Arnold Schwarzenegger Volume Workout Routines

Steve Shaw
Written By: Steve Shaw
January 12th, 2020
Updated: March 24th, 2021
Categories: Workouts Celebrity
6.4M Reads
Arnold Schwarzenegger bench press
Train insane like the one and only 7 time Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold's muscle building workouts feature an intense high volume and frequency approach to training.
Workout Summary
  • Main Goal
    Build Muscle
  • Workout Type
  • Training Level
  • Program Duration16 weeks
  • Days Per Week
  • Time Per Workout60-75 minutes
  • Equipment Required
    Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, EZ Bar
  • Target Gender Male
  • Recommended Supps
  • Workout PDF Download Workout

Workout Description

The following are two typical workouts and split structures used by 7 time Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger. They features a high frequency and high volume approach, training each major muscle group 2-3 times per week.

Arnold's Stats

  • 7 time Mr. Olympia - 1970-75, 1980
  • Height - 6'2"
  • Weight - 235 lbs
  • Arms - 22 inches (Many sources claim this number to be inflated)
  • Chest - 57 inches
  • Waist - 34 inches
  • Deadlift - 710 pounds
  • Bench Press - 440 pounds
  • Squat - 470 pounds

Recommended: Need help building muscle? Take our Free Muscle Building Course

Arnold's Eating Plan

Arnold backed up this hardcore style of training with plenty of food, and a focus on good nutrition. He structured his eating plan using the following principles:

  • Frequent Feeding - 5-6 feedings per day: 3 whole food meals and 2-3 whole food "snacks".
  • Calories - Up to 5,000 calories per day.
  • Protein Intake - 300 plus grams of protein.
  • Post-Workout Carbs - Carbs within 30 minutes after finishing a workout.
  • Protein Shakes - Use if needed to get in your daily protein.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Workout Variation #1

Each major bodypart is trained 2 times per week. This Arnold Schwarzenegger workout variation was featured in the book The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Dobbins.

Notes: Attempt to reach failure around 10 reps for your first set of each exercise.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Chest & Back Workout

Exercise Sets Rep Goal
Bench Press 3-4 10
Incline Bench Press 3-4 10
Dumbbell Pullovers 3-4 10
Chin Up 3-4 10
Bent Over Row 3-4 10
Deadlift 3-4 10
Crunches 5 25

Arnold Schwarzenegger Shoulders & Arms Workout

Exercise Sets Rep Goal
Barbell Clean and Press 3-4 10
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3-4 10
Upright Row 3-4 10
Military Press 3-4 10
Standing Barbell Curl 3-4 10
Seated Dumbbell Curl 3-4 10
Close Grip Bench Press 3-4 10
Standing Barbell Tricep Extension 3-4 10
Wrist Curls 3-4 10
Reverse Wrist Curls 3-4 10
Reverse Crunch 5 25

Arnold Schwarzenegger Legs & Lower Back Workout

Exercise Sets Rep Goal
Squat 3-4 10
Lunge 3-4 10
Leg Curl 3-4 10
Stiff Leg Deadlift 3-4 10
Good Mornings 3-4 10
Standing Calf Raise 3-4 10
Crunches 5 25

Arnold Schwarzenegger Workout Variation #2

Each major bodypart is trained 3 times per week. This Arnold Schwarzenegger workout variation is a typical example of his higher frequency workouts.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Chest, Back, & Legs Workout

Exercise Sets Rep Goal
Bench Press 5 6-10
Dumbbell Flye 5 6-10
Incline Bench Press 6 6-10
Cable Crossovers 6 10-12
Dips 5 Failure
Dumbbell Pullover 5 10-12
Wide Grip Pull Up 6 Failure
T Bar Row 5 6-10
Seated Pulley Row 6 6-10
One Arm Dumbbell Row 5 6-10
Stiff Leg Deadlift 6 15
Squat 6 8-12
Leg Press 6 8-12
Leg Extension 6 12-15
Leg Curl 6 10-15
Barbell Lunge 5 15
Standing Calf Raise 10 10
Seated Calf Raise 8 15
One Leg Dumbbell Calf Raise 6 12
Wrist Curl 4 10
Reverse Barbell Curl 4 8
Wrist Roller Machine 4 Failure
Non-Stop Abs Training 30 Minutes By Instinct

