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Arnold Schwarzenegger Arm Workout (Maximize Your Arm Growth)

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico
Last updated: May 30, 2023

Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the most iconic bodybuilders of the previous century, with some notable results regarding biceps and triceps size.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s arm workout is among the most effective ways to build bigger biceps and triceps because it is well-structured and programmed.

After 20-hour research and based on my personal experience, I found and deconstructed the best Arnold Schwarzenegger arm workout.

Along with a proper diet and effective supplementation plan, you can achieve much better results with this arms workout program.

Quick Summary

  • Arnold's Arm workouts include barbell curl, incline dumbbell curl, cheating barbell curl, preacher curl, alternate dumbbell curls, single-arm overhead triceps extension, and lying triceps extension.
  • Besides working out, the most important aspect of growing your arms is using adequate nutrition with the proper nutrients and combining an effective ratio of carbs and proteins.
  • The most important supplement for developing your arms is a protein powder because it will help with the recovery and hypertrophy phase after the intense workout.

Celebrity Stats/Career Highlights

  • Age: 75
  • Height: 5'11½
  • Weight: 154 lbs
  • Waist: 27½”
  • Chest: 41¼”

Arm Workout Routine

Arnold Schwarzenegger used the same principles for developing his muscles as his fellow bodybuilder colleagues did in his time.

They would have two styles during the yet that would help them experience the biggest hypertrophy effects.

Hypertrophy is the term that describes the enlargement of the muscle fiber, which is the goal of every bodybuilder.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's workout routine were split into off-season workouts focused more on muscle growth and gaining strength and separate workouts used for competitive preparation.

Both workouts are essential to get a pick of hypertrophy and strength in your arm muscles.

The first is the off-season workout, and the second is the in-season preparation for the bodybuilding competition.

They are essentially the same workout, but the second one has additional supersets for the triceps.

The Workout — Off-Season

Most bodybuilders prefer to use supersets to build their arms.

Using supersets is extremely helpful and effective because you can place two agonistically different exercises to work for one muscle group when the other is resting and preparing to be activated after you finish the first exercise.

This is why pairing biceps curls and triceps extensions is so effective. There is little or no rest at all between the exercises.

The same can be done for large muscle groups, and one of the examples is pairing a bench press with a biceps curl or even with a pull-up or row.

Here is the off-season workout Arnold used in his prime:

  • Barbell Cheat Curl - 5-8 sets x 8-12 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Curl - 5-8 sets x 8-12 reps
  • Single-Arm Concentration Curl - 5 sets x 10 reps
  • Alternating Dumbbell Curl - 5 sets x 10 reps

The Workout — Competition Prep

This arm routine completely hits all the necessary muscles of your arms to show and pop during the bodybuilding competition.

The supersets below will effectively build your triceps and biceps muscles.

Here is the competition prep workout routine:

  • Incline Dumbbell Curl + Triceps Pressdown - 4 sets x 8-10 reps
  • Alternating Dumbbell Curl + Single-Arm Overhead Triceps Extension - 4 sets x 10 reps
  • Preacher Curl + Lying French Press - 4 sets x 10 reps
  • Concentration Curl + Reverse Triceps Pressdown - 4 sets x 8-10 reps
  • Reverse Preacher Curl + Barbell Wrist Curl - 4 sets x 10-12 reps

Workout Principles

The main principles of Arnold’s arm workout are intensity and volume.

Great things happen when you combine those two things with proper nutrition and supplementation.

You can easily increase the size of your arms by recovering faster and enabling sufficient time for supercompensation.

For each following arm workout, you must incorporate the principle of progressive overload to increase the volume [1].

That is the only way to experience muscle growth and avoid a plateau [2].

Also, you must be cautious not to enter the overtraining state, which may occur if you allow too little time to rest and recover [3].

Diet Plan

For his main meal, such as his lunch, he eats scrambled eggs or omelet with vegetables and often with a salad.

He prefers to have the same thing for his breakfast but with additional yogurt and granola; for dinner, he likes to eat vegetable soup with pumpkin oil.

Between meals, he likes to take almonds whenever he feels like he should snack.

"A bodybuilder’s arms are their calling card. You could make a case for other muscles being more important in the eyes of a judge at a physique show, but nothing drops jaws and turns heads like a pair of thick and muscular arms. Arnold Schwarzenegger knew that."

- Jake Dickson, Certified Personal Trainer

Diet / Nutrition Principles

Diet written on a wood

Arnold's diet's first principle is getting protein in every meal.

The previous examples show that he does that by including scrambled eggs during breakfast and lunch.

Proteins are extremely important to preserve muscle mass and support the muscle-building effects right after the workout.

Arnold also says he doesn't like measuring his food because he has no patience.

The next principle is to eat your veggies.

Arnold struggled in the past with serious heart problems, so he is mostly on a plant-based diet. It has been doing wonders for him, and his cardiac health has significantly improved.


Supplements scattered on floor

Even today, at 75, Arnold's main supplement is a quality whey protein powder.

Whey protein powder is among the most effective types of protein that enters your bloodstream fast, enabling quick muscle recovery and improved lifting performance.

Arnold likes having his protein shakes right after each workout or sometimes even as a snack.

Besides whey protein, Arnold also used to take a high-quality creatine supplement which helped him increase PR (personal records) on his big lifts.

Creatine is one of the best supplements for weight lifting because it replenishes the energy in your system called creatine-phosphate.

Creatine-phosphate synthesizes ATP (adenosine-triphosphate) during high-intensity exercises or heavy lifts.

Anyways you might see Arnold take these whey protein and creatine shakes with the popular alcoholic drink called schnapps.

He claims tequila and schnapps enable protein and creatine to enter the bloodstream faster, but please don’t listen to this advice and stick to the normal water + protein shake after the workout session.


What Is Arnold Bicep Workout?

Arnold's biceps workout consists of exercises such as barbell curls, alternating dumbbell curls, barbell preacher curls, and concentration curls. However, these exercises change if Arnold works out during the season or off-season.

How Many Sets Did Arnold Do for Arms?

Arnold did up to 20 sets for his arms. However, the number of sets changes and highly depends on the percentage of 1RM (repetition maximum) and his goal of building for mass or definition.

Is Arnold Split Good for Arms?

Yes, Arnold's split is good for arms. The Arnold split consists of a six-day workout split where you train your back, chest, shoulders, arms, and legs twice weekly.

What Supplement Should I Use to Support Arm Development?

A high-quality protein powder is the best supplement for your arm development.

Protein powders will recover your muscle faster, facilitate hypertrophy development, and help with your performance in the long run.

Read our guides on the best protein powders to learn how to pick a high-quality protein product that will suit your fitness and personal needs:

Let me know which Arnold’s arm workout exercise is your favorite for building larger arms and why.


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