Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Principles To Keep Making Progress

Arnold Schwarzenegger posing in the gym
"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."


The fact is no matter how diligent of an athlete or fitness enthusiast you are, you’re going to run into training plateaus from time to time.

Arnold Schwarzenegger signature pose
“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.”

It’s a part of the fitness journey. It’s important for you to know how to overcome these obstacles and keep making solid muscle building progress.

Follow these tips to overcome muscle building plateaus:


If you’re currently dieting or keeping a relatively restricted calorie intake then your body doesn’t have much fuel for the biological processes of muscle growth to take place. Low calories also slows down your metabolism. Increase your daily calories by 500 calories.

Arnold Schwarzenegger eating a muscle building meal
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”

Increase your proteins to 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight. Increase your healthy fats to 1 gram per pound of bodyweight. Increase your carbs to 1 gram per pound of bodyweight until you start making progress. Get your carbs from whole sources. Avoid energy sapping and fat storing processed carbs.


If you’ve been doing the same routine for the past few months, your body has adapted to the training by now and knows exactly what to expect. The routine doesn’t challenge your muscles anymore, leaving your body with no incentive to grow.

Arnold Schwarzenegger training his shoulders with barbell shoulder press
“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.”

Change up the exercises in your routine, include more challenging exercises and switch things around. Give your body a new challenge to work hard to adapt to. If you’ve been doing barbell bench press, switch to barbell incline bench press and heavy dumbbell incline bench press, etc.


To keep changing up the variables means to alter the number of sets and reps that you perform as well the order of exercises, the types of exercises and your rest times from workout to workout. This is known as periodization.

Arnold Schwarzenegger training his back with T-bar rows
“My instinct was to win, eliminate anyone who is in competition, destroy my enemy, and move on without any kind of hesitation at all.”

The goal of changing up the variables is to keep your body from adapting to your training routine quickly. Keeping your body guessing and working hard to keep up with the demands of training is key to continuous muscle building progress.


While you should train hard and intense, you can’t go heavy and high volume all the time. You should train hard and intense for three weeks, then lighten up the load the fourth week to 70% of your normal training load.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbo relaxing on rest day
“Stay hungry, stay healthy, be a gentleman, believe strongly in yourself and go beyond limitations.”

Having a de-load week like this allows you to keep training but it also gives your body the time it needs to recover and rebuild after a hard and intense three straight weeks of training. After the de-load week you can start training heavy and high volume again.