Arnold Schwarzenegger Shoulders & Arms Workout

Exercise Sets Rep Goal
Barbell Curl 6 6-10
Seated Dumbbell Curl 6 6-10
Dumbbell Concentration Curl 6 6-10
Close Grip Bench Press 6 6-10
Tricep Pushdown 6 6-10
Barbell French Press 6 6-10
One Arm Dumbbell Tricep Extension 6 6-10
Seated Barbell Press 6 6-10
Lateral Raise 6 6-10
Rear Delt Lateral Raise 5 6-10
Cable Lateral Raise 5 10-12
Standing Calf Raise 10 10
Seated Calf Raise 8 15
One Leg Dumbbell Calf Raise 6 12
Wrist Curl 4 10
Reverse Barbell Curl 4 8
Wrist Roller Machine 4 Failure
Non-Stop Abs Training 30 Minutes By Instinct

FAQs about Arnold’s Workout Routine

Listed below are some of the most common questions asked about the program above. Read through them and see if they address any of the questions you may personally have.

If you don’t see your questions, please feel free to leave us a comment down below and we will do our best to respond. We may even add it to this list if we think others may have a similar question.

1. What Supplements Should I Take?

Supplementation is highly individualized based on the person performing the routine and what their diet looks like – not to mention goals.

For someone who is trying to add lean body mass, adding creatine into your pre or post workout regimen would be beneficial. Simply take it at the same time each day and aim for about 5g daily.

If you struggle to get enough protein in your diet, a protein supplement may also be beneficial. And if you struggle to eat enough calories, adding drinkable calories, such as those in a mass gainer, might also help you accomplish your goals.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you are in a fat loss phase, you may want to add a multi-vitamin and fish oil to your supplementation. As we cut down on our food intake, a lot of times we also cut down on our nutrient intake. A multivitamin can help with this.

Likewise, those on fat loss diet plans may not consume enough fatty fish in their diet. A fish oil supplement may prove to be a beneficial add in this scenario.

2. How Much Cardio Should I Do?

With the amount of activity Arnold’s high volume training style calls for, I wouldn’t recommend any additional cardio. Instead, I’d recommend focusing on getting adequate rest outside of the gym.

If, however, you feel you need to do something, it is recommended that you add in walking as a form of active recovery to help push out some of the lactic acid that will inevitably by chilling in your muscles with this amount of volume.

3. Which Arnold Workout Variation Would Yield Better Results?

It depends on your goal. I’d recommend performing the first variation over the second for most people simply based on the time restraints most have.

Both incorporate a lot of volume which isn’t suitable or necessary for most lifters.

However, it worked for Arnie and if you want to train like the legend, by all means go for it.

4. How Much Sleep and Water is Recommended?

Here’s the difference between Arnold and you. Arnold was a professional bodybuilder. You’re likely not.

At minimum, you should be sleeping 8-10 hours nightly with this routine. Arnold was also likely able to nap between workout sessions during the day, which would be valuable for you as well to optimally recover. But again, you're probably not a professional bodybuilder with the ability to do that.

In terms of water, drink at least half of your body weight in ounces and an additional 20 ounces after your workouts. Once you’ve hit that number in a day, drink based on your thirst.

5. How Would You Warm Up?

Everyone warms up differently. Work out any problem areas you may have with a foam roller and lacrosse ball. Then perform a few dynamic stretches relevant to the muscle groups you are training that day.

If you need help figure out what this might look like, you’ll find this article helpful.

6. Do I have to Work Out Twice a Day?

No. You don’t. Arnold did, but you certainly don’t have to.

