Have you ever asked yourself, “What would Arnold Schwarzenegger do?” These 31 tips will answer that question and help you build muscle.
Long before he made $ 25 million for his film roles, Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote monthly articles for bodybuilding magazine Joe Weider, who is also considered the godfather of bodybuilding. Although Arnold did not receive any journalistic awards for his work, he later collected his ideas and training in his bestselling book, The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding, which is still used today as an excellent source of information bodybuilders.
To gain the best knowledge from one of the strongest minds in bodybuilding, we bring you Arnold’s 31 workout tips on how to develop your dream body.
General training tips
- Choose the right exercises for growth.
Hard training is just as crucial as training-wise. “To become massive, you first have to be strong,” wrote Arnold. “Newbies and advanced bodybuilders shouldn’t focus as much on refinement as on height.”
With these thoughts on Arnold, you should focus less on isolated exercises and prefer complex exercises. Bench presses, squats, deadlifts, forward bends, or power shifts are examples of good complex exercises that require the coordination of multiple muscle groups. These exercises should form the core of your training plan.
In addition to being more complex than their isolated counterparts, these movements have the significant advantage of allowing you to train with heavy weights aimed at the target muscle group. Arnold believed that performing these movements and overcoming oneself plays the most significant and crucial role in gaining strength and volume.
2. Use heavy weights and low reps
For Arnold, choosing the right weight is just as important as choosing the right exercise. Eight reps of 160kg squats is a better muscle boost than 40 reps of 45kg.
“Start with fewer reps for warm-ups (but not to lead to complete muscle wasting), then add weight with each set and increase the number of reps until you reach your peak,” wrote Arnold. “Usually, there was a person next to me to help me climb the top or gain weight.”
Arnold didn’t just focus on weight. He wanted to make sure the weight was within the target range: “I have a limit. I never do less than six reps for most movements and never more than 12. This rule applies to most parts of the body, including the calves. “Therefore, make sure you select the correct weight in the given rep range.
3. Don’t settle for a routine
Few know that Arnold has an advanced degree, but he didn’t need a degree to discover that yield reductions could be applied to exercise. Doing the same exercises for a long time without significant changes loses value over time. It happens when a bodybuilder gets into a training routine.
“Based on a specific structure, I changed exercises regularly. I was happy to shake my muscles so that I didn’t leave them in a stereotype. “Arnold always planned his workouts as homework. As soon as he realized that one exercise was no longer working, he replaced it with another. He was never afraid to experiment with exercise or alternative training methods. He was always looking for new ways to get bigger and better if the old methods were ineffective.
4. Overcome failure with advanced techniques
In his book, Arnold defines various advanced training techniques as weapons to strengthen lagging body parts. Relying on trial and error, he tried various techniques himself and then focused on what worked best for him.
Don’t be afraid to apply techniques such as violent reps, negatives, drop sets, partial reps, rest breaks, or any other ideas you’ve read about to your workouts. After using one technique, notice how you feel, do not set each series until you are exhausted, but still, save the most difficult 1-2 series for each exercise.
5. Protect yourself from overtraining
In your eagerness to build muscle, you can get to the point where you want to throw it all away and flush it out. Still, Arnold warns against this counterproductive strategy: “There will be days when some part of your body will fall behind because you have overtrained and overworked. So often and so intensely that she never had time to rest, recover, and grow. “
“The answer to this problem is to give the strengthened muscles a chance to recover and adjust the training plan so that they don’t overtrain anymore. Remember, when it comes to bodybuilding, too much can be as bad as too little. “
6.Volume is best created by pressure
Strenuous exercises like pressing and chin pulling work best to create volume in the shoulders. Arnold practiced these exercises mainly at the beginning of the workout when he had the highest energy level. He usually did barbell presses behind and in front of his head to complete the development.
7.Learn different ways to make one move
Small differences in how similar movements affect the target muscle group slightly differently give us a better stimulus.
Arnold was looking for alternative exercises that target the target muscle from different angles. For example, by using one-handed dumbbells instead of a large dumbbell for overhead lifts, he deliberately reduced the distance of the weight a few inches below the lowest point of motion. He then brought the one-handed dumbbells upward, increasing the range of motion.
