Arnold Schwarzenegger's 'Golden Six' Bodybuilding Routine

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ‘Golden Six’ Routine

When I first started getting into bodybuilding in my teens, my only sources of information were a copy of a bodypart split routine which Arnold Schwarzenegger had used in the mid-70s and the advice of a peer who claimed he could bench press 200kg with one hand.

Unsurprisingly, both of these sources were useless.

My friend couldn’t bench press a salami, let alone 200kg with one hand, and Arnold’s zillion-sets-per-session routine, while no doubt effective for someone juiced to the hilt and possessing above average genetics, was not the ideal workout for a 15-year-old boy who’s diet primarily comprised Dairylea Dunkers and Jaffa Cakes.

Like many, during my first gym sessions I made the mistake of trying to replicate the high volume routines used by the pros, thinking this would transform me into a cigar chomping, uzi-lubing, truck-lifting monster.

However, this was NOT how Schwarzenegger started out in the gym, nor how he made most of his gains.

Although Arnold is famous for the high volume body part split routines he outlined in the various Weider publications, when he first ventured into a gym he emulated the training philosophy of his hero and future mentor, Reg Park:

I found out everything I could about Reg Park.

I bought all the magazines that published his programs.

I learned how he started training, what he ate, how he lived, and how he did his workouts.

I became obsessed…

Indeed, the Austrian Oak built his impressive foundation on full-body workouts such as Park’s 5×5 routine and his own ‘Golden Six’ routine which we are going to look at today.

By the 1970s, when Arnold started experimenting with anabolic steroids and had escalated the volume and intensity of his workouts, he had already built an imposing physique on the back of these basic full-body routines.

arnold schwarzenegger

The Golden Six routine

The ‘Golden Six’ was a programme based around six key exercises that Arnold followed when he started training at a gym in Munich, and, according to the man himself, it was one he made “remarkable” gains on.

This was also the routine which Arnold prescribed for his personal training clients who were looking to “get big”.

Arnold also claimed that Welsh bodybuilder and former Mr World Paul Grant used this exact routine to gain more than 65 pounds of muscle in less than a year!

All he did was gradually increase the number of sets on the first five exercises, moving up to four sets after three months and then six sets after six months

Bear in mind, however, that this is the same Arnold who, in an attempt to land his first movie role, convinced movie producers that he had “done Shakespeare” back in Germany, so take everything he says with a grain of salt.

Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell squat 4 10
Wide grip barbell bench press 3 10
Chin ups 3 Max
Behind the neck press 4 10
Barbell curl 3 10
Bent knee sit up 3-4 Max

Notes

Cycle

Arnold recommended performing this routine three times per week on alternating days for a three month cycle.

Progression

Once you can do two to three reps above the recommended amount increase the weight.

Strive to progress wherever possible.

Rest

Rest for two minutes between sets of squats and no more than 90 seconds for the other exercises.

Exercise advice

For Arnold’s comments on each exercise, have a read of this article.

 326 × 467Images may be subject to copyright Arnold Schwarzenegger

Thoughts

This classic 1950s-1960s style full-body workout is an ideal routine for beginners and ectomorphs looking to bulk up and gain strength.

These kind of routines – in the vein of Reg Park, John McCallum, Peary Rader etc – are massively underappreciated these days, which is a shame, because although they’re not fashionable or mainstream any more, they are the perfect way to lay the foundation for a well balanced, muscular physique.

Get in, blitz everything, get out, eat, rest, repeat.

It’s as simple as that.

With regards to exercise selection in this particular routine, I would make a few adjustments, such as adding in some rows or deadlifts (there’s a slight imbalance between push and pull movements here) and replacing the behind-the-neck press with a standard press.

Not only does the former rely on a more unnatural plane of movement which places undue stress on your rotator cuffs, but it is a much harder lift to progress on than the standard press, and adding weight to the bar is the name of the game here

I would also replace the sit-ups with a more efficient ab exercise such as hanging leg raises.

Verdict

If you’re new to the gym and looking for a productive routine to build muscle and size, ditch the dense bodypart splits, isolation exercises and bullshit, and give Arnie’s Golden Six workout a go.

In fact, whatever level of training you’re at, a cycle of this routine will no doubt be extremely productive – provided you’re eating and resting adequately, of course.

