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Arnold Schwarzenegger’s incredible secret training

In the 1970s, you didn’t have to ask gray-haired climbers or flip through the canine-eared National Geographic in dental offices to find the world’s most amazing peak.

The regulars at every local fitness studio knew you could find this impressive mountain in Venice, California, where the Austrian mountain lived and trained under the same powerful last name.

Even today, many still believe that Arnold Schwarzenegger remains invincible when it comes to developing biceps. The Austrian oak has grown a pair of shotguns over 56 cm in size, thereby breaking previous standards and creating a completely new archetype that has been imitated by all generations of bodybuilders since then.

The question remains open

Here we are, about 30 years later, and the question still arises: how did he do it; how did he shape those muscular mountains between his rotator cuffs and elbows? And even more important to you bodybuilding enthusiasts, “Can I use Arnold’s bicep training principles to stimulate new growth in my arms?”

The answer is yes. Although it should be noted that Schwarzenegger was chosen as an elite bodybuilder from a physiological point of view, the principles on which he built his biceps workout, i.e. illustration, dedication, intensity and consistency, can be used by anyone, whether a beginner or a professional.

To show you how Arnold did the biggest biceps in the world, we’ve compiled information and quotes from extensive work that has appeared to Arnold over the years.

Huge oak trees grow from tiny seeds

It’s important (and reassuring) to mention that Schwarzenegger was not born with massive muscles. When he did his first bodybuilding training in 1962, the 15-year-old future Austrian oak was 1.80 m tall and 75 kg of wood. But, as he likes to emphasize: “When I was 10 years old, I already flexed my arms every day. When I was 15 I started bodybuilding, the biceps were the most prominent muscle group in my body. Thanks to this flexion, I learned to control them more fully.

“This mental ability started to affect my bodybuilding when I started resistance training. When I was doing twisting, it was special because I immediately felt the blood flowing into the muscle. ”

See biceps, be biceps

Many of us are aware of the psycho games that Schwarzenegger used to finish with his opponents ahead of the competition (as shown in the movie Pumping Iron). However, he retained not only such tactics for Lou Ferrigno, Franco Columbus or Sergio Oliva. In fact, the person he used his best psychological tricks on was himself.

“Throughout my bodybuilding career,” Schwarzenegger recalls, “I made fun of myself. So I started thinking of my muscles as mountains, not flesh and blood. Thinking of my muscles as mountains meant that they grew faster and larger than if I just looked at them as muscles. ”

“If you view your biceps as a bare muscle, you have a subconscious border, in this case about 50-54 cm in circumference. If you are comfortable with this size, it is very difficult to get there and certainly impossible to go beyond. But when you think about mountains, there are no limits to biceps growth, and you can overcome normal mental barriers. ”

In addition, Schwarzenegger emphasizes that it is important to curb your zeal with a healthy dose of pragmatism. “Enthusiasm is extremely important at all levels of bodybuilding. However, the beginner must learn to enjoy small accomplishments. You don’t have to pretend that huge achievements will be easy to achieve and that he will be huge overnight if he only trains like champions. ”

“His successes must be the result of small successes, and he must look forward to any growth.”

Keep track of the price

“Whether it’s muscle or money, you have to do it wisely,” warns the oak tree. “Once I asked a colleague whom I had seen in training for 4 years if he had ever thought about winning the Mister Universe. He replied, “No, I can never.” He was right. With this attitude, he could never have expected serious progress. ” Do you understand? Okay! Let’s get down to practice.

Shocking Development

As with all aspects of his life, Arnold Schwarzenegger analyzed exactly what it takes to create the greatest biceps in history. Although his first biceps workouts consisted mostly of dumbbell and barbell curls, he learned new exercises like the preacher’s curls when he came into contact with American bodybuilding magazines.

At the age of 19, Schwarzenegger had already developed a unique method of training biceps, to which his still developing muscles could only respond with growth. “A typical workout program included barbell curls, dumbbells (sitting or standing), preacher curls, and concentration curls. But remember that my exercises changed a lot because I always wanted to shock the muscles, ”says Schwarzenegger.

“I remember the days when my training partners and I did 20 very heavy biceps of 4 or 5 reps each. On another day, maybe just 2 days later, we did 10 sets of 15 reps each and light weights. »

“This shocking method was extremely important to my training. If you always train it the same way, your muscles will become complacent and resist growth. But if you try every possible training method, exercise, weight, repetition and training speed, you keep your muscles balanced. They say something like, “Wow, this is something new. He just did 10 sets of 20 reps, and next time he does 20 sets of 5 reps. I will never look at myself to get used to it, I can never resist this learning, so I think I will have to grow! »

And that’s exactly what his hands did. They grew to 43 cm when he was 17, to 46 cm by 18 and 48 cm when he was 19.

