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Arnold Schwarzenegger's Training Tips
Arnold Schwarzenegger's Training Tips
Long before he governed the Golden State and outmuscled bad guys on the silver screen, even before he won a then-record seven Mr. Olympia titles, Arnold Schwarzenegger was a promising young bodybuilder who had one glaring weakness (seriously) -- his legs. At 6'2", Arnold knew firsthand the difficulty tall bodybuilders face in bringing up their lower bodies. Rather than accepting this shortcoming, however, Arnold endured the most grueling, even sickening, workouts up to three times a week to build massive tree-trunk thighs worthy of someone nicknamed The Oak.
While Arnold did conventional exercises, his training strategy was anything but. He approached leg days with an extraordinary tolerance for pain and dedication to push his body past its physical limits. While anyone can repeat the six exercises that make up his routine, few can duplicate his legs-into-Jell-O intensity. But we're guessing at least a few of you have the cojones to give it a try. That's why, for the first time ever, M&F is publishing the incredibly effective workout and training techniques that completely transformed Arnold's legs.
Turn up the Volume
Endurance, in addition to sheer size, makes the legs a difficult bodypart to train. "It isn't enough just to subject the legs to heavy overload" Arnold said. "You have to use heavy weights and sufficient volume to stress the fibers involved and exhaust the endurance capacity of the muscles".
Arnold's early training wasn't sufficiently high in volume. "For many years I did only five sets of squats when I really should have been doing eight . . . [and] I did not put enough weight on the leg-press machine" he said. "Once I realized my mistakes and corrected them, my thighs began to grow thick and massive". At his peak, Arnold did at least 20 working sets for legs and took each set except his warm-ups to failure. This high-volume approach helped him put on the size and build the strength (his best was a 400-pound squat for eight reps) that turned around a weak bodypart.
Note: Arnold's high-volume approach is extremely taxing at first, but eventually the body adapts and grows stronger. Stick with it for 6-8 weeks to induce dramatic changes in your own legs.
Mind Over Muscle
Muscle fatigue inevitably sets in when you do several sets to failure, but Arnold used his mind to fight it.
"I accepted the fact that leg workouts simply have to be brutal to be effective" he said. "Normal workouts are hard enough, but if thighs happen to be a weak point in your physique, you have to be prepared to push yourself even more. This involves a mental effort almost as much as a physical one. . . . This means forcing yourself to break down any inhibition or barrier".
Note: Don't train legs without a partner. "A good training partner pushes you to handle more poundage and gives you incentive to grind out more reps per set" Arnold wrote in his early autobiography. "Workouts are more fun with a partner as well as more competitive . . . you challenge each other". When you've forced out all the reps you can for squats, for example, stand holding the weight for a moment, then do one more rep (with a partner spotting you) to push your body to its absolute limit.
Shock it to Me
Arnold found that traditional training techniques weren't enough to bring up his legs. At various times -- especially before a competition -- he used partial reps, drop sets, supersets and pre-exhausting techniques to make his thighs work overtime and bring out their muscular detail. Anyone with at least six months of training experience can increase his workout intensity with advanced training principles.
Note: When you reach failure, don't just put down the weight and take a breather. Try the following techniques to push your leg workouts and test your physical limits -- or at least make it unbearable to walk up a flight of stairs.
Partial Reps When you can't complete any more reps with a full range of motion, do more with just a portion of the movement, such as three-quarters or just half of the full range of motion.
Drop Sets (AKA Strip Sets) After you reach muscle failure on a particular exercise, instead of stopping, immediately reduce the weight by about 25% and continue repping out. This allows you to continue a set well past the point when you'd normally stop because you're using a lighter weight.
SupersetsTrain two opposing muscle groups, like quads and hamstrings, back to back without resting to speed up your workout and get a tremendous pump in the working muscles. Arnold favored the pairing of front squat (which hit the quads hard) with the leg curl (for hamstrings).
