Arnold Bodybuilding: Book, Workouts, Diet & Muscle Tips

Unveiling Arnold's deep muscle-building insights

Arnold Bodybuilding: Book, Workouts, Diet & Muscle Tips

Want to emulate Arnold's Bodybuilding success? You're in luck.

Arnold's books, interviews, and programs can show you the way:

  • Understanding of body mechanics
  • Key targeted training regimen
  • Balance of nutrition and recovery

We break all of this down for you in this article, and more.

With Arnold's insights, you can push the boundaries of physical fitness and cultivate the mental fortitude of a champion.

His methods were not merely about lifting heavy but also about understanding the anatomy of muscle building and the critical role of diet in sculpting a physique that won Mr. Olympia seven times.

Let's dive in.

Key Takeaways

  • Arnold's bodybuilding strategies emphasize a mental and physical commitment to growth.
  • Detailed workout plans and dietary advice frame the path to muscle mass gain.
  • Recovery and discipline in training are as crucial as the exercises themselves.

Arnold Schwarzenegger: A Bodybuilding Icon

Arnold Schwarzenegger stands as a towering figure in bodybuilding history. Your understanding of bodybuilding cannot be complete without recognizing his impact on the sport and culture.

Why did Arnold Schwarzenegger start bodybuilding?

Arnold began lifting weights as a teenager, inspired by the physique and success of Reg Park, a bodybuilder and actor. Your interest in strength might lead you to pursue weightlifting, just as Arnold's admiration for Park's accomplishments in bodybuilding and cinema spurred him to follow a similar path.

Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Mr. Olympia

Arnold claimed the Mr. Olympia title seven times, a feat that etched his name into the annals of the sport. Your goal setting in fitness can draw inspiration from his unwavering commitment and discipline—qualities necessary to achieve such a high level of excellence repeatedly.

Arnold's Legacy: Influence on Bodybuilding and Fitness

Arnold's legacy in bodybuilding extends beyond his titles. He authored books on bodybuilding, shared his training routines, and advocated for fitness. Your workouts today are influenced by the principles he advocated for—intense training and the importance of a solid diet. His impact on the sport endures, challenging and inspiring new generations to push beyond their limits.

Arnold's Bodybuilding Philosophy

Arnold Schwarzenegger's approach to bodybuilding was as much about mental strength as it was about physical. Recognizing that bodybuilding is an art form and a competitive sport, Arnold elevated the practice with his well-defined philosophy, deeply rooted in the connection between mind and muscle, the establishment of concrete goals, and the unrelenting pursuit of intensity and drive.

Mind-Muscle Connection

Arnold emphasized the power of visualizing success and the target muscle's growth during a workout, an approach that is foundational in bodybuilding to this day. He believed that by focusing deeply on the muscle being worked, he could induce greater growth—an idea supported by his muscle-building mental strategy.

Importance of Goals

To Arnold, setting clear and ambitious goals was crucial for making consistent gains. He argued that bodybuilding isn't just about lifting weights, it's about sculpting a physique with purpose and precision. Your goals guide your training and give you a roadmap to becoming massive and achieving your kinetic masterpiece.

Intensity and Drive

For Arnold, the intensity of your workouts goes hand in hand with the drive to push yourself to the limits. He championed the idea that workouts should be challenging and should exhaust the muscles to ensure growth. Arnold's message: train with an unmatched intensity, driving yourself forward with each rep and set, believing that triumph in the gym translates to success elsewhere.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Bodybuilding Book

Arnold Schwarzenegger's contributions to bodybuilding are distilled into his influential books that continue to inspire fitness enthusiasts.

Overall Review

Arnold Schwarzenegger's seminal work, The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding, stands as a comprehensive guide. It tackles the science and art of bodybuilding, offering timeless advice on training strategies, competition prep, and injury prevention. While the sheer volume of information might be overwhelming for beginners, the depth provided serves as a testament to Arnold’s commitment to educating aspiring bodybuilders.