8.Attack the shoulders with isolated exercises
Arnold used isolated exercises to increase overhead pressure and isolate the deltoids. Here he also looked for differences that improved the overall size over time. For example, when climbing on the front pulleys, you feel that other muscles are involved besides the back. Knowing how to move and create movement patterns across devices is critical for a bodybuilder to take his figure to the next level.
9Train the upper traps with your shoulders
Arnold trained them all at once because the upper traps receive some stimulation during various arm exercises. His primary exercise for the upper trapezoid was the “shrug.” However, several other movements were required to maximize this muscle, including deadlift, locomotion, and rowing. Since the range of motion of the shoulder bend is relatively small, Arnold recommends losing weight in favor of fully flexing the shoulder as high as possible.
10.Gain volume with a massive barbell with a biceps curl while standing
Arnold loved the bicep curls to get baseball biceps. Looking for a specific movement to build muscle, he preferred exercises that allowed him to lift heavy weights and do a full range of motion, which allowed him to do 6 to 8 heavy reps. This is how he developed huge biceps and claims that this is a good start for your workouts.
11.Don’t stop if you fail
Some do biceps lifts to muscle failure, but Arnold didn’t stop. Having reached the top point, he gave himself enough time to complete the streak. Sometimes he did biceps curls with extra body movement to do a few extra reps to stimulate the muscles.
- Change the rotation of the one-handed dumbbell while lifting the biceps.
In the book, Arnold describes that he always included at least one one-handed dumbbell exercise in his workouts. In this way, feeling in an upward direction, as opposed to when doing the lift, he felt the best “peak” effect because the arm muscle is in the neutral position in which he started. Arnold performed a one-handed dumbbell bicep curl simultaneously with alternating repetitions. This later allows the body to rest more between reps.
- Do more reps for some exercises.
Not every biceps movement was performed 6 to 8 times. Arnold identified some exercises, which he called “bodybuilding movement definitions,” and performed them with relatively lightweights in a series of 8 to 12 repetitions. Here he focused on squeezing and contracting muscles and maintaining maximum contraction over time. Among his favorites are the isolated curl, the biceps curl with forearm support on the Gironde bench, and alternating curls with one-handed dumbbells.
- Experiment with a healthy body part
Arnold’s chest and triceps were particularly vital parts, so he didn’t train them the same way as his biceps. Since his triceps were already strong, he did up to 20 reps per set to build muscle.
- Set the goal of the exercise
“It is foolish to do triceps exercises and not know which part of the triceps you are training .” This is excellent advice, but how do you apply it?
Arnold offers advice he learned from legendary trainer Vince Girona: “Do 20 sets of one exercise and nothing else for that body part. Then notice where the pain is concentrated the next day .”
- Add partial iterations after errors.
Arnold’s improved triceps exercise selection technique, there were partial reps. After making a full range of tension, he added 5-6 partial iterations of the top, bottom, or half movement to the series. Although he could no longer do any full reps and was limited to the peak, he still managed to do a few reps because his height propelled him.
- Make additional streaks to strengthen the strengthening.
Arnold often added series to the biceps and triceps exercises, or in other words, he did the exercises one after the other to get a lot of blood into his hands. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients necessary for growth, but these additional streaks also allowed Arnold to achieve his ultimate training goal: “pump killing.” The different series for a smaller muscle group, such as the arms, are lighter than those for larger groups, such as the legs, although Arnold often did the same.
- Make your weakness your priority.
If you have big breasts, it is natural that you want to show them off, and you will be doing more chest exercises in the gym. However, Arnold had the opposite approach. At some point, Arnold noticed that his calves were lagging behind general physical development. Instead of hiding his weakness, he solemnly cut off his pants’ bottom and put on shorts. Thus, he always reminded himself of his weaknesses and further strengthened them. He trained his calves more frequently, early in his workout when he was still fresh, and sometimes even between batches of larger body parts, which strategically helped him earn the world’s most recognized bodybuilding degree.
- Try everything
Since Arnold had long legs, at first, his calves and his thighs were behind him. Therefore, on the day of leg training, he abandoned all training plans and, as he wrote: “It was tough for me to train my legs, considering that I have long legs, and therefore muscles.