In fact, depending on certain factors, you might have better results from training once daily. That’s why I suggested the first variation for most people in a previous answer.

7. Won’t This Workout Cause Overtraining?

It certainly could. Or, depending on your age, diet, and lifestyle, it may not.

I said it before, and I will say it again. This was Arnold’s style of training. He was one of the greatest bodybuilders of all-time. His genetics were insane.

You probably aren’t a competitive bodybuilder. You may have good genetics, but they’re probably not Arnold level.

Experiment and do what feels right.

8. How Long Should You Rest Between Sets?

I would recommend resting as needed to fully recover from each set during your workouts.

If you want to put a time limit on things, 2 minutes on big lifts, 60-90 seconds on accessory lifts, and 30-45 seconds for isolation lifts should do the trick.

Posted on: Mon, 06/10/2024 - 12:49

Is there a reason why Arnold didn’t focus on his upper back?

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Posted on: Mon, 06/17/2024 - 06:51

Hi Youssef, there are actually several movements like pullups and versions of rows that Arnold used in this workout for the upper back. My guess would be he didn't focus on isolating lats or isolating the teres major or rhomboids. He lifted heavy and tried to make the whole upper back work.

Posted on: Sun, 06/02/2024 - 20:53

I kind of made my own split using these workouts plus one of Arnold’s full body workouts I found. Would this split be appropriate?
Monday: Chest/Back
Tuesday: Shoulders/Arms
Wednesday: Legs
Thursday: Abs/Cardio
Friday: Full body

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Posted on: Mon, 06/10/2024 - 06:40

Hi Leo, love this split. Let us know how it works for you. Thanks for reading M&S!

Alexander Lajer
Posted on: Sat, 04/27/2024 - 14:11

Is variation 1 a good place to start, I've being out of the gym for a number of years?

I've not gone too heavy, interestingly waking up in the middle of the night, not sure if that has anything to do with the workouts

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 04/28/2024 - 19:20

Hi Alexander, thank you for reading M&S!

I think doing Variation 1 would even be jumping into the deep end since you have been out for a while. I suggest doing this first to get your feet wet again, then consider doing Variation 1 of this after six weeks.

Posted on: Wed, 03/13/2024 - 21:32

hello! loving what you guys provide!
what would the macros- fat & carbs grams or % look like for the 5,000 calorie a day?

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Posted on: Sat, 03/23/2024 - 16:56

Hey Steve, thanks for reading M&S! Glad you're enjoying the site.

I don't know if I would personally recommend 5,000 a day, and I've done Arnold's workouts for an extended period of time in the past.

I weighed 250 when I did his workouts, and I found 300 grams of protein, 300 grams of carbs, and 100 grams of fats was plenty. That is 3,300 a day. I split that up over six meals to keep it simple. Not sure what you're doing now, but that may help you.

Posted on: Thu, 02/01/2024 - 02:20

At the top the Notes says “Attempt to reach failure around 10 reps for your first set of each exercise.” Does this mean I should reach failure after 10 reps on my first set and then decrease the amount of reps in the following sets? If I reach failure after 10 in my first set wouldn’t it be difficult to reach 10 reps in my last set? How would you go about this? Thanks

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Posted on: Mon, 02/05/2024 - 17:27

Hi Christian, based on those notes, my understanding is you should attempt to reach ten on all sets but may reach failure before.

The way I would go about it is different - I would start light and gradually increase weight, going to failure on the last set of 10 with the heaviest weight possible. My example would be for bench press.

135 x 10, 185 x 10, 225 x 10, 275 x 10 (this is the failure set).

Hope this helps.

Posted on: Wed, 01/24/2024 - 14:59

Hi, I’ve been running the second half of the workout for 5-6 months but I’m finding I don’t have time for cardio and I’m too fatigued. Would lowering the rep ranges change the results drastically? I’m also running it 3 days a week.