Arnold's Bodybuilding Encyclopedia Workouts

The workouts detailed in the encyclopedia are both rigorous and precise. Arnold’s programs require commitment and are designed to produce results. They cover everything from basic principles for newcomers to advanced techniques for seasoned athletes. If you're looking to enhance muscle mass and definition, these workouts demand consistency, but some users might find adapting to their intensity challenging.

Arnold's Bodybuilding Encyclopedia Exercises

In Arnold’s guide, exercises are showcased with clear instructions and visuals. Each movement is explained with a focus on the muscle groups targeted, correct form, and the recommended number of sets and reps. It's crucial to follow these meticulously to avoid injury and ensure each session contributes positively to your bodybuilding goals. Despite the accurate depictions, some might need additional resources or coaching to perform the exercises properly, particularly the novice trainees.

How did Arnold Schwarzenegger build muscle?

Arnold Schwarzenegger became a bodybuilding legend through a rigorous routine of diet, exercise, and an understanding of muscle development. His approach was both science and art.

He believed in the power of the mind-muscle connection. You must visualize your muscles growing as you train. He recommended varying your workout routines to shock the muscles into growth and to always push for that extra rep, which can make a significant difference. According to Man of Many, he also highlighted the importance of rest but balanced it with frequently hitting the gym.

What did Arnold Schwarzenegger eat when bodybuilding?

His diet was as intense as his workouts. Arnold ate five to six small meals a day, packed with proteins like chicken and red meat, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Supplements were part of his regimen, with a focus on protein shakes and essential vitamins and minerals. Muscle & Fitness details more of Arnold's dietary approach that fueled his muscular physique.

What were Arnold Schwarzenegger's Favorite Exercises?

Arnold's exercise arsenal included a variety of compound and isolation movements. He swore by the effectiveness of squats, deadlifts, and bench presses for building a solid foundation. For sculpting a muscle, he often turned to cable exercises, dumbbell flyes, and concertation curls. Each exercise had a purpose, and his favorite exercises were those that provided the best results for his body.

Did Arnold Use Steroids?

Arnold has been open about his use of steroids during his bodybuilding days when they were legal and less regulated. However, he has also emphasized that steroids were just a small part of a much larger equation, with hard training, proper diet, and psychological conditioning being key for achieving success. Being critical, it's imperative to acknowledge the health risks associated with steroid use, emphasizing that it should not overshadow the effort and discipline in training and diet. Arnold's stance is detailed in discussions on Men’s Health, providing insight into the era's bodybuilding scene.

7 Muscle-Building Tips by Arnold Schwarzenegger

Here are ten quotes by Arnold Schwarzenegger, offering insights into his approach to building muscle mass and his philosophy on training:

  1. “When people see me doing concentration curls with my eyes closed, they think I’m focused on doing the exercise. Actually, I’m really thinking about a mountain of muscle—a giant, unreal biceps, more than 30 inches around.”
  2. "That’s when the muscles really begin to grow. If you’re able to do a dozen regular chins without weight, adding 10 pounds may cut you back to 10 reps. Work with this until you’re able to do 12 reps with 10 extra pounds. Then bump it up to 20 pounds, always working toward 12 reps." - Arnold discusses progressive overload as a key concept for muscle growth.
  3. “Always keep in mind that training stimulates growth, but that actual growth takes place while you are resting.” - Arnold points out the importance of rest and recovery for muscle development.
  4. “What we face may look insurmountable. But I learned something from all those years of training and competing. What I learned is that we are always stronger than we know." - Arnold talks about the mental strength gained from pushing through difficult training.
  5. “A lack of progress in your muscle-building efforts can be linked to nutritional shortcomings.” - Diet is as crucial as the workout itself​​.
  6. What is interesting about failure is that it is more important as a learning tool than a victory. If you win, you don’t have to sit and think out a different approach.” - Arnold sees failure as a critical part of learning and improvement, which applies to muscle building as well.
  7. "Rely on barbells and dumbbells instead of cables and machines." - Basics build the foundation; complexity comes later​​.

