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Getting Explosive Arms Like Arnold's

Jul 20, 2016 | by: Team A8

Ask folks who the best football player to ever don shoulder pads is and you’ll get a long list of names. The same would be true if you asked the question with regards to a multitude of sports, team or otherwise. Now, ask anybody who the best bodybuilder to ever compete is, and the answer will most undoubtedly be Arnold Schwarzenegger.

arnold greatnessAfter all these years, the 7-time Mr. Olympia has yet to be dethroned as the universal king of bodybuilding, irrespective of the era. During his hay days and beyond, the man was a mountain. While the Austrian Oak excelled in building massive muscle mass in all muscle groups, he sported a pair of guns that stretched the tape measure to over 22 inches.

So, the question on the mind of many aspiring bodybuilders is how did he do it? And more importantly, can I do the same? The answer is an absolute yes. That is not to say that doing so is easy and can be achieved quickly, but with a large degree of dedication and mind-numbing hard work, it certainly is possible. Arnold adhered to a strict set of principles when it came to training his arms. He was quoted as saying “You don't develop championship-winning arms simply by throwing around a heavy barbell doing curls or blasting out some reps for triceps.” For Arnold, the mind plays a tremendous role in getting huge guns. “Whether it’s muscle or money, you have to make it with your mind,” he once said.

It's All About Mindset

arnold arm mountainAt a young age when he was a puny, 150 pounds soaking wet, he began to think of his arms as mountains rather than muscles. “When you think of biceps as merely muscles, you subconsciously have a limit in your mind, which for biceps is something in the area of 20? or 21?. When you limit yourself to that measurement, it is very hard to get to that level and, needless to say, impossible to get past it. But when you think about mountains, there is no limit to biceps growth, and therefore you have a chance of going beyond normal mental barriers.”

Getting your mind right is the first step in acquiring gigantic arms. Arnold believed that great arms are only developed when they have been worked from all angles. In competition, poses reveal everything about the arms, not much can be hidden. All individual muscles have to be trained with equal intensity so that they don’t just grow, they grow with proportion and balance.

Arnold's Routine

Schwarzenegger’s routine varied depending on whether or not it was close to competition time. To bulk up, he adhered to a 6-day double-split routine. He would spend 2 full hours on each arm, 45 minutes on biceps, another 45 on triceps, and 30 on forearms. He also allowed for 3 to 4 days of rest in between arm sessions so that they can benefit from full rest and maximum growth. When training his biceps, he used curls for mass building and isolation.

The first exercise involved cheating barbell curls for building mass. With a shoulder-width grip and his thighs as the starting point, he went to full biceps flexion, and then came back down to the starting point. He also used the incline dumbbell curl on a 45-degree incline bench as this keeps the biceps under tension for the entire upward trip. “One of the rules of muscle kinetics says that the greater the initial tension on the muscle, the greater the number of contracting fibers during flexion.”

The third exercise he performed is the one-arm concentration curl. Using one arm for support, the exercise is performed in a standing bent-over position. Arnold emphasizes that the elbow must remain in the vertical plane of the curling movement. The dumbbell curls to the shoulder with the upper arm remaining vertical. Lastly, he used standing alternate dumbbell curls. “As the dumbbell is curled, the hand is supinated as though trying to touch the little finger to the outer head of the biceps at the peak of the contraction.” He said. For each of the four exercises, he did 20 to 26 sets.

arnold arm workout


I’m going to go out on the limb here and say that Arnold belonged to the advanced level of bodybuilders. So, understand that if you’re still in the beginning stages of your training, you shouldn’t train with his intensity until you’ve reached an above intermediate level.