While bulking, Schwarzenegger adhered to six-day split and worked on his arms two times per week. This is incredible, but each training could take up to two hours: 45 minutes for triceps, 45 minutes for biceps and 30 minutes for underarms in this exact order. “The severity of using absolute maximum poundage for each exercise of this super-bombing routine requires three to four days of rest between arm workouts so that full recuperation and maximum growth occur,” Schwarzenegger instructs.
While dividing the crunches to two main categories for the bulking, Schwarzenegger chooses by two exercises from each group in order to guarantee that he will really bulk up.
Exercise 1: cheating barbell curl
“The cheating barbell curl stands alone for building mass. I start the movement with the barbell at the thighs, with a shoulder-width grip, and nudge it into motion with a slight body movement. This gives me sufficient momentum to pass any sticking points as long as I keep concentrating. I go to full biceps flexion, then lower the bar slowly to the starting position.”
«Since the palms face up, I get the benefit of supination, which peaks up the outer head of the biceps during full flexion, as well as developing thickness through the central section of the muscle.»
Exercise 2: incline dumbbell curl
“I lie on a 45-degree incline bench. I prefer the low incline because it permits the biceps to fully extend at the bottom of the movement and remain under this tension during the entire movement upward.” 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.”
“Therefore, when you have a lot of fibers contracting all at once, you are building mass. I strive for full extension and full contraction.”
At this point, his arms engorged with oxygen-carrying blood, Schwarzenegger would move on to the isolation movements.
Exercise 3: one-arm concentration curl
“This one is done in a standing bent-over position using the free arm for support.”
Form during this concentration curl movement becomes highly critical. The tendency prevails, even among the most experienced bodybuilders, to draw the elbow in toward the chest during this movement. The elbow must not move from the vertical plane of the curling movement. The upper arm must remain vertical, and the dumbbell must be curled to the shoulder. Although it seems like a restricting uncomfortable movement, it remains the secret to peak biceps development.”
Finally, when his arms beg for mercy, Schwarzenegger returns in standing position with dumbbells to perform the final exercise.
Exercise 4: 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.”
With this movement, you get that famous little burst of muscle that peaks up the outer biceps head and lends the ultimate touch to any kind of biceps pose. So you must remember to twist the hand as you curl, two motions in one. The biceps come into play quite strongly to supinate your hands, as well as to flex the arms. This little twist gave me separation, brachialis development and lower biceps thickness.
Four exercises, 20-26 sets, 45 minutes a monstrous biceps workout by nearly anyone’s standards. But for Schwarzenegger, it was just enough. “If I did them right, I didn’t need more,” he offers.
“There are supplemental things I’d do between sets like stretching my biceps muscle by extending my arm and drawing it backward. I feel that stretching releases the compression of the blood vessels and lets the blood rush in to perform its functions.”
“Three months before a contest, I would change my arm routine completely,” says the Oak. “My goal now was to zoom in on chiseling in all the cuts and shape possible. I’d cut down on my sets and go to a superset style of training and try to get a maximum pump each workout.” During this period, Schwarzenegger would shift into overdrive, training each entire arm in superset fashion with little or no rest between the supersets. Being that he was now working on a six-day double split (two workouts per day, six days per week), he’d be blasting his arms with this grueling routine three times each week. And you thought his mass-building routine was a bear! But there’s more.
“When I was zeroing in for a big contest, I’d stand in front of the mirror between sets for biceps and flex my arms, holding the flex for a minute, maybe two, even three minutes. I’d do that because contest posing is hard. Having muscle is one thing, but having control over it and endurance are two others.”
A word of caution from the big fella, though: “This system has worked very well for me, but it is a severe form of advanced training that is not recommended for beginners.” So just who, besides giant Austrians, can successfully employ either of these gut-wrenching routines?
Do as I say, not as I do
“For beginners, I’d simply advise doing five sets of barbell curls and five sets of dumbbell curls 10 total sets of eight to 12 repetitions,” Schwarzenegger says. “Concentrate on a strict movement, and try to gain some strength. Experiment with different curling arcs until you find the one that puts maximum resistance on your biceps.”
