell rows

When performing dumbbell flyes, Arnold always made sure to bring his elbows as low as possible, while the dumbbells reaching bench level. Then, as he would start bringing them up, he’d stop right when they were about a foot apart in order to accentuate the tension in his pecs. For the barbell rows, he’d stand on a bench and perform all of his reps with perfect form, maintaining his torso nearly parallel to the floor. His emphasis on form was a crucial part of his great results, so you should pick up on that one. Start with sets of 15 reps, then continue with 12, 10, 10 and 10 for each exercise.

Superset 4: Weighted dips and close-grip chins

Strap a relatively heavy dumbbell around your waist and perform 15 reps in each of the five sets of dips, followed by five sets of chins, each consisting of 12 reps.

The finisher: Stiff-arm pullovers

This great exercise will literally force your chest to grow. Aim for five sets with 15 reps each as a killer finish of the workout.

If you don’t feel like you’ve just died and went to hell by the time you’re done with this grueling routine, you’re doing it wrong. Make sure to focus on maintaining proper form on every rep of every exercise and opt for three workouts per week for optimal results.


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