In his prime Arnold Schwarzenegger was one well built dude. His huge arms, chest, and shoulders helped him dominate the bodybuilding circuit in his era, and with good reason. Today we are going to focus on his chest which was literally like two massive slabs of meat slapped over a rib-cage.
How did he get such a massive set of pecs? Lots of hard work and effort! The workout itself is fairly basic in the exercises used but Arnold was well known for adding quite a few different tricks to make everything a bit harder. His techniques are still very useful today to help craft a massive chest.
The Classic Arnold Chest Routine
Now in all honesty back in his day most bodybuilders did a double split routine working out in the morning and at night. A lot of them also used steroids. From that perspective looking at the number of sets being done here might be a bit daunting because a natural lifter will have a hard time recovering from this routine. But you can just cut back on a few of the work sets or use the numbers we include in the parenthesis after the original sets Arnold used to do to ensure you aren’t overtraining yourself.
Flat Bench Press – 1 set of 30 to 45 reps – This was a single light warm-up set he did which also loaded the area with blood. Ideally this is a really good idea to not only get the joints and tendons ready but also stress endurance fibers.
Bench Press – 5 sets of 20 to 6 reps – He would pyramid his set down using 20, 15, 12, 8, and 6 reps. The goal was to go with the heaviest weight possible for each rep range. This also works both strength and endurance.
Incline Barbell Press – 5 (2) sets of 10 to 15 reps – He would crank out 5 sets of heavy presses to failure in this rep range.
Flat-Bench Dumbbell Flyes – 5 (2) sets of 10 to 15 reps – Arnold worked for a maximum stretch to really tear those fibers after all those pressing motions. He also used to twist the pinkies in at the end of the movement to touch the dumbbells and help with a peak contraction on the inner part of the chest.
Weighted Dips – 5 (2) sets of 15 reps – The big finish involved heavy weighted dips to work the outer and lower portion of the chest. This also served as a great way to stretch the pectorals and the rib cage at the end of a session.
On top of all that Arnold routinely did things like forced reps and drop sets as well as plenty of posing which was a form of iso-tension. This workout is brutal enough with so many heavy work sets that most people wouldn’t need to add anything else to it right away because you muscles will take a good beating from the outset.