Arnold’s Championship Workouts – Chest and Back

In this final installment of Arnold’s championship routines, I saved the best for last.  Always known for the all or nothing attitude, Arnold’s chest and back workout was one for only the strongest willed.  The Gold’s Gym in Venice was rumored to even have an oxygen tank handy for pre contest workouts like this routine.  This workout was one that he completed in under an hour and never stopped for rest.

Arnold was a pump maniac and this routine would engorge his chest and back to epic proportions; at his peak, Schwarzenegger’s chest measurement was 58″!  Another advantage to this push-pull style training is that while you work one muscle group, the opposing is resting and stretching as well.  You can superset both muscle groups and still have enough power to still lift heavier weight.

Here’s the routine:


  • Barbell Bench Press                        5 sets x 10, 8, 8, 6, 4
  • Wide Grip Chin Ups                         5 sets x 10 reps
  • Incline Barbell Press                        5 sets x 10, 8, 8, 6, 4
  • T-Bar Rows                                     5 sets x 15, 10, 8, 8, 8
  • Dumbbell Flyes                                5 sets x 10, 8, 8, 6, 4
  • Barbell Rows                                   5 sets x 10 reps
  • Dips                                               5 sets x 15, 10, 8, 8, 8
  • Close Grip Chin Ups                        5 sets x 10 reps
  • Stiff Arm Pull Over                           5 sets x 15 reps

If you have ever tried to even attempt this, you would know that by the second exercise, there would be so much lactic acid, it would kill a horse.  Every possible aspect of the chest and back is covered here in this routine (minus lower back).  Arnold did not just throw these movements together; these were planned and placed in order of his needs and how he saw fit.  Again, this is an extremely tough routine to try and conquer.  To complete this whole thing, let alone with no rest is godly, so I would recommend shaving a few sets off and maybe take one superset out to avoid overtraining.

The last movement is great for this type of workout because his really hits both upper pecs and serratus.  This bring the latissimus dorsi together with everything nicely.  As mentioned above, even experience body builders have a hard time with this, use caution and adjust this to your experience level.