Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the most famous bodybuilders of all time.
He inspired a lot of people to take up weight training, and there are always lots of questions about what his workout routine looked like, whether he took rest days, how much cardio he did, how much rest he took between sets, and so on.
Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t follow the same workout routine for his entire bodybuilding career. Rather, it evolved over time as he learned what worked best for him and his body.
That is, the training routine Arnold used as a beginner was different to the type of training he did with a few Mr Olympia contests under his belt.
Arnold’s workout routine would also change depending on whether he was in the off-season or training for a bodybuilding contest or film.
Did Arnold Schwarzenegger Take Rest Days?
Arnold Schwarzenegger did take rest days during his bodybuilding career. Most of his workout routines involve lifting weights six days a week, sometimes twice a day, with a rest day on Sunday.
The so-called Arnold Split, for example, involves three different workouts — one for your chest and back, one for your shoulders and arms, and one for your legs. Each workout is done twice a week.
FREE: The Muscle Building Cheat Sheet. This is a quick guide to building muscle, which you can read online or keep as a PDF, that shows you exactly how to put on muscle. To get a FREE copy of the cheat sheet emailed to you, please click or tap here.
Here’s what it looks like:
- Monday: Chest/Back
- Tuesday: Shoulders/Arms
- Wednesday: Legs
- Thursday: Chest/Back
- Friday: Shoulders/Arms
- Saturday: Legs
- Sunday: Rest Day
However, there’s no rule that says your training routine has to fit neatly into a seven-day week. Most training programs are set up that way, more out of convention and convenience than anything else.
Personally, I much prefer to take a rest day after training my legs, which is typically the hardest and most demanding workout of the week.
This means the routine doesn’t match perfectly with a 7-day week and runs over an 8-day period instead.
Here’s what it looks like:
- Day 1: Chest & Back
- Day 2: Shoulders & Arms
- Day 3: Legs
- Day 4: Rest Day
- Day 5: Chest & Back
- Day 6: Shoulders & Arms
- Day 7: Legs
- Day 8: Rest Day
However, the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger took rest days is largely irrelevant, because you’re not Arnold.
You don’t have the same genetics or Herculean work ethic. You’re not training 4-6 hours a day, six days a week. And you’re probably not benefiting from the same levels of pharmaceutical assistance either.
Did Arnold Schwarzenegger take rest days? Yes.
Should you take rest days? Also, yes.
And by a rest day, I’m not saying you have to sit on your arse all day.
Personally, I like to exercise every day. It helps to clear my head, makes me more productive, and leaves me feeling a whole lot better.
However, this doesn’t mean I’m doing the same type of exercise from one day to the next.
Oftentimes I’ll go for an easy ride on my bike, with my heart rate floating around 60 percent or so of its maximum.
It’s not a rest day in the sense that I’m avoiding exercise completely. But it is a rest day in the sense that I’m giving my body a break from hard training, such as lifting weights, high-intensity interval training and so on.
In fact, this type of cardio may well help recovery by promoting blood flow to the muscles without causing further damage.
Low-to-moderate intensity cardio (such as cycling) for 20-30 minutes the day after a heavy leg workout, for example, will often reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and may accelerate the rate at which muscle damage is repaired [1, 2].
This increase in blood flow delivers more nutrients to the muscles, as well as clearing away some of the wreckage caused by all the squatting, deadlifting and leg pressing you did the day before.
FREE: The Muscle Building Cheat Sheet
If you're overwhelmed and confused by all the conflicting advice out there, then check out The Muscle Building Cheat Sheet.
It's a quick guide to building muscle, which you can read online or keep as a PDF, that shows you exactly how to put on muscle. To get a copy of the cheat sheet sent to you, please enter your email address in the box below, and hit the “send it now” button.
- Muscle Evo – a training program for people who want to build muscle and get strong while minimizing fat gain.
- MX4 – a joint-friendly training program for gaining muscle as fast as humanly possible.
- Gutless – a simple, straightforward, science-backed nutrition system for getting rid of fat.