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Workout Routines

Arnold Schwarzenegger 3 Day Split Bodybuilding Routine

This Bodybuilding routine is inspired by the way Arnold Schwarzenegger trained during his competition days. The workout is split into 3 parts, and each part is trained each day, with one rest day. The idea is to cycle the workout so that while you are working one set of muscles, the other sets are recovering. If you do a full body workout, you need more time to recover, and this means more days with no training. By doing a 3 day bodybuilding routine you can train every day without over training. Saying that, Arnold Schwarzenegger trained his abs everyday on top of this workout.  For abs Arnold kept the workout simple with 5 sets of 25 crunches, after each day’s weight training.

We will not specify the number of reps and sets for each exercise, as this is something that you should be discovering for yourself. However, Arnold generally did 8 to 12 reps for the upper body muscles, and 12 to 16 reps for the lower body muscles. He also suggests that each set should increase the weight so that failure comes sooner (he liked to train to muscular failure). This would generally involve a warm up set of 15 reps, then the second set would be 10-12 reps, then the third 8-10, and the fourth around 6 reps. In each session he would choose a weight that would result in muscular failure on the last rep. This is calculated using the previous weight lifting session stats. Keeping a training log is essential.

Day 1 – Chest, Back and Legs

Arnold’s Chest Workouts

  • Bench Press
  • Incline Press
  • Pullovers

Arnold’s Back Workouts

  • Chin-ups – maximum of 50 reps for this, work until failure up to 50
  • Bent-over rows

Arnold’s Leg Workouts

  • Deadlifts. Start with 10 reps, then 6, then 4. Adding weight wit each set. Arnold liked to add power lifting exercises to his workouts

Day 2 – Shoulders and Arms

Arnold’s Shoulder Workouts

  • Barbell Clean and Press
  • Dumbbell Lateral Raises
  • Heavy Upright Rows
  • Push Presses

The last two exercises are the power exercises, which meant that Arnold would go heavy on these, work intensively to failure.

Arnold’s Arm Workouts

  • Standing barbell curls
  • Seated dumbbell curls
  • Close-grip press
  • Standing triceps extensions with barbell
  • Wrist curls
  • Reverse wrist curls

Day 3 -Thighs, Calves and Lower Back

Arnold’s Thigh Workouts

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Leg Curls

Arnold’s Calf Workouts

Arnold’s calves were his weakest point when he started training.

  • Standing calf raises, 5 sets of 15 reps on each leg

Arnold’s Lower Back Workouts

For the lower back Arnold utilized power training once again:

  • Straight-leg deadlifts
  • Good mornings – always take extra care on these exercises, as too much weight and poor form can be lethal! Remember Bruce Lee.

Putting the Arnold 3 Day Bodybuilding Split Together

The easiest way to perform this routine is to start on a Monday, work everyday, ensuring that you eat and sleep well, and give yourself a break on Sunday. This is considered to be a beginners bodybuilding routine, but you still need to have a reasonable foundation in weight training to be able to workout everyday.

If you feel that you are struggling in the early weeks, consider skipping some of the power training moves, such as the deadlifts, heavy upright rows and good mornings, until you are stronger. This will help to speed recovery and reduce risk of injury.

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