It’s simple, enjoyable, effective – and comes with Conan the Barbarian’s seal of approval.

What more could you want?

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Over to you

What are your thoughts on the Golden Six routine?

Already tried it or thinking of giving it a go?

Have any questions?

I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below!

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  1. I’m a big fan of Arnold, can’t wait for the next Expendables.

    1. Agreed – it’s great to see him making movies again!

  2. Hey Arnold, where’s the deadlift?

    1. A strange omission seeing that the deadlift was one of his favourite movements (he could shift over 700 pounds), but you could always alternate it with squats here.

  3. What does arnold mean by a 3 month cycle?

    1. Hi Joe – a 3 month cycle simply means that you perform this routine for 3 months.

  4. If I do the Golden Six for 6 weeks do you think it will still work?

    Thx

    1. Absolutely Simo – provided you are eating enough, training consistently, and getting lots of sleep and recovery!

      Let me know if you have any more questions – and how you get on with the routine!

  5. Great Article Henry. Thanks. 🙂

    1. No problem Shahin – glad you enjoyed it!

  6. 4 comments:

    1. The cat joke was not funny; I’m offended.

    2. I saw the Golden Six in an old magazine and I swore the six exercises included the bent-over barbell row and did not include the chin up.

    3. There’s no way a drug-free lifter can go to failure on the same exercise three times a week, so I am assuming there is no need to go to failure on this routine.

    From what I understand, powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters don’t train to failure very often.

    4. I read that John Wayne did 50 push-ups and not much else every day – it’s not a bad routine.

    Of course, you need to do a pulling exercise, but you’d be surprised what a little bit can do if you do it every day.

    My buddy George Hargrove used to run 1 mile every day on a treadmill, that’s it, it really made a difference after a while.

    Most people do a lot and then quit or get sick or overtrained.

    1. Hi Philip, thanks for dropping by.

      1) To quote Stephen Fry, “Well, so fucking what?” (Also, it’s not a joke…)

      2) The version I have, in Arnold’s book, definitely has wide grip pull-ups (I just went to check), although many of these routines tend to morph slightly after publication. Chinese whispers, I suppose.

      3) This is very much an entry-level routine – as such it’s going to be more about slow and steady progressive overload rather than constantly training to failure.

      4) Totally agree, consistency in any routine is the key, as I discuss in this article:

      http://www.gym-talk.com/10-old-school-commandments-for-building-muscle/

  7. Thanks for the post, been researching this routine for a while now.

    I can’t understand the use of 4 sets on shoulders (behind the neck press) and 3 sets on chest, back, etc.

    Shoulders are considered a smaller muscle group then the chest and back, yet they are being hit more?

    Any ideas?

    1. Hi Nesh, thanks for your comment.

      One extra set on shoulders is not really going to make a difference, this is just down to Arnie’s preference I guess.

      However, as I point out in the post, I would personally add in 3-4 sets of barbell rows to make the routine more balanced.

      Henry

  8. Hey, I was wondering, I’m 5’9, 140 skinny fat, is it OK to eat at my maintenance for this golden routine?

    Also, why is there no dumbbell fly or press/incline?

    I thought those are best for chest?

    Will this 3 month routine help with my aesthetics if I do everything it says?

    I care about looks, not so much as how much I can lift.

    I want to be lean and shredded hopefully.

    I was 152 and through calorie deficit and HIIT I got to 140.

    Thanks.

    1. Hi Rageeb.

      With regards to eating, it really depends on what your goals are: if you want to get lean and super-shredded, you will obviously need to closely monitor your macros; if you just want to get strong and bulk up, then hoover up every fucking calorie that isn’t nailed to the table (and the table for that matter).

      This routine will complement both approaches.

      Secondly, there is no need for flys or any other accessory lift, bench press is the only exercise you will ever need to build a formidable chest – everything else is not nearly as efficient.

      If you must, you could always substitute/alternate it with incline press, but why?

      Stick to the fucking routine!

      And, lastly, yes, if you follow this routine consistently, eat well, rest well, sleep well, etc, then you will reach your targets and be the lustful daydream of women everywhere.

      Hope that helps – let me know if you have any further questions.

