Arnold Schwarzenegger Diet and Training

7 Time Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger Diet and Training

If you are into bodybuilding and do not know who Arnold Schwarzenegger is, then you had probably better go back to the Mr. Olympia archives and do some research. In this article we will discuss what believe to be some of the basic principles of Arnold Schwarzenegger Diet and Training.

Assuming that you already know about the rise of this Austria-born bodybuilder know as the Austrian oak you also know that he had a stellar movie career that branded him a household name, and a political career that saw him take office as the Governor of California, it might be in your best interest to follow in his footsteps when it comes to building your body, having the right mindset, and achieving all-around success in life.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Standing Next To Dumbbell Rack

The purpose of this article is to give you the rundown of the basic diet, training split, exercises, steroid use and supplement cycles the 7-time Mr. Olympia followed to achieve one of the best physiques of all time – a title not only recognized in the world of bodybuilding but a title also bestowed upon him in the Guinness Book of World Records.

The Arnold Diet

Arnold knew the intimate relationship between nutrition and building muscle, a philosophy he followed religiously throughout his professional career.

Arnold never believed in just eating an exorbitant amount of empty calories in order to recover from his intense workouts. Rather, he would meticulously spread out his meals over the course of the day and include foods that contained essential proteins, fats, and quality carbs to build not just mass, but lean mass throughout his entire body.

As you go through his basic diet plan, you will see how simple and uniform his macronutrient portions were and how he spaced them out to coordinate with his training schedule. A practice that helped him to optimize nutrient absorption, thus giving him an efficient supply of muscle-building and energy-giving nutrients each and every day.

Emphasis on Protein

For Arnold the most important macronutrient was protein. After all, amino acids are the building blocks of muscles.

He believed that in order to put on more lean muscle or maintain the muscle mass he had, he needed to consume at least one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. At 250 pounds, he, therefore, needed to consume 250 grams of protein each and every day.

Early on he realized that it was difficult for him to digest 250 grams of protein in just three meals, so he added two more meals to the mix to fully ingest and digest his daily protein allowance. The results were stupendous, he not only was able to put on quality muscle, by doing so he avoided gaining any unwanted fat at the same time.


In order to help him reach his rule of one gram of protein per one pound of bodyweight, Arnold consumed two protein shakes per day to his three daily meals. He usually took his first protein shake an hour before his workout and a second protein shake approximately two hours after lunch.

His protein shakes were very basic and contained roughly 20-30 grams of protein powder and a cup of whole milk.

Aside from protein shakes, Arnold also believed in supplementing with vitamins, minerals, and other essential micronutrients. He believed that it was impossible to get all the stuff the body needed from food, especially for a bodybuilder who was taxing his muscles on a daily basis. So he would take some added essential nutrient tablets during each meal to make sure his body stayed healthy and strong while he was training.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Eating Breakfast

Arnold Schwarzenegger Meal Plan

Now that you have been given a general idea of what the Arnold Diet consisted of, you might want a more detailed look at what he actually ate throughout the day.

Here it is:

Breakfast: 3-4 Whole Eggs, 2 Pieces of Bacon, 1-2 Pieces of Whole Wheat Bread with a Spoon of Butter or Peanut Butter, and 2 Tomato Slices.

Snack: Protein Shake (One Scoop) & 1 Cup of Milk

Lunch: 10 Ounce Steak or Fish, 1 Cup of Vegetables, Large Salad (Nut Oil), 2-3 Ounces of Nuts, and a Sweet Potato.

Snack: Protein Shake (One Scoop) & 1 Cup of Milk

Dinner: 12 Ounces of Lean Meat, 1 Cup of Vegetables, Large Salad (Nut Oil), and 1 Cup of Brown Rice.

*** It is interesting to note just how balanced his protein, fat, and carbohydrate intake was during each meal. It closely resembles the basic bodybuilding diet of today.

