How Strong Was Arnold Schwarzenegger? – His All-Time PR Lifts

Written by James C., M.S.(C), PT

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Arnold Schwarzenegger, a name synonymous with strength and physique, has left an indelible mark in the world of bodybuilding, strength training, and fitness.

Born in Austria in 1947, Arnold was captivated by the power of physical strength from a young age.

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This fascination propelled him into a journey that would redefine the limits of human strength and determination.

Arnold’s accomplishments, from his teenage years in Olympic weightlifting to his transition into powerlifting and beyond, are a testament to his unwavering commitment and relentless pursuit of greatness.

This article aims to delve into the magnitude of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s strength, exploring his impressive PR lifts and his heaviest lifts in the gym.

Arnold’s Journey in Olympic Weightlifting (1963-1965)

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s journey into Olympic weightlifting began when he was just a teenager.

From 1963 to 1965, Arnold showcased his burgeoning strength on the global stage, competing with athletes much older and more experienced than him.

His performance was remarkable, achieving lifts that many seasoned weightlifters found challenging.

His best lifts during these years included an impressive

  • 264 lbs overhead press
  • 243 lbs snatch
  • 298 lbs clean and jerk.

These extraordinary feats, achieved at such a young age, were early indicators of the immense strength Arnold possessed and the greatness he was destined to achieve.

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Transition to Powerlifting (1966-1968)

Arnold’s insatiable drive for strength led him to transition from Olympic weightlifting to powerlifting in 1966.

This new chapter in his strength training journey came with its own set of challenges, but Arnold, with his dedication and sheer willpower, proved his mettle once again.

From 1966 to 1968, he competed in powerlifting, demonstrating his awe-inspiring strength in three main lifts: the squat, bench press, and deadlift.

His official bests during this period were:

  • Squat: Arnold’s squat was nothing short of impressive. He recorded his best official squat at 473.9 lbs, a testament to his powerful lower body strength and core stability.
  • Bench Press: His prowess extended to the bench press, where he recorded an official best of 440.9 lbs, demonstrating his exceptional upper body strength.
  • Deadlift: The deadlift, a true test of overall strength, saw Arnold lifting an astounding 683.4 lbs. Achieving this feat at just 21 years old, Arnold showed his extraordinary capacity to generate power and force.

These official lifts, achieved in such a short span of time, reflect Arnold Schwarzenegger’s remarkable strength, determination, and dedication to the world of powerlifting.

Unofficial Gym Lifts

While Arnold’s official powerlifting feats are impressive, his unofficial gym lifts present an even more astounding display of his strength.

These lifts, carried out in the less formal environment of the gym, allowed Arnold to push his body’s limits even further.

  • Squat: In the gym, Arnold was known to squat a staggering 545 lbs, surpassing his official best. This further underscores the significant strength and endurance in his lower body.
  • Bench Press: Similarly, his gym record for the bench press was a massive 500 lbs, an exceptional feat that demonstrates the sheer power of his upper body.
  • Deadlift: The deadlift, often considered the ultimate test of raw strength, saw Arnold lifting an unbelievable 710 lbs in the gym. This lift showcases his tremendous overall strength and power.
  • Cheat Curls: In addition to his three main lifts, Arnold was also renowned for his cheat curls. He was known to cheat curl between 250 and 275 lbs for reps, an extraordinary feat that highlights his formidable bicep strength.

These unofficial gym lifts, although not formally recorded, offer a deeper insight into Arnold Schwarzenegger’s extraordinary strength.

His passion for pushing beyond established boundaries is a testament to his dedication, commitment, and love for the sport.


Arnold Schwarzenegger’s strength feats, both official and those achieved in the gym, are nothing short of awe-inspiring.

From his early years in Olympic weightlifting to his transition into powerlifting, and his incredible gym records, Arnold’s journey is a testament to his remarkable strength, unyielding determination, and a relentless desire to push beyond boundaries.

Despite retiring from competitive lifting at a very young age, his records, which continue to inspire millions around the world, remain as a testament to his might.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s legacy in strength training and bodybuilding transcends the sport itself, embodying the very essence of power, perseverance, and the human potential for greatness.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s heaviest official lift in powerlifting?
    • Arnold’s heaviest official lift in powerlifting was his deadlift of 683.4 lbs.
    1. What was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s heaviest lift in the gym?
    • Arnold’s heaviest known gym lift was his deadlift of 710 lbs.
    1. At what age did Arnold Schwarzenegger begin his weightlifting journey?
    • Arnold began his journey in Olympic weightlifting as a teenager in 1963.
    1. What were Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best lifts in Olympic weightlifting?
    • His best lifts during his Olympic weightlifting years were a 264 lbs overhead press, a 243 lbs snatch, and a 298 lbs clean and jerk.
    1. How did Arnold Schwarzenegger’s gym lifts compare to his official lifts?
    • Arnold’s gym lifts surpassed his official lifts, showcasing his extraordinary strength. His gym records included a 545 lbs squat, a 500 lbs bench press, and a 710 lbs deadlift.
    1. What is a cheat curl and how much could Arnold Schwarzenegger lift?
    • A cheat curl is a bicep curl done with the use of body momentum or swing to lift heavier weights. Arnold was known to cheat curl between 250 and 275 lbs for reps.
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