The first week of the Arnold Challenge
In case you missed Introductory article In this series, I am one of the writers Muscle and fitnessAnd with the first week of “Arnold’s Challenge” complete, here’s what happens.
This challenge required me to train for one month in a very similar manner as Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger did seven times during his reign as the best bodybuilder on the planet.
For those of you who don’t pursue bodybuilding, that calls for two-hour workouts a day, six days a week that include Every major muscle group is trained Three times that week. Yes, that’s a lot of volume with not much recovery time. A marathon can be run in less time than it takes to complete a lower body workout.
As of the day I write this, I’m in the middle of week two, and all of the first nine days of training have had their share of unique and most important challenges. and yes, DOMS was severe.
But the good news for me is that I’m already seeing results. After one week and doing full-body training three times in these two-hour workouts, I’ve already dropped eight pounds on the scale, and there are some lifts where I’m getting stronger. One example of an incline press. The first time I did this workout, I barely lifted 225 pounds for my final set. Now I’m done with 235. I can also press flat 125s for repetitions, even after a few sets. As of now, that would be my limit for dumbbells, considering 125 is my heaviest set at the moment. I wonder how a pair of 150s will feel at the end of this program.
Before I started this, I hadn’t been squatting much in recent months. I train my legs, but I’ve shifted my focus more on cup squats, leg presses, and even some trap bar work. So, it took me a while to get to know the pub again. The third time I trained my legs, I felt more comfortable squatting again—even with the intense pain my legs felt afterwards. I still need to get stronger with this lift, but I’m pretty sure that’s coming.
Adjustments were made after the first week of the Arnold Challenge
While I’ve been able to make the time to take these workouts without cutting corners, there are factors I need to work with and around in order to achieve them. Since I train at home, I don’t have items like a full cable station, hack squat machine, or any of the isolated machines you find in many gyms. So I do dumbbell curls or use heavier bands whenever possible. As long as it’s a similar challenge, I work with it.
Also, like many of you, I have a family. My wife and youngest son support this project, but I still want and need to be the best husband and father. Some days are harder than others, but when I ask if I’m ignoring them or not doing enough, they just keep supporting me.
Then there’s my nine-to-five job. In fact, I am fortunate to be working from home, but I have commitments that need to be met, which means work days start earlier than usual and can continue late into the night. But the work is done. So, to make up for my four hours of training, I would get up early to meet these commitments. Some days, I go to bed a little later, too. The upside to this is that I can take a nap here and there when needed without having to worry about informing HR. And I’ve needed a quick free time on more than one occasion.
Last but not least, during the training itself. When Arnold was training for the World Championships, he would do so alongside bodybuilding legends like Franco Colombo, Frank Zane, Ed Corney, and others who graced the weight room at the original Gold’s Gym in Venice, California. It was summer too.
Air conditioning for cold weather
Right now, while my dog continues to bark at passing cars, I’m working out in a barn with the temperature hovering around 35 degrees. It’s been about an average West Virginia winter lately. Super combos are sometimes difficult to complete when all you want to do is wear as many hoodies, hats, and gloves as possible.
Because of the cold conditions, sometimes it’s hard to get up for every workout because I don’t have that voice to push me or that partner to encourage me to get in the reps or three that Arnold preached which makes a champ. Luckily, some friends have put up with several in-between texts and pushed me forward because they want to see this over now that I’m on it. This is important when you’re in the middle of your second round and doing more than 30 sets of thigh raises.
Speaking of which, I usually train with a high intensity training style, so on the high end, I might do a little over 30 real work sets a week. I also usually finish after an hour at most. There are more than 30 individual sets on the calves alone in one exercise in this program. So, you can imagine how much work I do with other body parts. The size came as a bit of a shock to me after the first week of the Arnold Challenge.
When it comes to calf training specifically, I don’t have the best equipment for that, so I made the most of my barbell and dumbbells. Also, after doing so many super sets for the quads and hamstrings, it can be all too easy to skip training your calves—or at least a few sets—and call it a day. Trying to focus on turning my toes the right way and getting good contractions can be mentally challenging—especially when I can walk 200 feet and eat dinner at any time.
However, the primary purpose of this is to make the software as close to accurate as possible. So, when you’re done with the third set of the fourth exercise, cutting out a move or moving on to the next isn’t an option—especially now that there are people around the world who are fascinated by this. I can’t talk about this if I don’t do it right. So, I implement and convince myself the effort is worth it. And of course, I really do have that belief, or I wouldn’t have started this from the beginning.
One week down, three remaining
This is a rosy picture that may be painted, but I need to be clear about this. The workouts are intense, hard and time consuming, and my percussion gun has worked a lot of overtime to help me recover. I also know that this will not be the smoothest path either. There might be a serious cold front in my area preventing me from training, something life related might be happening that would force me to make adjustments, and I know there will be days when the weights feel heavier than others.
But now that I’m on this road, I’m finishing up the journey, and I hope you’ll join me by following my Instagram page @tweetwhere I will now and then share photos, videos, and comments.