4 Workouts To Get You A Chest Like Arnold

Lo and behold, it’s Monday. Or at least it was Monday when this was posted. Now, for the majority of people, Mondays are the most loathed day of the week. No one likes Mondays, for reasons so obvious I shouldn’t have to explain. But, us gym goers, whether you are new to the weights or have been lifting things up and putting them down for years, know Mondays are special. Why? Because it’s International Chest Day. A man’s favorite day. For those who aren't in the gym on a regular basis [1] compare it to watching your favorite show every week. It would be hard for anyone to imagine that for your favorite show you wouldn't be impatiently waiting for a new episode every week. The same thing applies to chest day, and today I give you something special. 

A bodybuilding legend that goes by the name of Arnold “The Austrian Oak” Schwarzenegger had a chest that everyone aspired to get [2]. Let’s forget about the politics, scandals, good movies, bad movies and whatever else thing he’s’ into now. At a certain point in human history, Mr. Schwarzenegger was the premier bodybuilder of the world. As a matter of fact, he was so good at bodybuilding no one realized that he never spoke English in any of his movies [3]. The point being is, wouldn’t you want to imitate someone like that? Even if you are only able to do but a fraction of his workout, don’t you think that would benefit you?

Today we go over Arnold’s chest day workout plan, and try to imitate it as best we can. Will you get an exact 1975 Mr. Olympia replica of his chest? Absolutely not. Can you get close, though? Well that’s for you to find out, isn’t it? 

Before we get started on the actual workout, what are some of the keys to a bigger, fuller chest? Well, Arnold believed that one of these aspects was a having a full range of motion, which is somewhat self-explanatory. It just means that you complete the motion in its entirety. For example, when you squat, do you drop until your knees are locked at a 90 degree angle, or do you go until your backside is almost kissing the ground? Well, I hope for your sake it’s the latter. A full range of motion leads to bigger gains and more of a pump because the muscles are working to their full capacity. So, for chest muscles, the last thing you want is to have your elbows stop at 90 degrees and call that a rep. What would you rather have, $50 or $100? If there is any sort of logic going on behind those eyes, your answer should be $100. So stop half-reppin’ your sets and strive for maximum growth. Bar to chest, no excuses!

 Barbell Incline Bench Press

Barbell Incline Bench Press

The second tip is, don’t forget your inclines. Arnold was known for a full chest. A full chest is only reached when you work the whole chest. Time and time again weight lifters forget about their upper pectorals. The reasons vary. Some think just working the flat bench will get the same results, others don’t like the fact that they can’t lift as much on the incline. For me, it was just an awkward motion to complete. Arnold enjoyed incline presses because they made his chest bigger and stronger which, and you may find this hard to believe, is how you win multiple Mr. Olympia championships. All we need is a tiny piece of that and I guarantee you’ll feel different walking around with your shirt off. So do your inclines, no matter how much you don’t want to do it or no matter how difficult they may be. Summer’s approaching and you don’t want to be that guy at the pool party with his t-shirt still on. 

Arnold’s final tip could be considered very minor. A workout that is usually completely looked over. You could definitely count it as one of those “waiting-for-this-guy-to-finish-his-sets-so-I’ll just-do-this-in-the-meantime” workouts. Now coming to the stage, “The Dip”. Who really does dips? Seriously, dips are for when you have nothing else to do. For when you could leave the gym 15 minutes early, but that’s 15 minutes more of your significant other yelling at you for not taking out the garbage last night, so you do dips instead. Well, our boy Arnold did not feel the same. Dips help to target that lower chest meat that is sometimes missed. Trust me, start really including dips in your routine and you’ll start to see more shape in your bodies upper region.  

 Flat-Bench Dumbbell Fly

Flat-Bench Dumbbell Fly

“The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. That's what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they'll go through the pain no matter what happens.”

-Arnold Schwarzenegger 

Now for the workout you have all been waiting for. Presenting in its entirety “Chest Like Arnold: A Pectoral Love Story”

Note there are pyramid sets (which means as your reps decrease the amount of weight you lift increases) and straight sets (which means you maintain the same weight throughout the duration of the sets). Pick your weights wisely. It is more important to complete your reps than increase your weight.  

  1. Barbell Bench Press (5 pyramid sets of 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 reps)
  2. Barbell Incline Bench Press (5 straight sets of 12 reps)
  3. Flat-Bench Dumbbell Fly (5 pyramid sets of 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 reps)
  4. Dips (4 pyramid sets of 12, 10, 8, 8 reps or 4 straight sets of 15 reps your choice)

Bonus: When all of that is done. Push-ups until failure, because why not?

There is a reason why when you think of bodybuilding Arnold Schwarzenegger is the first name that comes to mind, and in most instances the only name. The man preached dedication and I am choosing to follow suit. I want you to not just try the workout, but do this workout.  I guarantee, if you commit to this you will see results. And at the end of the day isn’t that what you want? Besides, a chiseled chest isn’t going to grow itself. So get motivated, get dedicated, and get a chest like Arnold…..or at least something like it.


[1] Come on get it together, I know you want to look and feel good. Just takes a little effort.

[2] Arguably even at 69 years old, he still may have that chest.

[3] Just jokes people.