Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Bodybuilding Routine From The ’70s is More Than Intense

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The secret behind Arnold Schwarzenegger’s swollen muscles? Exceptional genes, stubborn determination, and good-old-fashioned hard work. (Oh, and the occasional performance-enhancing drug, but those were legal at the time). Because Arnold was determined to better than everyone else, the professional bodybuilder knew he had to work harder than everyone else. Legend has it that when the Austrian Oak worked out, the sight was so impressive that it’d have drawn a crowd of gaping Gold’s Gym members by the end of the warmup.

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Arnold was a winner of seven Mr. Olympia titles. To prepare for the word-famous bodybuilding competition, the Austria native would swill protein shakes while training six days a week: twice daily on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and once daily on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

As you might have guessed, Arnold’s training routine was pretty intense. The legendary lifter followed a high-volume training program, working out for hours with a seemingly infinite number of reps. The bodybuilder revealed his diet plan and workout program in the book, “The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding”, as well as a 1991 issue of Muscle Magazine. His full-body workout routines were comprised of supersets targeting opposing muscle groups. The routines included a variety of muscle-building exercises, incorporating a blend of body weight and free weight-training moves categorized by body part.

So, without further ado, here is the workout Arnold used to bulk up, build muscle, and ultimately win seven Mr. Olympia competitions:

Arnold Schwarzenegger Workout Plan A: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday

Chest (Morning)

Bench press (with a shoulder-width grip): 5 sets, 6 to 10 reps

Flat bench flies: 5 sets, 6 to 10 reps

Incline bench press (using a Universal Machine): 6 sets, 6-10 reps

Cable crossovers: 6 sets, 10 to 12 reps

Dips: 5 sets until tired

Dumbbell pullovers: 5 sets, 10 to 12 reps

Upper & Lower Back (Morning)

Front wide-grip chin-ups: 6 sets until tired

T-bar rows: 5 sets, 6 to 10 reps

Seated pulley rows: 6 sets, 6 to 10 reps

One-arm dumbbell rows: 5 sets, 6 to 10 reps

Straight-leg deadlifts: 6 sets, 15 reps

Legs (Morning)

Squats: 6 sets, 8 to 12 reps

Leg presses: 6 sets, 8 to 12 reps

Leg extensions: 6 sets, 12 to 15 reps

Leg curls: 6 sets, 10 to 12 reps

Barbell lunges: 5 sets, 15 reps

Calves (Afternoon)

Standing calf raises  to 10 sets, 10 reps

Seated calf raises: 8 sets, 15 reps

One-legged calf raises (holding dumbbells): 6 sets,12 reps

Forearms (Afternoon)

Wrist curls (forearms on knees): 4 sets, 10 reps

Reverse barbell curls: 4 sets, 8 reps

Wright roller machine: until tired

Abs (Afternoon)

Leg Raises: 5 sets, 25 reps

Arnold Schwarzenegger Workout Plan B: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday


Barbell curls: 6 sets, 6 to 10 reps

Seated dumbbell curls: 6 sets, 6 to 10 reps

Dumbbell concentration curls: 6 sets, 6 to 10 reps


Close-grip bench presses (for all three heads): 6 sets, 6 to 10 reps

Tricep press-downs (exterior head): 6 sets, 6 to 10 reps

Barbell French presses (interior head): 6 sets, 6 to 10 reps

One-arm dumbbell triceps extensions (exterior head): 6 sets, 6 to 10 reps


Seated barbell presses: 6 sets, 6 to 10 reps

Lateral raises (standing): 6 sets, 6 to 10 reps

Rear-delt lateral raises: 5 sets, 6 to 10 reps

Cable lateral raises: 5 sets, 10 to 12 reps

Calves and Forearms

The same as Workout A


Incline sit-ups, 5 sets of 25 reps each

Watch: Meet Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Love Child: Joseph Baena

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