There is no doubt that Arnold Schwarzenegger is the greatest bodybuilder of all time. In his career, he won an astounding 7 Mr. Olympia titles, and even after he stepped away from the spotlight, he continues to be one of the most influential athletes in the fitness world. He has also helped to inspire many people to get in shape themselves.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the most popular, influential, and recognizable people in the world. He’s an actor, businessman, and politician, and has been a box office draw for decades. When he started getting into shape in the early 1980s, he was a massive, bulky, and out-of-shape 265 pound bodybuilder. When he took his first running class in 1985, he wasn’t even that fit to begin with.

The Arnold Schwarzenegger Back Workout! – Revolutionary Program Design

The Arnold Schwarzenegger Back Workout! – Revolutionary Program Design

Arnold Schwarzenegger had a lot of great body parts. He had the best chest in the world and his biceps were huge. In my opinion, though, Arnold’s upper back was just as fantastic as his chest and arms.

All of Arnold’s back muscle groups were fully developed, including the lats, trapezius, rhomboids, teres major and erectors of the spine.

Arnold used his massive back to strike some incredible poses, including his signature bent bicep pose. I can’t think of another bodybuilder who can do this pose like Arnold!

Arnold trained his upper body 2-3 times a week with very intense workouts that included many sets, reps and exercises. Arnold found that his high-volume training program was essential to develop width and thickness in his upper back.

Here is the exact training schedule that Arnold Schwarzenegger used in the off-season:

Intersessional training Arnold Schwarzenegger

  • Monday: Chest / Back
  • Tuesday: Shoulders/Arms
  • Wednesday: Feet
  • Thursday: Chest / Back
  • Friday: Shoulders/Arms
  • Saturday: Feet
  • Sunday: On the website

During the offseason, Arnold worked on his upper back twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays. Arnold trained his upper back right after his chest workout. He believed that training opposing muscle groups together, such as the chest and back, would result in high volume.

This is one of Arnold’s favorite back exercises. Look at this:

Arnold Schwarzenegger back in training

  • A1: Pull-ups (wide/forearm grip), 3-6 sets of 5-20 reps each
  • B1: Tug of war (wide/upper grip), 3-6 sets with 8-20 reps
  • C1: Dumbbells, 3-6 sets of 8-20 reps
  • D1: oblique rows with dumbbell, 3-6 sets of 8-20 reps each
  • E1 : Rope squats, 3-6 sets with 8-20 reps

Arnold trained his upper back with a wide range of exercises, including pull-ups, chin-ups and different types of rowing machines. Arnold says he thought of his upper back as two separate parts of the body: the width of the back and the thickness of the back.

According to Arnold, the glutes are primarily responsible for the width of the back, and the trapezius, rhomboids and erectors of the spine are responsible for the thickness of the back. Arnold’s favorite exercise to improve his back range was pull-ups.

He liked to do pull-ups with the wide grip, but also pull-ups with the back grip or hammer grip. Pull-ups are an old school exercise that you don’t often see bodybuilders doing these days. Which is a shame, because it really is one of the best exercises for the lats.

To get a thicker back, Arnold liked to do heavy rowing exercises like the dumbbell rower and the barbell rower. Here’s a great video of Arnold practicing until he fails on the rowing beam:

This is a high intensity sentence! Arnold gets the most out of this exercise by using the full range of motion. It achieves full extension of the back in the down position and full compression of the back in the up position.

Arnold notes that these full range of motion exercises, such as. B. Barbell exercises, dumbbell exercises, cable exercises and deadlifts are absolutely essential for the development of the lower back, the erectors of the spine and the overall strength of the back.

I think Arnold is right – the difference in back strength between a bodybuilder who trains progressively with these core exercises and someone who focuses on machines and isolation exercises is as noticeable as night and day.

Arnold changed his training program completely about 3 months before his next bodybuilding competition. Arnold adopted a new 6-day training regime with twice-daily sessions. Look at this:

Arnold Schwarzenegger is training for the contest

  • Monday:
    • AM: Chest / Back
    • PM : Feet
  • Tuesday:
    • AM: Shoulders/Arms
    • PM : Taurus / abs
  • Environment:
    • AM: Chest / Back
    • PM : Feet
  • Thursday:
    • AM: Shoulders/Arms
    • PM : Taurus / abs
  • Friday:
    • AM: Chest / Back
    • PM : Feet
  • Saturday:
    • AM: Shoulders/Arms
    • PM : Taurus / abs
  • Sunday: On the website

What a brutal training program! When Arnold talks about 4 to 5 hours of training a day, he means exactly that distribution of workouts. This kind of training plan is enough to send the average bodybuilder to the hospital, but for Arnold it worked like magic.

Arnold believed that training twice a day was necessary to get in shape quickly and show his best physique on the bodybuilding scene. Another thing Arnold did during his pre-race training: He started using antagonistic supersets in all his workouts.

For example, Arnold does a back set, rests 30 seconds, does a chest set, rests 30 seconds, and does another back set. These antagonistic supersets allowed Arnold to do more total volume in less time and gave him a great pump.

Here’s an example of what Arnold’s chest and back workouts looked like before the competition. Look at this:

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s pre-competition chest and back workout

Superset 1:

  • A1 : Bench press, 3-6 sets of 5-20 reps
  • A2: Pull-ups (wide/forearm grip), 3-6 sets of 5-20 reps each

Superset #2:

  • B1 : Incline bench press, 3-6 sets of 5-20 reps
  • B2: Tug of war (wide/upper grip), 3-6 sets of 5-20 reps each

Superset No. 3:

  • C1 : V-bar curl, 3-6 sets of 5-20 reps each.
  • C2: Dumbbells, 3-6 sets of 5-20 reps

Upper set #4:

  • D1 : Flat DB Machs, 3-6 sets of 5-20 reps each
  • D2: Incline rower with dumbbell, 3-6 sets of 5-20 reps each

Top set #5:

  • E1 : Cable crossover, 3-6 sets of 5-20 reps.
  • E2 : Seated cable pull, 3-6 sets of 5-20 reps each

Arnold kept changing his exercises. However, this is a very good example of what his typical chest and back workout looked like before the game. As a result, Arnold used a high volume, high frequency training program to build one of the best backs the bodybuilding world has ever seen.

I wonder if we will ever see, like Arnold, a twisted biceps pose where he bends his body to the side?

If you’re looking for a good back workout that builds muscle, try the Arnold Back program. I especially like how Arnold breaks down his back workouts by width and thickness and how he focuses on older exercises like pull-ups, dumbbells and barbells.

These exercises to build mass worked for Arnold in the 70’s and will work for you too!

I like it when people say something can’t be done. That’s when I’m really motivated, I want to prove them wrong.

Thanks for reading and good luck with your strength training!

Dr. Mike Jansen.

Thanks for stopping by my site! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT, and I am the founder of Revolutionary Program Design. If you want to reach your size and strength goals faster, you’ve come to the right place. My goal is to make RPD the best strength training resource in the world. So lean back, kick back and relax. There has never been a better time to lift weights or learn the art and science of developing strength training programs.

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