Arnold's Golden Six - Muscle Mass and Strength

ARNOLD’S GOLDEN SIX – Muscle Mass And Strength

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s legendary mass and strength workout plan.

  • Goal: building muscle mass and strength
  • Technical complexity: medium
  • 1 – Day Split
  • Duration: about 60 minutes
  • 3 times a week

“When I was trying to get bigger in my early days of training, I followed a routine called the Golden Six. I made tremendous gains on this program and so did many others who trained at my gym in Munich. All agreed that this simple system of training produced excellent gains in muscle size and bodyweight.” -Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold’s golden six is your choice if you want to build muscle fast in your whole body and if your basic fitness level is good enough to get you through this relatively hard training. This workout plan is extremely simple and plain: it includes 6 big basic exercises.

  1. Squat: 4 x 10. This exercise not only develops the lower body, but it strengthens the heart and lungs while improving the general circulation as well. Use a weight that will allow you to perform 4 sets of 10 reps. Always lower yourself until your upper thighs are at least parallel to the floor, and keep your back flat. Rest 2 minutes between sets.
  2. Bench Press: 3 x 10. This is my favorite upper body exercise, and almost every training program I’ve ever used includes it. Take a fairly wide grip — your hands about 32 inches apart. Inhale as you lower the bar to your nipples and exhale as you push it back to arms’ length. Don’t bounce the weight off your chest. Rest 2 minutes between sets.
  3. Pull Ups: 3 x maximum reps. If you have limited training experience, you may find chins (Pull Ups) difficult at first. If you have a lat machine, you can perform pulldowns until you’ve developed sufficient strength to do chins. Use a fairly wide grip and try to bring your chin over the bar. Rest 2 minutes between sets.
  4. Barbell Military Press: 4 x 10. This exercise reigns supreme for widening and thickening the shoulders. Use a wide grip — your thumbs about six inches wider than your delts on each side. Lower the weight slowly and don’t pause at the bottom. Rest 2 minutes between sets.
  5. Barbell Curl: 3 x 10. The triceps have already been thoroughly exercised during the bench press and the overhead press. Use a shoulder width grip and a weight you can curl without any body movement. Don’t let your elbows move away from the sides of your body, and make sure you straighten your arms completely before each rep. Rest 90 seconds between sets.
  6. Abs: sets. Crunches or/and V-ups. Rest one minute between sets.

Arnold’s Six is recommended to do max. 12 – 15 weeks in a row.

When you have managed to do your sets using a clean technique  for 2-3 workouts in a row, you can add weights. The weights you are using are essentially 60 – 80 % of your estimated one rep max. Keep the weight the same through the set.

Calculate your estimated one rep max>

Also, pay close attention to your rep tempo. When you are aiming to build lean muscle mass, a “1-0-2 tempo” works the best. So when you overcome the load, do it quickly (1) (concentric contraction), don’t stop the movement (0), and bring the weight back slowly (2) (eccentric contraction). For example, when bench pressing, push the bar up quickly (concentric contraction) and then bring it down slowly (eccentric contraction) and don’t stop the movement between those stages.

Download a workout journal below.

Arnold's Golden Six - Muscle Mass and Strength


Looking for a different type of workout plan?

Arnold’s 10 rules:

1. Never let pride get in your way.

Muhammad Ali ”challenged me to shove him against the wall if I could.” When Schwarzenegger did, Ali suddenly understood the benefits of weightlifting. Another time, he asked Schwarzenegger to do it again, and again he wound up against the wall. “He didn’t care about losing a pushing match. He just wanted to show his friends that resistance training worked.”

2. Don’t overthink

“Overanalyzing cripples you,” Schwarzenegger says, providing the example of when he and Danny DeVito, right, decided to take on the movie “Twins.” The two actors had a deadline to accept the roles. “Many movie deals are made under pressure, and if you freeze, you lose. . . . There was no time for agents to dialog. Danny and Ivan and I made the deal on a napkin at lunch. We all signed it and left the table. Danny later had it framed.”

3. Forget plan B

“To test yourself and grow, you have to operate without a safety net. … If there is no plan B, then plan A has to work. … If you fail at running for governor, you may be humiliated, but that is the worst that can happen. … My standard for misery is the guys who worked in the diamond mines in South Africa. … Anything better than that and you’re in good shape.”

4. You can use outrageous humor to settle a score

Schwarzenegger was insulted by a freshman state assemblyman at an event, and he retaliated by refusing to sign a resolution by the lawmaker — even sending back a note with a hidden profanity. After the media picked up on it, the assemblyman said the governor had a right to do that. They reconciled and supported another bill together.

5. A day has 24 hours

Schwarzenegger was once challenged by a student who complained about having to work part time to pay for his rising college tuition. Instead of offering more financial aid, Schwarzenegger encouraged the student to make better use of his time. “Well, the day is 24 hours. Have you ever thought about working more?”

6. Reps, reps, reps

“There are no shortcuts. It took hundreds and even thousands of repetitions for me to learn to hit a great three-quarters back pose, deliver a punch line, dance the tango in ‘True Lies,’ paint a beautiful birthday card, and say ‘I’ll be back’ just the right way. … No matter what you do in life, it’s either reps or mileage.”

7. Don’t blame your parents

“Today I hail the strictness of my father, and my whole upbringing, and the fact that I didn’t have anything that I wanted in Austria, because those were the very factors that made me hungry. … Every time he disapproved of me or embarrassed me, it put fuel on the fire in my belly. It drove me and motivated me.”

8. Big change takes cojones

Schwarzenegger asked former USSR leader Mikhail Gorbachev how he so dramatically changed the Soviet Union. Gorbachev said that when he became the head of the country, ”I realized we needed revolutionary change. The only way things got done was if you knew somebody or you paid somebody under the table. So what system did we have? It was time to dismantle the whole thing.”

9. Take care of your body and your mind

“Focusing on the body was no problem for me, and later on, I became really curious to develop my mind. I realized that the mind is a muscle and we should train it too. … For people who are successful with their intelligence, the opposite applies. They need to exercise the body every day. Clint Eastwood exercises even when he’s directing and starring in a movie.”

10. Stay hungry

“Don’t rest on your laurels. … So many accomplished people just coast. … You’ll have plenty of time to rest when you’re in the grave. Live a risky life and a spicy life and like Eleanor Roosevelt said, ‘Every day do something that scares you.”