tips from Arnold Schwarzenegger

Tips from Arnold Schwarzenegger

General recommendations

1. Choose the best exercises for growth

Duba has always strived to train not only to a sweat, but also wisely. “If you want to get big, first you have to get strong,” he wrote. “Beginners and intermediate bodybuilders should worry about muscle growth rather than relief.”

With that said, instead of single-joint movements ( isolation exercises ), opt for multi- joint movements . Bench presses, squats, deadlifts , overhead presses , bent over rows, and barbell raises are examples of excellent compound movements that require the coordinated work of multiple muscle groups. These exercises should be the foundation of your training plan.

While basic movements are more difficult to master than single-joint counterparts, they offer the added benefit of being able to train with very heavy weights to overload the target muscle group. Arnold believed that doing these exercises and testing your strength with heavy weight is key to gaining mass and increasing strength.

2. Take a lot of weight in low-rep sets

Choosing the right load for Arnold was just as important as choosing the right exercise. In the end, 8 squats with 365 pounds (about 165 kg) stimulate muscle growth much more effectively than a set of 40 reps with 95 pounds (about 43 kg).

“Start with a few warm-up sets (not to muscle failure) and gradually build up the weight from set to set, decreasing reps and getting closer to failure,” Arnold wrote. “Usually someone is standing next to me and only helps me a little so that I can get past the sticking point or lift weights with cheating (when I have already reached muscle failure).”

Arnold wasn’t just thinking about feeling the weight; he wanted to make sure that the load causes muscle failure in the intended range of repetitions: “I considered it imperative to do at least six reps in sets for most exercises,” he noted, “but not more than 12. The rule applies to all target groups, including muscles shins “. Make sure to select the correct weight for rejection in this range.

3. Don’t linger in your comfort zone

Few people know that Arnold received an economics degree, but even without his diploma, he was able to understand that the law of diminishing returns can be applied to training.

If the training program is not updated for too long, its value will steadily decline. At this point, the bodybuilder finds himself on a training plateau.

“As part of the basic scheme, I was constantly changing exercises,” wrote Arnold. “I liked to shock the muscles by not letting them get used to the same program.”

When it came to scheduling training sessions, Arnold did his homework conscientiously. Finding that the exercise did not give the desired result, he changed it to another.

Never be afraid to experiment with new exercises or alternative training methods. Arnold was constantly looking for new ways to get bigger and better, and introduced them when the old methods became obsolete.

4. Overcome the point of failure with high-intensity training techniques

In his book, Arnold talks about the importance of various high-intensity training techniques for tightening up a lagging body part. Arnold remembers all the intensity boosters, the best of which he discovered through trial and error.

Feel free to incorporate techniques such as forced reps, drop sets , negatives, partial reps, rest breaks, or other ideas you may have read about in your workouts . Evaluate your feelings after the implementation of each technique and remember that you do not need to work for muscle failure in each approach; save this for the 1 or 2 hardest sets of each exercise.

5. Beware of overtraining

It’s tempting to go with the “all means is good” principle in the quest to tighten up a stubborn muscle group, but Arnold warned that this strategy could be counterproductive. “Sometimes the lag in the muscle group is explained by the fact that you overtrained it, gave a load so heavy, frequent and intense that the muscle had no chance to rest, recover and start growing,” he wrote.

“The simple solution to the problem is to let the muscles rest and recover, and then adjust the training schedule so as not to allow overtraining (of the same part of the body) in the future . Remember, when it comes to strength training for bodybuilders, too much can be just as bad as too little.


6. Overhead Press – The Best Mass Exercise

Multi-joint movements like the overhead press and the vertical row are the best shoulder mass-building exercises because they work the deltoids as much as possible. Arnold leaned heavily on these exercises, especially at the beginning of training, when the reserve of strength is at its maximum. He often did both overhead presses – from the chest and from behind – for all-round development.

7. Explore options for performing the same movement

Slight changes in familiar movements can re-load the target muscles and give them excellent growth stimuli.

tips from Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold was looking for alternative exercises that would work the target muscles from a slightly different angle. For example, using dumbbells instead of barbells in the overhead press, he deliberately lowered the bar several inches below the starting position for the barbell press and brought his arms together at the top point to increase the range of motion.

8. Attack each delta head with one-joint movements

Arnold used single-joint movements as an adjunct to the overhead press to isolate each deltoid head. And here he was looking for the slightest difference in technique, which over time would allow him to gain more muscle mass. For example, with the lateral extension of the arms in a cable simulator, the cable can be passed in front of or behind the body, which gives a slightly different sensation. According to Arnold, awareness of exercise options on different apparatus is critical for a bodybuilder who wants to take it to the next level.

9. Train the upper traps with the deltas

Since the upper traps are to some extent involved in many shoulder exercises, Arnold trained them along with the deltas. Shrugs were the key exercise for the upper traps, although he emphasized that other exercises were needed to maximize the growth of this muscle, including the barbell raises and vertical rows. Since the range of motion in the shrugs is small, Arnold recommended sacrificing weight in order to be able to completely squeeze the shoulders and raise them as high as possible.


10. Gain weight by lifting the barbell while standing

Arnold loved standing barbell raises because they develop the most powerful biceps. When choosing the main mass-gaining movements, Arnold preferred exercises that allowed him to take heavy weights, work with full amplitude, and finish 6-8 heavy reps. This is how he turned his biceps into mountains, and this is a great starting point for your workouts as well.

11. Don’t stop at muscle failure

In lifting the biceps, Arnold constantly reached muscle failure, but he did not stop there. Caught in a dead center, he used a little momentum to continue his approach. Cheating curls like this allowed him to complete a couple of extra sets and helped him stimulate muscle growth more.

tips from Arnold Schwarzenegger

12. Do supinated dumbbell lift

Arnold wrote that he always included at least one dumbbell exercise in his workout. By supinating the hand (turning it upward during flexion), he felt that he was improving the “peak” effect, since when the hand remained in a neutral position, the shoulder muscles were involved in the movement. Arnold performed supinated dumbbell curls simultaneously and alternately lifting the arm. The latter option allows you to better concentrate on each movement and allows your muscles to rest between repetitions.

13. Use Multiple Reps on Specific Exercises

Not every biceps exercise was done 6-8 times. Arnold singled out certain exercises, he called them “relief movements”, and did 8-12 reps with relatively light weight. Here he focused on squeezing and contracting the muscle and held the peak contraction for some time. Concentrated curls, isolated curls, and alternating dumbbell lifts were his favorite exercises.


14. Experiment with strong muscle groups

Arnold’s chest and triceps were especially well developed, so he trained them differently from the biceps. Since the triceps were already strong, Arnold raised the number of repetitions in the set to 20 in order to cause muscle hyperpumping.

15. Find the purpose of the exercise


“It is foolish to do a triceps exercise without understanding which part of the muscle you are training,” Arnold wrote. Good advice, but how do you put it into practice?

Arnold advises a trick he learned from legendary Vince Gironde: Do 20 sets of a specific exercise and leave the muscle group alone. See which part of the muscle hurts the most the next day.

16. Partial repetitions after failure

Arnold’s favorite high-intensity triceps workout was partial reps. For example, after completing a set of full-amplitude extensions on the block, he continued the approach through 5-6 partial repetitions, both in the upper and lower parts of the trajectory.

Despite the fact that he could no longer complete even one full-amplitude repetition and was tied up with a dead center, Arnold managed to finish off a few more repetitions to really spur muscle growth.