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Arnold Schwarzenegger Workouts - Arnie Tried HIT?


I’ve read in a couple of places that Arnold tried HIT and got his ass handed to him, here is what it said:

The truth, according to [Arthur] Jones, was that Schwarzenegger’s workouts came nowhere close to “outright hard work”, his definition of intensity. " I couldn’t ever get him to work to failure, not even on one exercise. He’d strain and make terrible faces, but I can recognise the difference between faking failure and real failure. Arnold’s was faked. But afterward, he’d talk like he had a great workout." [Casey] Viator had similar memories: "Arnold just couldn’t get into the intensity part of it. He was used to going so far, backing off, resting, then doing another set. But our workouts were very, very, very intense, and there was no resting. He kept wanting to really get into it…and he seemed to be improving. But the last time Arnold tried to work out at the Quonset hut, in the middle of the session he crawled outside and spilled his guts on the grass. We didn’t see him after that

page 45: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=m-E_ryTuJ5kC&pg=PA45&lpg=PA45&dq=hit+humbled+schwarzenegger&source=bl&ots=eNk7T1yu3x&sig=eGz-opmchWIcPKnqRgWD9gUBl5Y&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwij7dz70PLRAhVMExoKHeRKCVYQ6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=hit%20humbled%20schwarzenegger&f=false

In Arnold’s Encylopedia of Modern Bodybuilding he prescribes that you work out 6 days a week doing a bodypart split.

Mon, Thu:

4x Bench Press
4x Incline Press
4x Pullovers
Chin Up-50’s
4x Bent Over Rows
*Once a week Deadlifts- 10/6/4 to failure
5x Crunches (25 reps)


4x Clean and Press
4x Lateral Raises
*Once a week-Upright Rows- 10/6/4 to failure
*Once a week-Push Presses- 6/4/2 to failure
4x Standing Barbell Curls
4x Seated Dumbbell Curls
4x Close Grip Bench Press
4x Barbell Tricep Extension
5x Reverse Crunches (25 reps)


4x Squats
4x Lunges
4x Leg Curls
5x Calf Raises (15 reps)
*Once a week-10/6/4 Straight Legged Deadlifts
*Once a week-10/6/4 Good Mornings
5x Crunches (25 reps)

he then says do this:

Mon, Wed, Fri:

4x Bench Press
4x Incline Press
4x Pullovers
Chin Up-50’s
4x Bent Over Rows
*Once a week Deadlifts- 10/6/4 to failure
4x Squats
4x Lunges
4x Leg Curls
5x Calf Raises (15 reps)
5x Crunches (25 reps)


4x Clean and Press
4x Lateral Raises
*Once a week-Upright Rows- 10/6/4 to failure
*Once a week-Push Presses- 6/4/2 to failure
*Once a week-10/6/4 to failure on Straight Legged Deadlifts
*Once a week-10/6/4 to failure on Good Mornings
4x Standing Barbell Curls
4x Seated Dumbbell Curls
4x Close Grip Bench Press
4x Barbell Tricep Extension
4x Wrist Curls
4x Reverse Wrist Curls
5x Reverse Crunches (25 reps)

Yet others say Arnold prescribed beginners only do 6 exercises 3x a week:

Squat 4x10
Wide Grip Bench 3x10
Chin Up 3x to failure
Behind the Neck Press 4x10
Barbell Curl 3x10
Bent Knee Sit Up 3-4x to failure

in Iron Man magazine, Arnold prescribes yet another workout:

…from "How to Gain Weight, Train Hard, Get Massive"
by Arnold Schwarzenegger
as told to Gene Mozee (Ironman, March 1994)…

“Heavy movements stimulate the deep-lying muscle fibers that lighter movements never reach. The objective is to use fewer exercises, employ heavier poundages and train your whole body in one workout. I gained most of my weight and massiveness on a program of 10 exercises that I performed three times a week. After I reached a satisfactory bodyweight, I changed over to the more advanced split system and began training six days a week.”

“If you need to put on 20 pounds or more, the following program is for you.”

Gain-Weight Routine
Squats 5 x 8,8,6,6,6
Bench Presses 5 x 8,8,6,6,6
Incline Presses 5 x 8,8,6,6,6
Wide-Grip Chins 5 x 8-10
Bent-Over Rows 5 x 8,8,6,6,6
Behind-the-Neck-Presses 5 x 8,8,6,6,6
Barbell Curls 5 x 8,8,6,6,6
Lying Triceps Extensions 5 x 8,8,6,6,6
Deadlifts 5 x 3-5 (building up to one max set)
Machine Calf Raises 5 x 10-15

“The above program will build tremendous size and power, but it’s too rugged for the beginning bodybuilder. Here’s a more appropriate version for the novice.”