      Henry

  9. I’m considering this routine.

    Fairly new to the gym/workout scene and I’m wondering, cardio wise, if I should expect anything from this or should I add in some treadmill time etc into the mix?

    Thanks for the post and time.

    1. Hi CJ.

      Firstly, this is a fantastic routine – so go for it!

      You will be burning a considerable amount of calories with this routine thanks to all the high-intensity compound lifts, but if your goal is to stay/get lean, then I would certainly recommend a few cardio sessions per week to up the fat burning potential of your weekly exercise regimen.

      Short bursts of high-intensity cardio (HIIT) is best in order to preserve muscle and improve fitness – and this is also much more time-efficient.

      Hope that helps – let me know if you have any more questions!

      Henry

  10. What do you all do in terms of warm up?

    Also, are these all something like 60% of 1RM?

    (Adding once you can lift more, of course.)

    1. Hi Larry.

      I usually warm up with some light cardio (5-8 mins on the cross trainer) followed by bodyweight squats.

      50-60% of your 1RM would certainly be a good place to start, then just add 2.5kg every time you complete the weight.

  11. Hi There!

    I cannot tell you how big fan I am of the Full Body Workouts, especially of the Golden Six.

    Sadly I only read about it on the Internet.

    Could you tell me which of Arnold’s books contain it?

    Thanks! 😉

    1. Hi István.

      It’s in one of his compendiums, I haven’t got it to hand right now.

      However, I believe it’s also mentioned in a piece he did with Larry Scott, called something like “Three Golden Era Greats on Gaining Mass”.

  12. What do you think about this?

    I’m from Brazil, sorry possible misspellings

    Coxa
    Squat
    3x8a12

    Peito
    Bench press
    3x8a12

    Costas
    Bent over row
    3x8a12

    Ombro
    Standing Military Press
    3x8a12

    Panturrilha
    Standing Dumbbell Calf Raise
    3×20-25

    Triceps
    Dips
    3x8a12

    Biceps
    chin up
    3x8a12

    1. An excellent routine – hit that three times per week, eat lots, sleep lots, and you’ll be on your way to Gains City!

      Like I mention in a comment above, I would also recommend substituting squat for deadlift once a week.

  13. Hi Henry,

    I just wanna ask after I complete my GVT program, could I follow up with this Golden Six one as it seems to be much of a lesser volume and great for relieving the stress from the GVT Insanity hahaha.

    Cheers!

    1. Hi Noah,

      Yes, Golden Six is always a good shout, but if you’re looking for something with lower volume, I would suggest something more strength focused, such as 5×5 or 5/3/1.

      1. Hi Henry,

        Thanks for getting back… sure that sounds awesome.. by the way have you ever heard of this killer workout by Rich Piana called the 8hr arm blast hahaha…

        It’s like 16 mini workouts in 8 hrs…

        1. Sure have… Greg wrote a post about it earlier this year:

          http://www.gym-talk.com/rich-piana-8-hour-arm-workout/

  14. When you go onto the next set, should you increase the weight?

    Doesn’t say it in the article.

    Maybe this is an obvious question, but I am rather new to working out.

    1. Hi Andrew.

      The weight will remain the same for all sets.

      Once you can complete the reps for every set, increase the weight for your next session.

      Make sense?

  15. Thanks for the write up!

    I’m going to start this right away.

    It’s called a 3-month cycle – I’m wondering if that means I should move on to something else after 3 months?

    Could I stick to this routine for a year?

    Thanks.

    1. Hi John.

      If you find that this routine is working well and you’re getting stronger/bigger, then keep going!

      If I find a routine that yields continuous gains, I will stick to it, sometimes for years and years!

      Ignore all that nonsense about mixing things up all the time to keep your muscles guessing, it’s complete bollocks.

  16. “I would make a few adjustments, such as adding in some rows”

    Do you mean subbing in rows for the bench press for example?

    On a once a week basis like your suggestion of deadlifts in place of squats once a week, or as a 7th exercise done in every session?

    1. Hi there.

      No, I mean adding rows as an additional seventh exercise.

      1. Thanks.

        How many sets/reps do you recommend, and between which exercises do you recommend placing rows?

