Arnold didn’t become the world’s greatest bodybuilder by accident. Here are the 8 training principles that underlie his bodybuilding success. Part 1 of a 4-part series.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
A massive number of memorable quotes can be attributed to Arnold Schwarzenegger or many of the characters he’s portrayed, but none speaks to his passion for bodybuilding quite like this one: "The worst thing I can be is the same as everybody else."
Arnold had no interest in being ordinary, and his lifetime achievements bear that out. But to succeed in the gym and take his physique to heights no man had ever reached, Arnold had to be even more than extraordinary. He had to consistently commit to the bodybuilding lifestyle in action, thought, and vision.
Through interviews and articles he wrote for Joe Weider after coming to America in 1968, Arnold made clear that his formula for success had less to do with "secrets" and more to do with hard work, sweat, and an all-consuming drive to build muscle and achieve greatness. The most important ingredient for success, Arnold wrote, is self-confidence.
In this, the first of a four-part series that examines Arnold’s rise in bodybuilding and details how he built his championship physique, we explore the eight training principles Arnold used to become seven-time Mr. Olympia and so much more. You’ll discover that Arnold’s approach was anything but ordinary and his bodybuilding success was by no means accidental.
1. Lifting Requires Brain Work, Too
Arnold understood and often wrote about the role of the brain in bodybuilding. When he trained, Arnold concentrated with 100 percent focus, which allowed him to reach even greater intensity levels. "The first step is to really believe that becoming massive is possible . In the same way you can command your muscles to lift heavy weights when everything else suggests that you cannot, so you can mentally coax your muscles to grow larger and stronger."
Arnold’s use of visualization techniques is well-known; he often imagined his biceps as big and peaked as mountains, and he harnessed that mental imagery to take his physique to unparalleled heights.
2. Train Harder Than Everybody Else
Arnold’s goal was to be better than everyone, so he knew he had to train harder than everyone. In fact, when Arnold trained, the whole gym crowd often stopped and watched. Arnold just kept on training. Such was the intensity he channeled through his ability to connect his mind to each of the muscles he worked.
"The next step is to train very hard, concentrating on the basic movements. Rely on barbells and dumbbells instead of cables and machines," Arnold once said. For Arnold, training at anything less than 100 percent was a waste of time in the gym, but choosing the proper movements was also critical.
A Note on Arnold’s Training Approach
Arnold’s training schedule is considered high volume by today’s standards. He did as many as 26 working sets on large muscle groups such as back, chest, and shoulders. And since he broke down the legs into the quads, hamstrings and calves, he frequently did as many as 61 sets on leg day. When asked if this approach was outdated, he replied, "It’s what I used and what worked for me." Moreover, Arnold often trained each muscle group three times each week, hitting chest and back on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, and then legs later those same afternoons. Clearly that’s too much volume and frequency for most trainees, but Arnold had the advantage of being a full-time bodybuilder who could spend the rest of his day eating and recuperating.
3. Choose the Right Exercises
The Oak didn’t just train hard; he trained smart, too. "To get big, you have to get strong. Beginning and intermediate bodybuilders shouldn’t be as concerned with refinement as with growth."
That meant focusing less on single-joint, isolation movements in favor of multi-joint exercises. The bench press, squat, deadlift, overhead press, bent-over row, and power clean are all examples of multi-joint exercises which require several muscle groups to work in coordination. While more difficult to master, they offer the added benefit of allowing you to train very heavy to overload the working muscle. Mastering these moves and challenging yourself with heavy weights, Arnold wrote, was the single-most critical component of gaining strength and size.
4. Use Heavy Weights for Low Reps
For Arnold, not only was choosing the right exercises important, but so too was choosing the right load. After all, a set of 8 reps while squatting with 365 pounds to failure elicits a far better muscle-building stimulus than a set of 135 pounds for 40 reps taken to failure. "Start with a few warm-ups [not taken to muscle failure] and pyramid the weight up from one set to the next, decreasing the reps and going to failure. Usually I’ll have someone stand by to give me a just a little bit of help past a sticking point or cheat the weight up just a little."
For Arnold, while his concern was focused on feeling the weight, he wanted to make sure the load corresponded to muscle failure at a particular range.
"I make a point of never doing less than 6 repetitions per set with most movements, and nothing higher than 12. The rule applies to most body parts, including calves," Arnold said.
5. Vary Your Training
Arnold didn’t need his business degree to know that diminishing returns applies to workouts, too. Do the same workout for too long without making significant changes and its value falls over time. That’s when a bodybuilder finds himself in a rut.
"Within a basic framework, I was constantly changing my exercises. I liked to shock the muscles by not letting them get complacent in a constant routine."
