Arnold Schwarzenegger 8-Week Workout Plan

When we hear the name Arnold Schwarzenegger, we immediately think of the Terminator. This relentless, shark-eyed killer robot role perfectly sculpted the famous bodybuilder, who holds a powerful screen presence. In reality, Arnold is mainly recognized for his aesthetically pleasing physique. And while a whole new generation of bodybuilders came after him, he still remains the greatest in the eyes of many.

So, how did Arnold Schwarzenegger make his mark as the greatest bodybuilder of all time?

For anyone who wants to bulk up and learn from the greatest, this article details the 8-week workout plan that Arnold designed himself.

Arnold’s Training

The champion’s 8-week workout plan consists of two phases. The first phase covers weeks 1-4 while the second phase covers weeks 5-8. He also used three specific methods of exercise and subbed them in at the proper time.

1-10 Method. For this method, Arnold performs 10 sets of one exercise. With a weight that he can lift numerous times, he starts with 1 rep and makes his way down to 10 reps in the last set.

Stripping Method/Shocking Principle. Immediately after Arnold’s final work set, he takes some weight off and churns out 5-10 reps. Then, without taking ample rest, he keeps on repeating and dropping the weight until he’s down to the bar.

Max Effort. This method mainly involves picking one exercise and seeing what one can do for a 1-rep maximum. To get there, Arnold works up the weight with this rep pyramid: 20, 15, 10, 8, 5, 3, 1, 1, 1 (max). He also takes ample rest between each set.

Phase 1 Workout (Weeks 1-4)

  • MONDAY: Chest, Back, and Abs
  • TUESDAY: Shoulders, Biceps. Triceps, Forearms, Abs
  • WEDNESDAY: Legs, Calves, Abs
  • THURSDAY: Chest, Back, and Abs
  • FRIDAY: Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps, Forearms, Abs
  • SATURDAY: Legs, Calves, and Abs
  • SUNDAY: Rest

Phase 2 Workout (Weeks 5-8)

  • MONDAY: Chest, Back, and Abs
  • TUESDAY: Shoulders, Biceps. Triceps, Forearms, Abs
  • WEDNESDAY: Legs and Abs
  • THURSDAY: Chest, Back, and Abs
  • FRIDAY: Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps, Forearms, Abs
  • SATURDAY: Legs and Abs


To add more mass, Arnold performed rep changes often with extreme intensity. Below are the rep changes for the specific exercises:


  • one-arm dumbbell rows (5 sets, 6-10 reps)
  • t-bar rows (5 sets, 6-10 reps)
  • seated pulley rows (6 sets, 6-10 reps)
  • straight-leg deadlifts (5 sets, 6-10 reps)
  • front wide-grip chin-ups (6 sets, to failure)


  • dips (5 sets, to failure)
  • bench press (5 sets, 6-10 reps)
  • incline bench press (6 sets, 6-10 reps)
  • flat bench flyes (5 sets, 6-10 reps)
  • dumbbell pullovers (5 sets, 10-12 reps)
  • cable crossovers (6 sets, 10-12 reps)


  • squats (6 sets, 8-12 reps)
  • leg curls (6 sets, 12-15 reps)
  • leg presses (6 sets, 8-12 reps)
  • leg extensions (6 sets, 8-12 reps)
  • barbell lunges (5 sets, 15 reps)


  • seated calf raises (8 sets, 15 reps)
  • standing calf raises (10 sets, 10 reps)
  • one-legged calf raises (6 sets, 12 reps)


  • barbell curls (6 sets, 6-10 reps)
  • dumbbell concentration curls (6 sets, 6-10 reps)
  • seated dumbbell curls (6 sets, 6-20 reps)


  • pushdowns (6 sets, 6-10 reps)
  • barbell french presses (6 sets, 6-10 reps)
  • one-arm dumbbell triceps extensions (6 sets, 6-10 reps)
  • close-grip bench presses