Beginner Routine
Bent-knee Situps 1 x 15-25
Squats 3 x 10
Bench Presses 3 x 8-10
Bent-Over Rows 3 x 8-10
Military Presses 3 x 8-10
Barbell Curls 3 x 8-10
Deadlifts 2 x 10
Machine Calf Raises 3 x 15-20
Bent-leg Leg Raises 1 x 15-25

“During the first week of training do only one set of each exercise and rest for two to three minutes between exercises. Do two sets for the second week and increase to three sets for the fourth week. If the reps are easy when you hit the top number in the listed range, add weight to the bar - five to 10 pounds is sufficient. Increase the weight whenever possible, but use correct form at all times without straining. Beginners can make continuous progress for at least three months on this program.”

“If you’re a bodybuilder who works long hours or has limited time to train for some other reason, try the following routine.”

Abbreviated Mass Routine
Squats 5 x 6-8
Bench Presses 5 x 6-8
Wide-Grip Chins
or Pulldowns 5 x 8-10
Behind-the-Neck-Presses 5 x 6-8
Barbell Curls 5 x 6-8
Lying Triceps Extensions 5 x 6-8
Deadlifts 5 x 3-5 (building up to one max set)

“Although this version is somewhat shorter, some people gain faster on fewer exercises - probably because they’re able to recuperate better and they don’t become exhausted from their training.”

“Rest for two minutes between sets of squats and deadlifts, but for most other exercises keep your rest to no more than 1 1/2 minutes.”

“Use these programs three days a week with at least a day of rest between workouts. For example, train on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.”

From going to 2 better gyms than my first gym (which had no squat rack, no bench rack and it took until 2010 to get a loadable bar) i’ve realised that HIT and volume don’t really work for me; in fact I felt slower in kickboxing from HIT and didn’t really gain much strength. HOWEVER I am fond of Rippetoes and 5x5 workouts so perhaps lower reps and high frequency work better for me.

I was under the impression Arnold ORIGINALLY did bodyweight exercises as his book “Education of a Bodybuilder” says he prescribed push ups, pull ups, handstands and dips to build a foundation. But then this above routine from Iron Man says he followed the Gain Weight Routine from above. Yet if you go on Stronglifts and T-Nation they say Arnold originally did 5x5 and emulated Reg Park. So which was it as these are the routines Arnold claims to have done:

  1. Bodyweight- Education of a Bodybuilder
  2. Reg Park 5x5 (yet Reg Park has several workouts and some say he didn’t even do 5x5 all the time) 3x a week
  3. Iron Man 1994 Gain Weight Routine 3x a week
  4. Encyclopedia of a Bodybuilder split routine 6 days a week

He also recommends different workouts for beginners:

  1. Golden 6 3x a week
  2. Ironman 1994 3x a week
  3. Encyclopedia of a Modern Bodybuilder Phase I and II 6x a week

Why is Arnold giving out contradictory information?


Because it’s far easier to sell a super secret combination of reps and sets vs hard work, time and consistency.


Every single training program that has adequate stimulation, progressive overload and adequate rest will cause adaptation. If you eat and sleep right you will progress. Don’t overthink this.


He didn’t give out contradictory information. I doubt he did the exact same split/routine for his entire career. He probably started out with body-weight stuff because he didn’t have weights yet, then moved into more of a power-lifting type routine. By the time he was in America, he was definitely a volume guy.

So, if four different types of routines worked for him throughout his career, why is it problematic to recommend four different types of routines? As @Basement_Gainz said:


Saying many different methods work might makes thing confusing, but it’s definitely not contradictory. Contradictory would be more like Arnold saying in one place “5x5 was the first routine I ever did because it’s better than anything else” and then later saying somewhere else “Bodyweight training was the first routine I ever did because it’s better than anything else.”

It’s also possible to suggest someone do a routine without actually having done that routine yourself. It broaches disingenuity, but saying “You should train like this” is not synonymous with saying “I trained like this.”

But with regard to Young Arnie’s training, you’re leaving out the fact that he actually started out in an weightlifting gym and competed in, and won, several Olympic lifting competitions as a teenager right around the same time he started doing local bodybuilding shows.



I’m surprised no one has addressed how Viator and Jones said Arnold did HIT for a week and couldn’t take the intensity and puked. Is this a true story? Viator and Arnold were friends


If you’re thinking about “Intensity” as a feeling, isn’t puking from training more intense than not puking?

Like if Casey was working so hard, why didn’t he throw up?


Schwarzenegger puked because it was too intense for him and he didn’t finish the workout. If Viator said it perhaps it’s true as Viator and Arnold were friends.

Arnold claims to have lost size doing HIT but the link I provided said he simply couldn’t train hard enough


But why is his ‘beginner’ routine in the Encyclopedia 6 days a week whereas his other beginner workouts were only 3 days a week


He was also in the army so I assume that’s where the recommendations for bodyweight training came along; however he won Mr Germany and I’m pretty sure he trained with weights before joining the army. But he recommends beginners do bodyweight exercises in ‘Education of a Bodybuilder’ but no program is written out? Even his other beginner routines don’t have Olympic lifts with the exception of Clean and Press in his Encyclopaedia


Training like the “Pro’s” is usually never a good idea. You want to find what works for you, because thats all that the pro’s really do. For most people, even those on anabolics you get more consistent gains without marathon workouts, punishing volume, and frequency.

The magazines of old(and still true of many today), were filled with untruths and outright lies. Most of the time the articles were ghost written, and also failed to mention that the featured guy was taking lots of anabolic assistance. Ghost writers often mythologise their subject matter, grossly exaggerating the routines. Even if the truth was told about sets and reps, they fail to mention that the marathon workouts were only done pre competition, not all year round. I think it might be the Mozee article,or possibly another one where Gene says when not on these competition workouts Arnold trained like a regular guy 4 days a week, mon-tues, repeated Thurs -Fri.

The routines in Arnold’s Bodybuilders Encyclopedia, would kill a bull elephant after a couple of weeks.
Glamourizing stuff like training until you puke, or until you burst a blood vessel in your eye, sound hardcore but actually are extremely harmful to a beginner body builder, and will turn you off wanting to go to the gym regularly, or flat out keep you out of the gym due to injury.

Yes you do need to train hard, but only hard enough to get the job done. Lee Haney’s advice stimulate don’t anihilate is some of the best advice you will ever hear.


I like the look of the abbreviated mass routine in the Iron Man as it’s basically 5x5 with arm work and chin ups added on. Because I want to do MMA and only have 4 evenings a week, I’m thinking of doing the abbreviated mass routine twice a week and traditional martial arts or MMA classes twice a week.

Arnold’s ‘Beginner’ routine in Ironman confuses me as it has sit ups BEFORE the mass building exercise? It has a bit more volume than his ‘Golden Six’

I tried the workout in Encyclopedia 3x a week instead of six; personally I prefer 5x5 and fewer exercises as I like adding weight every workout


You want to do MMA training and gain muscle mass? That’s alot of conditioning cutting into your recovery. You will have to pick 1 goal and make it the primary goal.

Arnold never did a combat sport. Why are you fixating on his routines?


Not Arnold but Franco boxed and they trained together. Anyway, at the moment I don’t do weights whenever I’m training for a grading or competition in judo/ju jitsu/ kickboxing due to my 3-4 evenings a week being taken up doing the martial arts training.
And I’m looking into what Arnold did because he’s the coolest guy ever.
Actually I’m looking at an alternative workout to 3-5x5 (which I’m quite fond of) because if I stall on 3-5x5 I’m looking for higher rep workouts to do as a break from 3-5x5 as I assume going lower than 5 reps is unsustainable (as they are all about linear progression?)

Also I’m looking at full-body workouts that I can do 3x a week if I do martial arts only once a week, or a full body 2x a week workout if I do both MMA and gym at same time (as the other 2 evenings are martial arts).
I only have 4 evenings in the week and I either do 3x a week weights or 3x a week MMA for several months at a time. I think powerlifting / Olympic lifting is more appropriate for MMA no? I just want strength and mass, I don’t care about the peak of my bicep or quad separation,etc. All I want to do is get strong and big, lose the moobs, and do MMA because I like how you can mix different fighting techniques together.

Also I’m asking if people knew HIT humbled Arnie


I don’t know man…he makes it sound so damn simple and easy. Ecspecially the part he talks about his diet. Come on Arnie!! I’m supposed to believe all you eat for breakfast was maybe 3 eggs, scrambled and a little bit of bacon, maybe some sausage too?? wtf!? Seriously. I love him man, but he isn’t coming off all the goods here…just saying, :slight_smile:


The only people to ever report this are people trying to sell HIT.

Arthur Jones was a great salesman. Take everything he says with a LARGE grain of salt.


Jones was the king of bullshit, well maybe the crown prince after the Weiders.
He did create some good machines with Nautilus, and shone a little truth by measuring the arms of Sergio and Arnold, whose arms were reportedly 22" in the magazines, but only 19 and 1/2" or so(still very big arms though).

Arnolds workouts might not have been intense in the same way as an HIT workout, but the were still gruelling, and virtually nobody could keep up with Arnold as a training partner, when following his routine.
In Pumping Iron Arnold seems to only be maxing out at about 400lbs in the squat, with terrible form, knees collapsing inwards. Putting it into context, training 6 days a week, squating 3 times a week with 400lbs, perhaps on a resitricted calorie/low carb diet then 400lbs starts to seem like a lot of weight, when done with this much frequency.

Lou Ferrigno in Pumping Iron seemed to be having an effort benching reps with a mid 225-250lb barbell from memory. Once again we don’t know how restricted his diet was or
how many sets he did, and how much rest between sets he took which can drastically effect your strength. Nevertheless you wouldn’t think him capable of a 500lb bench that he was reported to be capable of.


But Viator said it (in Jones’ book though)


You mean Jones said that Viator said it?


Sergio didn’t like HIT much either. Even Viator eventually ended up training more like Arnold with higher sets.
If you are genetically blessed and take anablolics, most types of training are going to result in lots of muscle growth. I