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Few names have transformed a single sport – and the world – like that of bodybuilder, actor, and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger.

From his youth in post-war Austria to becoming one of the biggest personalities on the planet, Arnold owes his success to his training

But have you ever wondered what Arnold did to build that legendary physique that would help conquer Mr. Olympia seven times?

Today, let’s discuss the Arnold Schwarzenegger workout routine and diet plan. I will cover his training fundamentals, the Arnold split, and his incredible double-split workout routine.

Let’s dive in.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Current Bio and Stats

Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger was born on July 30th, 1947 in Thal, Austria.

He’s the son of Gustav Schwarzenegger, a military police officer, and Aurelia Schwarzenegger. Arnold and his brother grew up in a strict household in post-war Austria.

From a young age, Arnold was exposed to the idea of competition, as his father would often pit his sons against each other in daily activities.

While his brother was far more academic, Arnold’s cheerful and charismatic personality shone through.

Arnold first took an interest in training at age 15. He picked up a copy of a bodybuilding magazine with a picture of British bodybuilding champion Reg Park.

This inspired Arnold to pursue the sport, idolizing Park and many other sporting greats with pictures across his bedroom wall.

During his late teen years, Arnold would go onto train fanatically, focusing on both bodybuilding and Olympic weightlifting.

In 1964, Arnold would win Styrian Junior Weightlifting Championships, with a victory the following year at the German Austrian Weightlifting Championships.  

His dominance would continue the years that followed, claiming first place in the international Powerlifting Champions 1966.

However, it was not only Arnold’s capacity to lift that caught everyone’s attention, but his incredible physique.

This led him to compete in the amateur Mr. Universe in 1967, where he took first place. 

The title would put Arnold on the map as he would begin to dominate the competition with further victories from 1968-1970.

While Mr. Universe was considered to be the highest standard at its time, there were many different competitions across the world. 

For Arnold to become the best in the world, he would have to beat the best of the best at Mr. Olympia.

In his first entry in 1969 Arnold would be dealt a heartbreaking loss to the incredibly sculpted Sergio Oliva.

However, being the champion that he is, Arnold rose to the challenge. He came back strong to secure his first win as Mr. Olympia champion in 1970 at just 23 years old. 

This would begin his reign at the top, dominating the bodybuilding world with seven Mr. Olympia titles from 1970-1975, and 1980.   

  • Age: 76 Years Old
  • Height: 6’2” (188 cm) 
  • Weight: 235 lbs (106 kgs)
  • Birthday: 30th July, 1947
  • Occupation: Bodybuilder, Actor, Producer, Director, Politician, Investor


  • Active Actor/Producer
  • Retired Bodybuilder/Politician


  • 3x Mr. Universe Champion (1968-1970)
  • 7x Mr. Olympia Champion (1970-1975, 1980)
  • International Powerlifting Championships Winner (1966)
  • German Powerlifting Powerlifting Championships (1968)
  • German Austrian Weightlifting Championships Winner (1965)


  • Squat – 545 lbs (247 kg)
  • Bench Press – 520 lbs (240 kg) 
  • Deadlift – 683 lbs (310 kg)
  • Clean and Press – (120 kg)
  • Snatch – 243 lbs (110 kg)
  • Clean and Jerk (298 lbs (135 kg)

Arnold Schwarzenegger Workout Fundamentals

Read More: Hugh Jackman Workout Routine

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s workout fundamentals were based around a three-day training split performed twice per week.

This allowed him to hit each muscle group twice per week,  increasing training volume, which has been shown to enhance muscle hypertrophy

Now, there are no special exercises that Arnold performed here other than the tried-and-true bodybuilding movements.

Being a massive advocate of back and front squats, lunges, bench press, incline press and dumbbell flys, Arnold used these exercises to build his legendary physique.

Where his training did differ from many is his training frequency and volume.

Arnold was known for his Arnold splits, but the training that really helped him conquer Mr. Olympia seven times was his double-split program.

This program was designed to double his training from the standard six sessions per week to 12 sessions.

Here he would train twice per day, for six days a week, allowing him to hit each muscle group three times per week instead of the standard two.