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Posted on: Mon, 01/29/2024 - 19:45

Decreasing the overall volume would be best, Youssef. Do 1-2 less sets of each exercise if you intend on keeping the cardio in the routine.

Posted on: Fri, 11/17/2023 - 10:13

What would a condensed version of this look like i.e 4 day split

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Posted on: Tue, 11/28/2023 - 18:53

It would be a totally different program. We have a lot of 4-day workouts that could help you if you would rather use something with less volume.

Posted on: Fri, 12/08/2023 - 15:34

In arnolds education of a bodybuilder he has a 4 day split
That isn't exactly condensed but still pretty sensible to follow for a good while, Peter khatcherian has a video on youtube laying out the program.

Posted on: Mon, 10/23/2023 - 15:16

Hey thanks for posting this, just finished my first week and it feels awesome. Hope to finish the full 16 weeks and then move on to the second variation.

I do just want to ask, why was the clean and press recommended to isolate the shoulders? I can definitely clean much more than I can press lol but do you think there are more effective exercises to isolate delts? If so then what would you do in place of the clean and press? Thanks!

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Posted on: Mon, 10/23/2023 - 20:03

Hi Randy. Arnold also trained in the Olympic lifts because he used to compete in the Olympic lifts. Even though it's a compound lift, it's as solid of a shoulder builder as you will find. I suggest keeping them in.

Alex Hanma
Posted on: Fri, 10/06/2023 - 03:32

Hey, what workout should I do after finishing this one?

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Posted on: Wed, 10/18/2023 - 11:55

Any of these, based on whatever your next goal is.

Posted on: Mon, 08/14/2023 - 09:28

Should I do a deload during this workout? If so at what week should it be done? I am an experienced 35 year old lifter. Thanks for any help.

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Posted on: Sun, 08/20/2023 - 21:10

I would say do a deload every four weeks. This type of training isn't normal, and the body will need a break.

Posted on: Wed, 08/02/2023 - 14:27

Hi guys, i was wondering if you could transform arnolds workout variation 1 to a dumbell only workout. So to switch up any excercise which doesn´t include a dumbell excercise to a alternative with a dumbell. Thanks for all your good work

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Posted on: Sun, 08/20/2023 - 21:10

It can be done. There are several dumbbell exercises you can use in our Exercises section if you can't simply do the dumbbell version of the barbell exercises here. You may not see the exact same results if you're limited in the weight you can use, but it would work for a short time at least.

Posted on: Mon, 07/17/2023 - 22:49

Hi i was wondering if working out abs everyday would cause some problems, shouldnt the muscles get some rest?

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Posted on: Thu, 07/27/2023 - 07:28

This is an advanced routine, and for most people, it would be too much volume. So for the vast majority of people, yes, it would be too much to do it as Arnold did. If you were to pick one exercise and focus on doing three sets of 10-15 reps, then you'd be ok training abs everyday.

Posted on: Sun, 06/25/2023 - 14:42

How do we perform the Barbell Clean and Press on variation
1 ? Is it like push press where we use our legs a little to push the weight is do we just clean the weight and strictly press it ?

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Posted on: Mon, 06/26/2023 - 11:00

Yes, clean it up from the floor or a hang position and perform a push press to get it up. You don't have to go super strict with it.

Posted on: Thu, 12/14/2023 - 16:16

hey, i don't know if you remember me but in 2021/22 we met on reddit but got out of contact after some time.
I decided to google you a few times, but ur pretty undercover lol, how r u doing?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 12/28/2023 - 20:42

Doing well and hope you are as well. I don't do much on Reddit these days.

Jeferson Moreir...
Posted on: Fri, 06/23/2023 - 11:30

Posso acrescentar um crucifixo no treino de peitoral? E um crucifixo inverso no treino de ombros? Um abraço!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 06/23/2023 - 21:44

Você pode adicionar ambos. Sem problemas. Obrigado por ler M&S!

His question: Can I add a crucifix to my chest workout? What about a reverse fly for shoulder training? A hug!

