How did Arnold build his iconic biceps? With hard work—and lots of it.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s guns are arguably the most famous in human history, and rightly so. Stretching the tape to a full 22 inches, they weren’t just the biggest of his day (the late-’60s to the mid-’70s) but also the most ideally shaped. Arnold kept things basic and brutal, yet made sure to cover his bases by including exercises that he considered mass builders, and others that isolate the biceps.
ARNOLD’S FAVORITE CURLS
Cheating barbell curls were a favorite exercise that he included in his regimen from the time he was a teenager. “The cheating barbell curl stands alone for building mass,” he once stated. Likewise, Arnold loved incline dumbbell curls. He would set the incline bench to an angle of about 45 degrees to ensure maximum stretch throughout his biceps.
Arnold considered one-arm concentration curls to be the ultimate movement for adding peak to the biceps. Although the shape of one’s biceps is largely determined by genetics, concentration curls do target the outer head of the biceps, which is the one that creates arm height when flexed.
The Oak would finish off his biceps with standing alternating dumbbell curls, which he’d sometimes do with a device called an arm blaster. This would help him keep his elbows pinned to his sides, isolating his biceps even further.
In the end, he performed between 20 and 26 sets of this grueling work twice a week, on Tuesday and Friday evenings.
ARNOLD’S BASIC BICEPS ROUTINE
|Cheating Barbell Curls||5-8||8-12|
|Incline Dumbbell Curls||5-8||8-12|
|One-arm Concentration Curls||5||10|
|Standing Alternating Dumbbell Curls||5||10|
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