Arnold Schwarzenegger was the greatest bodybuilder of all time, and his bodybuilding workout routine has helped millions of people over the years to gain muscle and strength. Arnold was a bodybuilding legend in the 60’s and 70’s before becoming the most successful action movie star of all time, and his workouts were a reflection of the training methods that were popular back then. One of his popular products is the Arnold Schwarzenegger workout program.

His workouts required a higher volume than those that are popular today, with a higher number of sets and exercises per workout and only one day of rest per week. Some trainers today may be skeptical about the effectiveness of such a program, but the results speak for themselves. Not only did Arnold himself follow these methods to become a world champion bodybuilder, but many others have followed them with similar results as well. So if you’re looking to challenge yourself and stimulate more muscle growth, give Arnold’s workout program a try. Below you’ll find the key features of Arnold’s training regimen, along with pros and cons to consider.

6 Key Features of the Arnold Schwarzenegger Workout

arnold schwarzenegger workout bodybuilding

  1. 3-way bodypart split
  2. 5 sets per exercise
  3. multiple exercises per bodypart
  4. workout 6 days per week
  5. stretch and flex between sets
  6. morning workouts preferred

1. 3-Way Bodypart Split

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s beginner bodybuilding program split the body up into three sections, to be performed each day:

  1. chest & back
  2. shoulders & arms
  3. legs

2. 5 Sets Per Exercise

Arnold always did at least five sets per exercise. In his revised version of The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding, he reduced that number to four sets – likely due to the changing trends in bodybuilding science – but Arnold himself always aimed for five sets per exercise. Sometimes, he would perform even more than that.

3. Multiple Exercises Per Bodypart

Arnold believed that to be a serious bodybuilder, you needed to work every part of every muscle in your body, and that required many sets and many exercises, not just the 10-12 exercises that some people use to train their whole body, but 40-60 exercises per workout!

4. Workout 6 Days Per Week

Schwarzenegger typically worked out Monday thru Saturday, taking only Sundays off to rest and recover. Your exact schedule may vary, but his preferred bodybuilding program always called for a six on, one off split.

5. Stretch And Flex Between Sets

After every set – including warm up sets – Arnold would stretch out the muscles and joints that each exercise focused on. This helps to improve circulation and reduce chances of injury. Studying his physique while flexing those muscles in between sets also helped him to improve his posing while establishing a strong mind-body connection.

6. Morning Workouts Preferred

Arnold always loved heading to the gym first thing in the morning, before the crowds arrived and before the stresses and challenges of the day had a chance to invade his mind and sap his mental energy.

The Arnold Schwarzenegger Workout Pros And Cons For Bodybuilders

Arnold Schwarzenegger Workout Advantages

  • proven system for building muscle mass
  • thoroughly works every muscle

Proven System For Building Muscle Mass

The greatest reason to follow Arnold Schwarzenneger’s workout plan is that it has stood the test of time. Moreover, countless young bodybuilders have added pounds of dense muscle to their frames and dramatically improved their bodies using his methods.

No other bodybuilder on the planet has helped and inspired more people to hit the gym and build their muscles like Arnold. He is a living legend, and his program gets the job done.

Thoroughly Trains Every Muscle

Many beginning bodybuilding programs fail to fully develop all the major muscles in the body, because they rely on only a dozen or so bodybuilding exercises. For instance, the deltoid (shoulder) consists of several areas that need to be targeted specifically to achieve full development, using a variety of exercises. Shoulder presses alone are not enough for full stimulation.

But Arnold’s workout has you performing 2-3 exercises for each muscle, hitting all the muscle fibers from top to bottom and side to side. This variety stimulates the maximum amount of muscle growth possible, and it cannot be accomplished with only a few compound exercises for the whole body and only a few total sets per bodypart.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Workout Disadvantages

  • can lead to overtraining
  • large time commitment required

Possibility Of Overtraining

Despite the advantages of his training regimen, Arnold’s workout can be too much for some bodybuilders, especially those who train naturally without steroids or other bodybuilding drugs. Too many sets per workout and too many workouts per week can lead to burnout and overtraining in some athletes.

High Time Commitment

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s workout program also takes a lot of time to complete. Even with only 30-60 seconds of rest between sets, it’s not uncommon for his beginner workout to take 90 minutes to complete for each session. And there are six workouts per week!

For many aspiring bodybuilders who also have school, work and family commitments, that may be too much of a sacrifice to ask. Remember, Arnold was determined to become the greatest bodybuilder in the world. That kind of ambition requires a massive commitment. If your bodybuilding goals are lower than his were, then you might be able to get away with spending less time in the gym. But if you also aspire to become a world champion bodybuilder and build as much muscle as possible, then you might have to put in an incredible amount of time to reach your goals too.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was the greatest bodybuilder of all time. Therefore, he knew a thing or two about building muscle mass. Millions of aspiring bodybuilders have followed his training methods. Moreover, they packed pounds of solid muscle onto their frames, verifying the effectiveness of his routine. If you’d like to give it a try, pick up a copy of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding on Amazon or other book retailers. The photos alone are worth the price of the book!

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