These quotes offer a glimpse into Arnold Schwarzenegger's deep commitment to bodybuilding, his understanding of the physiological and psychological aspects of muscle growth, and his strategic approach to training and recovery.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's Workouts

Arnold Schwarzenegger's regimen transformed bodybuilding, focusing on both mass and definition. His workouts demand dedication and intensity, but they offer a path to legendary gains.

Arnold Workout Blueprint for Mass

When you're aiming to bulk up, Arnold's mass-building approach centers on high volume and frequency. You'll train each muscle group 2-3 times per week with a combination of compound movements and isolation exercises. Focus on bench presses, squats, and deadlifts, complemented by barbell curls and tricep extensions. Remember, progressive overload is key; increase weight responsibly to challenge your muscles consistently.

Arnold Workout Blueprint to Cut

Trimming down without losing muscle mass was an art Arnold mastered. The key is strategic supersets—performing two exercises back-to-back with minimal rest. Target opposing muscle groups to maintain balance. Implement a higher rep range and combine strength workouts with aerobic exercises like cycling or swimming for optimal fat-burning.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Workout Routine

Arnold's typical routine was far from typical. Engage in chest and back exercises on the same day, using supersets for efficiency. Embrace leg days, splitting them between quads and hamstrings. Operate on a six days per week schedule, pumping the arms with barbell curls and ending your workout with abdominal crunches. For detailed insights, look into how Arnold managed to handle more weight and create greater muscle density.

Arnold's routine for beginners

If you're new to the gym, don't be intimidated by the intensity of Arnold's full routine. Begin with basic compound movements and steadily add in isolation exercises as you progress. Limit your workouts to 3-4 days per week and focus on form over weight. It's crucial to build a strong foundation before diving into more advanced techniques. Arnold knew this, and so should you.

Training Regimen

To build a physique like Arnold Schwarzenegger's, your training regimen must be well-structured and intense. Let's break down the critical components of his bodybuilding blueprint.

Workout Split

Arnold's approach to training was revolutionary for his time, emphasizing a high-frequency split. He typically divided his workout routine into two sessions per day, six days a week, targeting each muscle group three times a week. For example, you could do chest and back on Monday and Thursday, legs on Tuesday and Friday, and arms and shoulders on Wednesday and Saturday.

Volume and Frequency

Arnold believed in a high volume of work, often doing around 20 sets per muscle group. Each workout consisted of 8 to 12 reps per set to maximize muscle hypertrophy. He also recommended minimal rest between sets—often just enough to catch your breath and maintain the intensity of the workout.

Progressive Overload

To gain muscle mass, Arnold emphasized the importance of progressive overload—gradually increasing the weights you're lifting over time. However, he cautioned against sacrificing form for heavier weights. Proper technique was always a priority to target the muscles effectively and prevent injury. Remember, it's not just about lifting heavier, but also about improving your form and control with each session.

Arnold's Bodybuilding Split

Arnold Schwarzenegger's bodybuilding splits are legendary, offering a blueprint on how to target every muscle group effectively. These splits divide your workouts across the week, targeting specific areas to maximize muscle mass and definition.

Most Common Split

Your workout routine will emulate Arnold's classic and most common split, where you target chest and back one day, shoulders and arms the next, and legs and abs on the third. Repeat this cycle twice within the week for optimal growth.

  • Day 1 & 4: Chest and Back
    • Bench Press
    • Lat Pull-downs
  • Day 2 & 5: Shoulders and Arms
    • Military Press
    • Bicep Curls
  • Day 3 & 6: Legs and Abs
    • Squats
    • Leg Raises
  • Day 7: Rest

Alternative Split 1

Consider an alternative split, focusing on pushing muscles one day (chest, shoulders, triceps), then pulling muscles (back, biceps) the next, followed by legs and abs.