Arnold Training Program

You can eat all the protein and other basic macro and micronutrients you want but if you are not hitting the gym hard, you are not going to build any muscle. A fact, the 7-time Mr. Olympia was well aware of.

Arnold’s approach to building muscle mass is relatively straightforward. He was of the view that the best way to build strength & mass was to use fundamental exercises – the basics – but to use them in the most intense manner possible.

While his overall training routine was uncomplicated, it was full of blood, sweat, and tears that often left him gasping for air and running to the wastebasket to throw up. Who can disagree with his methods? He is, after all, still considered by most to be the best bodybuilder of all time.

Arnold Dumbbell Biceps Curl

Basic Arnold Exercises

Arnold is very critical of the machine-driven gyms of today and emphasizes the need to return to more basic weight training exercises like the squat, bench press, clean and press, and upright rows.

The following list outlines the top Arnold Exercises that were responsible for building the best physique the world has ever seen.

Chest: Bench Press, Incline Bench Press, Dumbbell Flyes

Biceps: Barbell Curl, Incline Dumbbell Curls, Concentration Curls

Triceps: Tricep Pushdowns, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Close-Grip Bench Press

Legs: Squats, Good Mornings, Lunges, Leg Extensions, Leg Curls, Deadlifts

Back: Bent-Over Rows (Barbell & Dumbbell), Pull-Ups, T-Bar Row

Shoulders: Barbell Presses (Front & Behind-The-Neck), Military Press, Dumbbell Press, Lateral Raises (Front, Side, & Back)

Abs: Sit-Ups (Roman Chair), Crunches, Leg Raises, Knee Raises

Arnold Believed You Had to Shock the Muscles

Arnold didn’t just use these basic movements to build his body, he used them as a form of shock therapy to push past sticking points and continue to make gains where others plateaued.

In the beginning, just starting any routine will cause your muscles to respond positively. However, after some time your muscles get used to the load (muscle memory) and start to adapt and no longer increase in size or strength. To avoid this stagnation, Arnold developed his shocking principle which continuously kept his muscles in strain and pain.

Arnold Front Raises

Some of Arnold’s shock methods included strip sets, drop sets, burnout sets, and sporadic techniques invented on the fly to keep his muscles guessing. These techniques often left him in a state of torture, leaving his muscles feeling like they had just been run over by a Mack Truck. As Arnold saw it, this was the only way to continuously improve upon his already impressive physique year after year.

3 Intense Muscle Shocking Techniques Used By Arnold

The following Arnold Training techniques can be used to push your muscle gains to a whole new level, as well as push you past any sticking points you may be experiencing at the moment.

Max Effort Principle: Basically, this method helps in defining your one-rep max for any weightlifting exercise you choose. Not only does it give you a measuring stick from which to gauge your progress but the pyramid it employs will help you gain the maximum amount of muscle mass in the shortest period of time.

The pyramid looks something like this:

First: Select a weight you can do for 20 reps.

Second: Select a weight you can do for 15 reps.

Third: Select a weight you can do for 10 reps.

Fourth: Select a weight you can do for 8 reps.

Fifth: Select a weight you can do for 5 reps.

Sixth: Select a weight you can do for 3 reps.

Seventh: Select a weight you can do for 1 rep.

Eighth: Select a weight you can do for 1 rep.

Ninth: Select a weight you can do for a 1-rep max.

For each successive set, you will reduce the reps as shown above and increase the weight until you reach your 1-rep max potential. Be sure to get plenty of rest between each set. The purpose of this method is to build mass and strength during the initial stages of your training.

Stripping Principle: This method is perhaps the most exhausting, painful, and intense strategy every employed by Arnold. It helped him to gain more muscle even when it seemed inconceivable to gain any more. It shocks the muscle to absolute fatigue and does not give it a chance to ever get used to the exercise being employed.

After you have finished your last set for any exercise, have your spotter(s) remove some weight and do another 5-10 reps. Continue to do the same until there is no weight left on the bar and finish off with 20 reps – if you can!

