Athletes from the Golden Era of Bodybuilding are still considered to have some of the best physiques. The symmetry, muscles mass and muscle fullness which was the standard in the golden era is replaced by extensive steroid use and enlarged guts.
A big reason for the change in the type of physiques is the shift in training routines. Athletes these days rely heavily on machines. Although these pieces of equipment can be useful in gaining muscle mass, they hardly do anything for building core strength.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was known for his love for doing compound exercises. Watch the documentary ‘Pumping Iron’, and you will hardly see him using any machines. Not to mention, bodybuilders in those days were some of the strongest people around.
Arnold Approved Old School Exercises You Need To Be Doing
1. Bench Press
Arnold relied heavily on the bench press for his overall pec development. He didn’t limit himself to the flat bench press. Incline bench press was a part of his chest training routine. Upper pecs are one of the weakest body parts for most people.
They make it worse by not training them often. The bench press is a functional movement which involves multiple muscles groups and joints. This exercise helps with the development of muscle mass and overall strength and conditioning.
2. Concentration Curls
Arnold had some of the most spectacular biceps. He said he didn’t think of his biceps as muscles; he considered them mountains. With every set and every rep, he was trying to increase the peak of his mountains.
Concentration curls helped him achieve this goal. Unlike many people, he did this exercise while standing up. Letting your arm hang without any support will help you focus solely on the peak of your bicep and contracting it at the top of the movement.
3. Arnold Press
Arnie himself invented this exercise. If you’re just starting out, your shoulders can be one of the hardest muscle groups to develop. Your shoulders consist of three parts, the anterior, posterior and the middle deltoid.
Arnold press helps with targeting all the three heads of your shoulders. In this exercise, sit on a flat bench or a military chair and hold the dumbbells in front of your shoulders with your hands supinated. Rotate your hands outwards as you do a shoulder press with the dumbbells.
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Pull-ups are a must if you want to develop a broad and thick back. Most people commit a mistake at this exercise by limiting their range of motion. If you can’t do a bodyweight pull-up, start off with an assisted pull-up using a spotter or an assisted pull-up machine if you have access to it.
Arnie always had this exercise in his arsenal. He did it before a back workout or for warming up before an upper body workout. If bodyweight pull-ups feel easy, use weights to add resistance.
5. T-Bar Rows
Your back is the second biggest muscle group after your legs. Your back workout, if done right, can be as taxing as a leg workout. You need to completely annihilate your back if you want to see growth and development.
While performing this exercise, always maintain an arch in your back. If you don’t have a T-Bar machine at your gym, use a ground pulley handle to lift the weights. You’ll have an incredible pump in your lats at the end of this exercise.
The Austrian Oak ironically had small legs. He was often ridiculed for his toothpick legs, so he resorted to always wearing track pants. He then went to his mentor and friend Reg Park who suggested Arnie cut off all his track pants and turn them into shorts.
Arnold then set to squats to develop his legs. It’ll be safe to say squatting heavy didn’t disappoint him. Squats are one of the most brutal exercises and are what separates the men from the boys.
Dips can help you achieve definition and conditioning in your chest and triceps. There are two versions of this exercise you need to be doing. The first is on the parallel bars while maintaining an upright position. This will target your triceps. You can also do bench dips to target your triceps.
The other version of dips includes maintaining an inclined angled throughout the exercise. This exercise focuses on targeting your chest. Make this exercise harder by using weights to add resistance.