T Nation

The Arnold Chest-Back Superset


#1

The other day I came across the Chest-Back superset workout that Arnold Schwarzenegger claimed he followed to create arguably one of the best chest ever. I tried a shorter version of this workout the yesterday and it was a killer I was just wondering if anyone has done the whole thing before and if so what kind of results it produced for you and how you were able to get out of bed the next morning lol.

â?¢Bench presses * 1 30-45
â?¢Bench presses 5 20-6
â?¢Wide-grip behind-the-neck chins 5 15-8
â?¢Incline barbell presses 5 10-15
â?¢T-bar rows 5 10-15
â?¢Flat-bench dumbbell flyes 5 10-15
â?¢Wide-grip barbell rows 5 10-15 (performed standing on a block for better range of motion)
â?¢Dips 5 15
â?¢Close-grip chins 5 12
â?¢Stiff-arm pullovers 5 15-20
â?¢Iso-tension contractions (finishing exercise)

Basically all the pushing and pulling movements are supersetted without rest and on bench you go up in weight as the reps go down.


#2

Let's be clear, this is not the way Arnold Schwarzenegger trained to build up his chest or back.

It looks like a ridiculously long workout but what you have to understand is that competitors did not do "cardio" leading up to contests back in the 70s, they simply burned all those calories by amping up their training in this way.

It is more like the modern-day idea of doing "barbell complexes" instead of cardio than it is an actual mass-building workout. And it did seem to work pretty well for them.


#3

Mr. Popular, so complexes are the way to go for cardio for guys these days?


#4

I really wouldn't say that, they are comparable but not the same, although you cannot argue with the results of a guy like Alpha that does them.

However, modern bodybuilders get far more shredded these days utilizing the bike and treadmill than the oldschool guys did, though some argue that is just a matter of drugs and the greater demand for super conditioning that wasn't a priority in judging back then.

In general, golden age bodybuilders thought of contest training as the time to bring the most separation and detail into a muscle while also burning off the fat around it by doing supersets and high rep/volume training with little rest time. They did not think in terms of "burning calories" except that they cut out carbs to be as low as they could handle.

Many people today would say that they were idiots for thinking this, though they achieved legendary physiques by doing so, and it is especially impressive considering the new information surfacing about spot reduction now. Burning extra calories through long workouts, and repeatedly getting tremendous circulation and heat into every part of their bodies could absolutely have an effective fat burning effect in my opinion.


#5

i used this superset, and i got huge just like arnold bro. bigger id say. and im 5'9", so i look EVEN BIGGER. it's a good thing i found this in the M+F article 7 years ago or i would have never gotten teh pumpz.


#6

If you got that from M&F January 2005, I'm gonna shit my pants lol. That sounds familiar... lol


#7

I remember trying one of Arnold's arm workouts from M&F. 32 sets for bis and 32 sets for tris. Good fucking lord was I an idiot


#8

i remember seeing that article too - haha seems to have done th rounds. cant say i ever attempted it though! I remember him saying the whole thing took a grand total of 45mins!


#9

If you wanted a more accurate picture of how Arnold and most of the guys from the 70s trained as beginners, it is very similar to a program like Big Beyond Belief. Just basic exercises done with a high frequency, low and high repetitions, nothing fancy, handful of exercises picked for their deliberate purpose. You can also read Dave Drapers articles about their training though most of that is contest prep... but Ric Drasin's articles and clips about training with Arnold give a very accurate picture of things.

Even after winning Mr. Universe Arnold once said that in the offseason he does 3 or so basic exercises for his chest and simply adds cable flies when prepping for a contest. He also said that he didn't start supersetting until he came to America and realized the importance of leanness and conditioning in bodybuilding. When he first got to California he was made fun of because he would walk around talking and joking with everybody between sets taking forever to do a workout. lol


#10

Just because I'm a nerd that knows way too much about Arnold, I'm going to keep this corpse of a thread alive...

According to Ric Drasin, during the period that he trained with Arnold this is exactly how they trained chest and back:

Supersets-
Bench press and pull ups 4-5 sets of each (for bench 10,8,6,2,1,maybe another single, then drop to 8)
Incline bench and seated cable rows 4-5 sets of each
Dumbbell flies and One-arm cable rows 4-5 sets of each
Would sometimes end with: Cable crossovers and machine pullovers
Finish with situps (just bodyweight, 100-200 reps of situps or leg raises)

took about one hour.

And this is the routine Arnold did as a 260lb world-class bodybuilder... not talking about his formative years or anything. It's extremely similar to an ordinary bodybuilding, if anything he did much less than modern bodybuilders, though you have to keep in mind he always trained every muscle 2-3 times a week.


#11

That's some interesting stuff mr popular. That actually doesn't look like a bad workout at all either. I might give it a try it this week on my chest or back day.


#12

Supersetting antagonist muscles have really helped my shoulder issues and I really like the faster paced workouts.