After the training for about a year, the bodybuilder moves to the intermediate level, Schwarzenegger recommends to do next things for this period: “I’d look at your biceps development and determine where you have weak points. Then I’d give you a tailored program to bring these weaker areas of your biceps up to par.»
“If you lack biceps fullness,” he continues, “do heavy dumbbell curls. If you lack peak, do everything with dumbbells. Do plenty of concentration curls and dumbbell curls lying back on a high bench, like Reg Park used to do them.” Schwarzenegger says 12 sets total for biceps should serve the intermediate bodybuilder nicely.
“The biggest post-intermediate-level mistake is to burn the biceps out. Biceps are basically a small muscle group, and you can’t do too much for them without overtraining,” instructs the Terminator of training. So, what constitutes overtraining? “I’d say the upper limit for biceps would be 15 sets in a hard workout, but I see all kinds of bodybuilders doing 25 to 30 sets on a regular basis.”
There would be nothing special in the workout of 25-30 sets, if you were Schwarzenegger.
Hasta la Vista!
Schwarzenegger shared the advice about how to form the massive biceps with the readers and now it’s your turn to follow them. Lay the reading aside, go to the gym and start training! Before you do it, hear one more Arnold’s advice, an axiom, which is dedicated to the muscle growth, which has provided his success with every workout: “It’s a case of mind over matter. If you’ve got the mind for it, only one thing matters reaching your goal. And you will!”
Arnold’s off-season bicep routine
- Cheating barbell curls: 5-8 sets per 8-12 reps
- Incline dumbbell curls: 5-8 sets per 8-12 reps
- One-arm concentration curls: 5 sets per 10 reps
- Standing alternate dumbbell curls: 5 sets per 10 reps
Pre contest arm routine
- Incline dumbbell curls: 4 sets per 8-10 reps
- Triceps pressdowns: 4 sets per 8-10 reps
- Standing alternate curls: 4 sets per 8-10 reps
- One-arm extensions: 4 sets per 8-10 reps
- Preacher curls: 4 sets per 8-10 reps
- Lying French presses: 4 sets per 8-10 reps
- Reverse triceps pushups: 4 sets per 8-10 reps
- Concentration curls: 4 sets per 8-10 reps
- Preacher reverse curls: 5 sets per 10-12 reps
- Barbell wrist curls: 5 sets per 10-12 reps
Let’s reach the Alpine peak!
Arnold Schwarzenneger’s five rules for biceps
- Variety: Switch around using barbells, dumbbells and cables.
- Isolation: Don’t get help from the delts, lower back or other body parts when training biceps. Don’t swing the weight (except during chest curls).
- Full range of motion: As this implies, move the weight in a controlled but complete fashion, unless you’re using an intensity movement for a shock session.
- Find the groove: Locate the natural line of motion for each movement.
- Total concentration: Don’t let your mind wander. Always fixate on the movement and the feeling in the muscle.
Use of Arnold’s routine
We want to remind all the readers of the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger is a really unique person, «one of the million» and the exclusive phenomenon. «Joking apart» — you would say. «Why telling us the fact, which we knew since we started our workouts?» We hope to deliver a message that gifted sportsman Arnold was able to perform such things at the gym, which are beyond the scope of men of mould. Even the advanced sportsmen might experience the symptoms of overtraining, including the chronic tiredness and traumas, if they copy Arnold’s workouts. We think that many bodybuilders regardless of their age and professionalism level can make a profit on the Arnold’s principles, which are described in this article.
Because bodybuilding is such an individual activity, it only makes sense that you should tailor every routine to your personal capabilities and goals anyway.
If you aren’t at the advanced level, we don’t recommend you to try to copy the Arnold’s scope of work that is focused on the biceps.
If you’re the newcomer or you are at the intermediate level, then perform two or three sets for each exercise of his off-season routine and look how it will influence on you. If you are advanced competitive bodybuilder, we recommend you to confine yourself to three of five sets that are in the precontest routine.
While structuring the load, remember that one of the greatest keys to success in bodybuilding according to Arnold is the following principle: to understand your body.