Build Muscle Like Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger posing
"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."

Arnold Schwarzenegger firmly believed that to build maximum amounts of muscle one needed to focus on lifting heavy. If you want to gain as much muscle as possible, don’t focus on the fancy exercises.

Instead, stick to basic free weight compound movements and lift heavy! Train with basic free weight compound lifts such as squat, deadlift, bench press, barbell row, standing shoulder press and weighted pull ups and parallel bar dips.

As you load multiple muscle groups with heavy weights and progressively improve in these lifts, you will notice an equally impressive gain in muscle size.

Most all of the classic bodybuilders, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, focused on becoming as strong as they possibly could. All of them utilized basic free weight compound lifting as heavy as possible in a medium 6-8 rep range.

When you train for maximum strength you will gain more muscle than anyone training with a “bodybuilding style” routine utilizing a higher rep range, short rest times and more isolation work.

When you blast your muscles with heavy loads, they won’t have any choice but to grow stronger and thicker. As your muscles grow in size, they will be able to handle heavier loads, thus helping create more long term muscle growth.

Lifting heavy weights does three things to induce maximum muscle growth: 1. it recruits a higher number of large fast-twitch muscle fibers, 2. it engages your central nervous system to a higher degree, and 3. it triggers a strong hormonal response in your body causing your body to release more testosterone and growth hormone.

Over time, your body will develop a more powerful and efficient nervous system, better hormonal response and denser bigger muscle fibers all to cope with the demands of lifting heavy.

Unlike bodybuilding routines where you train one muscle group per day, when training for strength you’ll recruit multiple muscle groups in one training session. You’re going to train as heavy as you can in the 6-8 rep range. This means that with whatever weight you use, you should be struggling to complete your final rep or two of the set.

When training for strength, you will need to lengthen your rest periods between sets to longer than what you would when doing a bodybuilding type routine. For your main free weight compound lifts such as squat, deadlift and bench press, rest between 3-5 minutes. For the secondary assistance exercises, rest between 2-3 minutes.

You have to eat a lot of nutritious high calorie foods when focused on developing max strength and muscle. Consume 5-7 meals / snacks with lots of quality proteins, complex carbs, and healthy fats.

8-week max strength and muscle workout routine:


1. Barbell back squat 4 sets x 6-8 reps
2. Leg press 4 sets x 10 reps
3. Barbell Romanian deadlift 4 sets x 10 reps
4. Lying leg Curls 4 sets x 12 reps
5. Standing calf raises 4 sets x 12 reps
6. Seated calf raises 4 sets x 12 reps


1. Barbell bench press 4 sets x 6-8 reps
2. Barbell incline bench press 4 sets x 6-8 reps
3. Barbell standing shoulder press 4 sets x 6-8 reps
4. Barbell cose-grip bench press 4 sets x 6-8 reps
5. Dumbbell seated shoulder press 4 sets x 10 reps
6. Dumbbell rear delt raises 4 sets x 12 reps


1. Barbell deadlift 4 sets x 6-8 reps
2. Barbell bent-over row 4 sets x 6-8 reps
3. Dumbbell one-arm row 4 sets x 6-8 reps
4. Pull up 4 sets x failure
5. Lat pulldown 4 sets x 10 reps
6. Barbell biceps curl 4 sets x 10 reps