The Signature Moves: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Favorite Exercises for Mass

The Signature Moves: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Favorite Exercises for Mass

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s physique was a masterpiece of mass and symmetry, sculpted through a series of signature exercises that became the cornerstone of his bodybuilding routine. This article delves into Arnold’s favorite mass-building exercises, provides tips on execution and form, and discusses integrating these movements into your workout regimen.

Arnold’s Favorite Mass-Building Exercises

1. The Squat: Known as the “king of all exercises,” the squat was fundamental for Arnold’s leg development. It builds the quadriceps and engages the entire lower body and core.

2. The Deadlift: Arnold relied on the deadlift for overall body strength and mass, mainly targeting the back, glutes, and hamstrings.

3. The Bench Press: For chest mass, the bench press was a staple in Arnold’s routine, working the pectorals, triceps, and deltoids.

4. The Barbell Curl: To build his famous biceps, Arnold frequently performed barbell curls, a powerful exercise for arm mass.

5. The Bent-Over Row: This exercise was vital for developing a broad, thick back. Arnold’s technique was precise, focusing on the lats and upper back muscles.

Tips on Execution and Form


  • Keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Maintain a straight back as you descend.
  • Go down to at least parallel to the ground.
  • Drive through your heels to return to the starting position.


  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Grip the bar outside your knees.
  • Keep your back flat and chest up as you lift.
  • Drive through the heels, keeping the bar close to your body.

Bench Press:

  • Lie back on a flat bench.
  • Grip the bar slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  • Lower the bar to mid-chest.
  • Press up, extending your arms fully at the top.

Barbell Curl:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your elbows close to your torso.
  • Curl the weight while keeping your upper arms stationary.
  • Squeeze the biceps at the top and lower under control.

Bent-Over Row:

  • Bend your knees slightly and hinge at the hips.
  • Keep your back straight as you lift the barbell.
  • Bring the barbell towards your lower rib cage.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top.

How to Incorporate These into Your Routine

To incorporate Arnold’s favorite exercises into your routine, consider the following:

Frequency: As a beginner, start with these exercises once a week. As you become more advanced, you might train each muscle group twice weekly.

Volume and Intensity: Begin with a moderate number of sets and reps (e.g., 3 sets of 8-12 reps) and gradually increase the volume and intensity as you become more comfortable with the movements.

Progressive Overload: Aim to increase your weight over time while maintaining proper form. This progressive overload is crucial for continued muscle growth.

Rest and Recovery: Allow sufficient time for recovery between workouts targeting the same muscle group. Adequate rest is as vital as the workout itself for muscle growth.

Variety: While these exercises are fundamental, vary your routine occasionally to target the muscles from different angles and to prevent plateaus.


Arnold Schwarzenegger’s approach to bodybuilding was both scientific and artistic, focusing on exercises that offered the most significant mass-building potential. By incorporating these signature moves into your routine and executing them properly, you can build a solid foundation for a physique that would make Arnold proud. Remember, as Arnold said, “The worst thing I can be is the same as everybody else. I hate that.” Stand out with your commitment to these classic exercises and carve your path to mass and distinction.

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