The Arnold Schwarzenegger
Workout Routine:
Building A Bodybuilder

When I first began exercising as a teen, the Arnold Schwarzenegger workout routine for building a solid foundation of muscle mass found in The Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding by Arnold is what I did. When I was young this routine worked, because I could recover much faster and I ate like an animal. If I wanted to gain massive amounts of muscle in the least amount of time, I would cut out about half of the exercises to maximize recovery and muscular growth.

Keep in mind that Arnold was genetically gifted, and really did nothing else except train. This is what they did back in the old days of bodybuilding.


As well, those old guys were obviously using steroids and could train longer, harder and recover faster as a result. Granted they didn't do nearly as many as today's top level bodybuilders, but they definitely did their share.

A natural bodybuilder is gonna want to do about half of what Arnold did to get great results.

Arnold at 19, was huge, weighing in at 240lbs of raw muscle mass using the training program I’ll be outlining here.

The Basic Training Program

The basic Arnold Schwarzenegger workout routine is about adding genuine muscle weight, not bulky fat. It’s about laying the foundation for a quality physique. The initial time it takes to develop this foundation can take 2, 3, or even up to 5 years depending on your genetics, body type, nutrition and the effort you put into your training.

If you work your muscles hard, with proper technique and enough recovery time, the more you will grow. The problem is that you it’s very hard to sufficiently train the entire body in one workout. This is why the split training system was developed and used by so many bodybuilders.

By splitting the training load for your body over 2 or 3 days, you can sufficiently train each muscle with enough intensity to stimulate growth. This Arnold Schwarzenegger workout routine consists of a lot of basic compound exercises. This is what builds the most mass, period!

2 Day Split Program

This program will split the body parts trained over 2 training days. You will be training 6 days per week. Even though this split is over two days, if you want to try it, you would be better served by splitting it up into a 3 or 4 day split, otherwise you're likely to over-train and not be able to recover. Arnolds massive growth off this routine is a testament to his genetics, among other things.


Arnold Schwarzenegger Workout Routine


DAY 1: Monday/Wednesday/Friday

  • Bench Press (Chest)
  • Incline Bench Press (Chest)
  • Pullovers (Chest)
  • Chin-ups (Back)
    ***Do as many reps as you can until you reach a total of 50 reps.
  • Bent Over Row (Back)
  • Deadlifts (Back)
    ***3 sets of 10, 6, 4 reps to failure.
  • Squats (Thighs)
  • Lunges (Thighs)
  • Leg Curls (Thighs)
  • Standing Calf Raise (Calves)
  • Leg Raises (Abdominals)
    ***5 sets of 25 reps each.

    DAY 2: Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday

  • Barbell Clean and Press or Barbell Front Press (Shoulders)
  • Side Laterals (Shoulders)
  • Upright Rows (Shoulders)
    ***3 sets of 10, 6, 4 reps to failure.
  • Straight Leg Deadlift (Lower Back)
  • Good Mornings (Lower Back)
    ***3 sets of 10, 8, 6 reps to failure.
  • Barbell Curls (Biceps)
  • Dumbbell Curls (Biceps)
  • Narrow Grip Bench Press (Triceps)
  • Standing French Press (Triceps)
  • Wrist Curls (Forearms)
  • Reverse Wrist Curls (Forearms)
  • Incline Sit-ups (Abdominals)
    ***5 sets of 25 reps each.


    Arnold says…

    Sets and Reps: Do 5 sets of 8-12 repetitions per exercise unless otherwise specified.

    It’s hard to know what Arnold is referring to above, but it's in The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding : The Bible of Bodybuilding and should be followed as best you can.

    I interpret Arnolds Sets and Reps schedule as follows:

    Set 1: Use approximately 60% of work set weight for 10-12 reps.
    Set 2: Use approximately 70% of work set weight for 6-8 reps.
    Set 3: Use approximately 85% of work set weight for 3-4 reps.
    Set 4: Work set weight for 8-12 reps.
    Set 5: Work set weight for 8-12 reps.
    Set 6: Work set weight for 8-12 reps.
    Set 7: Work set weight for 8-12 reps.
    Set 8: Work set weight for 8-12 reps.

    Work Set Weight: The weight used in an exercise where you do as many reps as you can until you can’t do any more. This is called going to failure. Once you can perform 12 reps or more, add more weight to overload the muscle in order to increase intensity and get stronger.

    *For the work set of this Arnold Schwarzenegger Workout Routine, try to choose a weight that you can get 8 reps with. Once you can get 12 reps, add more to the weight next time you train. Even if you can get 12 reps, that doesn't mean you stop there if you can do more. Every work set is done to failure and if you have a partner to spot you, do a few more forced reps.

    *Even though you can do a lot more reps with Set 1, 2 and 3, DON'T! They are warmup sets, used to get your muscles and ligaments warmed up and ready for the growing set, the work set. Also, do not do lighter sets after the work set. Your body usually remembers the last set it did for that muscle. You want it to remember the hardest set, so that it knows to grow to accommodate that weight. One work set is all, then move on to the next exercise.

    *Rest time: Should be just enough time between your sets for your breath to almost return to normal. Approximately 1-2 minutes.

    *Breathing: Breath in as you lower the weights (the easiest part of the exercise), and breath out as you raise the weights (the hardest part of the exercise).

    Final Thoughts

    The Arnold Schwarzenegger workout routine is an old school bodybuilding training program. It worked for Arnold, however if you are going to try it, unless you're genetically gifted and can recover super fast, you would be better served by doing much fewer exercises.

    If you want a muscle building program that lays out for you a complete, step by step, nutrition, supplement, workout and motivational plan, then you owe it to yourself to click the link below:


    The Ultimate

    Bodybuilding Workout


    This is no cut and paste, slapped together bodybuilding program. I created it to build muscle the most efficient and effective way possible. To build the most muscle in the least amount of time, that’s what I’m talking about.

    *If you have any questions about this workout routine, please feel free to contact me and I'll be glad to answer your questions.

    “Get brutal to be brutal!”

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