It has been over forty years since Arnold Schwarzeneg­ger won the last of his sev­en Mr. Olympia titles in 1980. But there’s no deny­ing that he’s a leg­end, just like his train­ing. The advice of the king of body­build­ing is just as rel­e­vant today as it was dur­ing the hey­day of his sports career. And Med­AboutMe will tell you what he rec­om­mends for those who want to see not just volu­mi­nous mus­cles of the arms and shoul­ders, but a clear relief.

Supersets — your choice

Not just reg­u­lar sets: Schwarzeneg­ger strong­ly rec­om­mend­ed super­sets — and did them him­self with biceps, tri­ceps, chest and back mus­cles. In addi­tion to gen­er­al approach­es, he also per­formed addi­tion­al sets for biceps and tri­ceps. This helped to build not just vol­ume, but the max­i­mum mus­cle mass “in all direc­tions and forms.” For those who are not Arnold, we advise you to do 5–10% more than usu­al, with­out get­ting car­ried away by sharp mus­cle over­loads.


Exces­sive load injures mus­cle fibers. After seri­ous super­sets, the mus­cles remain not just dense, but “stone” for quite a long time — this is the result of micro-rup­tures and inflam­ma­tion. If you do not plan to win world titles, we advise you not to exceed your lim­it and always mon­i­tor your well-being.

Fewer sets, more reps with almost no pauses

Fewer sets, more reps with almost no pauses

Before the com­pe­ti­tion, Schwarzeneg­ger changed the pro­gram and reduced the num­ber of approach­es by increas­ing the num­ber of rep­e­ti­tions. So, in the off-sea­son, train­ing for biceps and tri­ceps includ­ed 4 exer­cis­es with 5–6 sets of 6–8 rep­e­ti­tions each. And before the com­pe­ti­tion — 3 exer­cis­es with 4 trips of 8–10 rep­e­ti­tions.

In addi­tion, rest was reduced to a min­i­mum: no paus­es dur­ing super­sets and often even between them. All for the sake of vic­to­ry!

Life hack!

Don’t just focus on lift­ing weights dur­ing work­outs. Visu­al­ize the process! He him­self, for exam­ple, did not just pull the bar, but “pushed the sky.” And he also said: “If I had known about Konan the Bar­bar­ian in those years, I would def­i­nite­ly have imag­ined myself as him dur­ing work­outs!”

Sur­pris­ing­ly, visu­al­iza­tion works even with­out train­ing. As the results of a study in The Inter­na­tion­al Jour­nal of Psy­chophys­i­ol­o­gy, If you reg­u­lar­ly imag­ine your­self per­form­ing cer­tain move­ments, neu­rons send a sig­nal to the mus­cles. Mus­cles react with micro­con­trac­tions. As a result, they exer­cise a lit­tle. The vol­ume can­not be pumped up like that, of course, but mus­cle mem­o­ry is strength­ened and the cor­rect reflex­es devel­op.

Train more often!

Do you want lean mus­cles for your vaca­tion? Do like Arnold: Between sea­sons of com­pe­ti­tion, when the goal was to increase vol­ume, Schwarzeneg­ger trained his arm mus­cles twice a week. And before per­for­mances — three days a week to ful­ly shape the mus­cle mass.

Train your forearms

Train your forearms

Work­ing only the biceps or the back and the fore­arms helps, but it’s not enough. At least if you’re aim­ing for the per­fect body. Reg­u­lar wrist curl exer­cis­es — both for­ward and reverse — should be on your list.

Between sea­sons, Schwarzeneg­ger did at least 10 of these sets in each work­out: “You have to lean on your fore­arms as hard as you can. The rules of mus­cle phys­i­ol­o­gy also apply to the fore­arms, so don’t for­get them.”

Attention to detail!

With­out atten­tion to micro-details, it is impos­si­ble to become the king of body­build­ing, but Schwarzeneg­ger does not advise ordi­nary guys to sim­ply repeat what they see on the mon­i­tor. Be picky about the order in which each exer­cise is per­formed, the num­ber of sets, the cor­rect angle, and the cal­cu­la­tion of the load.

It is inter­est­ing!

Schwarzeneg­ger was sure that in order to increase the vol­ume of hands, you need to gain weight. He esti­mates that you need to add about 5 kilo­grams in weight to add 3 cen­time­ters to your arms. To do this, he had to increase calo­ries by 1500–2000 kcal per day com­pared to his typ­i­cal diet.

