Arnolds Rules

Morning all,

This Friday’s #TrainingTips post is 5 simple training rules by a man that has been an inspiration to many for a very long time.  Who am I talking about, well the legend Arnold Schwarzenegger of course.

Arnolds Rules

Choose The Best Exercises For Growth

Training hard is as important as training smart. ‘To get big, you have to get strong’ he wrote. ‘Beginning and intermediate bodybuilders shouldn’t be as concerned with refinement as with growth’.

With this in mind, focus LESS on single-joint movements and focus on the multi-joint compound ones.  Exercises like the bench press, squat, deadlift, overhead press, bent-over row, and power clean are examples of solid compound exercises that require more than one muscle group to work in coordination.  These exercises should form the foundation of your training plan.

These movements are more difficult to master than their single-joint exercises, they offer the added benefit of allowing you to train very heavy to overload the target muscle groups.  Arnold believed that performing these moves and challenging yourself with heavy weights was the single most critical component of gaining strength and size.

Use Heavy Weights For Low Reps 

For Arnold, choosing the right load was just as important as selecting the right exercise.  After all, 8 reps of squats with 365 pounds taken to failure elicit a far better muscle-building stimulus than a set of 95 pounds for 40 reps.

‘Start with a few warm-ups (not taken to muscle failure) and pyramid the weight up from one set to the next, decreasing the reps and going to failure’, Arnold wrote. ‘Usually, I’ll have someone stand by to give me just a little bit of help past a sticking point or cheat the weight up just a little once I’ve reached muscle failure’.

Arnold wasn’t just concerned with feeling the weight; he wanted to make sure the load induced muscle failure at a target range: ‘I make a point of never doing fewer than six repetitions per set with most movements’, he notes, and nothing higher than 12.  The rule applies to most body parts, including calves.

Make sure to choose the right weight to fail within that rep range.

Don’t Get Comfortable With A Routine

Few people know that Arnold has a business degree, but he didn’t need his diploma to realise that diminishing returns applies to workouts too.

Do the same workout for too long without making significant changes and it’s value will fall over time.  That’s when a bodybuilder finds himself in a training rut.  ‘Within a basic framework, he was constantly changing my exercises’, Arnold wrote.  ‘I liked to shock the muscles by not letting them get complacent in a constant routine’.  Arnold did his homework when it came to planning his training sessions.  If he found that an exercise was no longer producing gains, he’d switch it for another.  Never afraid to experiment with new exercises or alternative training methods, Arnold was on a perpetual search for new ways to become bigger and better as old ways became stale.

Go Past Failure With Advanced Techniques 

In his book, Arnold identified the use of a number of advanced training techniques and used them as a weapon to bring up a lagging body parts.  Arnold used just about every intensity booster in the book, so to speak, but he zeroed in on what worked best for him simply through trial and error.

Don’t be afraid to apply such techniques as forced reps, negatives, drop-sets, partials, rest-pause, or other ideas you may read about in your own training. Be sure to evaluate how you feel after using one, and remember not to take every set past muscle failure; save it for your 1-2 heaviest sets of each exercise.

Guard Against Overtraining

In your zeal to bring up a stubborn muscle group, you might be tempted to employ the ‘throw everything at them but the kitchen sink’ approach, but Arnold warned that this strategy might be counterproductive. ‘There will be times when a body part lags behind because you are overtraining it, hitting it so hard, so often, and so intensely that it never has a chance to rest, recuperate, and grow’, he wrote.

The answer to this problem is simply to give the muscles involved a chance to rest and recover and then to adjust your training schedule so that you don’t over-train them again. Remember, too much can be as bad as too little when it comes to bodybuilding training’.

Arnolds Rules

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These 5 simple rules for Arnold were all about getting the most gains in muscle and strength but that might not be everyones goals and it shouldn’t be either.  But the underlying principles that Arnold set himself and shared to the masses are ones that should and can be extended to every health, fitness, professional and life goal.

How so?

  • Be smart and be prepared to grow
  • Don’t be afraid when things get heavy
  • Don’t get to comfortable for too long
  • Failure doesn’t mean you’ve lost and it certainly doesn’t mean the end
  • When you need to rest take it


Have a great weekend guys.


Stay strong and live, love and laugh!





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