Full body routine, as Arnold did it
There can be periods in your life when you only have time to go to the gym once or twice a week. In this case the best you can do is a short and intense full-body routine to work all your muscle groups. So, below you can read the one Arnold used himself and recommended to his clients as well.
If you really have no choice...
You might plan your daily or weekly routine as accurately as you can. However, it can happen that you are happy to visit the gym once a week instead of the usual 3-5 times, for reasons that are outside of your control. At times like this, one option is to stick with your plan rigorously and work the muscle group that is due on that day. This is not the best scenario, as it leaves the rest of your muscles without training. The other (maybe self-evident) option is to work your full body thoroughly. Doing so, each of your muscle groups will get enough stimulus at least once a week, which can be enough to keep you in shape. If the necessary intensity and the highest possible load are provided, a workout of this kind can really spice up your routine.
Arnold was famous for doing high-volume workouts. But as soon as he retired from professional bodybuilding, he changed his workout habits as he had less and less time to work out the way he used to. However, he needed to keep in shape. On one hand, for movie roles. On the other hand, he had never really cut himself off from bodybuilding and regular workout until he began his political career, which came much later. But until then (and also before, when he was short of time), he applied his own full-body routine every now and then, which he had not changed for decades.
The “Golden Six”
As he would call it: the name speaks for itself. As an active competitor, he often recommended this program to his clients, especially for beginners, before they would switch to a split routine. All in all, this routine can be useful in two cases: if you have time for no more than 1-3 workouts per week, because you have something more important to do; it is suitable for keeping your muscle mass and strength level, provided that you can stick with your diet, more or less. Or, it can bring variety to your everyday routine. Plus, its low set counts make it ideal for beginners, too. Here is the original version:
Bench press: 3x10
Wide-grip pull-up: Do 3 sets with as much reps as you can
Barbell bicep curls: 3x10
Sit-ups: Do 3 sets with as much reps as you can
Easy as pie. These are six exercises with 17 sets altogether. You can finish it off shortly and intensely. Thanks to the basic exercises, the larger muscle groups get full stimulation. But all the other muscle groups that will not be worked separately, will get some load too, from the presses (like shoulders or triceps).
However, you can modify this routine depending on your individual needs, as long as you are sticking with the concept more or less. For example, if you want to work your front delts more intensely, you can do incline presses. Dumbbell presses put less strain on the joints of your shoulders. If you have trouble doing pull-ups, you may do pull-downs instead. Or, you can spare your lower back by doing leg raises instead of sit-ups, or using the leg press machine instead of doing squats. Let’s see a program of this kind:
Leg press: 4x10
Incline bench press: 3x10
Barbell bicep curls: 3x10
Leg raises: Do 3 sets with as much reps as you can
In this interpretation, the “Golden Six” is less strenuous and may be easier to complete for many.Still you would definitely not experience poorer results compared to the original version. The only difficulty may arise from the lack of machines. If you work out at home, for example, you can still vary the exercises. All you need is imagination! If you have trouble doing pull-ups and there is no pulley machine at your disposal, you can still do bent-over dumbbell rows... be creative and pick alternative exercises, from here, for example.
All in all, this is a most simple, yet effective full body routine, as Arnold did it, without any red tape.Since this is a full-body routine, it should not be scheduled for more than 3 times a week, preferably in a Monday-Wednesday-Friday pattern, as Arnold recommended it. Each workout day should be followed by a rest day. It can be a good idea to vary rep counts and use heavy weights for low reps. It only depends on your goals. It is definitely worth a try, even if only for the variety. All of its advantages come from its simplicity. It can be a relief after the usual split mayhem, or when you are feeling down, tired or less motivated. You know, even if you work out only once or twice a week, instead of zero, you have already done a lot for yourself. And this is definitely better than taking a break away from training! :)
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