Supination is your friend

Just build­ing up a lot of mus­cle mass was not in Schwarzeneg­ger’s inter­ests. Not only volu­mi­nous, but the most devel­oped and embossed biceps — this was one of the goals. To do this, not only the bar­bell, but also dumb­bells were includ­ed in the train­ing plan for the hands. “No amount of bar­bell squat­ting has pro­duced the inten­si­ty and sore­ness of the biceps mus­cles as supina­tion exer­cis­es with the palms of the dumb­bells turned out.”

This is what, accord­ing to the sev­en-time Mr. Olympia, helped him devel­op the largest biceps in the world. The exer­cis­es look easy, but are quite painful: when you lift dumb­bells, turn your palms out­ward — that is, with your lit­tle fin­ger towards you — to the max­i­mum. And remem­ber: with­out pain, mus­cles do not grow.

Find out exact­ly how supina­tion helps and what oth­er exer­cis­es use arch sup­ports in this arti­cle.

Stop hand movements

Stop hand movements

Schwarzeneg­ger also believed in a method that helps to increase the biceps through the “lag” arm move­ment. Most ath­letes keep their wrist straight while lift­ing the dumb­bell in flex­ion and only bend it at the top. An alter­na­tive is to keep your wrist curved at all times dur­ing the lift, while hold­ing the dumb­bell with your fin­gers. This length­ens the lever arm and increas­es the load.


To avoid injury, use gloves or tal­cum pow­der on your hands and start this vari­a­tion of the exer­cise with light weights.

Slow down reps

At peak loads for build­ing up shapes and hon­ing the relief, Arnold points out the impor­tance of not only observ­ing the tech­nique of all exer­cis­es for the biceps, but also the speed of exe­cu­tion. Do them slow­ly so that the mus­cles feel every moment of lift­ing and low­er­ing the dumb­bell or bar­bell.


Typ­i­cal “Schwarzeneg­ger” rep­e­ti­tions: slow­ly low­er the weight on the neg­a­tive and blow it up on the pos­i­tive. This gives a dou­ble load and con­tributes to the max­i­mum growth of mus­cle mass.

Don’t overdo it

It is nec­es­sary to select weights accord­ing to your capa­bil­i­ties for any part of the body. But most ath­letes over­stress the biceps, for exam­ple, with cable press­es. This forces oth­er mus­cle groups to be includ­ed in the work — the press, back, chest, which means that the effi­cien­cy of work­ing with the biceps is reduced.


Russ­ian sci­en­tists pub­lished a study (“Sports Sci­ence Bul­letin”) about the genet­ic pre­dis­po­si­tion to strength and mus­cle mass. As it turned out, three gene muta­tions out of 73 stud­ied make the great­est con­tri­bu­tion. So be aware of indi­vid­ual dif­fer­ences when choos­ing a load!

Work on individual muscles

Work on individual muscles

Iso­late exer­cis­es to indi­vid­ual mus­cles, learn what works best for the biceps and only for him, what will devel­op the tri­ceps, and what will help build broad shoul­ders.

It is inter­est­ing!

As Schwarzeneg­ger said, “Broad shoul­ders give a man a sense of supe­ri­or­i­ty, a sense of secu­ri­ty and self-con­fi­dence.” It is not sur­pris­ing that an exer­cise specif­i­cal­ly for the del­toid mus­cles is named after him — the Arnold press.

Don’t try to fool yourself!

Schwarzeneg­ger noticed that many pumped-up ath­letes lose the shape of their hands due to a care­less atti­tude to exe­cu­tion tech­nique. Focus on each rep­e­ti­tion of each exer­cise, do not give your­self any indul­gence and do not lose focus by mechan­i­cal­ly pump­ing mus­cles.

Expert com­ment

Mark Sobzhak, mas­ter of sports in race walk­ing

The hard­est part of any sport is dis­ci­pline. Mak­ing train­ing plans is good, but stick­ing to them and not giv­ing your­self the oppor­tu­ni­ty to miss the work­out, doing all the exer­cis­es with max­i­mum con­cen­tra­tion is much more impor­tant. Espe­cial­ly often self-decep­tion is observed in those who have achieved some suc­cess through blood and sweat: self-dis­ci­pline is reduced, and the form inevitably begins to get lost. This hap­pens even among pro­fes­sion­als. What I advise:

  • Don’t cut cor­ners, one kilo­me­ter today tomor­row can be half the dis­tance.
  • Don’t manip­u­late the num­bers, be hon­est with your­self in your entries.
  • If you stick to a meal plan, real­ly stick to it.
  • Choose real­is­tic goals. No need to strain your­self today so that tomor­row it would be impos­si­ble to get up — train­ing does not wait.
  • Always fol­low safe­ty pre­cau­tions!

To avoid unnec­es­sary pain and frus­tra­tion, read our arti­cle on Gym Injuries.

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