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Arnold Schwarzenegger Arm Workout – The Full Routine

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One of the biggest reasons as to why Arnold Schwarzenegger won 7 Mr Olympia titles was due to his unreal 22 inch arms that peaked like a mountain. In his prime many still agree that Arnold had the most impressive arms ever out of any professional bodybuilder, especially when it came to his biceps. Until this day many would like to know just exactly what he did to build such impressive arms and if they could use these techniques to achieve similar results ? Well, unless you was born with superior genetics like Arnold (don’t forget he was also using steroids) it would simply be impossible to achieve the same results as him, but by using his techniques and following his exact arm workout you can definitely spur some new growth within your own arms.

Arnold training biceps

Arnold’s Top Three Techniques

Think Of Your Biceps As Mountains, Not Muscles

“Thinking of my biceps as mountains made my arms grow faster and bigger than if I’d seen them only as muscles.”. Arnold believed that when you think of your biceps as just muscles your mind subconsciously puts a limit to how big they can grow, so instead when you think of them as mountains there is no mental limit to the growth you can achieve !

Shock Your Muscles !

The way Arnold trained his arms change many times because he always believed that “Your muscles tend to become complacent and resist growth if you are constantly doing the same workout for them, but if you try all different types of training methods, exercises, weights, set-rep combinations and training tempos, you keep the muscles off balance. They sort of say to themselves, ‘Wow, there’s a new thing here. He just did 10 sets of 20 reps and the next workout he’ll do 20 sets of five reps. I’ll never get used to this. I can never build up a resistance to the training, so I guess I’ll have to grow !'”.

Flex Your Arms Every Day

No one is born with massive arms, not even Arnold. Otherwise known as the mind to muscle connection Arnold began building it years before he even started to lift weights by flexing his arms everyday since the age of 10. When he started bodybuilding at age 15 he learned to control his arms more completely because he flexed them so much.

young arnold

Arnold’s Full Arm Workout

Arnold had two different arm routines; one for offseason (when he bulked up) that was done 2 times a week and one for pre contest that was done 3 times a week. His offseason routine was designed to build some serious mass while his pre contest routine focused on carving out every detail into his muscles.

The Offseason Routine

Cheating Barbell Curl

Before doing this exercise make sure you use a heavier weight than normal by adding an extra 5-8 kg to the barbell. Begin this movement with a shoulder width grip and the barbell at your thighs, now for each rep nudge it into motion with a slight push from your thighs until you reach full bicep flexion. Once at the top of the contraction, slowly lower the bar back down to your thighs.

standing barbell curl

5-8 Sets Of 8-12 Reps

1 Minute 30 Second Rest Inbetween Each Set

Arnold knew the importance of doing an exercise with perfect form, but by using more weight and a little bit of body movement to get the weight up he believed the cheating barbell curls would build more muscle mass than using a lighter weight with perfect form.

Seated Incline Dumbbell Curl

Grab a pair of dumbbells and retract your shoulder blades just before you lie down on the 45 degree incline bench. Now let your arms hang as far back as possible then lift both dumbbells up simultaneously and ensure you twist at the top. Doing this exercise allows your bicep to remain under tension for the whole movement upwards and it also allows for a much longer range of motion compared to normal seated dumbbell curls.

seated incline dumbbell curl

5-8 Sets Of 8-12 Reps

1 Minute 30 Second Rest Inbetween Each Set

One Arm Concentration Dumbbell Curl

This exercise is normally done sitting on a bench, but Arnold liked to do it in a standing bent over position using his other free arm for support. So start in a bent over position and rest your elbow on the inside of your thigh, now grab your dumbbell and curl it all the way up to your shoulder in a slow/controlled motion. Remember to use your other arm for balance and support.

one arm concentration dumbbell curl

5 Sets Of 10 Reps

1 Minute 30 Second Rest Inbetween Each Set

Standing Alternate Dumbbell Curls

Pick up both dumbbells, keep your head straight and maintain a neutral spine. Always hold your elbows in front of your hips then lift up each dumbbell one arm at a time while twisting the hand as your curl upwards as though your trying to touch the outer head of your bicep with your pinkie finger.

standing alternate dumbbell curls

5 Sets Of 10 Reps

1 Minute 30 Second Rest Inbetween Each Set

The Pre Contest Routine

Three months before any contest Arnold would switch to this arm routine because now his goal is to chisel and cut his arms instead of building more mass. This meant less sets and little to no rest between each superset to achieve a maximum pump for every arm workout.

Exercise Sets Reps
Superset 1
Incline Dumbbell Curl 4
Triceps Pushdown 4 8-10
Superset 2
Standing Alternate Dumbbell Curl 4 8-10
One-Arm Overhead Extension 4 8-10
Superset 3
Preacher Curl 4 8-10
Lying French Press 4 8-10
Superset 4
Concentration Curl 4 8-10
Reverse Triceps Push-up 4 8-10
Superset 5
Reverse Preacher Curl 4 10-12
Barbell Wrist Curl 4 10-12

To sum up Arnold’s arm routine especially his pre contest one is way too intense and overtaxing for even the most advanced lifters. You can feel free to try it out if you want, but doing so will greatly increase your chances of overtraining, injury and chronic fatigue. To make Arnold’s routine more suitable for you I would recommend that you reduce the amount of sets to a maximum of 16-18 for each muscle group (for beginners 12-15 sets is more than enough) and to only do it once a week.

That was Arnold’s full bicep/arm workout and as long as you follow his techniques you will achieve more growth in your arms than ever before ! As always, if you have anymore questions about this topic please feel free to leave a comment down below.

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