1-10 Principle: Another great shock therapy for the muscle is the 1-10 method. In this method, you will use your one-rep max to perform one rep. After that take off just enough weight to perform 2 reps. Continue to decrease the weight and increase the reps until you reach 10 reps.

The only rest you will take between each set is the time you need to remove the weight for the next rep. Other than that, do not give your body a chance to recover. This one is brutal so be ready to feel sore and drained when done.

Arnold Training Split

When it comes to Arnold’s workout split, he uses the same one today that he used during his Mr. Olympia years. Why change the recipe for success, right?

The name of the split is called the double-split routine and looks like this:

Days 1, 3, & 5; Morning – Chest & Back; Evening – Legs, Calves, & Abs

Days 2, 4, & 6: Morning – Shoulders, Triceps, & Biceps; Evening – Calves & Abs

Day 7: Rest (Everyone needs a rest day, even the Austrian Oak

*** It is interesting to note that Arnold used to train his calves and abs every day.

Did Arnold Use Steroids to Achieve His Physique?

The answer to this one is both yes and no. Arnold definitely took steroids, as all professional bodybuilders of his time did, but it was not steroids alone that built his physique. Grueling workouts, heavy weights, shock methods, and a balanced nutrition plan were the foundations of the bodybuilding legend’s awesome physique.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Bent Over Rows

That being said, most bodybuilding enthusiasts are often curious as to what the Arnold Steroid Cycle consisted of. We will attempt to answer that now, but please note that we are in no way suggesting that you follow the Arnold Steroid Cycle in any way. Instead, focus on his diet plan and training methods mentioned above.

What follows is a mix of fact and speculation as Arnold has never officially discussed what kind of steroids he took (how much and how often), although he has admitted to taking them. However, we do know which forms of steroids were available to bodybuilders back in the 60’s and 70’s and the preferred amount and frequency in which they were taken.

“We  believe Arnold used steroids 8 weeks before competing and they were used for refining his already perfect physique”

The Arnold Steroid Cycle (We Think)

As there were approximately only six kinds of anabolic steroids on the legal and illegal markets during Arnold’s reign, we have chosen the three most popular of the six among bodybuilders during that era.

Our best guesstimation is that Arnold most likely switched between Primobolan, Dianabol, and Deca Durabolin during his cycling periods as was normal among 60’s and 70’s bodybuilders.

The most common steroid cycles of that time usually consisted of alternating between the three steroids listed above.

Given this information, we believe that Arnold’s cycle looked something very similar to this:

Weeks 1-5: Primobolan (600 mg per week); Dianabol (60-80 mg per week)

Weeks 5-10: Primobolan (800 mg per week); Dianabol (60-80 mg per week); Deca Durabolin (400 mg per week)

Weeks 10-15: Primobolan (600-800 mg per week); Dianabol (60-100 mg per week); Deca Durabolin (200-300 mg per week)

Weeks 15-20: Primobolan (600-700 mg per week); Dianabol (60-100 mg per week); Deca Durabolin (200-300 mg per week)

Weeks 20-25: Primobolan (200 mg per week); Dianabol (40 mg per week)

You Don’t Need Steroids, Just Follow Arnold’s Lead

Again, we would like to reiterate that the above information is not intended as advice to get big, rather just to provide some information to curious minds who are interested in what Arnold did or did not take when it comes to anabolic steroids.

You do not need to take steroid injections to get big!
All you have to do is follow Arnold’s diet and training regime to start packing on the muscles.

The easiest path to success has always been to follow someone who has already succeeded. All of the guesswork has been taken out and Arnold’s mass plan has been listed in clear detail within this article so that you can focus all of your energies in pumping iron, eating right, and getting a good nights sleep in order to recover and grow.

When it comes to bodybuilding, Arnold’s knows best! It makes sense to follow the master.

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