        1. Add them in before the curls, 3-4 sets of 10 reps.

          1. I’ve really been enjoying the Golden Six.

            Would you recommend doing hanging leg raises 5x a week instead of 3x?

          2. If it doesn’t affect your performance on any of the stipulated lifts, go for it.

  17. 6ft 20 stone male.

    I’m looking to loose weight and gain muscle mass at the same time if possible!!

    I wanted to know if this routine would be good and what sort off cardio should I add to this routine?

    1. Hi Neil.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      I would 100% recommend Golden Six – it’s a fantastic entry-level, full-body routine.

      Cardio-wise, your best bet is interval training, i.e. boxing, sprinting, spinning, as this is the most efficient and time-effective way to burn fat and improve fitness.

      Also, make sure you’re eating a healthy, high-protein diet, drinking lots of water and getting lots of rest/sleep – and ABOVE ALL be consistent.

      Let me know if you have any more questions.

      Henry

  18. I was wondering if you were to incorperate barbell rows into this routine whereabouts in the sequence of exercises would you put them?

    Secondly I would also want to have deadlifts in this program what excercise would you say can be alternated every other session for them?

    Lastly, how would you go about warming up for this, I mean in terms of warm up sets?

    Sorry for the long list of questions, but I hope someone can help answer them! 🙂

    1. Hi Qasim.

      1) As I mention to PB above, add them in as a seventh exercise before the curls, 3-4 sets of 10 reps.

      2) You can alternate deadlift with squat once a week.

      3) 5-10 minutes of cardio and light mobility work should suffice.

      Hope that helps.

      Henry

  19. I just changed the routine a little bit, I changed it to 5×5 and added some isolation:

    Squat – 5 x 5
    Bench press – 5 x 5 
    Bent-over rowing – 5 x 5
    Standing Press (ohp ) – 5 x 5
    Curls – 3 x 8
    Skullcrusher – 3 x 8
    Shrugs – 3 x 8
    Deadlift – 1×5 (once a week)

    What do you think?

    1. Solid routine!

      I would probably replace squat with deadlift once a week and perform it first instead of just tagging it on at the end.

      That way you’re getting the most from the “King of Lifts” and can work on your 5RM every week.

  20. Thanks for this workout, Arnold is my favorite athlete ever!

    1. You can’t beat the Governator!

  21. What about triceps?

    Should I do some dips or skullcrushers?

    Or is this particular muscle already worked out?

    I am new at this bodybuilding B-)

    Mads

    1. Hi Mads.

      Your triceps will be taxed during the Bench Press.

      You can, of course, tag on some extra tricep isolation work at the end of your workout, but if you’re a beginner I would recommend just focusing on the main lifts in this routine and forgetting any “vanity” work, however difficult that may be for you!

  22. What do you think of adding face pulls and tricep pushdown to the routine and changing behind the neck press?

    1. Sure, add in what you want at the end of the routine, just don’t mess too much with the core programme itself, otherwise it’s no longer Arnie’s Golden Six.

  23. Would it be okay if I switch bench press with dips plus push-ups with my legs elevated?

    As it is close to impossible for me to get to a bench press.

    1. Hi Domen,

      Push-ups are certainly the best chest exercise if you don’t have a bench – just don’t expect the same size and strength gains as you’re only working with your own bodyweight and can’t vary resistance.

  24. Great article Henry, I’ve really enjoyed reading all your articles.

    I’ve been training on and off now for years but the one thing I’ve never had is consistency.

    When I was younger I tended to watch some of the bigger guys performing isolation exercises and think ‘they must work, look at the size of them’.

    My problem is that I’ve grown up thinking isolation exercises are the way to go to get started and I sometimes switch to compound movements as I know they are good for building but after a couple of weeks of doing them I start to panic and think ‘what if they don’t work???’ and go straight back into my comfort zone of isolation (makes me sound like I’m in solitary confinement).

    I suppose that due to celebrity gains for superhero movies and such, it makes it so much more complicated as everyone and his uncle now seems to be a personal training expert or have some new body shredding, fat burning, muscle blasting, metabolism enhancing, life changing routine but I have been a big believer over the past couple of years that the old methods are the best.

    The likes of Schwarzenegger, Ferrigno, Colombu, Strydom and Quinn didn’t have the latest isolation based machines you see everywhere these days, it was done with shifting fuck loads of weight, eating and resting correctly.

