Arnold Schwarzenegger's workouts from back in his prime are classics for a reason, which is one reason why bodybuilders love to emulate them. Another reason might have more to do with straight-up masochism: Bodybuilder Aseel Soueid got 'wrecked' while doing Arnold's Blueprint workout. YouTuber Cole Baker attempted to train Arnold's splits for a month. Bodybuilder Jujimufu did a grueling chest workout from Schwarzenegger's Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding.
Now, bodybuilder and YouTuber Joey Szatmary and his friend Dave Maconi have stepped up to try out Schwarzenegger's challenging superset back and chest workout. "If you are looking for a upper body bodybuilding workout, this will definitely get you pumped," Szatmary says.
For the supersets, the duo came down to 3-4 sets, with a maximum of 15 reps per set, declining each set. He does note that this workout is for advanced lifters, as it's a ton of volume and the guys "couldn't even keep up with it ourselves." Here's what the workout looked like.
Super Set #1: Wide Grip Flat Bench Press + Behind the Neck Pullups
"I hadn't done behind the neck pull-ups since high school," Szatmary says. Both guys note that the wider grip bench press is not their favorite, as they prefer a more narrow grip to protect the shoulders. "I wanted to experiment with chest development if I did go a little wider," Szatmary notes.
Super Set #2: Incline Bench Press + T-bar Rows
For the guys, the T-bar row was a move they hadn't hit in a while, but was a welcome challenge.
"I really enjoyed the T-bar rows," Szatmary says. I felt a good pump in my back and was something I could load a good amount of weight onto. I got 5 plates on there...I was literally and physically pumped about that."
Maconi agrees: "When you haven't done something you haven't done in a while, it tests how muscularly strong are you. It's crazy how much weaker I felt on that exercise."
Super Set #3: Dumbbell Flat Bench + Barbell Rows
"By the end, you're just working...there's no pump anymore," Maconi says. "You're just dead. In terms of the rows, the back being such a big muscle group, I do think a decent amount of variability is important. The variations and angles (in this workout) and different muscle lengths you're stretching to are important with back workouts. "
Super Set #4: Weighted Dips + Close Grip Chinups
"By the time we were doing these at the end, we were completely spent," Szatmary says. "I don't know if I wasn't used to that much volume or that many exercises for each muscle group...we just felt like we were doing this work and not getting much of a stimulus."
Overall Workout Review
After completing the workout, the guys gave their review.
"I haven't done high volume in a long time, and that's a debate in the industry now (high vs. low volume)," says Maconi. "I'm a fan of higher frequency, but I feel like once you've done a number of sets (which is going to be individual), beyond that it's just the junk volume. But Arnold and those guys did a lot of high volume and failure training, and they did very high frequency. It obviously worked for them. But I enjoyed the workout. If you want to mix it up for the fun of it, I definitely recommend."
Szatmary agrees. "If this is something I really wanted to add to my program, I would have started with 2 sets the first week, getting my body to adjust...and after that increasing it to 3 sets, etc. Coming right out the gate with 4 sets for this workout, you need to progressively build up to that."
He notes that he was surprised there weren't any fly variations, which Arnold loves. "There was tons and tons of pressing," Szatmary says. "But overall, it was just fun. It's important to have fun and try different things."
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