Skip To Main Content
Shirtless Arnold Schwarzenegger with one hand on his hip and the other resting on a barbell

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Diet and Workout Plan

It’s been decades since the release of movies like “Stay Hungry” and “Pumping Iron,” and yet the Arnold Schwarzenegger diet and workout plan remains as effective now as it ever was. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can handle it. After all, the former bodybuilder did win the Mr. Olympia contest no less than seven times, a feat that requires serious dedication. Schwarzenegger also retained a truly cut physique well into his career as an A-list Hollywood star. Should you want to achieve anything close to his former levels of indomitable strength, prepare for a fitness regimen of the truly intense variety.

As you can probably guess, the Arnold Schwarzenegger diet plan goes big on protein, and by that we mean big. Along similarly predictable lines, the Arnold Schwarzenegger workout plan and training routine is focused primarily on muscle building. It’s a brutal program, to say the least, though don’t take that to mean you shouldn’t give it your best shot. No pain, no gain, as the man himself once said. Here’s how to bulk up as Schwarzenegger did in his prime.

Arnold Schwarzenegger cutting his food with a knife and fork
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Diet | Image: Ambal.Ru

What was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Diet?

Arnold Schwarzenegger is more or less vegan these days, but he used to be the exact opposite. At the height of his physical prowess, he abided by the rule that for “every pound of bodyweight, needed one gram of protein.” Needless to say, when you weigh 250 pounds as he did, that amounts to a lot of protein.

However, he didn’t shy away from grains, vegetables, micronutrients, and fats either. In that regard, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s diet plan isn’t all that different than what’s being recommended for today’s bodybuilders. On the other hand, he did go much heavier on saturated fats, not that we’re here to argue with egg yolks, red meat, and bacon. The ultimate goal is to add quality mass to the body by way of quality calories.

Quantity matters too, of course, and Schwarzenegger didn’t slouch when it came to caloric intake. Not only did his diet consist of five to six small meals a day, but he supplemented with protein shakes and plenty of vitamins and minerals.

Put it all together and you end up with a grand total of 3825 calories per day, which Schwarzenegger burned through at the gym. And while he did play a terminator, the man was no robot. That’s why he incorporated a cheat meal on Sundays, chowing down on the occasional cheeseburger with fries or slice of pizza. Oh, who are we kidding, he probably at the whole pie.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger holding basket of grains
Arnold Schwarzenegger Diet Breakdown | Image: Han Myung-Gu

Arnold Schwarzenegger Diet Breakdown

Here are the specific foods that Schwarzenegger ate on a weekly basis.

  • Whole Eggs – Eggs are a tremendous source of protein and amino acids. It’s then no surprise that Schwarzenegger ate three to four eggs every morning, yolks and all.
  • Bacon or Sausage – One doesn’t exactly associate bacon and sausage with lean mass, but both foods will definitely help add calories to your diet. Plus, they’re super tasty.
  • Ezekiel Bread – Most experts say that Ezekiel bread—aka sprouted whole grain bread—is the healthiest kind you can eat. Given that it contains a range of cereal grains, two types of legumes, no added sugars, and no refined wheat, we’re inclined to agree.
  • Avocado – A bona fide miracle food, avocado delivers nearly 20 vitamins and nutrients, as well as healthy monosaturated fat. It also happens to be delicious, hence the miracle.
  • Oats – Whole grain oats contain both soluble and insoluble fibres, and have been known to improve both cholesterol levels and blood glucose levels. Schwarzenegger took his with a little honey.
  • Grilled Fish – It doesn’t take an Arnold Schwarzenegger diet plan to learn about the benefits of grilled fish.
  • Red Meat – Sure, it might have saturated fat, but a lean steak also has tons of protein, natural creatine, and all essential amino acids.
  • Grilled Lean Meat – Among bodybuilders, lean meat like chicken breast is as popular today as it was decades ago.
  • Vegetables – Everyone needs to eat their vegetables and Schwarzenegger was no exception. He also chowed down on salads.
  • Nuts – Schwarzenegger wents nuts for nuts, specifically almonds, cashews, and walnuts.
  • Sweet Potato – With each serving of sweet potatoes, you get healthy amounts of iron, fibre, B vitamins, vitamin C, and an anti-oxidant by the name of beta-carotene, among other things.
  • Brown Rice – This popular source of whole grains is not only nutritious and packed with fibre, but it reportedly decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes. What’s there not to love?
  • Full Fat Cottage Cheese – In addition to an assortment of vitamins and nutrients, cottage cheese comes loaded with protein. That it’s part of the Arnold Schwarzenegger diet plan makes perfect sense.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger Series Iron Pack – Schwarzenegger capped off his morning meal with this vitamin and mineral infusion.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger Series Iron Pump – Before he started his workout, Schwarzenegger downed one serving of this energy-inducing muscle formula.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger Series Iron CRE3 – The workout is done, now it’s time for this creatine supplement.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger Series Iron Mass – After you finish the creatine supplement, mix two scoops of this ultra-microfiltered whey protein with 6-8 ounces of milk, drink, and enjoy. Schwarzenegger also took another one of these after his third meal of the day.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger Series Iron Dream – It’s almost time to hit the hay, but not before helping yourself to this nighttime recovery formula, which promotes better sleep.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Diet Tips

As you’re probably aware, Schwarzenegger didn’t just eat right and workout, he shared a broader fitness philosophy with the world at large. Here are some pearls of wisdom that have been personally dispensed by the man himself.