    Right, my next session is tomorrow and I am now (thanks to your article) going on compounds x 3 a week.

    Bench press 10 x 3
    Squats 12 x 3
    Deadlift 10 x 2
    Military press 10 x 3
    Pull ups to failure
    Barbell curls 10 x 3
    Tricep dips to failure

    1. Hi Gary.

      Wholeheartedly agree with all your comments – and great to hear you’re now heading in the right direction.

      Do let us know how you get on!

  25. Just tried Arnold’s big 6.

    Feels like I’ve been hit by a train!!!

    1. No pain no gain!

  26. Sir, does this program will really work?

    I mean after 1 year of progressive training eating will I get Arnold’s body?

    Thanks…

    1. Hi.

      This routine will certainly work (for reasons discussed in the article), but thinking you can achieve a body like Arnie’s in a year is utter bloody lunacy.

      That will require natural genetics, a lifetime of hard work and dedication, the right chemical assistance – and with all that I highly doubt you’ll reach Arnie’s level of perfection.

      However, if you consistently follow this routine for a year and follow a regimented high-protein diet, you will see good results, guaranteed.

  27. Hi.

    May I know how heavy should I lift the weights and should I do cardio on my rest days or after the weight training?

    I’m 165 lbs.

    1. Hi Hafizul.

      For each exercise, start with a weight which you can easily lift for the specified rep range, and then gradually increase the weight each session.

      And, yes, I would certainly recommend some unstrenuous cardio on rest days to aid with recovery.

      Swimming would be a good bet as it is low-impact and can help alleviate muscle and joint niggles.

      Hope that helps – let me know if you have any more questions 🙂

      Henry

  28. Well Henry, after a couple of weeks of Arnold’s Big 6, I switched to Ray Park’s 5×5 but only because I found it more convenient to fit in with my workout times.

    I have been doing this for 2 months now and my gains have been great

    Bench 110 lb to 165lb
    Squat 110 lb to 160lb
    Military press 75 lb to 115lb
    Seated row 176lb to 284 lb
    Deadlift 176lb to 264lb

    I also did lat pull downs for the 1st time in ages recently and pulled the entire stack of 230lb with room to spare.

    My size hasn’t increased massively but I’m not eating for mass, I’m training for strength and health but I’ve never felt stronger or healthier and I have to look after myself now I’ve turned 40.

    Note to all readers and doubters, these routines DO work, they are the old school routines which have stood the test of time.

    1. Blooming autospell, I meant to type Reg Park!!!

      1. Great to hear it Gary – keep at it!

  29. Can this be turned into a 4 day split?

    I feel like 3 days is not enough.

    1. Theoretically, yes, but I would advise sticking with 3 sessions a week.

      Remember the idea with full-body routines is to train hard and rest hard.

  30. After we complete this workout routine for 3 months what program do we move onto next?

    1. If you’re still adding weight to the bar, stick with the routine, no reason to change if you’re still making progress.

      Otherwise, I would suggest a more strength focused protocol, such as 5×5:

      http://www.gym-talk.com/reg-park-5×5-routine/

      http://www.gym-talk.com/reg-park-beginner-routine/

      http://www.gym-talk.com/stronglifts-5×5/

  31. After you try weight training for a few months, do you plan to update your articles?

    It was brave of you to post a ‘before’ picture.

    Most women wouldn’t do that.

  32. I dislocated my shoulder a few months ago, and while I’m good to get back training, the military/oh press just worries me (for the time being).

    Replace with landmine press?

    1. I would be loath to replace military press.

      If possible, I would suggest pressing with a very light weight, as early mobilisation is, in my experience, the best way of returning the shoudlers to normal function.

      If this is completely out of the question, then yes, consider alternatives.

  33. Hey Henry,

    Thanks for writing this.

    I have been using this routine for about 3 weeks now, and I love the difference I am already seeing in my body.

    I have a few questions for you.

    1) I have lost about 20 pounds of fat over the past three years, currently 5’10” 180lbs doing exclusively cardio and diet.

    I need to continue loosing fat.

    Is G6 the best routine for me, or should I switch to Stronglifts 5×5?

