Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Shoulder Workout: A Masterpiece in Muscle Sculpting

Table of Contents

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the indomitable force in bodybuilding, crafted not just a physique but a legacy that inspired generations of fitness enthusiasts.

His shoulder workout, a symphony of exercises meticulously designed for maximum gains, has become an iconic routine in the realm of bodybuilding.

In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the secrets of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s shoulder workout, exploring each exercise with the precision of a sculptor carving a masterpiece.

The Arnold Schwarzenegger Approach to Shoulders

arnold schwarzenegger shoulder press
via arnold schwarzenegger instagram

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s approach to shoulder training was as dynamic as his legendary career.

He incorporated a variety of exercises to ensure balanced development, focusing on the anterior, lateral, and posterior deltoids.

The result? Shoulders that were not just strong but sculpted into a work of art.

Exercise 1: Seated Barbell Military Press

The foundation of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s shoulder routine lies in the classic seated barbell military press.

This compound movement targets the entire shoulder complex. 

arnold schwarzenegger seated row
via arnold schwarzenegger instagram

Here’s how Arnold Schwarzenegger described it:

“Barbell presses in the front and the back. I mean, we always did the rear press behind the neck, kind of presses, the military presses, the dumps, which was then is now called the Arnold Schwarzenegger press because it was a certain way that was done.”


  • Sit on a military press bench.
  • Grasp the barbell with a pronated grip.
  • Lift the bar above your head, locking your arms.
  • Lower it down slowly, then exhale as you push it back up.

Sets and Reps:

  • Perform four sets with the following reps: 12, 12, 10, 8.

Exercise 2: Side Lateral Raise

Moving on to the side lateral raise, Arnold Schwarzenegger targeted the lateral deltoids with precision. 

This isolation exercise enhances shoulder width and definition.


  • Grab a pair of dumbbells.
  • Raise them out to the sides while keeping your torso still.
  • Exhale as you lift and inhale as you lower.

Sets and Reps:

  • Complete four sets with the following reps: 12, 12, 10, and 8.

Exercise 3: Smith Machine Overhead Shoulder Press

The Smith machine overhead shoulder press brought a new dimension to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s routine.

This machine variation provided stability and control.


  • Sit slightly behind the Smith machine barbell.
  • Palms facing forward, lift the barbell overhead.
  • Lower it down to chin level while inhaling.
  • Exhale as you lift it back up.

Sets and Reps:

  • Perform four sets with the following reps: 12, 12, 10, 8.

Exercise 4: Seated Bent Over Rear Delt Raise

arnold schwarzenegger seated cable row
via arnold schwarzenegger instagram

To target the posterior deltoids, Arnold Schwarzenegger included the seated bent-over rear delt raise, ensuring a well-rounded shoulder development.


  • Sit on the edge of a bench, bending forward.
  • Lift the dumbbells to the sides.
  • Keep your back straight and exhale as you lift.

Sets and Reps:

  • Complete four sets with the following reps: 12, 12, 10, and 8.

Exercise 5: Upright Barbell Row

Closing the routine with the upright barbell row, Arnold Schwarzenegger honed in on the traps and upper shoulders.

arnold schwarzenegger barbell curl
via arnold schwarzenegger instagram


  • Lift the barbell with an overhand grip.
  • Raise it to shoulder level while raising your elbows.
  • Lower it down while inhaling.

Sets and Reps:

  • Perform four sets with the following reps: 12, 12, 10, 8.

The Arnold Schwarzenegger Press: A Creation of Excellence

Now, let’s talk about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s unique creation – the Arnold Press. This exercise engages all sections of the deltoids, offering a greater range of motion.


  • Hold a pair of dumbbells in front of your shoulders.
  • Palms facing your body, open your arms and extend them overhead in one fluid motion.
  • Exhale as you reverse the move and inhale.

Sets and Reps:

  • For beginners, sit on a bench with back support to control movements. Perform four sets with the following reps: 12, 12, 10, 8.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Wisdom: Consistency and Prudence

arnold schwarzenegger workout advice
via arnold schwarzenegger instagram

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wisdom extends beyond the exercises. He emphasized the importance of consistency and proper form for optimal results.

The shoulder workout he crafted wasn’t just about lifting weights it was about sculpting a physique with precision and care.

In Arnold Schwarzenegger’s words:

“You shock the shortest all the time with unusual things, and one of them is to go down the back from 110 pounds… to 40, living lateral raises with the 40 pounds and with the bend-over lateral raises before we ever put it down. So now the shortest was so pumped up, and it was screaming. Your arms felt like falling off.”

Conclusion: Unleash Your Inner Arnold

In conclusion, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s shoulder workout isn’t merely a series of exercises it’s a legacy etched in iron and muscle.

By incorporating these time-tested movements into your routine, you embark on a journey to sculpt shoulders that command attention.

arnold schwarzenegger workout routine for beginners
via arnold schwarzenegger instagram

Remember, consistency, proper form, and a commitment to pushing your limits are the keys to success.

As you follow in the footsteps of the legend, let the echoes of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wisdom guide you in your pursuit of bolder shoulders.

Are you ready to take on the challenge? Arnold Schwarzenegger did it, and so can you. Until next time, stay strong, and keep lifting.

Share, if you would like!
Maqsood Ali
Maqsood Ali
Maqsood Ali is a freelance writer, proofreader, English tutor, editor, and content strategist. He has over 06 years of experience, specializing in health, fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle content. Before becoming a freelancer, Maqsood held part-time staff positions at various companies and agencies, including Faizi Homeopathic clinic. Maqsood became heavily involved in CrossFit and fitness after finishing his Master's degree in English at the University of Okara. You can find his work at Tikkaykhan, GetSixpackab, and other fitness and nutrition companies and media outlets.

Table of Contents

Fact Checked

Get accurate and credible information from our expert-written and fact-checked article. With reference links to peer-reviewed studies, you can trust the information provided.

Our team of experts ensure the highest standard of information for your benefit. Read now!