Posts Tagged ‘cheat’


Why Was Arnold’s Physique So Far Ahead Of Its Time?


Arnold was able to get huge back in the day because of the tactics he used while training, learn how he used cheat curls and other techniques to get huge arms.

Reading about the workouts Arnold did back in the ’60s and ’70s is inspiring, but did you know there are loads of hidden secrets in those past routines that most bodybuilders just don’t get? The specific muscle training tactics he used, either by instinct or by design, are the very reasons Arnold was the biggest bodybuilder of his era and why his physique in its prime is still outlandish even by today’s freaky standards. For the most part he was instinctively doing a lot of little things precisely right, and though they may seem small those details paid off big. (Some say he was even splitting muscle fibres, which is entirely possible, but tremendously rare.) For example, he knew how to overload the muscle at the exact spot where maximum force* can occur, the point along the stroke where muscle fibres are perfectly aligned for extreme fibre activation. It’s one of the reasons his arms were spectacularly big, full and peaked, and you should follow his lead to make your arms and other muscles more massive. No other bodybuilder in the history of the sport has made the same impact. Indeed, Arnold Schwarzenegger remains the greatest, and most influential, bodybuilder of all time in the eyes of many.

Cheat Curls
If you’ve read anything about his biceps training, you know that cheat curls were one of his favorite size builders. No, he didn’t invent them, but he sure made them popular. He used to start his biceps program with them, heaving up massive poundage’s.
Arnold made cheat curls popular but a lot of people criticised him, saying he wasn’t training biceps, only his lower back, but his biceps had high peaks that made his arms look unbelievably big. Now, you could contend that those who dismissed his cheat curls as non-productive had a point. After all, Arnold did a lot of other biceps exercises too, so cheat curls may really have been training more of his lower back than his arms but I don’t think so. I’ve an idea those cheat curls may be one of the key reasons his biceps got so incredibly full and peaked. Why?

Max-Force Generation Point
The max-force* generation point I mentioned earlier is the place on an exercise’s stroke at which the target muscle can generate the most force, and more force equals more mass. That point, say many scientists, is the spot where the most muscle fibres are stressed to the max because they are perfectly aligned for action. So if you overload that max-force point correctly, max growth stimulation can occur.

Where is that sweet spot on the curl’s stroke?
Right below the point at which your elbows are bent at 90 degrees, between the bottom and the midpoint. There has to be some stretch in the muscle for ideal fibre alignment and therefore max-force production; in fact the closer you get to full contraction, the less force you can produce because of fibre crowding and bunching. Remember what I said in an earlier post about sarcomeres being similar to six man rowing boats all rowing into and over each other.

Now imagine Arnold doing a cheat curl. He would lean forward, bend his arms slightly and heave the heavy barbell to his shoulders. Almost the entire overload occurred right at the max-force point-between the arms-straight-position and the midpoint. One of Arnold’s favourite bicep exercises was cheat curls. It overloads the biceps right at the max-force point, just below where the elbows are bent at 90 degrees.In fact, there was hardly any resistance on his biceps any place else along the stroke. Interesting. Semi-stretched position overload. Perhaps that’s why Arnold’s biceps were so high and he swore by cheat curls as his biceps mass exercise.

Isn’t cheating dangerous?
Absolutely, more people probably get injured doing cheats than those that go on to develop big biceps from them, but remember “where theres a will, and there is a fcking will, theres a way, and there is a fcking way” (Sexy Beast). Soz, couldn’t help myself.  Instead of doing barbell cheat curls, try cable curls. Maintain strict form throughout the set. Begin by first doing as many strict reps as you can, aim for 10 reps. When you can’t do another full rep, pull the bar up to the max-force spot, right below the midpoint, and do short partials till you can’t stand the burn. Those partial cheat reps will overload the muscle through this short range of motion without risking your lower back, well, within reason anyway.