    Using the G6 my weight has dropped one or two pounds, and I have lost about 1.5 inches off my waist (gaining muscle losing fat I suppose).

    2) In the same vein, trying to loose fat while gaining some muscle, should I be targeting a calorie deficit?

    3) M-F I typically stay significantly under my calorie goal.

    I am a very social person on the weekends and eating out and drinking are an important part of my social life.

    That being said, I usually go significantly over my calorie goals on Saturdays.

    I guess I don’t have a specific questions, but would like your thoughts on this diet.

    4) How far down should I go on squats?

    A little above lateral, lateral, sub lateral?

    Thanks again!

    1. Hi Taylor.

      To answer your questions:

      1) Personally, I would opt for SL 5×5, as it’s more strength focused and will allow you to progress on the main lifts much quicker.

      2) Again, personally speaking, I would never advocate a calorie deficit.

      When your body enters a calorie deficit, it goes into starvation mode and clings onto calories, as well as depleting testosterone, muscle tissue and energy levels, which makes fat loss difficult.

      Yes, in the short-term you will certainly lose weight, as you’re starving your body of calories, but it will not be effective long term.

      Instead focus on increasing protein intake and making the right foot choices, which will probably increase your calorie intake, but this will be much more effective long-term when it comes to losing fat and maintaining a lean physique.

      3) This is fine, I’m very much the same, Monday-Fri I eat well, then weekends tend to include a few more unhealthier food and drink choices.

      As long as you are sticking to a healthy diet most of the time, you will be OK, and don’t forget that the occasional cheat meal does help (a) psychologically and (b) in reactivating a depressed metabolism to promote fat loss.

      4) This really depends on your anatomy – perfect form on the squat can vary between lifters – but usually just below parallel is best.

      Hope this all helps – feel free to ask me anything else.

      Henry

  34. Hi Henry,

    Like a clever dick I figured I’d be fine with a behind-the-neck press for this routine.

    I felt a bit of a niggle in my left shoulder then after putting the weights down after 1 set it didn’t go away.

    Now, 2 months on from that I still can’t lift right in that shoulder.

    Should I stick to lighter weights until it fixed or is this gonna be around for a while (or even permanently)?

    It doesn’t exactly hurt, just feel a bit ‘wrong’ and weak, if that helps.

    1. My advice would be to listen to your body – if it’s just a niggle, then take it easy with lighter weight for a while and then, if it starts to feel better, gradually build up again, session after session.

      And stick to standard military press instead of behind-the-neck press.

  35. Hi Henry,

    I am new in bodybuilding.

    I just started my gym on April 15 (6 days ago).

    I train 3 times a week.

    After reading articles about Golden Six and Stronglifts, I am confused.

    As a beginner, which one do you suggest is more suitable for me:

    “Arnold Golden Six” routine or “Stronglifts 5×5”?

    Or should I start with Golden Six for 6 months and then I change to SL 5×5?

    Or should I stick with Golden Six for years?

    Please I need your advice.

    I am 165cm 68kg.

    My goal is get healthy, stronger, losing fat in my abs and build proportional body.

    Thanks.

    1. While Golden Six is an excellent routine, I would typically recommend the 5×5 protocol instead, as it is more strength focused.

      This will allow you to build a better foundation for the key compound lifts and allow you to progress more efficiently.

      Having said that, every one is different, so why not try both routines (3-6 months on each), and see how you get on?

  36. Hey man I was wondering after I complete the routine what should I do next to continue my strength and weight loss?

    1. My go-to workouts are typically 5×5 or 5/3/1.

      Check out our workout archives for these and other recommended routines.

  37. No love for triceps?

    1. Bench will hit triceps.

      Unless you’re a pro bodybuilder, there’s no real need to isolate triceps, focusing on compound movements will build a solid well-rounded physique.

      If you’re dead set on hitting triceps more, thrown in some dips.

  38. One of the best muscle building routines indeed.

    1. Simple and effective – no need to over-complicate matters, as Lee points out here:

      http://www.gym-talk.com/less-is-more/

  39. Dumbbell Squat – 4×10
    Romanian Deadlift – 4×10
    Dumbbell Press – 3×10
    Dumbbell Row – 3×10
    Military Press (BTH) – 4×10
    Upright Row 3×10
    Ab Roll – 3×10
    Dumbbell Swing (Finisher) – 5×20

    I like RDL so I put it on list.

