Arnold Schwarzenegger's workout routine
The legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger's workout routine. The man is an inspiration to millions of men around the world, both in success and fitness.
Even though times have changed -- today's bodybuilders are far bigger than in Arnold's time -- we can still learn a lot from the man that brought bodybuilding to the masses.
Because so many guys want to know how Arnold Schwarzenegger did it, I've decided to recap his bodybuilding tips, principles and routines to help any aspiring or veteran bodybuilder learn from the best.
"The secret is to make your mind work for you -- not against you."
- Arnold's bodybuilding philosophy
Arnold's approach to bodybuilding was more mental than physical. For him, it was
(and still is) all or nothing. While competing, he didn't go through the
motions; he worked out to be larger than life.
Thinking there is a recipe to gaining mass was something Arnold Schwarzenegger frowned upon. He favored execution and the moment over strict routines.
He would mix things up -- sometimes he'd even work out twice a day. He did a lot of forced reps and pyramids by adding weight to each set. He preferred doing 6 to 10 reps per set and sometimes (to break though plateaus) did 20 sets per body part.
For beginner bodybuilders
Arnold always reminds beginners that they have to start somewhere and that it's better to start slowly rather than quit quickly. According to him, it is preferable to spend more time at the gym doing your sets and reps properly rather than rush through your routine, see no results and ultimately give up.
He warns that novice bodybuilders should not neglect any body parts and advises that they should always face obstacles instead of shy away from them.
When Arnold came to America, he had a huge upper body but twiggy legs and calves, and always wore long pants to hide this. To combat this weakness, he purposely started wearing shorts to expose what he was least proud of.
It worked The humiliation forced him to develop some of the biggest calves in the industry (some believe he has calf implants, but that's best left for another article). Too many men, according to him, cover up their weaknesses. By facing your flaws, you will gain the drive to conquer them.
He also warns against using exercises just because others do them. He believes that "in bodybuilding, you're essentially conducting a research experiment on yourself," so one shouldn't use an exercise because it is popular.
Want to bulk up? Well, you need an attitude, Arnold's attitude
When Arnold used to work out for competition, he would completely zone out and concentrate on the muscle and set at hand. This philosophy is at the core of his approach to life in general (and judging by his success, it must have worked).
In a documentary, he explained that when he exercises his biceps, for example, he imagines them growing and growing, until they fill up the entire gym.
Today Arnold admits that in the past, bodybuilders had the wrong idea when they bulked up to gain mass (they didn't know as much about dieting as we do now and didn't have the supplements available today).
Bulking up is the process of consuming as many calories as possible to gain as much weight as possible. This causes muscular gain, but also makes one gain fat. He now confesses that eating a proper diet all year round is a better approach to health and fitness.
In fact, eating is at the core of his bodybuilding principles. Many come to him asking what the best way to gain weight is. His reply is usually proper nutrition along with intensive training.
Bulking up is a sure way of gaining mass (and it shows when you compare him to today's professionals like Flex Wheeler), but by simply keeping fat content low and recording what you consume in a food log, one can gain, according to him, 12 pounds of pure muscles mass each year until they reach their body-size limit.
Eating and resting
For those who have a hard time gaining weight, he advises that they should:
Eat 5-6 smaller meals a day
Eat carbs half an hour after exercising
Rest at least 3 days a week
Sleep 8 or more hours a day
Eat 30 to 50 grams of protein with each meal every 3 hours
Not avoid unsaturated fats because they raise hormone levels
Eat between 60 and 100 grams of carbs per day
Eat no more than 3 eggs a day
Substitute beef and pork with chicken and fish
Avoid sugar -- it contains empty calories; eat fruits and vegetables for carbs
Use supplements and protein shakes to get the required daily amount of protein
Working out is different
The following exercise routine and principles made Arnold Schwarzenegger who he
is today, but one should not simply mimic him. As stated above, he doesn't
believe that working out is a "one-size-fits-all" routine.
Take what you think will work best for you and adapt it to your own bodybuilding
philosophy. That's how he got to where he is, by working out intensively and
The following is a sample exercise routine he frequently used, as featured in
Muscle Mag -- October 1991:
Mon, Wed, Fri
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
Tues, Thurs, Sat
Barbell curls - 6 sets, 6-10 reps
Seated dumbbell curls - 6 sets, 6-10 reps
Dumbbell concentration curls - 6 sets, 6-10 reps
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.
Arnold's Top Measurement
Arms 22 inches
Chest 57 inches
Waist 34 inches
Thighs 28.5 inches
Calves 20 inches
Weight 235 pounds
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