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Arnold Schwarzenegger Shoulder Workout (Build Monster Delts)

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico | Co-Founder & Marketing Director
Last updated: July 16, 2023

Arnold Schwarzenegger knew that basic shoulder exercises performed with lighter weights couldn’t get greater muscle-building benefits.

That’s why he modified his shoulder routine to hit all muscle groups of the same area to maximally increase his muscle mass.

After a thorough 30-hour research, I compiled what I believe is the best Arnold Schwarzenegger shoulder workout.

After reading the article, you will know how to implement the same workout into your weekly routine and have superior knowledge of Arnold’s diet and supplementation.

Quick Summary

  • Arnold’s shoulder workout includes the seated barbell military press, lateral raises, the Arnold press, smith machine overhead press, seated bent-over rear delt raise, and upright barbell row.
  • Arnold strongly emphasizes using the proper ratio of macronutrients, such as carbs and proteins, after each workout for maximal muscle-building gains.
  • The most important supplement in Arnold’s diet is a whey protein powder, which he consumes after each intense lifting session and sometimes as a meal replacement.

Celebrity Stats/Career Highlights

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

Workout Routine

To get Arnold trained shoulders and avoid shoulder injury associated with an intense training session, follow the dosage and rest intervals provided with each exercise.

Here is the entire Arnold shoulder workout:

  • Seated Barbell Military Press - Seated starting position with your palms facing forward. Perform 4 sets for 8 reps with no more than 85% of your 1 repetition max.
  • Side Lateral Raise - Complete 10 reps for 4 sets and keep lifting the same weight without compromising the shoulder height you must achieve when laterally lifting them.
  • The Arnold Press - Perform 4 sets of 6 reps with dumbbells wider than shoulder width in the beginning and with palms facing forward (also in the beginning).
  • Smith Machine Overhead Shoulder Press - Complete 12 reps for 3 sets (grip - palms face forward).
  • Seated Bent - Over Rear Delt Raise - Perform 10 reps for 3 sets and rest for as little as possible between the sets.
  • Upright Barbell Row - Complete 10 reps for 3 sets and rest for as little as possible in between.

"A set of strong, broad shoulders signal to the world that you lift (hey, a little vanity is okay). Stronger shoulders also mean you can bench press and overhead press more weight while potentially staving off injuries. "

- Jake Boly, Certified Personal Trainer

Workout Principles

The most important principle of Arnold's shoulder workout is progressive overload, or the ability to increase the total volume and intensity for each following workout session.

This has been proven to have the greatest impact on increasing strength and a solid hypertrophy program [1].

Also, Arnold used to train 2 times a day, but he would never enter the state of overtraining syndrome [2].

This is when your body fails to supercompensate, muscle cells don’t have enough glycogen, and the performance decreases.

Diet Plan

For dinner, Arnold eats a soup of veggies with pumpkin oil.

He prefers to take almonds when he feels like snacking between meals.

Arnold's diet is simple, and he mostly eats scrambled eggs or omelets with some veggies and salt for his main meal.

He also prefers to have the same meal for breakfast but with granola and yogurt.

Diet / Nutrition Principles

Bowl of healthy foods

Arnold has two principles regarding his diet, and the first one is getting enough protein for muscle growth in every meal of the day.

Getting protein in your breakfast, lunch, and dinner is necessary to prevent muscle loss and, if you train enough, gain the most significant amount of muscles.

The second principle he follows is adding enough veggies to every meal.

He likes to add veggies to all three meals, but sometimes it is impossible, so he has veggies at least 2 times a day, usually for breakfast and dinner.


The only supplement Arnold uses to this day is whey protein powder.

After each workout, Arnold takes a high-quality whey protein powder to prevent muscle loss and facilitate hypertrophy.

Sometimes, he even used a protein powder shake for snacks, and you will often find him mixing it with schnapps, which I don’t recommend.


How Do I Get My Shoulders Like Arnold?

To get your shoulders like Arnold, you must perform overhead presses, dumbbell flyes, and barbell rows. However, you must incorporate the principle of progressive overload for each following workout to ensure maximal hypertrophy gains.

What Is the #1 Shoulder Exercise?

The #1 shoulder exercise is the barbell overhead press. However, all overhead press variations with dumbbells and kettlebells are also excellent for strengthening and enlarging your shoulder muscles.

Does Arnold Press Hit All Shoulders?

Yes, Arnold's press hits all shoulder muscles. However, the posterior deltoid is the least activated of the three shoulder muscles due to the trajectory and nature of the anterior overhead press movement.

What Supplement to Use for Shoulders Like of Arnold?

The supplement you should use for shoulders like of Arnold is a high-quality protein powder.

Protein powder is the single best supplement for achieving superior hypertrophy effects and ensures recovery after each intense workout session.

I suggest reading our guides on the best protein powders since it will take you step-by-step through the entire process of selecting the highest-quality protein product:

Let me know how you plan to implement Arnold Schwarzenegger’s shoulder workout into your weekly routine.


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