  • Day 1 & 4: Pushing Muscles
    • Incline Dumbbell Press
    • Tricep Dips
  • Day 2 & 5: Pulling Muscles
    • Deadlifts
    • Hammer Curls
  • Day 3 & 6: Legs and Abs
    • Leg Press
    • Planks
  • Day 7: Rest

Alternative Split 2

For another variation, split your routine into upper-body workouts and lower-body workouts, allowing you to hit each major muscle group with higher intensity.

  • Day 1 & 4: Upper-Body
    • Pull-ups
    • Tricep Pushdowns
  • Day 2 & 5: Lower-Body
    • Lunges
    • Calf Raises
  • Day 3 & 6: Upper-Body + Abs
    • Overhead Press
    • Bicycle Crunches
  • Day 7: Rest

Your persistence and adherence to these techniques will be key to seeing a transformation in your physique.

Nutrition Essentials for Muscle Mass

To pack on muscle, you need to fuel your workouts and recovery with the right nutrition strategy. Here's how to eat for mass.

Calorie Surplus

You need to eat more than your body burns to build muscle. Aim for a daily surplus of about 500 calories to support growth without excessive fat gain. Check out Arnold Schwarzenegger's Diet and Workout Plan for an example of a high-calorie intake used for muscle building.

Macronutrient Balance

Protein is crucial for muscle repair and growth. For every pound you weigh, consume around 1 gram of protein. Carbs are your energy source; choose complex carbs for longer-lasting fuel. Healthy fats are vital for hormone production, which in turn supports muscle growth. Here's a quick guide to get you started:

  • Proteins: chicken, fish, eggs, dairy
  • Carbs: whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables
  • Fats: nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil

Balance your meals with these macronutrients for optimal results. For a detailed list, read about the best muscle-building foods recommended by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Meal Timing and Frequency

Eat every 3-4 hours to constantly fuel your muscles. Include quality protein in every meal. Post-workout, consume protein and carbs to aid recovery. Don't forget about pre-workout meals to sustain your energy. Protein shakes and vitamins are common supplements that can help meet nutrient needs, especially when whole-food meals aren't possible.

Core Exercises and Techniques

To build a physique like Arnold Schwarzenegger, focusing on core exercises is crucial. These techniques help in developing a solid base for muscle mass and strength.

Squats and Deadlifts

Squats are fundamental for building your lower body. When performing squats, maintain constant tension on your leg muscles and push through your heels. Place your feet shoulder-width apart and squat as if you're sitting into a chair, keeping your back straight and chest up.

  • Technique tip: Go down to at least parallel to the ground to activate the maximum number of muscle fibers.

Deadlifts target more than just your legs; they engage your entire core and posterior chain. Keep your back flat and lift the barbell with your legs, not your back.

  • Common pitfall: Don't rush. Improper form, especially with heavy weights, can lead to serious injury.

The Pump and Supersets

Seeking the pump is about maximizing blood flow to your muscles, creating a feeling of fullness. Achieving it requires high repetition sets with short rest intervals. Keep the weights relatively light and push through the burn.

  • Reality check: The pump feels great, but it's not always indicative of muscle growth.

Supersets are two exercises performed back-to-back with no rest in between. This increases intensity and allows you to work multiple muscle groups quickly.

  • Selection tip: Pair opposing muscle groups, like biceps and triceps, to maximize efficiency.

Forced Reps and Negatives

Forced reps involve continuing a set past the point of failure with the help of a spotter. This pushes your muscles beyond their usual capacity, but be careful not to overdo it. Your body needs time to recover.

  • Remember: Quality over quantity. It's better to have a few effective reps than many improper ones.

Negatives focus on the lowering phase of a lift, which can lead to more muscle tears—and therefore growth. Control the weight as you slowly lower it to maximize tension.

  • Caution: Negatives are stressful on muscles and joints. Ensure proper rest and don't neglect other aspects of training.