Of course, Schwarzenegger did not do this year-round, only entering this style of training leading up to competition.

What made this achievable is how Arnold planned his training throughout the year, which gave him time to recover from these intense programs in the lead-up to a competition. 

Following the Olympia from October to December, he would reduce his training with a focus on staying active rather than living in the gym

In January to April, after a much-needed rest, he would again begin his off-season training by getting back into his standard Arnold splits. Here, he’s training each body part twice per week, with 10-12 sets per muscle group each time.  

The three months that followed from May to July is when he began to ramp up his training, taking his volume to a massive 30 to 36 sets per muscle group per week.  

This would then lead into August to October, where he would begin the madness that was his double split routine to get him contest-ready.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Workout Routine

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There is no doubt that Arnold’s dedication to the gym has created some crazy workout routines.

Below, we have two of Arnold’s workout routines, the Arnold split and his insane double split routine.

We will detail these workouts with a weekly schedule, exercises, sets, reps, and rest time to give you the complete Arnold Schwarzenegger workout experience. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger Split Workout Routine

Arnold’s split workout routine was based on a three-day split, performed twice per week, with Sunday as a rest day.

This program allowed him to increase his training volume without ever training the same muscle groups on back-to-back days. 

Arnold Split Weekly Schedule

Chest & BackShoulder & ArmsLegChest & Back Shoulders & ArmsLegsRest

Arnold Schwarzenegger Chest & Back Workout

arnold schwarzenegger workout routine
ExerciseSets RepsRest
Bench Press51045-60 secs
Incline Bench Press51030-45 secs
Dumbbell Chest Flys510
Dumbbell Pullover51030-45 secs
Chin Ups51030-45 secs
Bent Over Row51030-45 secs
Deadlift51030-45 secs
Crunches51030-45 secs

Arnold Schwarzenegger Shoulder & Arms Workout

ExerciseSets RepsRest
Barbell Clean Press51045-60 secs
Dumbbell Lateral Raise51030-45 secs
Upright Row51030-45 secs
Military Press51030-45 secs
Standing Barbell Curl51030-45 secs
Seated Dumbbell Curl51030-45 secs
Close Grip Bench Press51030-45 secs
Standing Barbell Tricep Extension51030-45 secs
Wrist Curls51030-45 secs
Reverse Wrist Curls51030-45 secs
Reverse Crunch52530-45 secs

Arnold Schwarzenegger Leg Workout

ExerciseSets RepsRest
Back Squat51045-60 secs
Lunges51030-45 secs
Leg Curl51030-45 secs
Stiff Leg Deadlift51030-45 secs
Good Mornings51030-45 secs
Donkey Calf Raises51030-45 secs
Crunches52530-45 secs

Arnold Schwarzenegger Double-Split Routine

For Arnold’s double-split routine, he would perform four different workouts over two days, three days per week. 

Due to the intense nature and high volume required of this program we cannot recommend it. It should be noted that even Arnold did not perform this year-round.

He simply used it for two to three months leading up to competition. 

To improve clarity, I will split these up into ‘Day 1’ and ‘Day 2’ with each day containing two workouts to be repeated three times per week.  

TimeMon 1Tues 2Wed 1Thurs 2Fri 1Sat 2Sun
MorningChest, Back Shoulders, Arms Chest, Back 
Shoulders, Arms 
Chest, Back 
Shoulders, Arms 
EveningLegs, Calves, Abs Calves, AbsLegs, Calves, AbsCalves, AbsLegs, Calves, AbsCalves, Abs

Day 1

Arnold Schwarzenegger Double-Split Chest & Back

arnold workout
ExerciseSets RepsRest
Bench Press (Warm-Up)130-4545-60 secs
Bench Press56-830-45 secs
Wide-Grip Behind-the-Neck Chin-Ups515-830-45 secs
Incline Barbell Press510-1530-45 secs
T-Bar Row510-1530-45 secs
Dumbbell Fly510-1530-45 secs
Wide-Grip Barbell Row510-1530-45 secs
Dips51530-45 secs
Close Grip Chin-Up51230-45 secs
Dumbbell Pullover515-2030-45 secs
Iso-Tension Contraction Finisher

