Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Guide To Muscle Building Without Weights

Arnold Schwarzenegger doing dips
“Just like in bodybuilding, failure is also a necessary experience for growth in our own lives, for if we're never tested to our limits, how will we know how strong we really are? How will we ever grow?”

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Arnold Schwarzenegger was a big believer in bodyweight training. He first started his bodybuilding career with bodyweight exercises when serving in the Austrian military.

He was known to do push ups, pull ups, dips and more. Below are the most effective bodyweight exercises to help you build a strong muscular physique without the use of barbells, dumbbells and equipment.

The best thing about becoming proficient in bodyweight exercises is the freedom that you attain from not having to rely on a gym and being able to set up a workout almost anywhere. As Arnold attests, “All exercises that you do with your own body weight are great.”

Perform these exercises with excellent form. Get in tune with the movements and really focus on the stretch and contraction of the muscles. Keep your rest times short. The key is to maintain high levels of intensity in your workout.

THE BODYWEIGHT EXERCISES:

Chest, Shoulders and Triceps:

PUSH UPS: Do wide, medium and narrow width push ups as well as push ups with feet elevated. Change up the variations, tempo and rest time to make this exercise more challenging as you progress in strength and size.

You can also buy and wear a weight vest make the exercise even more challenging. Perform 6 sets to failure and take 30-60 seconds of rest in between sets.

Arnold Schwarzenegger doing push ups
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”

HANDSTAND PUSH UPS: The handstand push up is a more challenging variation and take some time to and strength to master. Start by master all variations of the standard push up and do some pike push ups to transition to being able to doing handstand push ups as well. Perform 6 sets to failure and take 60 seconds of rest in between sets.

Arnold Schwarzenegger doing handstand push ups
“Failure is not an option. Everyone has to succeed.”

PARALLEL BAR DIPS: Parallel bar dips along with push up variations will pack on muscle on your chest, shoulders and triceps.

Arnold Schwarzenegger doing dips
“The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent.”

Perform the dips in both the forward leaning position to target the chest and shoulders and the upright position to target the triceps. Perform 6 sets to failure and take 60 seconds of rest in between sets.

Arnold Schwarzenegger doing dips
“For me life is continuously being hungry. The meaning of life is not simply to exist, to survive, but to move ahead, to go up, to achieve, to conquer.”

Back and Biceps:

PULL UPS: Pull ups pack on muscle on your back and biceps. Perform wide and medium grip pull ups. Use a weighted vest to make the exercises even more challenging when you’re ready to move up to the next level. Perform 6 sets to failure and take 60 seconds of rest in between sets.

Arnold Schwarzenegger doing wide grip pull up
“Well, you know, I’m the forever optimist.”

CHIN UPS: Chins ups will not only blast your back, but also put more emphasis on your biceps to build big biceps muscles. Use a weighted vest to make the exercise extra challenging. Perform 6 sets to failure and take 60 seconds of rest in between sets.

Franco Columbo doing narrow grip pull ups
Franco Columbo doing narrow grip pull ups.

Thighs:

LUNGES: Perform long step stationary and walking lunges to build up your quads, hamstrings and glutes. Again, you can wear a weighted vest to make the exercise more challenging. Perform 6 sets to failure and take 60 seconds of rest in between sets.

STEP UPS: Step ups are another quads, hamstrings and glutes builder and is a little more challenging than the lunges. Perform 6 sets to failure and take 60 seconds of rest in between sets.

RUNNING: Running builds the muscles of not only the legs and the core but also the heart. Running develops high lung capacity and endurance. Vary your running – sometimes sprint 100 to 400 meters. Sometimes run 2 miles. Sometimes go for a slower longer run.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane and Joe Weider running on the beach
“We all have great inner power. The power is self-faith. There’s really an attitude to winning. You have to see yourself winning before you win. And you have to be hungry. You have to want to conquer.”

Calves:

SINGLE LEG CALF RAISES: Single leg calf raises will challenge your calves to grow stronger and bigger. You can do these on a stair case.

Bring your foot all the way down and stretch your calf muscle and then extend all the way up and fully contract the muscle fibers. Perform 6 sets to failure and take 60 seconds of rest in between sets.

Arnold Schwarzenegger doing bent over calf raise
“Stay hungry, stay healthy, be a gentleman, believe strongly in yourself and go beyond limitations.”

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