People who are fitness fanatics and love to work out need inspiration. There is a man that has been in bodybuilding for many years, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He motivates people and exemplifies what hard work and know-how can do for you! Thus, this article will share his personal life, career, and training philosophy. We hope he inspires you as much as he’s inspired us!
Since the first-ever Mr. Olympia, back in 1965, the world of bodybuilding has seen its fair share of greats: Dorian Yates, Phil Heath, Ronnie Coleman, Lee Haney, and Jay Cutler, to name a few. But of all the bodybuilders to be crowned Mr. Olympia, no one has stood out in the ranks as much as Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Austrian Oak. Schwarzenegger has achieved a phenomenal amount during his lifetime. Yet, we still consider his bodybuilding technique evergreen. So let’s inspect Schwarzenegger and his bodybuilding techniques. It helped him win Mr. Olympia for six consecutive years.
Who is Arnold Schwarzenegger the bodybuilder?
Born in Austria on July 30, 1947, Arnold Schwarzenegger started lifting weights at age 15. Later, he married Maria Shriver. Arnold entered the spotlight when he won Mr. Universe (amateur) in 1967 at 20. After that, he won Mr. Univers as a professional from 1968 to 1970. Afterward, Schwarzenegger won the Mr. Olympia title six years in a row, from 1970 to 1975. Finally, he came out of retirement in 1980 to win Mr. Olympia for the 7th time.
These days, Schwarzenegger sponsors the bodybuilding event named after him, “The Arnold Sports Festival.” It’s widely considered the second-most important bodybuilding event after Mr. Olympia. Arnold’s “the education of a bodybuilder” is a story everyone knows by heart.
We know Schwarzenegger for more than his muscles. Arnold is a household name. He landed the role of Conan The Barbarian in 1982, and his acting career exploded there.
Arnold has been in many successful action films, such as The Terminator, Predator, The Running Man, Total Recall, and Commando. He’s also had his fair share of leading roles in family comedy films, such as Twins, Junior, Kindergarten Cop, and Jingle All The Way.
Schwarzenegger served as governor of California. Arnold replaced Gray Davis on October 7, 2003, when he served for the rest of Davis’ term before re-election in 2006. Arnold was the Governor of California until 2011. After politics, Arnold returned to acting.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Bodybuilding Techniques
Nature genetically gifted Schwarzenegger and steroids also came into play like all bodybuilders at his level. Arnold might not have been a natural bodybuilder, but that didn’t detract from the fact that whatever he was doing in the gym allowed him to beat his rivals at Mr. Olympia. Let’s look at his bodybuilding technique and what you need to know to build an impeccable body.
Golden Six –
One of the most-used Schwarzenegger methods is “The Golden Six.” Schwarzenegger started his bodybuilding career with full-body training routines he performed six times a week. The workout used six straightforward exercises leading the way to the Mr. Olympia title.
The Golden Six routine is:
- Squat: 4 sets of 10 reps
- Wide-grip Flat Bench Press: 3 sets of 10 reps
- Chin-Ups: 3 sets until failure
- Behind-the-Neck Overhead Press: 4 sets of 10 reps
- Barbell Curls: 3 sets of 10 reps
- Bent Knee Sit-Ups: 3 sets until failure
As you can see, it’s a super simple training method, and it’s best performed on alternate days to allow for ample recovery. However, Schwarzenegger still recommends this to anyone just starting in the gym. It’s a great way to build overall strength and targets every muscle. In addition, keeping your first real routine simple (such as this or the 5×5 method) makes it much easier to track your progress. And it’s an excellent training method for people with limited time.
Schwarzenegger had one of the best chests in bodybuilding. A lot of that came down to his famous agonist-antagonist training. Also, this involves working two opposing muscles simultaneously. So, for example, if you were training the chest, and your major exercise was the flat bench press, you would perform bent-over rows between your sets on the bench.
Thus, this improves your pressing ability when you work the antagonist muscles (back) between your sets. It’s essential to allow adequate rest between 2-3 minutes to reduce muscular fatigue. Another critical factor is to ensure that you’re training both the agonist and antagonist on the same plane of motion. Some pairing examples include:
- Vertical bench press – Barbell Rows
- Standing overhead press – Chin-ups.
- Seated dumbbell press – Lat pull-downs
- Standing barbell curls- Tricep pushdowns.
- Leg extensions – Seated hamstring curls
One enormous benefit of this training method — other than increased pressing strength — promotes the body to develop more evenly. Thus ensuring you’re putting the same effort into both muscles. Also, this is important for a balanced physique and better posture. Of course, if you’re rushed for time, it’s possible to superset the movements. But ideally, you’d allow 2-3 minutes of rest between exercises to maximize strength.
Chest/Back Training –
Here’s the chest/back split that Schwarzenegger used when training for a competition. Unlike the agonist/antagonist method, you perform the complete number of sets for each exercise before moving on to the opposite body part.
- Warm-up: Bench Press – 1 set of 30-45 reps
- Bench Press: 5 sets of 6-8 reps
- Wide-grip behind-the-neck chin-up: 5 sets of 10-15 reps (Pyramid up the weight of each set and reduce the number of reps)
- Incline barbell press: 5 sets of 10-15 reps
- T-Bar row: 5 sets of 10-15 reps
- Flat bench dumbbell fly: 5 sets of 10-15 reps
- Wide-grip barbell row: 5 sets of 10-15 reps
- Dips: 5 sets of 15
- Close-grip chin-up: 5 sets of 12
- Dumbell pull-over: 5 sets of 15-20 reps
As you can see, it’s possible to use this program and pair exercises 2-9, so you perform them as an agonist-antagonist set. Of course, you could superset them if you’re in a hurry and feeling brave.
