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How Arnold Schwarzenegger Really Trained

Strength Oldschool

By Strength Oldschool

Young Arnold Schwarzenegger Flexing Bicep

I have collected first-hand accounts on how Arnold Schwarzenegger really trained including info on his diet.

I'm a massive fan of Arnold, but let’s face it, there’s a ton of bullshit information out there online, in books, in magazines etc which makes it difficult knowing what to believe.

Well here’s first hand accounts taken from people who have trained with Arnold and observed him training in real life.

 Bodybuilding Legend Arnold Schwarzenegger - Massive

FIRST HAND ACCOUNTS

David C New mentions:

Are we to infer that you aren’t convinced of the accuracy of all the reports in Muscle Builder in the 70s? How about his encyclopedia (Arnold's Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding) or his training booklets?


Dan Brillantino responds:

The Muscle Builder and the Encyclopedia I feel are exagerrated. I had a short conversation with Dr. Michael Walczak a couple of years ago through the PROPTA Personal Training site. He said Arnold’s workouts lasted a little over an hour and ate a normal diet (3 squares).

Arnold Training Triceps


Jerry Brainum mentions:

It’s true that the various reports about Arnold’s training during his competitive years are mostly nonsense. I saw and trained with Arnold many times at the original Gold’s gym. He began training hard about 3 months prior to a contest, and did up to about 20 sets per muscle group. Some days, he favored training twice, doing one or two muscle groups per workout. He used moderately heavy weights, doing about 8-12 reps per set, up to 6 sets per exercise, especially legs. I remember this because when I trained legs with Arnold, my thighs were often exhausted after about 4 sets, but Arnold insisted on doing the full 6 sets. During the offseason, he would train for about an hour, 4 times a week. The one muscle that he trained hard year-round was calves, which explains why another poster on this site noticed that he still uses heavier weights when he trains his calves today. I don’t recall him ever being in the gym for more than about 1 1/2 hours. On some days, we would train in the morning, go down to the beach, get some sun, eat lunch, then head back to the gym for another workout.It was enjoyable to train with him in those days because he was a fun guy, but still took his training seriously, particularly prior to a contest. Most of the hijinks attributed to Arnold at that time were true. I know because I witnessed many of them. When I lived next door to Frank Zane in the early 70s, Frank set up a posing light in my living room, and he used to practice his posing there with Arnold and Franco while I was at school. I recall a funny incident at that time. Frank moved, but before he left, he asked if he could temporarily leave his trophies in my living room. I agreed to this arrangement. One afternoon, I came back to my apartment accompanied by a girl I had just met. She immediately noticed the large collection of trophies in my living room, and proceeded to read the names on the trophies, such as “Mr.America,” Mr.Universe,” Mr.International” and so on. She than looked at me in astonishment and asked,”Are all these trophies yours?” My response was,”Well, it’s my apartment, isn’t it?”

The Massive Back of Arnold Schwarzenegger


Dan Brillantino responds:

Hi Jerry,

Love your articles in IronMan! I deeply appreciate your time and detailed insight to my query. If I may,one more question? Were the bodyparts trained 2x or 3x a week? Was it a straight 6x/wk or 3on/1off,etc.

Thanks again for your valued input.

Dan


Jerry Brainum responds:

Thanks, Dan for that nice comment about my articles. As for Arnold, his precontest split was: day one: chest and back; day two: thighs, calves; day three: shoulders and arms. He would train 6 times a week, resting on Sundays. He would often split the upper body workouts into morning and evening sessions, depending on his mood and energy levels. Each muscle was trained twice weekly, and he would train calves about 4 days a week, and do some abs every day prior to a contest, as was the custom in those days. He never trained to failure, but did train intensely precontest. His offseason workouts were far more casual, he seemed to hardly break a sweat. I used to joke with him about his “15 minute” offseason training sessions.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Flexing Arm


Dan Brillantino responds:

Hi Jerry,
Thanks again for such straight, honest info. Was Dr. Walczak on the money also regarding diet (3 squares, up to 1gm/kg bwt for protein}, lipotropcs, etc.?

Thanks again for your candor.

Dan


Jerry Brainum responds:

The Doctor was correct. Arnold never went on extreme diets. He would simply reduce his total caloric intake, while still consuming many of the same foods with a focus on protein foods. As a contest drew closer,however, he did reduce his carb intake, but never to zero. If he felt like having some ice cream, he would, but it never seemed to adversely affect his preparations. Interestingly enough, he wasn’t big on supplements, either. Weider would give him a ton of supplements, but he would give most of it away to his pals at the gym. He did like Rheo Blair’s milk and egg protein. I once saw him make a protein drink in a blender, then add some rum. When I asked him why the rum, he told me that the alcohol speeds the uptake of protein into the body. Perhaps he got that notion because of the rapidity of alcohol uptake, but who’s to argue with Arnold?

The Best Bodybuilder Ever - Arnold Schwarzenegger


Nathan Pearl responds:

Jerry, Rheo also came up with the fact that alcohol, particularly hard liquor, increases the uptake of protein consumed at the same time. It does this by causing secretion of digestive fluids/acid. Rheo himself used a little whiskey with meals at times, particularly with beef. Before anyone goes nuts, however, this was a shot, maybe two, of the stuff, not an amount such as to create “God’s Own Drunk And A Fearless Man”.

 

* If anyone else has any input on the accuracy of how Arnold used to train in his younger competitive years then please share your thoughts. Or if you know of how Arnold trains now, then please voice your opinions. Thank you.

Keep training hard,

All the best,


Strength Oldschool

 



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