  • seated barbell presses (6 sets, 6-10 reps)
  • rear-delt lateral raises (5 sets, 6-10 reps)
  • lateral raises (6 sets, 6-10 reps)
  • cable lateral raises (5 sets, 10-12 reps)


  • reverse barbell curls (4 sets, 8 reps)
  • wrist curls (4 sets, 10 reps)
  • wright roller machine (to failure)


  • kneeling cable crunch (4 sets, 20 reps)

Arnold’s Recovery Process

The secret sauce to Arnold’s success in bodybuilding is his outlook towards the recovery process. Training, according to the grand champion, is not just a means to a muscular physique, but rather an avenue towards taking care of his own body. As much as he loved spending time in the gym, he also knew that overtraining is a much risky undertaking. He performed thorough warm-ups before his workouts and followed rest periods in-between workouts.

Strength Training and Eating Right

It’s shocking how many people are misinformed about the importance of nutrition for building muscle. Others’ diets even consist of mainly junk food, and they still believe that it leads them to gaining muscle. Unfortunately, consuming unhealthy foods next to no protein will not help anyone become musclebound, even if he follows an excellent strength training program.

The role of strength training is to break down muscle tissue. During recovery, that tissue undergoes regeneration, thus, becoming stronger and bigger. The human body, however, isn’t capable of creating that new tissue out of nothing. For this reason, anyone who’s trying to make the most gains in muscle mass and strength, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, should eat food with sufficient nutrients, and follow a diet rich in protein. This combination of exercise and the right nutrition will give one the desirable results.

Arnold’s Diet and Supplementation

Arnold’s training was built on the belief that it is essential to fill the body with the right nutrients. On that note, he didn’t slack off and turn to junk food just to fill the calorie void.

The champion, on the fat loss side of things, followed calorie cycling in his workout routine. To keep his metabolism from slowing down, he interspersed some higher calorie days with some lower calorie days. This still works to this day since metabolism accurately slows down when one goes long enough with his calorie-reduced diet. The champion’s advice is to set a target average caloric intake for the week and then stun the calorie with both low and high caloric days.

The strict intermittent fasting doesn’t apply to Arnold Schwarzenegger. This one of the toughest men in history is just like anybody else- he eats red meat, eats carbs, and drinks the tears of his enemies.

His diet reflects his personality- intense, disciplined, and regimented. It goes big on protein, and by that, he means one gram of protein for every pound of bodyweight. Needless to say, that’s a lot of protein considering that he weighs 250 pounds. Protein, however, is a crucial factor concerning building muscle. It is made up of amino acids which act as building blocks for muscle mass. Meaning, it is vital for the body to have these amino acids to support numerous bodily functions. Otherwise, the body will steal the amino acids stored in the blood and muscle tissue, leading to muscle loss over time.

Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t shy away from fats, vegetables, grains, and micronutrients either. It’s also worth noting that Arnold believes quality calories equates to quality mass. In terms of quantity, he didn’t slouch when it comes to caloric intake. His diet is made up of 4-5 meals a day, with supplements of vitamins and minerals. Putting that all together, he ends up with a total of 3825 calories per day. That’s the exact figures of what Arnold burned through during training.

Here’s the championship formula that will take one’s body to the next level:

Meal 1 (Phase 1)

  • 3-4 whole eggs
  • 2 pieces of bacon
  • 1-2 slices of Ezekiel bread with almond butter, cashew butter, or ¼ avocado
  • Arnold Iron Pack

Meal 1 (Phase 2)

  • 3-4 whole eggs
  • 2 pieces of bacon
  • ⅓ cups oats with 1 tbsp honey
  • Arnold Iron Pack

Gym (Phase 1 and 2)

  • 1 scoop Arnold Iron Pump with 8-10 oz water during warm-up

Post Workout (Phase 1 and 2)

