Many people go to the gym without a plan. Is it any wonder that their results are less than they expect? Arnold has always had a plan in general and for his workouts in particular. His ability to plan and focus are key tenets of his success. In his words, “My focus is always on the bottom line,” as he calls any goal or result that he wants.
To use that insight, you must first determine what is the “bottom line” of your workout—why do you go to the gym? There are as many bottom lines as there are people training. My goals in the gym are vastly different from those of my teen years and have evolved from all-out effort for a competition to a lifestyle. Arnold still loves to train, and he always speaks with great enthusiasm for his current workouts and what they mean to him. While the intensity has been dialed way back, the goals are still vivid and satisfying.
Let’s take a look at how Arnold trained for the yearly Olympia contests that he dominated in the ’70s. Everything was aimed at a September peak, the month when the Olympia took place. In October each year he would review his past year’s training and decide which bodyparts he needed to specialize on. He only targeted one weak point a year—calves, abs or forearms, for example. He believed that the way to improve was to put extra energy into a single bodypart over a period of time.
Even so, the October-November-December quarter was devoted to recovery from the previous nine months of preparation for the Olympia. He rested his joints, healed his injuries and rejuvenated his energy and enthusiasm for the year ahead. This was the most unstructured part of his training year and deliberately so. He would go into the gym occasionally as he felt the need, and he relaxed his diet.
Arnold (and Franco) would not gain a lot of fat in the off-season the way so many bodybuilders do today. He ate more of what he craved but in controlled quantities. At the Olympia he might weigh a ripped 240 pounds, but by Christmas he would be a softer 230 to 235. As January came into view, with his injuries healed and his physical and mental energy renewed, he began phase two of his yearly plan.
The magazines portrayed his training as a year-round marathon of splits and double splits, six days a week and twice a day. I trained with him off and on for five years, and that simply was not the case. Arnold had specific plans for each quarter, all aimed at his being bigger and harder with fewer weak points when he stepped onstage in September.
I will go into more detail in a future issue. Arnold’s focused approach to planning can be applied to everyone. As he would say, “Want precedes will.” The want is the first step and defines the plan. IM