Chest and Back Workout – Get Ready For Gains

chest and back workout

The Best Chest And Back Workout Of The Legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger

It has been more than three decades since Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the most prominent figures in active bodybuilding, but to this day, many young bodybuilders see Arnold as their source of inspiration.

Despite the black and white images that have vanished on the walls of California gyms, the training philosophies that built the greatest bodybuilder of all time are still alive.

Arnold gave special attention to the training of two crucial muscle groups: the chest and the back. These are antagonistic muscle groups; while one contracts, the other stretches.

Although both are very large muscle groups, Arnold followed a high frequency approach with a large volume of training, exercising them three times a week. Well, take this information in the right context, because Arnold Schwarzenegger, apart from being a gifted physicist, had the help of anabolics that helped him recover more quickly.

The Pectorals

Arnold’s pecs were truly impressive, even when he was a teenager. It was always one of his strong body parts. Arnold prioritized chest training; He trained them hard when fatigue levels were low so he could train at maximum intensity.

Here are some of Arnold’s best chest training tips collected from the many articles he wrote and interviews he gave in recent years.

Arnold competed as a weightlifter early in his career, so the development of his big chest began with strength training. The best Arnold records in the bench press include a repetition with 210 kilos.

Arnold was a true believer in the concept of progressive overload, which was essential for the construction of his pectorals. He firmly believed that the size of his muscles grew as he increased, over time, the weight used.

Arnold included basic multi-joint movements in his back and chest workout that attacked the pectorals from all angles. He struck every part of the body with high volume and frequency of work.

His back and chest routine consisted, in low season, of up to 26 work sets on a high volume day, training them 3 times a week. That kind of volume and the right frequency, transformed Arnold Schwarzenegger into the beast he became.

But, in spite of this, Arnold worked a cycle with a light day and another heavy one for both the work of the muscles with different relative intensities and thus avoiding the overtraining of his pecs.

In addition, he recommended we familiarize ourselves with the various basic movements, to assess our weaknesses and try variations of basic exercises that could best help us.

Not everyone responds well to the bench press. It is necessary to determine for yourself what are the best exercises for the body. You should know the advantages of dumbbell and barbell training and know which exercises give you the best results.

Arnold commonly started with 1-2 warm-up sets and then increased the weight (pyramiding), while decreasing the repetitions performed. Still, he trained with a fairly low range of repetitions, often starting at 12 and finishing with six.

Let’s Talk About Lats

It would be a mistake to think that the back consists of only one muscle. It is a group that includes the middle and lower trapeziums, the rhomboids, the upper and lower part of the latissimus dorsi, the erectors (lower back) and the posterior deltoids.

When he began competing at the elite level, Arnold’s back was not as imposing as his chest or mammoth arms. Through the use of basic, multi-joint movements to lock all areas of the back, he managed to find a solution to the issue.

Arnold usually divided the routine into two different types of movements: pullups and pulls for width, and rows for the total thickness of the back. The pulls and pull-ups help to build a V-shaped back, while the rows are more oriented to work the middle musculature of the back.

One technique recommended by Arnold was to work until he got 50, instead of marking them in series. Imagine, that in the first set you can do 10 repetitions. Maybe in the second you can get 8 repetitions, that would make a total of 18 repetitions. If you do 5 later, you have 23, so you must continue in this way until you reach 50, although you may need 20 sets to get it.

Another important factor is that as you notice gains in strength, you must always increase the weight. After having mastered 10-12 repetitions it is time to increase the weight or increase the number of repetitions. This causes muscle growth to be maximized significantly.

Between sets, Arnold stretched his lats, either hanging from a bar or clinging to a stable object. Stretching helps maintain flexibility in the joint. Besides, it improves the health of the joints avoiding possible injuries.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Chest and Back Workout

Now that the basic principles on which this back and chest routine is based have been explained, let’s break down the exercises that should be carried out for each specific training day.


2 × 15 Bench Press (Warm-Up)
5 × 12/10/8/6/4 Incline Bench Press With Bar
5 × 12/10/8/6/4 Incline Bench Press With Dumbbells
4 × 12/10/8/6 Dumbbell Chest Flyes
4 × 15 Dumbbell Pullovers


5 × 15/12/10/8/8 Pull Ups Behind The Neck
4 × 12/10/8/8 Chin Ups
4 × 15/12/8/6 T-Bar Rows
4 × 12/10/8/8 Dumbbell Rows
4 × 12/12/10/10 Seated Rows

That’s all you need to focus on to get awesome results with this chest and back workout routine. Stay consistent and you’ll reap the rewards of all your efforts in a relatively short time.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here