Workout Recovery and Rest

Optimal recovery is essential in bodybuilding to ensure muscle growth and prevent injuries. Your post-workout routine and rest days are crucial for a successful fitness journey.

Post-Workout Routine

After tough workouts, your muscles need to repair. It's vital to consume a post-workout meal within 45 minutes. This meal should be a combination of protein for muscle repair and carbohydrates to replenish energy stores. Hydration can't be ignored either; replacing lost fluids is a key step in recovery.

Sleep and Rest Days

Never underestimate the power of sleep. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to allow muscle recovery and growth hormone release. Moreover, incorporate rest days into your regimen. Giving your body time to fully recover means you'll come back stronger for your next session. Remember, rest days aren't optional—they're a part of the program just as much as the lifting itself.

Common Bodybuilding Myths

In bodybuilding, it's easy to get sidetracked by myths that sound true but have no basis in science. Keep an open mind as you learn the truth about common misconceptions.

Spot Reduction Fallacy

Believe it or not, no amount of crunches will burn fat specifically in your abdomen. Your body loses fat in a genetically predetermined order, regardless of the exercises you do. So, while targeted exercises can help strengthen and tone the underlying muscles, they won't selectively slim down fat in one area.

Muscle Turning into Fat

Here's the straight talk: muscle and fat are two entirely different types of tissue, so it's impossible for one to become the other. If you stop training, your muscles may shrink due to atrophy, and you might gain fat if you consume more calories than you burn. This change could give the illusion of a transformation, but in reality, it's just a shift in body composition.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Workout App

Embrace the grind with Arnold's "The Pump" app—your digital trainer, loaded with Schwarzenegger's decades of iron wisdom.

The design mirrors Arnold's no-nonsense philosophy, integrating a community to fuel your fire and a shop for your gear.

It's not just an app; it's a weekly blueprint for growth, offering workouts that evolve with you, whether you're a beginner or pushing the limits of advanced training.

Let "The Pump" be your guide to muscle mastery, with Arnold's voice pushing you to find your limit, then crush it.

The app presents a mix of advantages and drawbacks to consider:


  • Legacy-Driven Workouts: Direct insights from Arnold's bodybuilding techniques.
  • Progressive Training Plans: Weekly updates that scale with your fitness level.
  • Community Engagement: Built-in features for shared experiences and support.


  • One-Size-Fits-All: May not tailor to the unique needs and limitations of every individual.
  • Cost Consideration: While there are free components, full benefits require subscription.

For a tailored fitness journey, consider alternatives like Dr. Muscle, which boasts AI-driven personalization, adapting dynamically to your progress and feedback, a feature that could offer more nuanced and individualized workout experiences.

Frequently Asked Questions

What workout routine did Arnold Schwarzenegger follow to build mass?

Arnold's mass building routine focused on heavy compound exercises with a high volume of sets and reps. He targeted each muscle group with multiple exercises and often trained twice a day.

Can you detail the diet that Arnold Schwarzenegger adhered to during his bodybuilding days?

Arnold's diet was high in protein and calories to support muscle growth. He consumed lean meats, eggs, dairy, and complex carbohydrates, along with vegetables and supplements.

What are some lesser-known tips from Arnold Schwarzenegger for gaining muscle?

Aside from his workout and diet, Arnold emphasized the importance of mental focus, adequate sleep, and recovery, as well as consistency and discipline.

How does Arnold's 'Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding' differ from his 'Blueprint to Mass'?

The 'Encyclopedia' is a comprehensive guide covering all aspects of bodybuilding, while the 'Blueprint' is a specific program detailing his approach to mass building.

What are the possible downsides of following Arnold Schwarzenegger's bodybuilding routine?

The intensity and volume of Arnold's routines can lead to overtraining and injury if not approached with caution and proper form, especially for those new to lifting.

How intense were Arnold Schwarzenegger's bodybuilding workouts, and what should a beginner take into account?

Arnold's workouts were extremely intense, often involving multiple sessions a day. Beginners should start slowly, focus on form, and progressively increase intensity.