Arnold did his homework when it came to planning his training sessions. If he found that an exercise was no longer producing gains, he’d switch it for another. Never afraid to experiment with new exercises or alternative training methods, Arnold was on a perpetual search for new ways to become bigger and better as old ways became stale.
6. Train for the Pump
Of the muscle pump, Arnold said, "If there is no muscle pump, there is no muscle growth." While Arnold famously proclaimed the pump to be as pleasurable as a sexual orgasm, he was definitely onto something when he took his sets past muscle failure and practiced tensing his muscles between sets and after workouts.
7. Prioritize Weaknesses
If you’ve got big pecs, it’s only natural to want to show them off. As a result, you probably also give them a little extra effort in the gym. But Arnold took exactly the opposite approach. At one point, Arnold decided his calves had fallen behind the rest of his physique in overall development. Rather than hide the glaring weakness, he famously cut off the pant legs on his pants and wore shorts to constantly remind himself of his weakness and redouble his efforts to grow his calves. He trained calves more frequently, early in his workouts when he was fresh, and sometimes between sets for larger body parts.
8. Gain Knowledge and Use Your Instinct
Gain Knowledge and Use Your Instinct
"The way to success, in and out of bodybuilding, is having as much knowledge as possible," Arnold said. By seeking out information and experimenting with new approaches, you’re better able to discern what works from what’s a waste of time. Because each individual is unique, Mr. Olympia’s training routine may not work best for you.
These are some of the all-time greatest exercises and training techniques for building muscle. Get the knowledge you need to grow!
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When it comes to bodybuilding, the most complicated approach is rarely the best one. The Blueprint to Mass program is steeped in the fundamentals and old-school exercises that should be at the heart of everyone’s program. It’s a surefire road to growth, but it’s fraught with pain and struggle. If you want to learn bodybuilding from the world’s best bodybuilders, you’re in the right place.
The golden-age greats build their program around a few key lifts: squat, bench, clean and press, and others. But this wasn’t due to some grandfatherly desire to live in the past. It came from the hard-earned knowledge that it doesn’t take fancy machines or off-the-wall programming to become the best.
Get back to your bodybuilding roots and experience unbelievable growth! Follow the full Blueprint to Mass in BodyFit Elite. Not only can you track your workouts, weights, and rest periods, you can also swap out lifts to match your equipment, and even watch demonstration videos of every movement in every workout from BodyFit’s new and improved exercise database.
Key Moves for Timeless Aesthetics
A solid training program built on basic movements will take you far, but a few key accessories and an unflappable intensity level separates the alpha wolf from the rest of the pack. Every rep and every set must be done with intensity because each one is propelling you toward your goals.
Here are some of the key exercises you’ll be doing in this program:
- Bench press
- Incline bench press
- Dumbbell fly
You’ll vary your approach with all of these. Sometimes, you’ll go high rep. Sometimes, you’ll change up the angle of a bench. In the case of the presses, however, you’ll always get to feel the satisfaction of pressing weight in the classic muscle-building rep ranges. And in the case of the fly, you’ll emphasize the stretch—a time-tested approach to achieve full pectoral development. That exercise can’t be replaced by any machine.
- Barbell bent-over row
- Single-arm dumbbell row
- T-bar row
Rows for thickness, vertical pulls for width. This is a classic approach that will pay off not only in terms of size, but also strength and safety on big lifts.
- Barbell curl (or EZ-bar curl)
- Incline dumbbell curl
- Concentration curl
- Close-grip bench press
- Overhead triceps extensions
- Triceps push-down
This is as old-school as it gets! And before you think you’ll just be hitting 3 sets of 10 and going home, think again. Biceps and triceps need intensity to grow—especially if you’re a lifter with a few years in the gym. You’ll be hitting these hard, and using intensity techniques that will leave you sorer than you’ve been in a long time.
- Barbell press & clean and press
- Behind-the-neck barbell press (depending on your shoulder health)
- Lateral raise
- Rear delt fly
- Dumbbell press
- Arnold press
What’s a golden-age training program without Arnold presses? Contemporary lifters make shoulder training way too complicated. You’ll hit the fundamentals hard and have the caps to show for it.
- Back squat
- Front squat
- Leg extension
- Leg curl
- Lunge variations
- Good morning
Old-school leg day is anything but cute. It’s heavy, painful, and built around the fundamentals. You’ll hit them for rep ranges that are probably new to you, but build up to a max effort in both the front and back squat in Week 8. Consider yourself warned.
