When it comes to bodybuilding, Arnold Schwarzenegger knows best. His plan for quality mass and extreme strength isn’t complicated. In fact, it’s 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 bodybuilder, you’re in the right place.
Basics Are Best
“The biggest mistake being made in bodybuilding today is that people aren’t covering basic exercises,” says the Austrian Oak. And by basic, Arnold doesn’t mean easy. Many contemporary fitness centers are full of people on machines, not in squat racks, and big-box gyms often lack even a single platform. Arnold disapproves: “Today when I go in the gymnasium, I don’t see any of the kids learning about the clean and press, or the snatch, or the upright row from the floor.”
Schwarzenegger’s insistence on the essential lifts is not due to some grandfatherly desire to live in the past. It comes from decades of continued interest and expertise in the industry, and from the hard-earned knowledge that it doesn’t take fancy machines or off-the-wall programming to become arguably the best bodybuilder in history. Get back to your bodybuilding roots and experience unbelievable growth.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Training Tips
“There are three chest exercises that should always be done,” Arnold says. “The bench press, the incline bench press at different angles, and the dumbbell flye.”
“For the back, I did chin-ups, bent-over barbell and dumbbell rows, and the T-bar row. Any kind of rowing movement will give you that thickness. Those are the exercises I relied on from the beginning of my career to the end.”
Arnold relied on the barbell curl to build thick biceps, but he also used incline dumbbell curls and concentration curls to isolate his biceps.
“For triceps,” Arnold says, “we did a lot of narrow [close-grip] bench press in the early days. And then triceps pushdowns and overhead triceps extensions later.”
Arnold’s shoulders were built by barbell presses, behind-the-neck barbell presses, lateral raises, military presses, and dumbbell presses. “We always did presses behind the neck and a special dumbbell press which would stretch out the front delt at the bottom and fully flex it at the top. Now those are called Arnold presses.”
“The squat is the most important exercise to create big thighs,” says Arnold. “I did back squats, front squats, leg extensions, lunges, single-leg deadlifts, good morning exercises, and a lot of leg curls.”
“The regular training we did for abs was just leg raises, knee raises, crunches, and sit-ups. We all believed in doing 500 reps of Roman chair sit-ups.”
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