Arnold’s Classic Shoulder and Arm Workout



This is one of the reasons why “Oak Tree” stands out among its peers. Where others would call it quits, Arnold took pleasure in his pain. While that kind of bulk won’t last long-term, it can certainly flip on your personal anabolic switch and help you tune into your ideal physique —as long as you can learn to love a bone-crushing delt-and-arms workout.

Arnold’s Shoulder Workout

Arnold trains his shoulders with the same high-volume approach he does with other body parts, making sure each deltoid head is targeted from a different angle. Since the multi-joint press on the front of the neck recruits the anterior (anterior) joints to a greater extent than the press on the back of the neck , he typically incorporates both into his shoulder workouts for maximum development.

“There is no one exercise that addresses all three areas of the deltoid,” Arnold once said. “So when you plan your shoulder routine, you have to include the right variety of movements so that you get the full shoulder development.

His all-out approach occasionally meant he did 50 or more sets in one workout! Remember, too, that Arnold trained his shoulders with his arms at least twice a week—the volume and frequency of this impossibly challenging combination helped set up what was then the greatest attempt the world had ever seen.

Here are some basic principles Arnold followed when training his shoulders:

  • Arnold was heavy on presses and upright rows, especially early in his workouts when his energy levels were at their highest. Multi-joint exercises like these are some of the best mass builders because they engage the greatest degree of musculature in the deltoid area.
  • He looks for alternative exercises that work on the target area from a different angle. For example, when using dumbbells an overhead press, he lowers the weights a few inches below the bottom of the barbell’s motion and places them on top to lengthen the range of motion.
  • His focus on introducing change into his training has helped popularize Arnold’s news. The Arnold press is an overhead press that begins with your hands facing the body in a bottom position. When you lift a weight, you rotate your wrists, a motion that emphasizes the front depression more than the standard overhead dumbbell press.
  • Arnold uses single-joint motion to complement the overhead press and isolate each deleter head. Here, too, he looks for subtle differences to build better overall dimensions. For example, the lateral lift of the cables in front of the car doesn’t feel the same as when the cables run behind you.
  • For upper traps, Arnold includes a number of moves, including barbell cleans, upright rows, and shoulder shrugs. He likes to shrug to build meaty upper traps but is keen to save weight so he can get a full shrug as high as possible.
  • Arnold’s basic approach followed a pyramid format: He would increase the weight in successive sets to reduce the number of repetitions. He still kept the weights within the classic muscle-building rep range, rarely fewer than eight.

Arnold’s Arm Workout

Arnold’s gun was his calling card, and his mental image of the bicep as the mountain reflected his otherworldly approach. Arnold often does as many as 20 sets for the biceps, split evenly between the mass builders and those he does for definition.

He usually replaces biceps and triceps exercises, which help flush his arms with blood. Combined with his high-volume approach, his shirtsleeve busting routine consists of trying to isolate the three triceps heads, which he does by manipulating arm position.

Here are some of Arnold’s best arm training tips, culled from the many articles and interviews he’s written over the years.

  • Arnold lists standing barbell curls as a top-quality builder, but often also does incline bench dumbbell curls, which place more emphasis on the long heads. For Arnold, mass-building movements meant three things: he could push heavy weights; he would make sure the movement went from full extension to full contraction;
  • Definition-building exercises, on the other hand, are done with lighter weights for sets of 8-12 reps. The focus here is on squeezing and contracting the muscles and maintaining the peak contraction for an extended period of time. Focused curls, missionary curls , and alternating dumbbell curls are his favorites.
  • While “Oak” made his curls fail, he didn’t stop there. Once he reaches a sticking point, he uses enough momentum to keep the set going. Such cheating curls allow him to complete an extra few reps.
  • Arnold’s approach to the triceps was a bit different. Because his chest has always been a strength, his triceps are already in prime position. He often allows his rep range to drift to 20 reps per set in an effort to overpump the muscle compared to the biceps.
  • For the triceps, Arnold’s choice of advanced technology was partial reps. For example, after completing a set of full-range push-ups, he would extend 5-6 sets in the upper or lower half of the exercise.
  • Arnold often displaces biceps and triceps exercises, which means a lot of blood floods the muscles . The blood carries the oxygen and nutrients vital to growth, allowing him to achieve his ultimate training goal: the pump. No doubt you’ve heard of Arnold’s insatiable thirst for a good training pump.


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