Arnold Schwarzenegger shares his Golden Era chest and back workout and it's insane

It even took Arnie two hours to complete

Arnold Schwarzenegger
(Image credit: Getty)

Here at T3 we love a workout, but especially an Arnold Schwarzenegger workout. We always knew Arnie went in 110% with his training, but it’s easy to underestimate just how hard he worked. Well, now we have proof of just how hard that was as Arnie’s shared his chest and back workout from his ‘Golden Era’. Brace yourself, even Arnie says this is one for the ‘hardcore crew’.

‘Overload’ is definitely the correct term to describe this workout that Arnold shared in his Pump Club Newsletter. It’s packed full of supersets (where you complete an exercise back-to-back with another one) and even some tri-sets (where you complete three exercises back to back). A lot of the exercises are the same as what today’s use today to grow a bigger back and chest, but it’s the sets and reps which are really crazy. Plus, it’s clear that Arnie had a soft spot for the cable machine.

Arnie's chest and back workout

To warm-up, Arnold completed a few sets of classic compound exercise, the deadlift. Then it was straight into three supersets, followed by two tri-sets. Arnold’s rep range is kept between 10 to 15 reps (ideal for muscle growth) as well as his ‘inverted pyramid’ rep style – starting with a high number of reps and slowly decreasing them. 

His chest and back workout consisted of:

Superset 1

  • Wide-grip weighted chin ups (do for 4 sets of 10 reps) 
  • Incline barbell press (do for 4 sets of 15, 12, 8 and 6 reps) 

Superset 2

  • Flat barbell bench press (do 4 sets of 15, 12, 8, and 6 reps)
  • Chinups (4 sets of 15 reps)

Superset 3

  • Dumbbell Flys (do 4 sets of 10 reps)
  • Wide-grip bent-over barbell rows: 4 sets of 12 reps

Tri-set 1

  • Machine pullovers (4 sets of 15 reps)
  • Dips (do 4 sets for as many reps as possible)
  • Cable Flys (4 sets of 12 to 15 reps 13)

Tri-set 2

  • Seated cable rows (do 4 sets of 10 reps)
  • One-arm cable rows (do 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps)
  • Dumbbell pullovers (do 4 sets of 15 reps)

At first glance you may think ‘it doesn’t look too bad’, but a word of warning, Arnold said this workout took him two hours to complete. We also really want to emphasis that if you haven’t worked out in a while, then you should really give this workout a miss, as it’s definitely not beginner-friendly. If you do want to try it though, you’ll need to have a pair of dumbbells and get your hands on an olympic barbell. For something a little more realistic, Arnold’s 15 minute full-body dumbbell workout may be the better option. 

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.