In fact, Schwarzenegger used this seemingly arbitrary but carefully planned system to shock the biceps to break the 50cm mark. Interestingly, he instinctively knew that despite the great success he had achieved with his program , he was able to build even bigger and better biceps by adding some changes to his training system.


Despite being a perfectionist, Schwarzenegger decided to change his hugely successful workout to biceps. While his main concern used to be mass growth, as a professional competitor he realized that he now had to be more selective about where and how he expressed it. To this end, he decided to split the biceps workout into two different types of training: the off-season, which included 9 months after the Mr. Olympia competition, and the preliminary competition, that is, 3 months before the competition.

The offseason workout was focused on building lean mass, while the pre-competition workout focused on incorporating crystalline details into these muscle clumps.


When setting up, Schwarzenegger followed a 6-direction division, in which he trained his arms twice a week. Incredibly, each arm workout lasted a full 2 ​​hours: 45 minutes of triceps, 45 minutes of biceps and 30 minutes of forearm, in that order. “The difficulty of using absolute maximum weight with each exercise in this hammer routine requires a 3–4 day break between arm workouts to ensure full recovery and maximum growth,” explains Schwarzenegger. He divided the curls into two main categories, mass building and insulation, and selected 2 exercises from each group to make sure he builds not only mass but also quality mass.

Exercise 1. Deceiving barbell with barbell

“The deflected bend of the bar is solely responsible for building up mass. I begin the movement with a dumbbell on the hip and grasp the entire shoulder and move it with a light body movement. This gives me enough momentum to start moving. I move to full bicep curl and then slowly lower the bar back to the starting position.

With the palms facing up, an outward rotation helps me to flex the head of the outer biceps with full flexion while strengthening the mid-muscle region.

Exercise 2: Angled Dumbbell Curl

“I am lying on a bench at a 45 ° angle. I prefer a low bent because it allows the biceps to expand fully in the lower part of the movement and remain energized during the upward movement. ” One of the rules of muscle kinetics is that the greater the initial tension on the muscle, the greater the number of fibers contracting during flexion.

“So, if you squeeze many fibers at the same time, you build mass. I aim for full flexion and extension. ”

At this moment, as his hands were filled with oxygen-rich blood, Schwarzenegger began with isolated movements

Exercise 3: Curl of Concentration on One Arm

“This exercise is performed in a standing position, bent, with the support of the free arm.” Execution is very important in this exercise. Even the most experienced bodybuilders can observe a tendency to pull their elbows inward towards their chest during this movement. The elbow should not deviate from the vertical plane of movement.

The upper arm should remain upright and the bar should be rotated towards the shoulder. While this sounds like a restrictive, awkward move, it remains the key to better biceps workouts.

When his hands finally begged for mercy, Schwarzenegger usually returned to the barbell rack to launch the final attack with his fourth drill.

Exercise 4: alternating curls of dumbbells (standing)

“When the bar is folded, the arm is supinated, as if the little finger wanted to touch the outer head of the bicep at maximum compression.”

With this movement, you get that famous little muscle jerk that raises the outer head of the biceps and gives each bicep an amazing thing. Therefore, you must be careful to twist your hand while curling – two movements in one. The biceps come into play quite strongly with supination and flexion of the arm. That little twist gave me separation, developed shoulder and thick lower biceps.

That’s enough!

Four exercises, 20-26 sets and 45 minutes are monstrous for almost every standard. But they were enough for Schwarzenegger. “If I did it right, I wouldn’t need it anymore,” he says.

“There were other things I did between sets, like stretching my biceps by extending my arm and pulling it back. I notice how the stretching relieves the constriction of the blood vessels and allows blood to flow inward. ”

Pre-competition routine

“Three months before the competition, I completely changed my hand routine,” says Oak. “Now my goal was to cut all possible cuts and shapes. I cut my sentences down to a super set training style and tried to maximize performance with every workout. ” During this time, Schwarzenegger upshifted and trained each hand with super sets, with little or no pause between sets.

Now that he was training twice a day and 6 days a week (six day double split), he worked three times a week with this grueling exercise. And you thought his offseason was going to hurt! But that’s not all.

