Arnold’s Classic Workouts: Replicating a Champion’s Routine

Arnold’s Classic Workouts: Replicating a Champion’s Routine

In the pantheon of bodybuilding, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s training routines are legendary. His approach to building a muscular and symmetrical physique was rigorous and innovative. This article explains a typical Arnold workout routine, explores vital exercises, and suggests adaptations for different fitness levels.

Breakdown of Arnold’s Typical Workout Routine

Arnold’s training split was as intense as it was effective, often involving two workouts per day, six days a week. Each session focused on two major muscle groups, with a high volume of sets and reps.

Day 1 & 4 – Chest and Back:

  • Bench Press: 5 sets of 6-10 reps
  • Bent-Over Rows: 5 sets of 6-10 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Press: 5 sets of 6-10 reps
  • Chin-Ups: 5 sets to failure
  • Dumbbell Pullovers: 5 sets of 10-15 reps

Day 2 & 5 – Shoulders and Arms:

  • Barbell Clean and Press: 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Dumbbell Lateral Raises: 5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Upright Rows: 5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Standing Barbell Curls: 5 sets of 6-10 reps
  • Close-Grip Bench Press: 5 sets of 6-10 reps

Day 3 & 6 – Legs and Lower Back:

  • Squats: 5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Deadlifts: 5 sets of 6-10 reps
  • Lunges: 5 sets of 8-12 reps per leg
  • Standing Calf Raises: 5 sets of 10-15 reps

Critical Exercises and Their Purposes

Arnold’s routine included compound and isolation exercises designed to target every muscle from various angles.

Bench Press and Squats: These compound movements were the bedrock of his training, promoting overall strength and mass.

Chin-Ups and Bent-Over Rows: These exercises developed a comprehensive and thick back, essential for the V-taper look that Arnold was famous for.

Dumbbell Pullovers: Arnold believed pullovers expanded the rib cage and enhanced the chest’s appearance.

Barbell Curls and Close-Grip Bench Press: To sculpt his arms, Arnold employed these movements for their effectiveness in targeting the biceps and triceps.

How to Adapt His Routines for Different Levels

While Arnold’s routine was designed for advanced bodybuilders, it can be modified for various fitness levels.

Beginners: Start with a reduced volume, focusing on learning the correct form. For example, instead of five sets, perform three sets per exercise.

Intermediate: Increase the volume gradually and introduce more exercises to target muscles from different angles.

Advanced: Follow Arnold’s split closely, but listen to your body’s recovery needs, as overtraining can lead to injury.

General Adaptations: Rest days are as crucial as workout days. Make sure to include adequate rest and focus on nutrition to fuel recovery and muscle growth.


Arnold’s classic workout routine encapsulates the essence of old-school bodybuilding—hard work, dedication, and a relentless pursuit of perfection. By understanding the principles behind his training and adapting them to your level, you, too, can strive towards a physique worthy of a champion. Remember, it’s not just about lifting weights; it’s about lifting them with purpose and intent, just as Arnold did.

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