Sunday, December 3, 2017

How Arnold Schwarzenegger Really Trained by Strength Oldschool : Post with Jerry Brainum

By Strength Oldschool

I have collected first-hand accounts on how Arnold Schwarzenegger really trained including info on his diet.

I'm a massive fan of Arnold, but let’s face it, there’s a ton of bullshit information out there online, in books, in magazines etc. which makes it difficult knowing what to believe.

Well here’s first hand accounts taken from people who have trained with Arnold and observed him training in real life.


David C New mentions:

Are we to infer that you aren’t convinced of the accuracy of all the reports in Muscle Builder in the 70s? How about his encyclopedia (Arnold's Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding) or his training booklets?

Dan Brillantino responds:

The Muscle Builder and the Encyclopedia I feel are exaggerated. I had a short conversation with Dr. Michael Walczak a couple of years ago through the PROPTA Personal Training site. He said Arnold’s workouts lasted a little over an hour and ate a normal diet (3 squares).

Jerry Brainum mentions:

It’s true that the various reports about Arnold’s training during his competitive years are mostly nonsense. I saw and trained with Arnold many times at the original Gold’s gym. He began training hard about 3 months prior to a contest, and did up to about 20 sets per muscle group. Some days, he favored training twice, doing one or two muscle groups per workout. He used moderately heavy weights, doing about 8-12 reps per set, up to 6 sets per exercise, especially legs. I remember this because when I trained legs with Arnold, my thighs were often exhausted after about 4 sets, but Arnold insisted on doing the full 6 sets. During the offseason, he would train for about an hour, 4 times a week. The one muscle that he trained hard year-round was calves, which explains why another poster on this site noticed that he still uses heavier weights when he trains his calves today. I don’t recall him ever being in the gym for more than about 1 1/2 hours. On some days, we would train in the morning, go down to the beach, get some sun, eat lunch, then head back to the gym for another workout.It was enjoyable to train with him in those days because he was a fun guy, but still took his training seriously, particularly prior to a contest. Most of the hijinks attributed to Arnold at that time were true. I know because I witnessed many of them. When I lived next door to Frank Zane in the early 70s, Frank set up a posing light in my living room, and he used to practice his posing there with Arnold and Franco while I was at school. I recall a funny incident at that time. Frank moved, but before he left, he asked if he could temporarily leave his trophies in my living room. I agreed to this arrangement. One afternoon, I came back to my apartment accompanied by a girl I had just met. She immediately noticed the large collection of trophies in my living room, and proceeded to read the names on the trophies, such as “Mr.America,” Mr.Universe,” Mr.International” and so on. She than looked at me in astonishment and asked,”Are all these trophies yours?” My response was,”Well, it’s my apartment, isn’t it?”

Dan Brillantino responds:

Hi Jerry,

Love your articles in IronMan! I deeply appreciate your time and detailed insight to my query. If I may,one more question? Were the bodyparts trained 2x or 3x a week? Was it a straight 6x/wk or 3on/1off,etc.

Thanks again for your valued input.


Jerry Brainum responds:

Thanks, Dan for that nice comment about my articles. As for Arnold, his precontest split was: day one: chest and back; day two: thighs, calves; day three: shoulders and arms. He would train 6 times a week, resting on Sundays. He would often split the upper body workouts into morning and evening sessions, depending on his mood and energy levels. Each muscle was trained twice weekly, and he would train calves about 4 days a week, and do some abs every day prior to a contest, as was the custom in those days. He never trained to failure, but did train intensely precontest. His offseason workouts were far more casual, he seemed to hardly break a sweat. I used to joke with him about his “15 minute” offseason training sessions.

Dan Brillantino responds:

Hi Jerry,

 Thanks again for such straight, honest info. Was Dr. Walczak on the money also regarding diet (3 squares, up to 1gm/kg bwt for protein}, lipotropcs, etc.?

Thanks again for your candor.


Jerry Brainum responds:

The Doctor was correct. Arnold never went on extreme diets. He would simply reduce his total caloric intake, while still consuming many of the same foods with a focus on protein foods. As a contest drew closer, however, he did reduce his carb intake, but never to zero. If he felt like having some ice cream, he would, but it never seemed to adversely affect his preparations. Interestingly enough, he wasn’t big on supplements, either. Weider would give him a ton of supplements, but he would give most of it away to his pals at the gym. He did like Rheo Blair’s milk and egg protein. I once saw him make a protein drink in a blender, then add some rum. When I asked him why the rum, he told me that the alcohol speeds the uptake of protein into the body. Perhaps he got that notion because of the rapidity of alcohol uptake, but who’s to argue with Arnold?

Nathan Pearl responds:

Jerry, Rheo also came up with the fact that alcohol, particularly hard liquor, increases the uptake of protein consumed at the same time. It does this by causing secretion of digestive fluids/acid. Rheo himself used a little whiskey with meals at times, particularly with beef. Before anyone goes nuts, however, this was a shot, maybe two, of the stuff, not an amount such as to create “God’s Own Drunk And A Fearless Man”.

©,2018 Jerry Brainum. Any reprinting in any type of media, including electronic and foreign is expressly prohibited

Have you been ripped off  by supplement makers whose products don’t work as advertised? Want to know the truth about them? Check out Jerry Brainum's book Natural Anabolics, available at


The Applied Ergogenics blog is a collection of articles written and published by Jerry Brainum over the past 20 years. These articles have appeared in Muscle and Fitness, Ironman, and other magazines. Many of the posts on the blog are original articles, having appeared here for the first time. For Jerry’s most recent articles, which are far more in depth than anything that appears on this blog site, please subscribe to his Applied Metabolics Newsletter, at This newsletter, which is more correctly referred to as a monthly e-book, since its average length is 35 to 40 pages, contains the latest findings about nutrition, exercise science, fat-loss, anti-aging, ergogenic aids, food supplements, and other topics. For 33 cents a day you get the benefit of Jerry’s 53 years of writing and intense study of all matters pertaining to fitness,health, bodybuilding, and disease prevention.


See Jerry's book at


Want more evidence-based information on exercise science, nutrition and food supplements, ergogenic aids, and anti-aging research? Check out Applied Metabolics Newsletter at


                            Please share this Post on facebook