Learn from the best. Arnold passes on his secrets for building boulder shoulders.
There’s no question that during his prime, Arnold Schwarzenegger had the most impressive set of shoulders that left the bodybuilding fans in awe. Beginning his weight training at only 14 years of age, Arnold went on to creating a prestigious bodybuilding career winning the Mr Olympia title 7-times, while also managing to secure the Mr Universe title at the tender age of 20.
Fortunately, Arnold had no problem sharing the techniques he used to attain those massive shoulders. Following are some of the tips offered by this legendary bodybuilder on how to get Arnold-sized shoulders.
Beginning With the Basics
In an interview, Arnold noted that most young bodybuilders today are relying on sophisticated machinery and forgetting the basics. The problem here is that the basics provide the groundwork for further muscle development and by skipping this step, bodybuilders aren’t getting the shoulder mass they went out to achieve.
Movements like snatch, clean and press, and the upright row are just some of the basics Arnold relied on during his heyday. Of course, Arnold has also been noted for his variations of basic exercises, resulting in techniques like the Arnold Press.
Bodybuilding beginners are of the wrong opinion that the more reps they do per session, the better their results. Although there is merit for developing this mindset, the fact is that our body has its limits.
With many sources, including Arnold stating that the 8-12 repetition range is the optimal range for growth. This number of reps have proven to be the best for a great muscle pump and as a result, significant muscle hypertrophy.
Arnold’s shoulder workout has a strong emphasis in shocking the muscles so that the growth remains constant. By following the same routine over and over again, the body becomes used to the training so it becomes easier. Although this might sound beneficial, it actually causes the muscles to grow at a slower pace. Therefore, one of Arnold’s core training principles is to shock the muscles every day by continually altering his weight routine.
For example, one day he would start with 250lb military presses for 10 reps, have some of the plates pulled, do 10 more reps, and so forth. On another day, he may do 10 reps of 100lb shoulder press, and then moving straight to side raises to mix it up. And most of the time, the additional reps are implemented without once putting down the weights, which then provides optimum tension for growth.
Rest-pauses are a training technique used when doing presses that Arnold swears by. The technique requires the user to pick the highest Smith machine weight that you can confidently press for at least 6 repetitions. Unlike other exercises, there’s no need to change the weight – you just have to stick to this for the entire set.
Start off with 5 repetitions of the weight, take 20 seconds of rest and then lower the repetition to 3 using the same weight. Take another 20 seconds of rest and do one last set of 3 repetitions. This adds up to around 11 repetitions for a heavy weight that you would normally only do for 6 reps. Essentially, what you’re doing here is propelling the intensity of the exercise by providing several breaks during the set, this is also a great technique to use when you’ve reached a strength plateau.
Signature Arnold Presses
This exercise was originally just another variation of the shoulder press. It essentially involves an additional movement that flexes the delts at the top while stretching the front deltoid at the bottom of the movement, resulting to a double workout routine (Arnold strongly believed in getting the full stretch of a muscle to maximise growth).
This exercise is now dubbed the “Arnold Press” because Arnie would incorporate it into his workouts quite often. Behind the neck shoulder presses were also a topical exercise you would see Arnold corporate in his shoulder workouts.
Shoulder Routines by Arnold
Throughout his bodybuilding years, it’s safe to say that Arnold Schwarzenegger utilised different workout routines to build and maintain his body. He managed to share different programs, each one designed to widen, bulk up and strengthen the shoulders. Here are some of them.
Arnold’s Shoulder Workout #1
- 4 sets of Smith Machine Overhead Press – 6 repetitions/s
- 4 sets of Arnold Press – 10 repetition’s for first set followed by 8, 6, and 6 reps
- 3 sets of Barbell Upright Row – 8 repetitions
- 3 sets of Dumbbell Lateral Raise – 10 repetitions
- 3 supersets of Dumbbell Bent Over Lateral Raise – 10 repetitions
Arnold’s Shoulder Workout #2
- 5 sets of Seated Barbell Military Press – 15 repetitions for the first set followed by 12, 10, 8, and 8
- 4 sets of Side Lateral Raise – 12 repetitions for the first set followed by 12, 10, and 8
- 4 sets of Seated Smith Machine Shoulder Press – 12 repetitions for the first set followed by 10, 10, and 8
- 4 sets of Bent Over Rear Delt Raise – 12 repetitions for the first set followed by 12, 10, and 8
- 4 sets of Upright Barbell Row – 12 repetitions for the first set followed by 12, 10, and 8
Arnold’s Shoulder Workout #3
- 4 sets of Arnold Press – 8 repetitions
- 4 sets of Standing Side Lateral – 8 repetitions
- 4 sets of Seated Rear Lateral – 8 repetitions
- 3 sets of Cable Side Lateral – 10 repetitions