Arnold Schwarzenegger Shoulder Workout (Build Monster Delts)

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: May 10, 2024
FACT CHECKED by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
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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.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Stats and Career Highlights

Arnold Schwarzenegger rose to fame through bodybuilding, winning Mr. Universe at 20 and securing the title four more times, along with seven victories in Mr. Olympia.

Transitioning to Hollywood in the '80s, he starred in blockbuster films like "Terminator," "Terminator II," and "Total Recall," earning an impressive $35 million per film.

Venturing into politics, Schwarzenegger faced accusations of sexual assault during his 2003 gubernatorial campaign. Despite controversies, he won the election and served two terms [1].

Known for his powerful deltoids, which resemble halved grapefruits, Schwarzenegger's influence as a bodybuilding legend is highlighted.

Let's explore his stats before delving into his renowned shoulder routine.

  • Age: 76

  • Height: 6 feet, 2 inches

  • Weight: 225 - 235 lbs (102.1 - 106.6kg)

  • Waist: 32 inches

  • Chest: 57 inches

Arnold Schwarzenegger Workout Routine

Schwarzenegger's standing as a bodybuilding legend is emphasized by his strong shoulder muscles. This significance is further affirmed by his renowned workout, "The Arnold Press," within the fitness community.

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 facing 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

His Workout Principles

Arnold Schwarzenegger's shoulder workout emphasizes progressive overload, a principle supported by the National Institute of Health, aiding in the consistent increase of volume and intensity for strength and hypertrophy [2].

He trained twice daily without experiencing overtraining syndrome, preventing the body from fully recovering and affecting performance.

Avoiding this is crucial as it prevents adequate supercompensation, leading to insufficient glycogen and reduced performance, according to the same research institute [3].

In my opinion, following Arnold's principles of progressive overload and balanced training frequency is essential for optimal shoulder workout results.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Nutrition and Diet Plan

Bowl of healthy foods

Arnold Schwarzenegger's diet, as revealed in an interview, is simple. His main meal includes scrambled eggs or omelets with vegetables and salt.

After his morning workout, he has a similar breakfast but with granola and oatmeal with Greek yogurt.

For snacks, Arnold prefers almonds.

Lunch usually consists of a salad, occasionally with a plant-based burger, salmon, or chicken, and sometimes a scramble or omelette.

His dinner routine involves having vegetable soup with pumpkin oil.

His Diet Principles

Arnold Schwarzenegger follows two key diet principles. Firstly, he ensures every meal includes enough protein to support muscle growth. Having protein in breakfast, lunch, and dinner is crucial to prevent muscle loss and maximize muscle gain through training.

Secondly, he incorporates sufficient vegetables into each meal. While Arnold prefers vegetables in all three meals, he ensures a minimum of two servings per day, typically during breakfast and dinner.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Supplements

Arnold Schwarzenegger exclusively relies on whey protein powder as his sole supplement.

Post-workout, Arnold consumes a high-quality whey protein powder to prevent muscle loss and promote hypertrophy.

On occasion, he incorporates protein powder shakes as snacks, although it's worth noting that he sometimes mixes it with schnapps.

As a fitness trainer, I don't highly recommend my clients to incorporate protein powders with any alcoholic beverages.


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.


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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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