“When I was concentrating on a big competition, I stood in front of a mirror between my biceps, flexed my arms and held them for one, sometimes two or even three minutes. I did this because there was a lot of posing during the competition Having muscles is one thing, but being able to control them and maintain strength are two others.

However, one warning from the big guy is, “This system worked very well for me, but this is a serious form of continuing education and is not recommended for beginners.” So who, besides the huge Austrians, can successfully use any of these complex procedures?

Do as I say, not as I do

The great Boyer Coe once said, “High performance training is the only way for people like Mike or Ray Mentzer.” Steve Michalik has spent far more training partners than he could find new ones to keep up with his intensity or madness approach. Of course, you could say that Arnold Schwarzenegger was at least as physically gifted or even more gifted than any other professional before him. .

His regenerative abilities were almost unearthly, and the limit of pain was legendary. Therefore, even for experienced bodybuilders, it is not recommended or simply impossible to mimic these two workouts. But, gifted or not, you can also credit Schwarzenegger with being the most thoughtful bodybuilder in history.

Nothing he did during his bodybuilding career was accidental or random, which means that his programs can serve you as tried and tested models for your own bodybuilding success, regardless of experience level or developmental level. … “I would just recommend for beginners to do 5 sets of barbells and 5 sets of dumbbells, so a total of 10 sets with 8-12 reps each,” says Schwarzenegger. “Concentrate on strict execution and try to gain strength. Try different curl angles until you find the one that creates the most resistance on your biceps.

After about a year, bodybuilders are usually considered advanced. At this stage, Schwarzenegger recommends: “I would look at the development of my biceps and see where I have flaws. Then I would bring these weaknesses into line with the individual program. ”

“If your biceps are missing,” he continues, “you have to do heavy curls. If you are lacking in “top”, you should do everything with dumbbells. Do a lot of concentration and open back dumbbell curls. ” bank – as Reg Park did. “Schwarzenegger thinks that there should be only 12 sentences for the advanced.

Schwarzenegger’s most surprising advice holds true for very advanced athletes. “The biggest mistake at this level is“ burning ”the biceps. The biceps are basically a small group of muscles, and you run the risk of overexerting them, ”says the workout terminator.
So what does overtraining mean? “I would say that the upper limit for biceps in hard training is 15 sets, but I see that all kinds of bodybuilders regularly do 25 to 30 sets.” Not that it would be wrong if your name was Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Schwarzenegger spilled everything and gave you reader tips for building massive biceps; now it’s your turn to put his wisdom into practice. Take this booklet away, go to the gym and get started! But first, let the oak tree give you the final wisdom, the principle of muscle growth, which spurred him to the ultimate success in every workout: “This is the mind that triumphs over matter (mind over matter). If you add intelligence to it, it only matters one thing: reaching the goal. You too. ”

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 5 Biceps Rules:

Variety: alternating with dumbbells, barbells and zipline exercises.

Isolation: Do not support the deltoid, lower back, or other parts of the body during biceps training. Do not swing your weight other than chest curls.

Full Range of Motion: Move your weight in a controlled but complete manner, unless you are doing intense movement during a shock session.

Find the groove: Finds the natural movement line for each movement.

General Concentration: Don’t let your mind wander. Always focus on muscle movement and sensation.

Apply Arnold’s Workout

We feel that it is our sacred duty to let you, our dear readers, know that Arnold Schwarzenegger is a globally unique guy. Seriously, you say. “Why are you telling us something that we know, since we have muscles worth bending?”

By exaggerating the obvious, we hope to note that Arnold, as a unique athlete, was capable of things that most mortals would find overwhelming or even nearly impossible. Even for seasoned athletes, trying to imitate their 1: 1 workouts can lead to symptoms of overtraining with chronic fatigue and injury.

With this in mind, we believe that any bodybuilder, whether young or old, novice or professional, can benefit from the principles presented by Arnold in this article. Since bodybuilding is such an individual activity, it makes sense anyway to tailor any workout to your personal skills and goals.

If you are not advanced, we recommend that you not try to emulate the sphere of Arnold’s bicep program.

If you are a beginner or a bit advanced, your best bet is to do 2 or 3 sets of workouts in the offseason and see how it goes. If you are an advanced, competitive bodybuilder, we recommend sticking to 3 out of 5 pre-competition supernets.

When adding weight, always remember that Arnold considered one of the most important keys to bodybuilding success: understanding your body.

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