    I replaced bicep curl with upright row to build traps and besides curling bores me.

    I replaced also sit-ups with ab roll and added in some dumbbell swings.

    Is this too much for now?

    And I plan to add another day for biceps, forearms and calves.

    I also do some light cardio on rest day.

    Thank you in advance.

    1. It’s a decent routine – but why the emphasis on dumbbells as opposed to barbells?

      If you’re limited to dumbbells, that’s OK, but squatting with a bar, for instance, will allow you to lift much heavier weight and reap far superior gains.

  40. Thank you so much for posting I have been looking for how to gain muscle and it’s working, but does it also work for losing weight?

    1. Hi Daniel.

      Yes, this routine should definitely help you loose weight in addition to gaining muscle – the big compound movements are a great way to burn calories.

      Just remember to watch your diet and maybe add in some extra cardio to expedite fat loss.

  41. I’m big fan of Arnold I started working out at the age of 15, Arnold is my idol.

    But there is one thing that I really hate about my body but I’m working on it – it is my little fat.

    I’m 6 feet tall and my weight is 76kg.

    Can you tell me a vegetarian diet plan for gaining muscle and losing fat to get the same structure as Arnold had in his teenage time.

  42. Nice article.

    But you forgot something important.

    Paul Grant started with this routine as you have outlined, but he later increased the sets on all the exercises to six.

    Increasing the sets to six is what caused Paul Grant to gain 65lb of body weight.

    You need to update and include that info, because people are actually going to believe that you could gain 65lb of weight with just 3 sets, and that won’t happen

    1. Hi Chris.

      Thanks for the comment.

      I suspect your right – what’s your source on this?

      Regardless, Golden Six is still going to yield great results, especially for beginners.

      1. The link that you provided about Arnold’s comments on the exercises, that’s where Arnord himself said that Paul Grant increased everything to six sets.

        http://ditillo2.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/three-ways-to-gain-arnold.html?m=1

        It even has Larry Scott and Bill Pearl’s workout.

        I like Larry Scott’s workout because you start out with 3 sets and every 30 days you add 1 set until you are doing six sets.

        I personally believe that 3 sets is not enough.

        When I first started working out, I constructed my own workout based on the scientific studies.

        BP, OHP, ROWS, PULLUP, SQUAT AND DL.

        All 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 3x/week.

        I made good gains for the first 3 months, but I stalled on all my lifts afterwards.

        I did everything I could think to progress with 3 sets, but nothing worked.

        Then I came across an article where some guy from the National Strength and Conditioning Association said that you needed to add 1 set every month to keep gaining muscle.

        Then I learned about James Krieger.

        He said that the more sets the better.

        And then I see the jacked dudes in my gym doing endless amounts of sets.

        That’s when I said phuk it and doubled my sets to 6.

        First week, it felt like a truck hit me hard.

        But I stuck with it.

        And a month later, people finally started asking me if I lifts weights, play for a football team and they were giving me compliments.

        That didn’t happen before with only 3 sets.

        1. Thanks for the clarification, it’s been a long time since I wrote this article, so I couldn’t remember.

          I have updated the article to include this caveat.

          Was interesting to re-read Larry Scott’s routine as well, will definitely have to feature it as a workout review sometime soon!

          1. Update: for anyone interested, we now have a post looking at Scott’s routine:

            http://www.gym-talk.com/larry-scott-mass-training-routine/

  43. There’s just one thing that I’m confused about, that is, why Arnold and Larry Scott did not include Deadlifts or SLDL?

    I work out out at home with barbell only, and I’m still trying to figure out if I would need SLDL or if they are even safe for the back when I’m already doing Squats and Bent Over Rows 3x per week?

    So what’s your take on it?

    Would you add SLDL to the Golden Six workout?

    Are squats alone enough for the hamstrings?

    Thanks.

    1. OK, after carefully researching and looking back at my experiences, DO NOT add any exercises to this program.

      First, this is a well rounded program, so you don’t need to worry about missing anything.

      Second, you do squat and OHP 3x per week.

      That right there is stressing the lower back almost to the max.