Pre-ExhaustionDo an isolation exercise, such as the leg extension, before a more demanding one such as a squat. This pre-exhausts the quadriceps, making them the weak link in a squat. "I hit the leg extension hard, so I was very tired when I got to squats" Arnold wrote. "But I kept trying and soon was able to do heavy squats immediately after leg extensions, and my thighs responded tremendously".
Next step?Infuse your training sessions with some of the principles that worked for Arnold and follow his brutal yet effective leg workout. Just one piece of advice: Skip the stairs after you're done.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's Secrets For Building Mind-Blowing Arms
Arnold hit every muscle group with unparalleled intensity. Build epic arms by following his principles and workouts!
Arm training for Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn't simply about hitting the gym and doing a few finishing sets. Not Arnold.
He hit every body part with mind-numbing intensity and developed every muscle group to its maximum. To build the massive upper appendages that allowed him to win seven Olympia titles, Arnold employed every trick in the bodybuilding book.
What follows is a detailed look at what arm-training techniques Arnold employed, as well as two programs, one basic and one advanced, based on the Oak's methods. Use them to develop your own massive guns, if you're up to the task!
Arnold's Arm Training Principles
When aiming to build his arms, Arnold would use his brain and instincts as much as sheer strength. He advised all who aim for similar development to do the same. The following are some of the major principals he applied to arm training.
Aim For Equal Development ///Arnold always believed that since the arms can be seen from all poses and from every conceivable angle, they should be trained from all angles.
"You don't develop championship-winning arms simply by throwing around a heavy barbell doing curls or blasting out some reps for triceps," he said. Clear visible development between all muscle of the arms with equally full muscle bellies and perfect balance is what Arnold constantly sought.
To achieve balance, proportion, size and shape in the arms, work all arm muscles with equal intensity. Break the individual muscles of the arms down into separate categories. This is where planning your arm training routine is all-important.
Keep Things In Perspective ///Although Arnold advocated training biceps, triceps, and forearms with equal intensity, he also liked to draw attention to the fact that the triceps are the larger and more complex muscle group of the upper arm. The biceps have two heads, while the triceps have three.
As such, Arnold suggested viewing your arm as being one-third biceps and two-thirds triceps, because while it is possible to hide your biceps in some poses, it is almost impossible to hide your triceps. Therefore, he advised, the triceps need to be trained from more angles. When training the triceps, use a variety of exercises to hit all three heads.
Focus ///Concentrating on every rep of every set was something Arnold did religiously. It is often said that once Arnold began to focus on his set, nothing could distract him.
After training, Arnold was a lighthearted guy, but once in the gym he was all business. At no time was this more evident than when he trained his arms. Arnold would visualize what he wanted to achieve, believing that this would actually force gains in muscle size.
His visualization quote has been repeated countless times, but the image is vivid enough to deserve revisiting: "In my mind I saw my biceps as mountains, enormously huge, and I pictured myself lifting tremendous amounts of weight with these superhuman masses of muscle."
For anyone who wishes to gain boundless muscle size and shape, the power of the mind cannot be underestimated. It was Arnold's secret weapon in the fight for huge arms.
Shock The Muscles Into Change ///Arnold always believed that the body was amazingly adaptable and could "accustom itself to workloads that would fell a horse."
However, he knew that even training at a very high intensity level will elicit no new gains if it is all done in the same manner, with the same routines, day in and day out.
Arnold advised "shocking" the arms by integrating tricks like switching up weight amounts, adding reps and sets, speeding up training so as to lift more forcefully, decreasing rest between sets, performing unfamiliar exercises, and doing your normal exercises in an unfamiliar order.
To meet the overarching goal of keeping the muscles constantly guessing as to whateach new training stimulus will bring, he also advocated integrating "intensity methods" such as:
Forced Reps: Forced reps are employed by having a training partner assist you with a final rep that would otherwise be impossible to achieve on your own. This method to shock the muscles should be used sparingly, perhaps once every second workout for one set per exercise.