Governor of California. Mr. Universe. Bodybuilder. Terminator. Special Forces Commando. Advocate of fitness around the world. Arnold Schwarzenegger has worn many hats over his storied career, but he has always been a strong advocate of health and fitness. Many of his best tips are related to weightlifting and bodybuilding, two areas in which Arnold is without peer. But the Govenator has fitness advice that can apply to people from every background. Read on to find the top 10 fitness tips from Arnold Schwarzenegger:
- Find a workout you love
A large part of Schwarzenegger’s success is attributed to his love of the sport of bodybuilding. No matter what, he found ways to have fun while training- something we can all do. Find a sport or exercise that you love, so that it will never feel like work, but rather, like a fun hobby.
- Train the whole body
Not only does this save time, but it also means that you’re working lots of muscle groups to work symbiotically together. Arnold is quoted as saying “I always do full-body workouts now. The clips in Sabotage show me working my chest and back, but in a full session I’d combine them with squats, calf raises and some arms and shoulders work.”
- Incorporate cardio
In an Q & A with Flex Magazine, Arnold spoke about cardiovascular training being non-existant in 1960s Austria and 1970s Gold’s Gym in Venice training methodology. He says he wishes he had spent more time doing dedicated cardiovascular exercises since cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer of men. Today, he does cardio daily no matter what and believes it is paramount to a long, lean, healthy life. “I begin on an exercise bike or elliptical (I don’t want to terminate my knees on a treadmill). After five minutes at an easy pace, I go at the hardest pace I can maintain for 30 seconds, then I back of to an easy pace for 30 seconds. I repeat these intervals for 10 minutes, then begin my weight workout. This gets me warmed up and gets cardio out of the way early. Otherwise, I might be tempted to skip it after lifting. Apart from this, I’ll hike for up to an hour when time allows, and sometimes I ride my bike” Schwarzenegger says.
- There is no single best way to workout but many great ways
In a recent Reddit thread, the 7-time Mr. Olympia had good advice for everyone arguing that certain methodologies are better than others: “Everybody, behave and stop bickering. This is about inspiring more people to get into fitness. I’ve never understood people who argue constantly about who is wrong and who is right in fitness, because the fact is, there are many ‘right’ answers, especially for people just starting out.”
- Workout with a friend
Studies show that people who work out with a friend are more likely to stay on track. Arnold knows this and lives by it. In his book Arnold: Education of a Bodybuilder, he writes “A good training partner pushes you to handle more poundage and gives you incentive to grind out more reps per set…Workouts are more fun with a partner as well as more competitive…you challenge each other.”
- Have a goal, and visualize
This applies both to life goals and fitness goals. Arnold was able to accomplish his list of physical and professional accolades by setting goals and working diligently towards accomplishing them. Arnold would always prepare himself for each training session by visualizing himself completing his lifts successfully. He did this same practice before bodybuilding competitions as well by imagining himself beating all of the competition and winning over the crowd as victor.
- Tailor your workout as you age
Staying fit as you get older is paramount, but you need to be conscious and listen to your body’s needs as it changes and evolves. “As your get older, you get more injuries so you have to adjust the weights you’re lifting” notes Arnold. He cites the example of not doing to do the same barbell exercises but instead switching to doing similar exercises on machines instead.
- Switch up your workouts- try something new
In his book, he mentions that muscles need to be kept on their toes. This is a great reason to try new workouts and maybe find new exercises you enjoy! He says “I’d always try to shock the muscles…This shocking method was extremely important to my training. Your muscles tend to become complacent and resist growth if you are constantly doing the same workout for them. But if you try all different types of training methods, exercises, weights, set-rep combinations and training tempos, you keep the muscles off balance.”
- Educate yourself about your training
Arnold is notorious for always educating himself. He initially traveled to America to train with the best bodybuilders in the world so he could learn from them. After every workout, he analyzed how his body was feeling to curate the best training for his body. He would ask for criticism from judges, competitors and friends on how he could improve his physique and posing routine. To elevate his skillset, he worked with a ballet instructor to learn how to be more graceful and improve his showmanship on stage.
- Work on your weaknesses
Arnold famously cut off the pant legs on his pants and wore shorts to constantly remind himself of his weakness and redouble his efforts to grow his calves. He realized that unless he worked on his weaknesses, he couldn’t become great. This introspection and philosophy not only pushed him physically, but in his professional and political career as well. It’s good to try to push yourself to accomplish something you might not be great at- it shows resilience and willingness to learn.