• Welcome to realmuscleforum.com
  • Training chest with Arnold Schwarzenegger

    Note: If you are viewing exercise videos on a mobile device, please switch to horizontal view for the best experience.

    Do you know any man who goes in the gym and does not do any bench presses? Probably not. While bench presses are amazing for building overall chest muscle mass, there are far more than that in developing thick, massive and striated pectorals.

    We will take a look at “Austrian Oak” chest routine and analyze the exercises, which could help you to build your chest and improve the areas that are lacking. And Arnold is known for his super-huge chest. But it wasn’t always like that, in his teenage years his ribcage was very narrow, and his pectorals were small. Arnold built his chest from zero. So he is a great role model when It comes to building massive chest.


    When Arnold has won his 4th Mr. Olympia in 1973, he realized that his lower chest got too big and it’s out of proportion with the upper chest. This was the routine that he used from 1968 to 1973:

    Arnold chest routine original

    He decided to make changes in his workout and prioritize upper pectoral training. He removed weighted dips, because his lower pecs were already huge and they still had enough work from flat bench presses. And he started his workouts with incline benches, to improve his upper pecs. Plus he added cable cross-overs for additional striations and detail for his pectorals. This is the routine he came up with:

    Arnold chest routine improved

    So the first routine could be used by everyone who needs more overall mass and thickness. It’s very easy to test if you have enough mass – just lift your arms and do a double biceps pose in front of the mirror. If your chest “disappears” (which is very common), better stick with the first routine until you will see significant improvements. If your chest still looks good in that pose, start using second routine. Oh, and please, keep the set number much lower! 3-4 sets per exercise, or else you are going to over-train and stall.

    Of course you can add some variety to the routine by using Smith-machine bench presses and dumbbell bench presses. And sometimes do pullovers with a EZ-barbell. That will keep you motivated.


    Useful knowledge:

    Below are listed exercises that you should perform to improve particular areas of your chest.

    For overall mass – flat bench and dumbbell presses (including Smith machine).

    Middle and inner pecs – narrow grip (shoulder width or narrower) bench presses. Do not put your elbows close to your body, stick them out.

    Overall mass and outer pecs – wide grip bench presses.

    Upper pectorals – incline presses and incline dumbbell flyes.

    Outer and inner pectorals – flat dumbbell flyes.

    Lower and outer pec mass – weighted dips (lean forward when you do these).

    Ribcage expansion – dumbbell and barbell pulovers.

    Chest striations, cuts – cable crossovers.

    So now you have the routines and exercises to work on your chest. Work hard and make sure to focus on your weak areas. First priority would be ribcage expansion and overall mass. And only when you have a good foundation, you can start “shaping” your muscles and giving them the look you’re after.