- Leg raise
- Knee raise
- Sit-up variations
Modern abdominal scientists, consider yourself on notice! The all-time greats swore by decline sit-ups and leg raises for the simple reason that they work. You’ll hit them regularly, but not go overboard with volume or intensity. Expect new muscular definition soon.
You’ll do everything from heavy sets of 5-6 reps to sets of 30 on this plan. In fact, you’ll often do both during the same workout, starting on Day 1. How could you possibly know what weight to use?
Here’s a solid approach: Start with an empty 45-pound bar, or even a lighter bar if you have it, for the sets of 30. It’s pure warm-up. Then, add a weight. It can be a single 45, a 25, a 10—whatever it is, hit 12 solid, no-doubt reps with it. In other words, this is still basically a warm-up. After that, it’s time for a solid set of 10. This can be considered your first working set. It’ll take a couple of workouts to figure out what your 10-rep weight is, but ideally, it’s one you can handle for 10 picture-perfect reps, but reps 11 and 12 would start to look suspect.
After 45-90 seconds of rest, you can use the same weight, or a bit more, for a strong set of 8. Then, another rest, and it’s time for a 6-rep finisher with more weight than you’ve used in any set yet. This is a "pyramid" approach, and it’s an approach as old as the iron.
If you have to, use a rest-pause on this final set. That means if you can only get 3-4 reps with the top weight, re-rack, wait 15 seconds, and get another 1-2 reps. Continue doing that until you get to 6 reps. Then, once you can handle that 6-rep weight for a solid 6 reps, it’s time to go heavier in your next workout.
That’s the approach that will power you for the initial weeks of the Blueprint. You’ll encounter many other rep schemes, but the pyramid will help you dial in your loading and technique for everything else to come.
Blueprint Intensity Techniques
It’s not all about the sets and reps in the Blueprint! Here’s a look at the intensity techniques you’ll also use to shock your body into growth.
1. 1-10 Method
After a warm-up set or two, find a weight that you’re only able to lift for 1 rep. After you perform that 1 rep, take just enough weight off to perform 2 reps. From there, do the same for 3 reps and 4 reps, going all the way up to 10 reps. This is brutal because you take no rest between sets. The only rest you get is when you’re unloading the weights. This technique is a total shock to the muscle.
2. Stripping Method
Immediately after your final working set, take some weight off and lift for another 5-10 reps. Then, with no rest, keep repeating this process. Reduce your weight, lift, reduce again, lift, and continue until you’re down to the bar. Once you’re down to the bar, lift for 20 reps.
3. Max Effort
When you feel superhuman, or when the program tells you to do it, take one exercise and see what you can do for a 1-rep max. To get there, work up to the weight with the following rep pyramid, taking ample rest between each set: 20, 15, 10, 8, 5, 3, 1, 1, 1-rep max.
Основная цель: набор мышечной массы
Уровень подготовки: высокий
Количество тренировок в неделю: 6
Необходимое оборудование: штанга, тренажеры, гантели, EZ-гриф
Берите пример с единственного и неповторимого семикратного победителя Олимпии Арнольда Шварценеггера. Тренировки Арнольда — образец программ с высокой частотой и большим объемом тренировочной нагрузки.
Перед вами две вариации программы тренировок, которые использовал 7-кратный победитель Олимпии Арнольд Шварценеггер. Большой тренировочный объем сочетается в них с высокой частотой тренировок, при которой каждая группа мышц прорабатывается 2-3 раза в неделю.
- 7-кратный обладатель титула Мистер Олимпия — 1970-75, 1980
- Рост — 188 см
- Вес — 107 кг
- Руки — 56 см
- Грудь — 145 см
- Талия — 86 см
- Становая тяга — 710 фунтов (около 322 кг)
- Жим лежа — 440 фунтов (около 200 кг)
- Приседания — 470 фунтов (около 213 кг)
План питания Арнольда
Арнольд подкреплял тренировки в стиле хардкор большим количеством пищи с преобладанием качественных продуктов. При составлении рациона он руководствовался следующими принципами:
- Частое питание: 5-6 приемов пищи в день. 3 полноценных приема пищи и 2-3 перекуса качественными цельными продуктами.
- Калории: до 5000 калорий в день.
- Потребление протеина: 300 и более грамм в день.
- Посттренировочные углеводы: в пределах 30 минут после завершения тренировки.
- Протеиновые коктейли: при необходимости покрыть дневную норму протеина.
Тренировка Арнольда Шварценеггера. Вариант 1
Все главные мышечные группы тренируются два раза в неделю. Этот вариант тренировки Арнольда Шварценеггера приводится в книге «Новая энциклопедия современного бодибилдинга», написанной Арнольдом при участии Билла Доббинса.