It goes without saying that it’s a tremendous honor to spend any amount of time talking with the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger. But there’s always something incredibly cool about getting to talk training with the greatest bodybuilder of all-time.
To hear how he trained, why he trained, and how hard he trained is absolutely motivating and the unique thing is he developed a lot of his training concepts from scratch. There wasn’t the Internet or social media, and it wasn’t until Arnold and the Golden Era that lifting really even entered the spotlight.
One of the really interesting things that appealed to me was when he touched on training chest and back together. Whenever I’ve interviewed him regarding training he always starts by referencing the chest and back supersets he did.
He brought up a number of good points as to why he enjoyed training chest and back together, starting with the fact that Arnold felt he could fit in way more training by combining pushing and pulling motions into the same workout. But the antagonistic superset had a number of other benefits as well, and this old-school method is a great way to switch up your training from time to time.
Late in Arnold’s competitive career this technique became one of his favorite ways to train chest and back. First off, Arnold chased that pump and the one that the old-school chest and back workout delivered was off the charts. Your entire upper body feels blown up and, as Arnold said, that’s a pretty satisfying feeling.
You can also train faster, thereby saving training time, by simply moving through those supersets at a quick pace. Since they’re antagonistic bodyparts, you can go from one exercise to the other with little to no rest, which can help you burn fat and get lean. These methods really helped Arnold get in incredible condition and that’s another reason why training this way appealed to me.
Put it all together – using heavy weight, training fast, the massive pumps, the fat-burning aspect – and you can understand why Arnold liked it and how it helps build quality muscle tissue.
It’s very grueling – especially if you’re resting less than a minute – but make sure your technique stays strong while using a full range of motion. As you can see in the video, Arnold trained hard and with intensity, which only made the workout and pump better. I suggest you do the same and take an identical approach when tackling this workout.
For me, whenever I’m stuck in a training rut or in need of an absolutely killer pump, I always go back to Arnold’s Chest/Back template. It truly is one of my favorite workouts to perform and it includes a little bit of everything. You’ve got your barbell presses, chest flyes – that nearly touched the floor in Arnold’s case – and the dumbbell pullover that seemingly almost bent Arnold in half around the bench. I’ve talked before about how underrated the pullover is, and including it in this workout is absolutely amazing.
Now, Arnold and his famous double-splits had him working chest and back up to three times per week. I’m not saying you have to do that, but I would definitely recommend this at least once per week and even two if you are feeling good.
The workout is absolutely one of my favorites of all-time and whenever I’m done, I am left with one of the best pumps I’ve had in a long time. Give it a try and train chest and back together for a three-month span and you will definitely see why Arnold enjoyed it so much.
Arnold's Chest & Back Workout
|- Bench Press||5||8-10|
|- Wide-Grip Pullups/Pulldowns||5||Failure|
|- Incline Barbell Press||5||8-10|
|- T-Bar Rows||8||10|
|- Dumbbell Flys||5||10|
|- Seated Cable Rows||5||10|
|- Close-Grip Chinups/Pulldowns||5||Failure|
|- Dumbbell Pullovers||5||12|
|- Cable Crossovers||5||12-15|