Arnold Schwarzenegger is widely regarded as the greatest bodybuilder of all time, and it’s easy to see why.
Before his influence, bodybuilders were largely regarded as freaks who nobody understood. Lifting weights was seen as an activity that was reserved for dumb meatheads who had more muscles than brains.
And nobody wanted to associate themselves with weightlifting unless it was at an Olympic level.
However, this all changed when Arnold Schwarzenegger burst onto the scene.
With the release of Pumping Iron and his classic 1980s action flicks, he pretty much single-handedly made going to the gym and lifting weights a “cool” thing to do.
But before he became the global icon that he is today, he was just another small town boy growing up in rural Austria.
Young And Hungry
As a young man, Arnold competed in multiple team sports all the way up into his mid-teens.
Over the years, his experiences in team sports taught him one very important thing about himself…
He HATED relying on others!
Whenever something good happened during a competition, he alone wanted to be recognized for it.
He wanted ALL the credit for himself and when his team lost he’d feel even worse because he thought that other people only held him back.
So, naturally, he gravitated over to other sports that were based solely off of individual skill.
This rogue attitude coupled with the life-changing event of watching an old Hercules movie that starred a then top bodybuilder, Reg Park, changed Arnold’s life forever.
Reg Park’s Influence
Arnold quickly became obsessed with Reg Park and needed to know absolutely everything about him.
He bought all of the muscle magazines that featured Park and had his English speaking friends translate any articles that were written about him.
As a result, Arnold learned how to construct a proper training program from the start which no doubt saved him years of trial and error.
As he said in his own words
I was following his example to the letter (Reg Park). And as it turned out, I could hardly have chosen more wisely. The basic exercises were creating for me a rugged foundation, a core of muscle I could later build upon for a winning body.
– Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Education Of A Bodybuilder
Arnold’s Real Training Program
The following routine is the actual training program that Arnold Schwarzenegger used at the beginning of his bodybuilding career.
How do I know this?
Because this was Reg Park’s preferred routine, and as we discussed above, Reg Park was his idol.
This program was taken out of one of the old school muscle magazines that was published around the time when Arnold first got into bodybuilding.
Believe it or not, bodybuilding magazines used to contain lots of useful training information.
Arnold’s Schwarzenegger’s Real Beginner Routine
Barbell Military Press 5×5
Weighted Pull Ups 5×5
Barbell Squat 5×5
Romanian Deadlift 5×5
Barbell Curl 2×5
Close Grip Bench Press 2×5
Barbell Calf Raises 3×12
Bench Press 5×5
Barbell Row 5×5
Power Clean 5×3
Dumbbell Curl 2×5
Weighted Dip 2×5
Barbell Calf Raise 3×12
Dumbbell Clean And Press 5×5
Weighted Pull Up 5×5
Barbell Squat 5×5
Dumbbell Lunge 5×5
Barbell Curl 2×5
Close Grip Press 2×5
Calf Raise 3×12
* Take up to 3 minutes rest in between sets
* 2×5 and 5×5 sets were heavy near maximal loads which stimulated the most muscle growth. However, Arnold did lighter warm-up sets before completing the heavy sets. Always make sure to warm-up properly before attempting heavy near maximal loads.
Powerlifting And Strongman Competitions
Once Arnold built up the foundations of physique, he competed in bodybuilding, powerlifting and strongman competitions.
In fact, his most famous feat of strength was performed in Munich, Germany when he lifted a 560 pound stone in a strongman competition.
I mean listen, a 560-pound deadlift is one thing, but lifting a giant stone is another. That would be like you moving a piece of furniture that weighed 560 pounds all by yourself!
The strategy of competing in both powerlifting and bodybuilding competitions is still practiced today by bodybuilding legends such as Stan Effeding, Mike O’hearn, and the young up and comer Larry Wheels.
One thing that I’ve noticed throughout the years is that bodybuilders who are actually strong tend to look much better than their high-rep pump training counterparts.
Heavy training builds thick dense muscle fibers that stay with you forever.
Arnold’s Best Lifts
Below is a list of Arnold’s best all-time lifts.
Arnold wasn’t the strongest guy in the world, but strength is largely based off of genetics and natural body leverages.
Keep mind that Arnold was actually quite tall for a bodybuilder coming in at over 6 feet. Most pro bodybuilders are shorter and are typically between the heights of 5’7 to 5’11.
This is because those heights typically produce the best leverages to lift the most weight when using compound barbell exercises.
So, considering how tall Arnold is, these numbers are actually quite impressive.
Squat – 545 Pounds
Bench Press – 440 Pounds
Deadlift – 710 Pounds
Clean and Press – 264 Pounds
Snatch – 243 Pounds
Clean and Jerk – 298 Pounds
What About His Famous Split Routines?
While Arnold did use split routines later in his career, this only happened after he spent YEARS training with heavy weight.
He used heavy training to build a foundation of muscle and then used steroids along with pump training and split routines to really make his muscles POP on stage.
Arnold’s Secrets Revealed
And those were Arnold’s training secrets.
Keep it simple.
AND GET FUCKING STRONG!
From The Man Himself –