  1. Study Nutrition – Knowledge is power, literally in this case.
  2. Eat Protein – Yeah, I think we got that part.
  3. Calculate Your Protein Intake – According to Arnold, you should consume one gram of protein for every one pound of body weight.
  4. Supplement with Protein – In other words, remember to drink your shakes.
  5. Egg Yolks Are Fine – Hooray!
  6. Skip the Fat-Free Foods – Fat-free foods usually supplement the fat with sugar, and virtually anything is better than sugar. Plus, mono and saturated fats help build testosterone.
  7. Take a Multi-Vitamin Daily – You got it, Dr. Schwarzenegger!
  8. Eliminate Sugary Foods – Schwarzenegger said if he could recommend one dietary change over all others, it would be to rid your body of things like corn starch, high-fructose corn sweetener, maltodextrin, and other sugary foods or ingredients.
  9. Choose Your Foods Carefully – Quality matters.
  10. Make Your Post-Workout Meal Count – When you hit the gym as hard as Schwarzenegger did, you must immediately replenish with vital nutrients. He also suggests eating carbs 30 minutes after a workout.
  11. Eat More to Gain Mass – Still not packing in the extra pounds? Up your caloric intake. Protein shakes will help.
  12. Skip Dessert – This one pretty much speaks for itself.
  13. Monitor Your Portions – Consistency is everything in the world of bodybuilding, which is why you should know exactly how much you’re eating when you eat it.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Workout Plan

It basically goes without saying that, like the Arnold Schwarzenegger diet, the Arnold Schwarzenegger workout routine is all-encompassing and brutally intense. Here’s the specific workout he was touting in a 1991 issue of Muscle Magazine:

Austrian Bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger lifts weights at Muscle Beach in Venice in August 1977 in Los Angeles, California
Arnold Schwarzenegger Workout Plan A | Image: Michael Ochs Archives

Arnold Schwarzenegger Workout Plan A – Performed on Monday, Wednesday and Friday


  • Bench press – 5 sets, 6-10 reps
  • Flat bench flies – 5 sets, 6-10 reps
  • Incline bench press – 6 sets, 6-10 reps
  • Cable crossovers – 6 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Dips – 5 sets, to failure
  • Dumbbell pullovers – 5 sets, 10-12 reps


  • Front wide-grip chin-ups – 6 sets, to failure
  • T-bar rows – 5 sets, 6-10 reps
  • Seated pulley rows – 6 sets, 6-10 reps
  • One-arm dumbbell rows – 5 sets, 6-10 reps
  • Straight-leg deadlifts – 6 sets, 15 reps


  • Squats – 6 sets, 8-12 reps
  • Leg presses – 6 sets, 8-12 reps
  • Leg extensions – 6 sets, 12-15 reps
  • Leg curls – 6 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Barbell lunges – 5 sets, 15 reps


  • Standing calf raises -10 sets, 10 reps
  • Seated calf raises – 8 sets, 15 reps
  • One-legged calf raises (holding dumbbells) – 6 sets,12 reps


  • Wrist curls (forearms on knees) – 4 sets, 10 reps
  • Reverse barbell curls – 4 sets, 8 reps
  • Wright roller machine – to failure


Nonstop instinct training for 30 minutes

Shirtless Arnold Schwarzenegger flexing his biceps
Arnold Schwarzenegger Workout Plan B | Image: Archive PL

Arnold Schwarzenegger Workout Plan B – Performed on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday



  • Close-grip bench presses (for the all three heads) – 6 sets, 6-10 reps
  • Pushdowns (exterior head) – 6 sets, 6-10 reps
  • Barbell French presses (interior head) – 6 sets, 6-10 reps
  • One-arm dumbbell triceps extensions (exterior head) – 6 sets, 6-10 reps


  • Seated barbell presses – 6 sets, 6-10 reps
  • Lateral raises (standing) – 6 sets, 6-10 reps
  • Rear-delt lateral raises – 5 sets, 6-10 reps
  • Cable lateral raises – 5 sets, 10-12 reps

Calves and Forearms

Same as Monday, Wednesday and Friday


Same as Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

So there you have it, the Arnold Schwarzenegger diet and workout routine.

You’ll also like:
Chris Evans’ Captain America Workout & Diet Plan
Zac Efron’s ‘Baywatch’ Diet and Workout Plan
Chris Hemsworth’s Thor Diet & Workout Plan

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Diet and Workout Plan FAQ

What did Arnold do for abs?

Wood chops, hollow holds, dead bugs, planks, ab rollouts, side planks, pallof presses and single arm band chest presses.

What was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s favourite exercise?

Arnold Schwarzenegger told Men’s Health that his favourite exercise is the clean and press.