Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bodyweight Exercise

Arnold Schwarzenegger bodyweight exercise - dips

In recent entries, I have discussed bodyweight exercise for larger athletes. As stated previously, a heavier body will make certain exercises more difficult, but there’s no such thing as becoming too strong or muscular for calisthenics. Regardless of your size, bodyweight exercise can prove useful for strength and body composition. Don’t just take my word for it though. Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of many strength athletes who regularly performed calisthenics along with his weight training. He was known to perform a variety of pushups, pull-ups, dips, and more.

Wisdom From Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger bodyweight exercise - handstand pushups

In the video below, Arnold speaks about several facets of training. If you scroll to the 5:45 mark however, you will hear him share a few thoughts regarding bodyweight exercise. He was clearly a big believer in many bodyweight based movements.

As stated by the man himself,

“All exercises that you do with your own bodyweight are great…”

Arnold is also quick to point out that lighter athletes may have advantages with bodyweight exercise but that’s no reason to dismiss those movements for larger athletes. He shares his own experience training with the legendary Franco Columbu. Columbu, a beast himself, was lighter than Arnold but that didn’t stop the two from training the same exercises together. It wasn’t about who did more, but rather each man pushing himself to the max to become better versions of themselves.

Save The Hate

There’s much more to the video above than Arnold’s thoughts about calisthenics. With that in mind, I’ll keep the written commentary to a minimum. The 40+ minute video is well worth a listen. One point that I will mention however is to save the hate regarding Arnold and anabolic steroids. Whenever I mention him on the blog, it’s only a matter of time before someone chimes in about his steroid use.

All that I’ll say is that he wasn’t the only bodybuilder in his era to use steroids. Regardless of what he took, it does not change the fact that he outworked his competition. It also does not diminish his thoughts and experience in the gym. Whether you agree with his past or not, there’s no denying his vast experience and training knowledge. He’s certainly walked the walk and defied the odds.

Arnold Schwarzenegger bodyweight exercise - pull-ups and dips

So while you might not look like Arnold if you only do pull-ups, you’ll certainly become a stronger version of yourself if you make it a habit to regularly pull yourself up to the bar. I’m guessing that even Arnold’s critics would agree with such advice.

Related Entries:


“The meaning of life is not simply to exist, to survive, but to move ahead, to go up, to achieve, to conquer.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger


  1. Great read Ross! I respect the amount of research you do for training. The diversity of this blog far surpasses its competition.

    Question: Are TRX exercises considered bodyweight exercises? I ask because over the last year I have increased my strength by about 100 pounds. I didn’t know if that was possible by doing TRX and bodyweight exercises? I do use a dumbell set that goes up to 45 lbs and a barbell with 120 lbs.

    1. I’m not too concerned about what constitutes a strict definition of “bodyweight exercise” (Ex. suspension trainers, etc.). I use “bodyweight exercise” as more of a descriptive phrase. For example, I’m a big fan of adding weight via a dip belt, weighted vest, etc. It’s all good in my opinion.

  2. I read that he used to knock out 50 pull ups everytime trained his back. It didn’t matter how many sets it took, just got it done.

  3. The interview is great! I have seen Arnold talk on many subjects over the years but you can see his enthusiasm come through loud and clear in this video. He still loves to talk about training.

  4. This is great man. Arnold was an awesome entertainer- IMO that’s his chief legacy.

    Hollywood and the establishment want bitch made men today so they don’t have as many macho flicks like Arnold, Steven Seagal, or Chuck Norris. Ill take a flick with Arnold riding through a city doing hits on a Harley with a .45 long slide, Mossberg pump, and M-16 over this weak, feminized, politically correct aka Marxist mind control crap they call entertainment today. Arnold rocks.

  5. Having recently read “Arnold: The Education of a Bobybuilder”, the 1970s bio Arnold published, I’d wholly endorse what Ross is saying. The book is divided into a narrative biography of his foray into and success in bodybuilding followed by sections on suggested exercises and work-outs with extensive photo examples. Both sections have a heavy emphasis on bodyweight exercises.

    In the biography portion, Arnold describes in detail that it was through bodyweight exercise that he first got involved in bodybuilding: The older, more experienced group of guys he fell in with spent their summers doing bodyweight stuff outdoors, and that’s what Arnold did with them. And he continued to follow that regime for several summers.

    In the exercise and work-out portion of the book, there is an extire section on bodyweight exercises that furthermore is extremely DIY: for dips, Arnold suggests, and is depicted in the photo, doing them between two chairs. And for rows / Austrailian pull-ups, Arnold is depicted using a broom stick (!) hung between two chairs. He definitely emphasized a “gymless” “use what you have where you are” approach. There is a section on traditional gym-based exercises with weights as well.

    I read the book for the bio, and didn’t know there would be the back section on work-outs. But it certainly was amazing to learn that the book is almost like a 1.0 version of one of Ross’s, or Al Kavadlo’s or Brett Contreras’s bodyweight work-out books!

  6. Arnold is synonymous with awesome…
    -Immigrint with little English turned millionaire entrepreneur before 30
    – Business Degree
    -Elite bodybuilding champion
    -Role model for kids
    -Former governor of California
    -Star of of some of the best action movies of all time
    -Poster boy for masculinity for an entire generation
    And all to think this was a 15yo kid who was so hungry for success that he would workout in the cold in his small village until the bar froze to his hands.

    Arnold is the man. He may not have a degree from a bastion of socialism like Harvard but he knows more about life and how to be excellent than 99%of the population. The dudes a legend- Inwish he was President.

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed the video, especially the second half, on his thoughts on time management and setting goals/visions. It is clear he was so successful due to his mindset.

  8. I appreciated how down to earth and practical his advice really was…you could use it not just for getting in better shape( which I will) buy for any endeavour in life. And you could tell he enjoyed passing on this knowledge to a younger generation…nice to see!

  9. Arnold was just a dude who used drugs in order to be able to pose naken in front of as many people as possible so he could “cum on stage” (his own words). Idk what’s so inspiring about building useless muscle. His acting was alright, sure but he’s just extremely overrated. He’s also been an asshole to many people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *