Athletes & Celebrities

How Arnold Built His Arms

Load your guns like the greatest bodybuilder of all time.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

The Governator shows M&F EIC Shawn Perine he’s still got the guns as they reenact a scene from Predator.

Question: How did you build your amazing arms? — Sidney D. via Facebook

Arnold's Answer: Of all the things I’ve accomplished in life, I still get more questions about my approach to arm training than almost anything else. I’m always happy to share my secrets, but I find it funny because there really isn’t any secret at all.

I’ve always believed in the basics. I performed barbell and dumbbell curls for biceps, and close-grip bench presses, pushdowns, and extensions for triceps. Of course, when I was coming up, that’s all I could do. I didn’t have the fancy isolation machines that gymnasiums today offer. Still, as much as I love the advantages of modern equipment, I believe using basic free weights should make up most of your program.

On dumbbell curls, I always made sure to supinate my wrist (twist it outward) as I curled; this activates the biceps more fully than just flexing the elbow. You should also hold the contracted position for a second on each rep. For triceps, I would do lying extensions with my arms at a 45-degree angle behind my body. This keeps the tension on the muscles and off the elbow joints at the top position.

The one misconception I’d like to clear up about my arm training is that I always went heavy. It’s true that I employed cheat curls with big weights now and then, but most of my arm work was done fairly light—often with dumbbells no heavier than 40 pounds. The arms respond best to getting a pump, and that means moderate weight, higher reps, and multiple sets with short rests in between. Save your heavy work for the bench press.

Yours in Iron,

Arnold Schwarzenegger

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