      This is why you only do pull ups for back (because pull ups are effective but don’t stress the lower back).

      If you add in Rows or Deadlift/SLDL/Romanian DL, this will lead to a back injury.

      Because, again, you are already doing squat and OHP 3x per week which are putting enormous pressure on the lower back.

      Now I know why people say don’t mess with programs.

      If you don’t like something about it, then find another program.

      1. Hi guys – as Chris said, no need to add anything to the routine, these guys learnt through years of experience and trial and error, so heed their wisdom!

  44. Great article and a killer of a workout.

    I have a question about the progression; it says to add weight when one can do about 2/3 reps above the recommended 10.

    Does that mean 2 or 3 reps (12 to 13 reps) with the given weight or only when you can perform about 16 reps?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Sebastian.

      Once you comfortably hit 12 reps per set, up the weight next session and go for 10 reps per set.

      1. Awesome.

  45. Hi Henry and thanks for for this great article and workout.

    Would this workout be good for a fit 50 year old with a greyhounds metabolism looking to add some good body mass?

    1. Yes, definitely!

  46. You mention that in Arnie’s book he has wide-grip pull ups, yet, there are no pull ups in the routine.

    Am I suppose to be doing these instead of chin-ups?

    I consider it a pull up when I’m holding the bar with my palms facing out (so I would see the back of my hands) and a chin up with my palms facing in (looking at my fingertips).

    Is this wrong?

    1. You’re absolutely right in your definition – and the issue is there seems to be different versions of the routine out there.

      I think someone above even mentioned they had seen a version with bent over rows.

      Personally, I would stick to pull-ups (or rows), otherwise the routine is lacking in effective back work.

  47. Hi, I was wondering if its possible to use this routine for my cutting phase?

    If no, what routine would you recommend?

    Thank you.

    1. This routine is ideal whether cutting or bulking – diet is what you’ll need to adjust depending on what physique you’re trying to achieve.

  48. Hi, I am 43 yrs old and started working out in the gym for the first time in my life 2 years back.

    Last year I started doing SL 5X5 and it went exceptionally well.

    But I have hit a plateau with military presses, and not really seeing any size increases (I did lose 20kg in my first year (I weigh a lot)).

    Will this routine get me over that plateau and add some bulk?

  49. Hi, I’m just starting out on this programme after stagnating a little from previous routines.

    I was just wondering if the days in between doing the Golden 6 are meant as rest days, days for cardio, isolation exercises etc.

    Any help would be appreciated!

    Cheers

  50. Hi!

    I love the old-school bodybuilding routines, nothing wrong with modern splits like PPL and such but this is a really cool back to basics thing.

    Just got to ask Henry, how would you personally structure this as an intermediate?

    Intensities, volume etc?

    A daily undulating periodisation kind of thing perhaps?

  51. Can I substitute overhead press?

  52. Thanks for writing this post.

    I’m on month #3 of this workout routine and I feel that this routine is a delight to do in the gym!

    It’s fun, doesn’t take much time and I’m seeing some gains (though not as much as I wanted).

    Somewhere near the end of this month I will complete the 3 months cycle.

    Could you please recommend another routine for beginners?

    I would rather go 3 days a week than going everyday.

    And my goal is to only get aesthetics.

    I just want to have a thick layer of muscles which shows the cuts.

    1. Also I like your style of talking.

      It’s a very cool, relaxed attitude.

      I wish I could acquire that too somehow.

      Do let me know if you have any tips for it. XD

  53. Would it work if we do it with increasing weight every set?

    I have a weak trap and back part of shoulder?

    How can I modify this program to give more effort to those weak spots?

    Also is there any bad thing if I on Monday make chin up, on Wednesday instead of chin up barbell row, and on Friday something else?

    Thanks,

    Matija

  54. Looking to build some muscle just lost about 4 stone in fat… is this any good for a 43 year old???

    Any thoughts on a food plan…

    1. Yes, this would be a great place to start, as it introduces you to the key lifts, full-body routines and linear progression, which are all optimal for beginners.

      It’s hard to recommend a food plan without knowing anything about you.

      Just stick with three healthy protein-rich meals per day, don’t eat crap, avoid too much booze, drink lots of water, and you won’t go far wrong.

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