Arnold A To Z: Fit For Film

My workout for getting in movie shape can get you ready for anything.

Since retiring from bodybuilding competition, the training I do is highly dependent on the movies I'm making and what my role requires. You might see me throwing punches, throwing people, climbing stairs, tackling bad guys, and jumping over things and off buildings—and that's only a fraction of it. On any given day, I might have to repeat some of this action over and over for hours so the film crew can get the shot from every angle. All of this requires me to be fit for every possible challenge, and making time to train is another challenge in and of itself.

This circuit routine is the solution I've come up with. I combine intense intervals with weights. In about an hour, I get a mix of the conditioning and strength training I need to make it through months of arduous filming.

There is never a day on set where I do all endurance work or all feats of strength, so I need to keep both in balance. I am not lifting the huge weights that I used to, and I like the elliptical and bike because they're easier on my knees than running, but I still train hard.

The great thing about my workout is that you can scale it to the time you have. I get so sick of hearing people say that they don't have time to train. This is a weak excuse. If the president has time and movie stars have time, you have time. Ideally, you will do the circuit three to five times. But on days when you're really busy, hitting it once is fine—that's less than 15 minutes you need to commit.

I've given you my upper-body routine here, but you can train your whole body or your legs using the same principles. I always change the exercises from workout to workout to shock the muscles— for example, going from a barbell bench press to using dumbbells—but the basic format stays the same.


Frequency: Perform the workout three to four times per week, resting a day between sessions.

Time Needed: 15-60 min.

How To Do It: Perform the exercises as a circuit. Complete one set for each without rest in between. After Exercise 6 (the curl), rest two minutes. Repeat Exercises 1 through 6 for as many circuits as time allows, then finish with the Swiss ball crunch.

Blueprint Your Workout

EXERCISE 1 High-Intensity Intervals
Time: Repeat for 10 minutes (Use a bike or elliptical machine)

After a five-minute warmup, increase intensity so you're working at the hardest pace you can maintain for 30 seconds, then go easy for 30 seconds. That's one interval.

EXERCISE 2 Bench Press
Reps: 15

Grasp the bar with hands just outside shoulder width. Pull your shoulder blades together and take the bar out of the rack. Take a deep breath, and lower the bar to nipple level. Press the weight back up.

EXERCISE 3 Lat Pulldown
Reps: 15

Attach a long pulldown handle to the top pulley of a cable station and secure your knees under the pads. Pull the handle down to your collarbone, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the bottom.

EXERCISE 4 Dumbbell Lateral Raise
Reps: 15

Hold a dumbbell in each hand with arms hanging at your sides. Raise the weights up 90 degrees until your upper arms are parallel to the floor.

EXERCISE 5 Cross-body Cable Row
Reps: 15 (each side)

Attach a single-grip handle to the low pulley of a cable station. Stand with legs wide and grasp the handle with your left hand. You should feel a stretch in your lat. Row the handle to your rib cage.

EXERCISE 6 Barbell Curl
Reps: 15

Hold a barbell with hands shoulder-width apart and arms fully extended. Keeping your elbows close to your sides, curl the bar to chin level. Do not allow your upper arms to drift forward.

EXERCISE 7 Swiss Ball Crunch
Reps: 20 (after all circuits)

Lie back on a Swiss ball with feet firmly on the floor. Allow your back to extend fully over the ball. Tuck your chin into your chest and crunch your torso toward your hips.