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Arnold’s 5 Favorite Workouts

Arnold GOAT

Arguably the greatest bodybuilder of all-time, Arnold Schwarzenegger snagged his first of 7 Mr. Olympia titles in 1970. Since then, the “Austrian Oak” has been revolutionizing the bodybuilding and fitness in too many ways to count.

Admired most for his massive chest and golden-age aesthetics, Arnold was a champion both on stage and off as he trained day in, day out at the gym.

Here’s a look at some of the most important exercises Arnold Schwarzenegger included in his training to build and sculpt that 7x Mr. Olympia physique.

Incline Barbell Press

One of the most famous Arnold photos is of him striking a side chest post. He certainly didn’t lack any development in his pecs and even front delt development can be partially attributed to the incline barbell press.

arnold incline

If you’ve tried the incline press, you’ll know right away that it is usually regarded as being more difficult than just the regular flat bench and decline press. Here’s why: you recruit more shoulder muscle when you incline bench press, so you are building more than just your upper chest.

Start by setting up with at least a shoulder-width grip. The wider you go, the less you’ll feel it in your triceps and the more you’ll feel it in your chest and delts.

After getting set up, press the barbell straight up in a steady motion until you are just shy of lockout, then lower the bar back down to your chest, or just shy of it. Whichever you chose, make sure to at least go 90 degrees.

Flat Dumbbell Flys

To sculpt the outer portions of the chest, Arnold would do flat dumbbell flys in a slow and controlled manner. However, unlike other bodybuilders, Arnold drops well below parallel to get a good stretch on the pectorals before exploding back up to the top.


To begin the exercise, start by holding the dumbbells over your chest with your arms extended and a slight bend in the elbow. Bring the dumbbells down to your sides while maintaining a squeeze in your pecs for as long as the movement allows.

Once you have lowered the weight to a point where you can’t maintain a squeeze, bring the dumbbells back up in an arch motion to the top. The movement should look like you are hugging.

Focus on the form, slowly lowering the dumbbells to below parallel and then exploding back to the top as you squeeze your chest. For an added muscle pump, throw in some dropsets – a surefire way to get your chest burning.

Lying Lateral Raises

Lying-Lateral-Raise

Equally as complimentary to his upper body are his delts. His wide shoulders add to the overall V-taper, making his waist look even smaller in comparison to his upper body. Lying lateral raises are an excellent way to grow the lateral head of the shoulder.

To start this exercise, you keep your head up and start with a dumbbell fully lowered to the ground. With a small bend in the elbow, raise the dumbbell up over you and to your side. As you raise the dumbbell to a vertical position, turn your wrist slightly so that your thumb is pointing down to the floor.

Here’s a tip- If you are struggling with this shoulder-building movement, focus on a making a pouring motion with the dumbbell as you raise it to the top of the movement. As you extend your arm up, your wrist should be turning as if to spill contents from a pitcher. At the top of the movement, your “pitcher” should be emptied, aka your thumb should be pointing down.

Front Squats

Arnold-Front-Squat

As if squats weren’t hard enough, Arnold took his leg development even further by throwing in front squats to place more emphasis on his quadriceps.

You’ll quickly realize that the front squat is harder than the back squat, and that is because not only do you have maximal focus placed on the front of your quadriceps, you also have to keep your elbows and arms up to keep the bar rested on your traps.

The best way to perform this is by creating a shelf on your traps by keeping your elbows as horizontal to the floor as possible. As far as grip goes, there are a couple different ways, some including straps, but Arnold simply crossed his arms and rested his hands on the bar to help secure its placement.

Also, we can see that Arnold would utilize a narrow stance with his toes ever so slightly pointed outward. For the best stretch on your quads, try and go slightly below parallel.

Concentration Curls

Arnold’s training technique was to constantly shock his body and muscles. Like all his workouts, he implemented various different exercises to focus on the same muscle group, building the muscles from all different angles.

Arnold championed this exercise to help create his 22” arms and grow the bicep peak.


The concentration curl begins with the dumbbell hanging at dangling position. Try to keepa slight bend to the bicep, even in the starting position, which will keep you from locking out and resting.

The exercise ends when you curl the dumbbell all the way up to the shoulder, while keeping the elbow as stationary as possible.

As the name implies, concentration curls should be done slow and with concentrated form, allowing you to improve your mind-muscle connection.

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