  • 1 scoop of Arnold Iron CRE3 with 6-8 oz water
  • 2 scoops of Arnold Iron Mass with 12-16 oz whole, unsweetened milk of choice

Meal 2 (Phase 1 and 2)

  • 10 ounces of grilled red meat or grilled fish
  • 1 cup veggies or large salad with avocado oil, olive oil, or macadamia nut oil
  • 2-3 oz almonds, walnuts or cashews
  • 1-2 sweet potatoes

Meal 3 (Phase 1 and 2)

  • 2 scoops of Arnold Iron Mass with 12-16 oz whole, unsweetened milk of choice

Meal 4 (Phase 1 and 2)

  • 12 ounces of grilled lean meat
  • 1-2 cups veggies or large salad with avocado oil, olive oil, or macadamia nut oil
  • 1-2 cups of brown rice

Meal 5 (Phase 1 and 2)

  • 2 cups full-fat cottage cheese
  • 2-3 oz serving almonds, walnut or cashews

Bedtime (Phase 1 and 2)

  • 1 scoop of Arnold Iron Dream with 6-8 oz water

Saturday Cheat Meal

  • one meal of any favorite cheat food

For a more thorough understanding of why Arnold chose to eat these foods every week, below is a breakdown of their relevance to muscle building.

Whole eggs. If there’s one thing far-reaching about his diet, it’s the pearl of wisdom that egg yolks are fine. Contrary to popular belief that a bodybuilding diet should consist of egg whites, the champion himself ate whole eggs. Surprisingly enough, he ate lots of them even before science discovered that whole egg consumption sparked significantly greater muscle-building responses than the egg whites did.

Bacon or Sausage. Bacon and sausage are not strictly associated with lean muscle mass, but these foods help provide calories to one’s diet. Plus, they’re very delicious.

Fish. It doesn’t take a champion’s diet plan to learn that fish is a low-fat, high-quality protein.

Lean meat. Lean cuts of beef is an excellent choice of protein. It also contains creatine which improves athletic performance.

Ezekiel bread. Also known as sprouted whole grain bread and has no added sugars and refined wheat.

Oats. Oats improve blood glucose levels, and Arnold consumes his oats with a little honey.

Avocado. This fruit offers an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients.

Vegetables. While Arnold emphasized macronutrients, he didn’t forget about getting in some micronutrients from nutrient-dense greens. Dark green vegetables, including broccoli and spinach, are a bodybuilding staple because they’re full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Sweet Potato. Each serving of sweet potato provides healthy amounts of B vitamins, vitamin C, fiber, iron and beta-carotene.

Nuts. Arnold understood the importance of fat in the diet. He consumed nuts with a decent amount of protein- cashews, almonds, and walnuts.

Cheese and Milk. Not only are cheese and milk great sources of protein, but they’re also fortified with vitamin D and contain valuable calcium.

Brown Rice. While other bodybuilders prefer white rice due to its high sugar content and fast absorption, Arnold recognized brown rice as a healthier option. When it comes to nutrient content, brown rice is higher in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Series Iron Pack. Arnold likes to finish his morning meal with this vitamin and mineral supplement.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Series Iron Pump. Before his workout, Arnold takes one serving of this energy-inducing supplement.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Series Iron CRE3. Arnold finishes his workout routine with this creatine supplement.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Series Iron Mass. Aside from the creatine supplement, Arnold takes this revolutionary weight-gainer supplement.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Series Iron Dream. Before hitting the shucks, Arnold takes this nighttime recovery supplement- his secret to a perfectly refreshing sleep.

Final Thoughts

The level of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s dedication in training is hands down the most inspiring of all. As cliche as it sounds, for him, there is no gain without pain. As he once said, “Experiencing this pain in my muscles and aching and going on and on is my challenge. The last three or four reps is what makes the muscles grow. This area of pain divides a champion from someone who is not a champion. That’s what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they’ll go through the pain no matter what happens.”