Why use a cable instead of a barbell?
Because cables produce more uniform resistance, without the heaving at the bottom starting point of the exercise you get with a barbell. Try partial reps at the end of a set of barbell curls and you’ll see what I mean.

Main Muscle Worked: Biceps.   Equipment: Cable.   Mechanics. Type: Isolation.

What about Stretch Position Overload?
The max-force overload “cheats” weren’t all there was to putting the peaks on Arnold’s arms. While cheat curls attacked the semi-stretched point, he also favoured stretch-position overload. For biceps that meant incline curls. By reclining on a 45-degree incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand hanging down on either side of him, at the start of the curl his biceps were in an extreme stretch range. He would fire out piston-like reps, keeping tension on his biceps throughout the stroke and blasting out of the fully stretched position-but without heaving or jerking.

Fibre Splitting
It’s interesting to note that recent studies have linked stretch overload to hyperplasia, or fibre splitting. One animal study triggered a 300 percent increase in one muscle that was subjected to stretch overload in only 30 days. Yes, that’s tripling the size of the muscle, and the researchers suggest that a lot of the massive increase was caused by fibre splitting, as evidenced by muscle biopsies.

Arnold’s Secret Workouts?
Could stretched-position overload along with max-force-point “cheats” be Arnold’s secret weapons for incredible biceps mass? Well it worked for him, but it wasn’t only his biceps that got freaky from stretch overload.

Arnolds Chest Workouts.
Another example of Arnold using stretch overload is his chest workout. One of his favourite pec movements was dumbbell flyes, but he had a certain way of doing them-only moving through the bottom third of the stroke. He lowered to the bottom stretched position, but on the upward stroke he stopped the dumbbells when they were about three feet apart, immediately lowering back to the stretch. Why?

Dumbbell Flyes.
He said the short stroke kept tension on his pecs, which is true and important, but it also placed the most overload on his pecs when they were elongated, or stretched. Those partial flyes were really just rapid-fire cheat reps in a stretch-position pec exercise-and no doubt one of the big reasons Arnold’s pecs were so full and striated.

Arnold was a master at getting the most growth activation from every set, and calves are another example. When he moved to the America, his calves were underdeveloped compared to most of his other muscle groups, this was before he met and talked to Reg Park, a former Mr. Universe winner and a man who was a big believer in overload.  Arnold was using a few hundred pounds on his various calf raises, but when he trained with Reg, he was amazed to see his mentor pile 1,000 pounds on the calf machine and keep grinding out movement until he could barely budge the gigantic load. Arnold soaked up that experience and information and immediately began applying it. Soon he was using 1,000 pounds on his calf raises, and two or three guys on his back for donkey calf raises, a better stretch-position calf exercise than standing calf raises. But don’t think for a minute that he stopped a set when he couldn’t get all the way to the very top.

Never Waste A Set.
When he couldn’t do anymore full reps, he would drive the weight up as high as he could, usually just barely above the bottom stretch point, and do partials till the muscle couldn’t even twitch. It burned like crazy, but it worked. Soon his calves were one of his best body parts, in fact they were so good that he was accused of having calf implants. I think he instinctively knew how to train in semi-stretched and stretched positions. If you’re neglecting stretch overload in the gym, it may be one of the biggest reasons you’re not building more muscle faster. Arnold achieved semi-stretched and stretched position overload at almost every workout, and you might want to follow his lead.

I’ve found that overloading a muscle in its semi-stretched point with cheat reps and power partials similar to what Arnold used at the end of his calf raises and other exercises can make each set two to four times more effective at building mass. Cheat reps work so well because after you hit failure, you keep firing the muscle at its max-force-generation point, which according to scientists is the key mass building position.  Arnold also instinctively knew to train every muscle in the fully stretched position for the fullest, most complete development possible. Was he triggering hyperplasia, or fibre splitting? It’s quite possible. Whichever way you look at it, Arnold knew what he was doing and achieved freaky mass, even by today’s standards.

Edited from an article originally featured on Muscle and Fitness