Leg Workout –
Schwarzenegger didn’t train his legs in his first year of bodybuilding, but it soon became apparent that this would not work. No one wants to be the person who skipped leg day. So when he paired up with his coach, Joe Weider, the first thing that became apparent was that Schwarzenegger needed to work on his legs.
Schwarzenegger’s bodybuilder leg workout looked a bit like this:
- Barbell squat: 5 sets of 8 reps
- Front squat: 5 sets of 8 -10 reps
- Leg press: 5 sets of 10 reps
- Leg extension: 5 sets of 10 reps
- Lying hamstring curl: 8 sets of 10 reps
Schwarzenegger often kept his rest periods between sets for training his legs under a minute. While this is not for the faint-hearted, it helps keep as much blood in the muscle as possible throughout the training session. Schwarzenegger was openly conscious about his calves, as were many gym-goers. Instead of hiding them, he cut the bottom off his sweatpants. So Arnold’s legs were always visible in the gym. Then, instead of blaming genetics as most people do, he used this constant reminder to drive him to attack his calves six times a week.
For Schwarzenegger, training the calves was all about volume and variety. Here’s an example:
- Donkey calf raises five sets of 15-30 reps.
- Standing calf raises five sets of 15-30 reps.
- Leg-press calf raises five sets of 20-30 reps.
- Standing one-legged dumbbell calf raise: 3 sets of 15-30 reps.
If you’re relatively new to high-volume calf training, then it’s highly recommended that you stretch in between each set to reduce the chance of muscle cramps while training.
Abs Training –
Schwarzenegger took a similar approach to abs: many volumes. His abdominal workouts looked like 30 minutes of non-stop abs exercises. He’d perform these every day at the end of his training. When Arnold paired the volume from his core workout with the major compound movements, he achieved the aesthetics of his mid-section!
Arm Workout –
We can’t have a complete list of Schwarzenegger’s training techniques without mentioning how he got his 22-inch arms. First, Schwarzenegger would superset his biceps and triceps when preparing for a contest. Then, he’d train them twice a week for size and three times a week for definition. One of his arm training’s key aspects was lowering the weight slowly through the rep’s negative move and exploding through the concentric movement.
He’d pair biceps and tricep exercises with his agonist-antagonist method, alternating between standing barbell curls and tricep pushdowns — with minimal rest between sets — to keep as much blood in the muscle as possible.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 5 Bodybuilding Tips
Now that you get the gist of how Schwarzenegger trained his essential muscles, let’s look at a handful of tips to apply your training. Also, this is a great way to understand better. Thus, adopt the winning Schwarzenegger mindset.
Don’t Get Comfortable –
Schwarzenegger was famous for training his muscles as if they had his personality. He would never let them get too comfortable. He was always looking for different ways to shock them. For example, Arnold always says, “stay hungry.” After using the same exercise, a muscle will stop responding. Also, this is when you shock the muscle by changing the exercise.
Thus, this can mean swapping an exercise for another, like training the biceps using the standing barbell curl and then changing it for hammer curls. Alternatively, you can adjust to each movement. For example, take your standard leg extensions and try performing them with a 3-second pause at the end of each rep — whatever it takes to keep your muscles guessing what’s coming next.
Chase the Pump –
The pump should be the goal of every workout, according to Schwarzenegger. The “pump” is when blood rushes to the muscle you’re training, creating that swollen look. So if your goal is to pack on muscle, then chasing the pump should always be on your mind. The best way to get a pump is to do high-volume training with minimal rest between sets. First, you need to focus on the muscle you’re training. Then, imagine blood rushing into it as you contract the muscle with every rep.
Heavyweights, Low Reps –
To get bigger, get stronger. While high-volume workouts are essential for adding definition to a physique, getting more vital is the goal. To get stronger, prioritize the significant compound movements and add weight with each workout. Of course, you must also pay attention to your diet, rest, and recovery to do this successfully.
Go Beyond Failure –
When you train a muscle to fail, you take it to the point it already knows how to reach. Learning to take the muscle beyond failure is the key to inducing growth. Don’t take every set past failure; apply it to your last set with each exercise. Different methods for past training failures include drop sets, negatives, forced reps, cluster sets, and partials.
Don’t Over-Train –
Sometimes, just because you want a specific body part to grow doesn’t mean you should train it daily. It’s essential to ensure adequate rest and recovery between training sessions. Arnold Schwarzenegger would always be sure to have one day a week where he relaxed. The recovery period is when the muscle develops and grows, so be sure you’re not cutting it short.
The Last Word on Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Bodybuilder
From the start, Arnold had a competitive relationship with Sylvester Stallone, his long-time friend. He credited Sylvester for making him a better actor. Instead of hating him like many rivals, Arnold and Sylvester became friends. Arnold’s relationship with Sylvester, one of his biggest competitors for the starring role in action movies, tells you all you need to know about Arnold Schwarzenegger, the bodybuilder. Schwarzenegger was often in the gym six days a week and twice a day. Unless you’re lucky enough to be a professional bodybuilder, we all know that most of us don’t have the time.
However, that doesn’t mean that working toward a Schwarzenegger physique is a fruitless mission. Use these bodybuilding tips and techniques. Also, get plenty of protein and calories to facilitate growth. Building a Schwarzenegger physique is hard work. But it’s not impossible. Persistence, precision, and plenty of rest are the keys to success. Arnold Schwarzenegger has inspired millions worldwide with dedication, determination, and hard work.
If you’ve ever felt like giving up on your workout routine or wanted to try something new, think of this article as motivation for what you can accomplish through hard work. You may not have succeeded yet, but if Arnold could do it, so can you! So, what Arnold technique or quote have you used for motivation?