My answer. You can add both. No problem. Thank you for reading M&S!

Posted on: Sun, 06/18/2023 - 15:50

Can i change barbell bench press and incline to dumbbell bench press on variation 1 ?

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Posted on: Mon, 06/19/2023 - 06:41

You can.

Posted on: Tue, 06/13/2023 - 07:55

How do we progressively overload on this routine ? #variation 1

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Posted on: Thu, 06/15/2023 - 06:19

Increase the weight you use each set until you use the heaviest weight you can with good form on the last set.

Henry Goering
Posted on: Wed, 05/31/2023 - 16:43

Hello, I am currently standing at 6,1 170 lbs i was wondering how much I need to eat in order to build significant muscle so I can start competing. I know for my height it has been hard to maintain a good balance of muscle weight and i feel like i am wasting time in the gym because of my diet. Any suggestions on how I can maximize muscle growth for my height?

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Posted on: Sat, 06/03/2023 - 15:34
Adam Murray
Posted on: Sat, 05/27/2023 - 13:30

Can I do this plan on a cut 2300 calories 103 kg 180g protein

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Posted on: Wed, 05/31/2023 - 08:27

Hi, Adam. I actually suggest going up to 200 grams of protein, so 2400 calories would be better. This is a lot of volume, and your body will need all the protein you can feed it. You might also need carbs for fuel if you find yourself struggling, so don't be afraid to add fruit in before you train. 2,500 calories at the high end should be all you need if you sleep well and make the most out of the time away from the gym.

Posted on: Thu, 05/25/2023 - 13:03

Hi there, is this program suitable for female bodybuilders and also do I have to split up variant 2 between two seperate workouts in that day or can I do just one workout? Time isn't a factor, I'm just worrying about keeping energy and intensity going. Would perhaps eating carbs halfway through the workout help to keep that energy up?

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Posted on: Wed, 05/31/2023 - 08:29

Hi, Valeria. Female bodybuilders can certainly do it, but I do suggest the two separate workouts so you have that break in between for recovery and preparation for round two. EAA's and a carb source such as Vitargo would be a big help. The toll will be as much mental as it is physical. Make sure you lock in before you train because by the end, you're going to be pushing yourself when you might just want to call it a day. Good luck, and thanks for reading M&S!

Posted on: Wed, 05/17/2023 - 10:54

I am starting this workout to tone muscle and turn fat into muscle. I am six foot 4 and 340lbs I don't look overweight but I feel it. should I add more cardio until I start feeling more comfortable? What should my diet be for turning fat into muscle?

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Posted on: Wed, 05/31/2023 - 08:26

Hi, LV! As you progress, then yes, add cardio in slowly by doing it either first thing in the morning, or after training. Within three months, you might be able to do both. As for the diet, protein should be high, healthy fats should be moderate, and don't be scared of carbs. This guide may help you out.

And yes, others that read this, fat doesn't turn into muscle, but I knew what LV meant, so that is why I answered the question the way I did.

Posted on: Thu, 05/11/2023 - 14:01

Can I just stick with variant 1# or do I have to move to 2# when I get more comfortable??

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Posted on: Mon, 05/15/2023 - 15:45

If you want to keep seeing results, then you should bump up to #2 when you feel comfortable. Eventually, you'll get used to #1 and the improvements will come slower, if at all.

Posted on: Wed, 04/12/2023 - 01:08

How long should I really rest between each sets?

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Posted on: Tue, 04/18/2023 - 13:13

Shoot for two minutes.

Joe Corr
Posted on: Sun, 04/02/2023 - 13:59

If you can’t do chin ups at first I recommend high weight lay pull downs or renegade rows great alternatives until you can hit chin ups

Posted on: Wed, 02/22/2023 - 18:07

How long should I do workout variation one before I switch to workout variation 2?

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Posted on: Sun, 02/26/2023 - 21:59

You can either alternate weeks or do one for up to four weeks, then switch to the other.