Arnold Schwarzenegger Double-Split Leg, Calves, Abs

ExerciseSets RepsRest
Barbell Squat51045-60 secs
Front Squat58-1030-45 secs
Leg Press51030-45 secs
Leg Extension51030-45 secs
Lying Leg Curl81030-45 secs
Donkey Calf Raises515-3030-45 secs
Standing Calf Raises515-3030-45 secs
Leg-Press Calf Raises520-3030-45 secs
Standing One-Legged Dumbbell Calf Raises315-3030-45 secs
Hanging Knee Raises325-5030-45 secs
Roman Chair Sit-Ups425-3030-45 secs
Lying Leg Raises325-3030-45 secs
Russian Twists35030-45 secs
Back Extensions31530-45 secs
Seated Leg-Up425-5030-45 secs

Day 2

Arnold Schwarzenegger Double-Split Shoulder & Arms

ExerciseSets RepsRest
Barbell Clean & Press120-3045-60 secs
Arnold Press (Superset)56
Bent Over Lateral Raise58-1030-45 secs
Lying Lateral Raise51230-45 secs
Cable Lateral Raise51230-45 secs
Alternating Dumbbell Front Raise31230-45 secs
Close-Grip Bench Press5-66-830-45 secs
Cable-Pushdown5-66-830-45 secs
Lying EZ-Bar French Press5-66-830-45 secs
Dumbbell Kickback56-830-45 secs
Barbell Cheat Curl6-76-830-45 secs
Seated Dumbbell Curl6-76-830-45 secs
Preacher Curl6-76-830-45 secs
Concentration Curl56-830-45 secs
Barbell Reverse Curl58-1030-45 secs
Reverse Preacher Curl58-1030-45 secs
Barbell Wrist Curl71030-45 secs

Arnold Schwarzenegger Double-Split Calves & Abs

ExerciseSets RepsRest
Donkey Calf Raises515-3030-45 secs
Standing Calf Raises515-3030-45 secs
Leg-Press Calf Raises520-3030-45 secs
Standing One-Legged Dumbbell Calf Raises315-3030-45 secs
Hanging Knee Raises325-5030-45 secs
Roman Chair Sit-Ups425-3030-45 secs
Lying Leg Raises325-3030-45 secs
Russian Twists35030-45 secs
Back Extensions31530-45 secs
Seated Leg-Up425-5030-45 secs
Donkey Calf Raises515-3030-45 secs

Arnold Schwarzenegger Dieting and Food Preferences

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s dieting and food preferences are a little different from the diets we see today, as information on correct nutrition was not readily available.

The shocking result of this as you will see is a heap of random meats, bread, eggs, and a lot of milk, totaling a massive 5,000 calories per day.

You see, back then supplementation wasn’t even close to what it is today. So, the bodybuilders of the golden era simply had to eat as much food as possible to hit their macros.

With all that being said, here’s Arnold’s daily diet and food preferences from his peak bodybuilding era.

Diet and Food Preferences

arnold schwarzenegger diet
Meal 13x Eggs, 4x Bacon, 2 Slices Toast, 2x Glasses of Milk
Meal 2Ham Sandwich, 1x Hard Boiled Egg, Glass of Milk
Meal 32x Meat Sandwiches, Mixed Fruit, 2x Glasses of Milk
Meal 4Cottage Cheese, Hard Boiled Egg, 2x Glasses of Milk
Meal 510 oz. Beef Mince, Baked Potato, Green Salad, 2x Glasses of Milk
Meal 6Protein Shake (Milk, Ice Cream, 1x Raw Egg)

Arnold Schwarzenegger Diet Plan

arnold schwarzenegger's diet plan

Bodybuilding dieting and food preferences have come a long way, so you won’t need to drink 10 glasses of milk and random meat sandwiches to pack on muscle.

Unless, of course, you want to?

To make things a little more interesting, we have provided you with an Arnold Schwarzenegger-inspired diet plan.

Here, we will take many of Arnold’s food choices to create a meal plan that is a little more creative. It will still help you hit those 5,000 daily calorie intake goals.

