Arnold's Chest & Back Workout: The Best Pump Of All

Cory Gregory
Written By: Cory Gregory
March 26th, 2015
Updated: May 26th, 2021
595K Reads
Arnold's Chest & Back Workout: The Best Pump Of All
Everyone knows that Arnold lived for the pump, and this chest and back superset was his favorite workout to get both results and a hardcore pump.

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.

Schwarzenegger's Superset

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

Exercise Sets Reps
- 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
- Dips 5 10
- Close-Grip Chinups/Pulldowns 5 Failure
- Dumbbell Pullovers 5 12
- Cable Crossovers 5 12-15
Bob long
Posted on: Sun, 01/01/2023 - 21:29

I’m 59. Seriously got into this a year ago. Have lost 69 lbs of fat and I can see definition now and n my body. I’ve always gone quickly from one machine to the other. Usually upper body to lower body than back. After reading this article I started following Arnold’s philosophy. Last Friday I experienced my first pump. Wow. How awesome. 48 hours later I’m m still sore!’nn. Oh my god I feel awesome and can’t wait to do more supersets. Alternating leg and upper back day days. Thank you. Very inspiring.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sat, 01/14/2023 - 18:11

Congrats on the incredible results, and thank you for sharing, Bob. We appreciate you here at M&S!

Connor Frank
Posted on: Mon, 07/11/2022 - 16:55

Could you do this without the supersets?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 07/22/2022 - 14:45

You're going to be in the gym for a while, Connor. But yeah, you can certainly do it. You may notice strength gains since you'll have that extra rest.

Posted on: Mon, 09/27/2021 - 09:37

I ve done this exercise today, very good pumped during the workout! But I am exhausted and I think I am gonna take a rest at home.

Posted on: Mon, 11/12/2018 - 17:06

Just done this workout for the first time this morning, felt good during exercising however fatigue set in over the course of the day and I’m absolutely spent now ready for my bed now, this workout is a beast, but definitely be doing it again.

Posted on: Thu, 08/02/2018 - 16:17

Why is the last superset two chest workouts?

Posted on: Tue, 11/06/2018 - 15:03

As per my knowledge, pullovers are good for both back an chest. So its not a specific chest or back thing

Posted on: Wed, 05/27/2020 - 16:15

A dumb bell pullover can work both the chest and the lats.....The key is to stop at the top of the head to be better emphasis on the lats and over the sternum if activating the pectorals... Also concentration on the targeted muscles are key...

Willis Miranda
Posted on: Sun, 07/11/2021 - 18:36

Pullovers can be used to develop the serratus as well as the pectorals good observation though

Posted on: Sun, 10/15/2017 - 18:55

Great workout from the greatest of all time. Basically he was a natural lifter who used a couple of cycles 2 months out of the year. Besides that it was all about the volume the frequency and the intensity of the workouts. And also of course the diet and the nutrition and the supplements. That's why it's so effective. You get the pump, the fat burning, and the hypertrophy from this workout program. It's really so great and all of these things like that.

Mike Corbett
Posted on: Sat, 08/06/2016 - 14:16

What exerscize can I use if my gym doesn't have a t-bar row?

Posted on: Wed, 02/01/2017 - 03:13

You can make a makeshift t bar. what you do is grab an olympic bar off one of the benches or squat racks and then place it into a corner of any kind so that it wont move. Then go find a close grip handle that you would use for cable rows for instance and hook that underneath the bar. Load up the weight you want and you are golden

Posted on: Wed, 08/09/2017 - 11:39

Bent over rows would do

Posted on: Mon, 10/16/2017 - 13:28

Flat bench supersetted with Bent over barbell row 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps.

Willis Miranda
Posted on: Sun, 07/11/2021 - 18:38

The bent over row!

Jerome Sharpe
Posted on: Sat, 05/30/2015 - 17:31

Even younger advanced natural lifters should take this with a large grain of salt. I just did this work out and it's a ball buster and will almost certainly take longer to recover from than most of us take between workouts. Keep in mind Arnold, in addition to being young and genetically gifted, was also all jacked up on anabolic steroids, which among other things allow a lifter to train harder and longer, and speed the recovery process. Natural lifters wanting to try this workout would be well advised to cut back on the number of sets.

Posted on: Fri, 02/15/2019 - 13:34

Nah. You’re just unfit.

Hussein Nasser
Posted on: Fri, 03/19/2021 - 22:36

This was a relatively easy workout. It’s perfect for people stuck in a Plateau. Insane pump. Everyone else was posting very in effective workouts. I’d barely get pumps. But this hits home. I recommend everyone finish till the end. Shock the muscle. -age 20, natty, 200 pounds at 9% body fat. Don’t need roids to have a crazy workout my friend.

Posted on: Sun, 04/05/2015 - 01:11

Didn't Arnold do pyramid workouts?

Posted on: Mon, 03/30/2015 - 15:13

Have To try this!!

Posted on: Mon, 03/30/2015 - 11:13

That's video is awesome...never seen that anywhere before

Eli Jones
Posted on: Sun, 03/29/2015 - 19:42

Is the set number for t-bar rows a typo? It says 8 sets of 10 supersetted with only 5 sets of 8-10 with incline

Willis M
Posted on: Fri, 05/15/2015 - 16:12

it should say 5 by 5

Posted on: Thu, 03/26/2015 - 20:21

no deadlifts??

Posted on: Mon, 03/30/2015 - 01:25

Not on a Chest and back workout lol