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Arnold’s Championship Training Secrets: Building Total Upper-Arm Massiveness

By Arnold Schwarzenegger as told to Gene Mozee

This article originally appeared in the Feb 1994 issue of IRON MAN Magazine

When I first began working out, it was Reg Park who inspired me to train for gigantic arms. Several years later I saw Larry Scott at his best, and he impressed me as having the greatest arm development in the world. His biceps and triceps had the finest combination of size, shape and cuts, and he also had great forearms. Seeing Scott inspired me to raise my total arm-training program to a higher level of intensity and to set a higher goal.

One of the great secrets that I’ve learned about training is that it takes maximum effort to make maximum gains. You cannot build the ultimate in mass, shape and cuts without extremely dedicated training. This is especially true if you want to develop your arms to their fullest potential.

During my competitive years I trained my arms hard all year long. For nine months I worked for more size and power. Then three months before a contest I modified my training to bring out maximum muscularity and razor-sharp definition. This game plan really worked great. My training was always focused on creating more complete development. Each time I stepped on stage, I tried to show the judges more size, shape and cuts than I’d had the last time.

In the early stage of my training I worked my arms three days a week. I later found that arm growth comes more rapidly on a twice-a-week program. Each arm workout took a full two hours—45 minutes for triceps, 45 minutes for biceps and 30 minutes for forearms. The severity of using absolute maximum poundages on each exercise of this mass-blasting routine required me to get three to four days’ rest between arm workouts so that full recuperation and maximum growth could occur.

It takes heavy movements to stimulate arm growth. I selected exercises on which I could use as much weight as possible. I forced my muscles to continually handle heavier and heavier work loads, which activated more muscle fibers and also increased ligament and tendon strength.

When I was training for greater arm size, I used a slight cheating motion on the last three to four reps on some exercises. Even so, I performed full movements. This is important. The muscle must feel the weight through the full range of motion so that all areas are stimulated. Let’s take the barbell curl as an example.

For barbell curls I started with the weight at arm’s length at my thighs with my biceps at full stretch. I did the first three to four reps in fairly good style, but on the last three to four I used a little body motion to get the bar started and then curled it all the way to my shoulders before lowering it slowly back to the bottom, arms-length position. Each rep was a full movement. The lower portion of my biceps got full stimulation along with the middle and upper areas. By lowering the bar in a controlled manner, I got a double benefit on each rep—a heavy contraction followed by a continuous-tension extension [more…]


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