“From the bodybuilding days, I learned that everything is reps and mileage. The more miles you ski, the better a skier you become; the more reps you do, the better your body.”-Arnold Schwarzenegger, Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story
Did you know that Arnold used to train 4 to 5 hours a day, six days a week? He would do 2 to 3 workouts split up throughout his day.
His concept of “shocking the muscle” was always to do something different to keep it guessing and would often entail what’s known as a “drop set,” in which he would start at his heaviest weight for reps and then immediately drop down to a lower weight to do reps and so on until even the light weights felt heavy.
He said his arms would often feel so painful to hold at his sides that the only way he could make them feel better was to rest them by placing them on a table or equipment.
I just started reading the Arnold biography, “Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story,” and it’s freaking fantastic.
It’s made me realize a few things about my training that I’ve fallen victim to. First, I’ve been doing too much squatting, deadlifting, pressing, and benching. These should always be a staple in any intelligence training program, but I have plateaued from these exercises after doing them consistently for the last ten years. So I’m looking for ways to mix things up; add an include to the bench, squat wider, deadlift on a set of plates, etc.
The second thing I’ve realized is I’ve had a fear of overtraining for some time now that has been built over the past couple of years after getting sick multiple times after intense training sessions back-to-back. I have since found out that my old apartment had a mold problem and significant allergens in the carpet, which contributed significantly to my getting sick.
Because I was getting sick, I paid a bit too much attention to my body. Instead of doing more volume, I would stop short of what I could physically do. This hindered my results.
As I’m reading about Arnold and his insane training routine, I think: “Dude, stop being a pussy willow.” And so, the next night, I get in the gym and go nuts. And it was great.
I did drop sets, fast sets, and deliberate sets, and I did them all with intensity and a lack of worry about whether I’d be overtraining. I’m glad I did because the next day, I was slightly sorer than I usually am but felt like I got a much better workout than usual.
There’s another thing about this I want to say… it’s this: read freaking biographies!
I’ve been absorbing so many lately, and I’ve never felt such an immediate, life-changing effect from other forms of reading. Biographies are so powerful in that they change how you think immediately. You learn things about yourself that allow you to change your behavior and see where you may have been stuck in your ways.
This is because biographies are stories, and we learn best from stories. Humans are hardwired to remember—and learn from—stories.
This is why one of the most powerful ways to become a better person is to read stories about people you admire. You never know what nuggets of wisdom you’ll pick up. And like my example above, you never know what lessons you need reminding of.
The moral of today’s piece is this:
- Do more sets and reps
- Read biographies and stories
Founder/CEO, Wild Foods