The so-called long-legged bodybuilder must explore different exercise options. Therefore, he advises you to include other exercises until you figure out what works best for you. Of course, you shouldn’t forget to change your daily routine to surprise your muscles continually. “
- Change the relationship if necessary
You probably know how important posture is, for example, when squatting. During the squat, Arnold tested different leg positions to see how they affect different parts of the thighs. “If my legs were farther apart and my toes pointed outward, I would feel a thigh squat inside. The position of the legs greatly influences which part of the hips is most strengthened. “
Arnold liked to use different squats and lying on the machine; even while standing, he could use different leg positions to train each part of the leg.
- Use squat machines to improve.
Squat machines don’t have to be just a beginner’s tool. Arnold made it difficult to exercise them. He used a shortened movement – he only went down three-quarters in the squat and only a quarter cup. He called this technique “strength squats,” which allowed him to feel a burning sensation in his legs without struggling with weight balance.
- Add hamstring exercises
Although the hamstrings work during basic squats, pressure movements, speed control of the squat, and subsequent stretching, Arnold argues that it is necessary to do exercises that focus directly on these parts.
The deadlift is an excellent exercise for the whole body, and the Romanian deadlift focuses on the hamstrings. Strengthening the hamstrings is essential to reduce the risk of a knee injury, which can occur when the quadriceps’ muscle mass exceeds the hamstrings’ strength.
- Train your abdominal muscles indirectly
Arnold’s approach to abdominal training was mostly simple. He had several movements that he did in several repetitions. However, if you reconsider how hard he trained his core during his leg and back workouts, you find that he didn’t need to train him. Heavy and challenging exercise certainly played a more critical role in the strength and aesthetics of his belly.
- Work hard to get the size.
Arnold’s significant chest development began with strength training as he acted as a powerlifter early in his career. He found that with a power base, it would be easier for him to reach size. Out of season, consider a powerlifting cycle that will help you strengthen and improve your performance before returning to bodybuilding training. As a personal record, Arnold stung 102 kg in 60 reps!
- Use multiple angles
Arnold included an essential, complex exercise in his training program to focus on the chest from different angles. In one article, he wrote: ” I knew the routine had to be simple and at the same time very complicated. ” The basis for Arnold was to train on an upright bench with ups and downs, training as a powerlifter from time to time, rather than alternating several machines or using technical trends. Arnold continued pumping until the end of the workout.
- Cyclic training pushed him to grow.
Arnold’s routine was based on the amount and frequency of training for each body part. His offseason training program sometimes included up to 26 sets on a more challenging day, while his chest was trained up to three times a week. He alternated between hard and easy days, strengthening the muscles of relatively different intensities to overtrain the chest.
Arnold divided his back work into two types of movement: bends and rows for the width and vertical rows in forwarding bends for general reinforcement. When shaping the form, he used all possible types of variations, making bends by touch and overheating with weight, but at the same time without adding weight, he also exchanged rods – sometimes behind the head, sometimes back to the chest. By varying angles, he achieved better overall development.
- Don’t forget about your elbows.
Standing biceps flexion with the elbows more at the sides has a better effect on the top of the broadest back muscle. In exercises with a narrow grip and an inverted grip, the elbows stay closer, which reduces the pressure on the upper part of the triangular muscle and affects the lower one more. This leads to the dependence of the elbows’ position on the effect on strengthening the various parts of the back.
- Set a goal based on reps.
Many trainers usually do 3 to 4 sets per exercise. Still, in the event of failure, Arnold usually used a technique to achieve a certain number of repetitions, claiming that 50 reps is better than a certain number of sets.
He said, “In the first set, you do, for example, ten reps. In the second, you may already be doing eight reps, but you already have. When you do at least 5 in the third set, you will have 23. You will continue to do this until you reach 50, even if you need to do 20 sets. So I strengthened my strength on my mistakes and achieved success. “
- Do vertical deadlifts with a gradual increase in weight.
Vertical lifts were an essential part of Arnold’s training. It had various popular variations (pull-ups on the lower pulley to the belt, pull-ups with a specially modified two-handed T-bar). Still, each was done with a lot of volumes and gradually increasing weight. Arnold followed a pyramid scheme in which he gradually increased weight based on a successful streak with reduced reps. Only the hardest streak resulted in muscle failure.
It’s up to you if you want to train and grow like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but it’s certainly great to be inspired by his advice. As you may have noticed, his advice makes him feel how much he loves to exercise and how much he enjoys trying and “playing” with his muscles. Arnold is a great inspirer and idol of many, and there is nothing to be surprised at.