Meal 1

  • 4x Poached Eggs
  • 4x Shortcut Bacon
  • 3x Whole Wheat Toast
  • Oatmeal (Honey, Banana, Cinnamon, Milk)

Meal 2

  • Protein Shake (Banana, Greek Yogurt, Mixed Berries, Peanut Butter, Milk)

Meal 3

  • 2x Grilled Chicken Salad Roll (Cheese, Lettuce, Tomato, Avocado, Red Onion)
  • Banana

Meal 4

  • Grilled Chicken Salad (Cherry Tomatoes, Avocado, Red Peppers, Corn, Spinach)
  • 2x Hard Boiled Eggs (Salt & Pepper)
  • 2x Scoop Protein Shake
  • Protein Yogurt 

Meal 5

  • 10 oz. Beef Steak 
  • Sweet Potato Mash
  • Green Salad (Baby Spinach, Avocado, Green Peppers, Red Onion)

Meal 6

  • Protein Shake (Banana, Greek Yogurt, Mixed Berries, Peanut Butter, Milk)
  • Protein Yogurt

While nutrition in the golden era was far from ideal, this didn’t stop Arnold and many of the all-time greats from achieving incredible physiques.

The advantage we have today is understanding the science behind eating and nutrition. We can calculate and track our exact calorie and macronutrient targets to achieve incredible results.

For you to kick off your Arnold Schwarzenegger routine with a bang, use our advanced calorie and macronutrient calculator.

Simply plug in your age, gender, height, weight, and activity level to receive your precise calorie and macronutrient intake.

This will ensure that you are eating enough protein to build muscle, carbs for fuel, and fat to absorb essential nutrients.  

Arnold Schwarzenegger Supplement Preferences

Read More: John Krasinski Workout Routine

Arnold’s supplement preferences, like nutrition, was limited at the time. Many bodybuilders hit their macros from their daily food intake.

Below, we have listed Arnold’s preferred supplements and their purpose to help you decide which you should use for your workout. 

Supplement Purpose
ProteinBuilds muscles, assists recovery
BCAAsStimulate building of protein in muscle and the reduction of muscle breakdown; however, research suggests this is unwarranted
MultivitaminFills nutritional gaps

Final Thoughts

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s training program and workout routine completely changed his life.

From the small Austrian country town of Thal to becoming a bodybuilding legend, movie megastar, and American politician, it was the foundation of achieving all of his dreams.

If you are considering trying Arnold’s workout routine, we recommend the Arnold split, with a focus on quality nutrition and plenty of rest to perform at your peak. 

This will help you train for the long-term, building life-changing muscle mass.

So are you considering trying the Arnold Schwarzenegger workout routine and diet plan? What part of Arnie’s training and philosophy matches your training goals?

Let us know in the comments.  

What is the Arnold split?

The Arnold split is a three-day training split performed twice per week consisting of chest/back, shoulders/arms, and legs. 

What was Arnold’s actual workout routine?

Arnold’s workout routine was based on what was known as the Arnold split, a three-day split program performed twice per week. This allowed him to hit each muscle group twice per week.

However, he would increase this to the double-split where he would double his daily sessions, bringing his total weekly sessions from six to 12. 

Here, he would perform traditional bodybuilding movements such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, rows, bench press, dumbbell chest presses, and dumbbell flys. 

How many hours a day does Arnold Schwarzenegger workout?

Arnold Schwarzenegger would train two hours per session during the peak of his training.

How often would Arnold Schwarzenegger workout?

Arnold Schwarzenegger would train between one to two times per day depending on the stage of his contest preparation, with him increasing to more training the closer he got to competitions.

How many workouts did Arnold do in a day?

Arnold would do one to two workouts per day depending on the stage of his contest prep. At the beginning stages he would train once per day, this doubling with two sessions per day when he was two to three months out. 

How long did Arnold Schwarzenegger train?

Arnold Schwarzenegger would train two hours per session with one to two training sessions per day depending on the stage of his contest preparation.

What did Arnold Schwarzenegger eat? 

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s early food preferences included lots of eggs, bacon, sandwiches, salads, potatoes, and up to 10 glasses of milk per day.

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