Bench press, incline press, dip, and dumbbell fly. That's the basic routine Arnold Schwarzenegger used to develop the chest that is considered one of the most perfectly built of all time. Chances are, you already knew this "secret," and you've been following it. So, why isn't your chest more like Arnold's?
OK, we'll give you a break. The Oak's pecs were one of a kind, thanks in part to his Herculean genetics, and he had more time to train than you probably do. (We are, however, assuming you have the heart to work as hard as Arnold, whose dedication to the iron was supreme.) But all that aside, using a routine that was popularized a half-century ago while science and experience have revealed far better methods is, as Arnold would say, for "girly men."
Set an adjustable bench to a 20- to 25-degree angle and lie back against it with a dumbbell in each hand. Start with the weights at shoulder level and then press them straight over your chest. Note that many benches will not adjust to such a shallow angle. You may need to raise a flat bench on a weight plate or some mats.
If he were starting today, Arnold would likely take a much different approach. Since we assume you're a regular guy with a job and only average muscle-building genes, we think you should, too. What follows is a scientific, supereffi cient chest workout akin to what some bodybuilding pros are doing today. It will give you every opportunity to build a set of pecs that emulate the ones that helped carry The Oak to seven Mr. Olympia titles.
21st-Century Chest Training
There is nothing wrong with Arnold's old chest workout per se. It attacks the pecs from all angles and lets you load heavy weights. But most guys have already used it for years and milked it dry. If you're in that boat, it's time for some dramatic changes. Here are some of the new routine's specs.
PEC MINOR DIP
Suspend yourself over the dip bars. Keeping your arms straight, allow your body to sink down until you feel a stretch in your chest. Flex your chest and press back up.
Do the bench press last. Benching first thing means you'll always go heavy, and that forces your tendons and ligaments to take on much of the load. To maximize pec growth, you have to make these muscles do most of the work. By placing the bench press last in the workout, you'll be fatigued by the time you get to it. You'll have to use less weight, but the stimulus to your pecs will be greater. It also means you will be fully warmed up, so your training will be safer.
Adjust a bench in a Smith
machine to a slight decline.
Lie back on the bench and
secure your feet. Grab the
bar with a grip slightly
outside shoulder width and lower it to your chest. Come up three quarters of the way (before lockout). That's one rep. Perform three sets of eight to 10 reps. On your fourth set, do eight to 10, then have a partner reduce the weight immediately to allow you another eight to 10 reps. Reduce the weight again and repeat.
Use different angles. The incline and decline benches you commonly find in gyms are too steep, putting strain on your joints and rotator cuffs when pressing, as well as too much emphasis on your front delts. Instead of doing an incline press at a 45-degree angle as you're used to, try working at 20 to 25 degrees.
Hold the bar with an overhand, outside-shoulder-width grip. Your shoulder blades should be squeezed together and your entire back arched. Take the bar out of the rack and squeeze it hard. Lower it to your sternum and then pause for a second. Push your feet hard into the floor to help you press the weight up, but stop before lockout. Press it as fast as you can.
Do higher reps. Arnold generally kept his reps in the six to 12 range, but reps as high as 25 to 30 can also produce growth. To prevent form from breaking down during such a long set, you'll make use of the Smith machine. Drop sets will also be employed so you feel a searing burn in your chest-a sign that you've worked every muscle fiber to exhaustion.
Smith Machine Decline Press (shown with barbell)4 sets of 8-10 reps
End superset. Resume regular sets.
Photography by Christopher Kolk.
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so why would arnold train like this today when what he did back then made him mr olympia many times over? makes no sense. no reason to fix what isnt broke. i'm pretty sure if he walked into a gym today and started to train for an olympia he would be doing the same basic routines that made him mr o in the first place. the fact is these pros today are nowhere near as good as what arnold was. that is why bodybuilding has been shut out from the public. arnold and pumping iron brought it to the public and guys like ronnie coleman and all the other pros now shut it down for everybody by the juice they use, the way they train, and the way they look. take a step back bb,.com and look at what you are promoting. those guys back in the day were a million times healthier than the pros today and you need to get back to promoting good supplements and basic routines instead of big pay out companies to sick over the top looking guys that are ruining bodybuilding for everybody.
I can only like your comment :)
PS: http://a5.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/389422_337573599593513_284422091575331_1485187_126024371_n.jpg all the <3 for Arnold
Well said, dmpenwell. Golden Era of bodybuilding were the best days. Now the guys are just too **** big. Wish those days of small waist and perfect symmetry, proportion came back. Serge Nubret and Arnold are an perfect example of that.
Too much juicing going on that ruined bodybuilding. Even Arnold Encyclopedia of Modern bodybuilding book mentions that. Such a shame :(
i agree with dmpenwell arnold look like a muscular proportioned man. all these new guys are overly ripped unreal looking guys that most people dont want to look like and besides they arent and dont look natural. besides why would you want to be that big if your week. A powerlifter 100lbs lighter than Curt what ever his name is could out lift him easily. you guys need to take a look at what your target audience says and what they really want to look like. then sell your products based around that
Your comment doesn't make any sense. Bodybuilders shouldn't care about how much they can lift, this is an article about building up the chest.....hence the pre-exhaustion method.
So you just went off on a stupid rant, read the article before you comment.
I agree that most of today's BB are overly huge/rippe/unnatural looking. I also agree that Arnold and the guys back then looked more proportionate in their phisique. The fact is that steroids was around and used back then too. I am not saying any of the mentioned guys took them because I do not know them personally but it was definitely used by some. The difference is that today there are so many new formulas of supplements that come out on the market every day as well as new formulas of steroids. Also workout regimes and research within weights/types of workouts have changed over the years.
There is no need to change anything about Arnolds chest routine if it works for you, but I think we can all agree that the frequency (3 times a week) is something that is too much for almost everyone, especially those of us who have chosen to remain natural trainers where once a week is sufficient based on the type of volume Arnold trained with. Remember in Arnolds day they didnt do a lot of cardio compared to now, they used their weight training to keep lean..hence the increased frequency..