arnold arm workout

Exercise Like Arnold Schwarzenegger With His Arm Workout

By Jenessa Connor

The most surprising thing about Arnold Schwarzenegger's arm workout? It's pretty basic. That's not to say it's easy. Even now, at 73 years old, the seven-time Mr. Olympia is still hitting the gym at 3 AM. In other words, he puts in the work. And if you do the Arnold arm workout the way he designed it, you will too.

Arnold's arm workout is comprised of a handful of variations on moves that feel familiar, like biceps curls, triceps extensions, and wrist curls, but with Schwarzenegger-specific details that amp up the intensity (and, therefore, the results). In his book, Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder, Schwarzenegger recommends doing his arm workout twice a week as part of a more comprehensive strength-building session.

Regarding weight: Schwarzenegger can still crank through a set of 100-pound barbell curls without breaking a sweat, but you don't need to set any weightlifting records to get bigger, more defined arms. Pick a weight that pushes your limits; every rep of this arm workout should challenge you, and the last few of each set should feel nearly impossible.

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1. Standing Barbell Curl

  • From a standing position, hold the barbell against your thighs using an underhand grip. Your hands should be about shoulder-width apart.
  • Keeping your upper arms stationary, move just your forearms as you curl the bar up to your chest.
  • At the top of the curl, squeeze your biceps muscles before slowly lowering the bar.
  • Do five sets using the following rep scheme: 8, 8, 6, 6, 6. With each set, add a little weight to the bar.

2. Seated Dumbbell Curl

  • Sit on the edge of a bench or chair. With a dumbbell in each hand, allow your arms to hang at your sides with your palms facing in toward each other.
  • Keeping your upper arms stationary, move just your forearms as you curl the dumbbells up to your chest. As you lift the weights, gradually turn your wrists so that your palms are facing up at the top of the curl. Squeeze your biceps muscles.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells, allowing your arms to relax completely between reps.
  • Do five sets of 8 reps.

3. Restricted Inclined Dumbbell Curl

  • With a dumbbell in each hand, sit on an incline bench set to 45 degrees.
  • Allow your arms to hang straight down toward the ground with your palms facing forward.
  • Keeping your upper arms stationary, hold your elbows slightly forward and move just your forearms as you curl the dumbbells to chest level. Squeeze your biceps muscles at the top of the curl.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells, allowing your arms to relax completely between reps.
  • Do five sets of 10 reps.

4. Restricted Standing French Press

  • From a standing, front-racked position, press a barbell directly overhead. Your hands should be about shoulder-width apart, with your palms facing forward.
  • Keeping the upper arms stationary and the elbows tucked in, slowly lower the barbell behind your head, all the way down to the back of your neck.
  • Moving just your forearms, return the barbell to an overhead position.
  • Do five sets of 12 reps.

5. Lying Triceps Extension With Bar

  • Lie down on a bench with your feet planted on the ground. Using a shoulder-width, overhand grip, press the bar directly overhead.
  • Bending your arms at the elbows, lower the bar to the level of your forehead (being careful not to hit your forehead with the barbell). Keep the upper arms immobile and the elbows pointing upward.
  • Moving just your forearms, press the bar up to the starting position.
  • Do five sets of 10-12 reps.

6. Wrist Curls

  • Using an underhand grip, hold a barbell with your hands about six inches apart.
  • Straddle a bench lengthwise with a wide-leg stance.
  • Take a seat, lean forward, and rest the backs of your forearms on the bench with your palms facing up. Allow your wrists to hang off the end of the bench.
  • Keeping a firm grip on the bar, move just your wrists to lower it toward the floor as far as you can.
  • Moving just your wrists, contract your forearms muscles, and curl the bar upward as far as you can.
  • Pause, then return to the starting position.

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