I tried Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 3-move full-body workout — here’s what happened

a photo of a man doing dumbbell push up workout
(Image credit: Getty/Oscar Wong)

Years on, Arnold Schwarzenegger remains the kingpin for bodybuilders everywhere. Ahead of a three-part docuseries release, Arnold, due to hit Netflix on June 7th, I decided to test some workouts to prime me for all things Arnie in the coming weeks.

The simplicity of this ‘workout of the week’ — The Longevity Workout — was too much to resist. But don’t let it fool you because Arnie doesn’t do easy. This three-move workout with weights still guarantees to hit muscles hard and get you sweaty despite the lack of barbells and other high-spec gym equipment. Don’t believe it? Check out the session plan below to try for yourself.

I recommend a pair of kettlebells or dumbbells — at Tom’s Guide, we love the best adjustable dumbbells during fast-paced training sessions — but we also provide some alternatives for those who don’t have weights handy. The workout is suitable for beginners and those who have trained for years, so read on to see what happened when I tested Arnold Schwarzenegger’s three-move full-body dumbbell workout. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The Longevity Workout 

I’ve tackled several of Arnie’s 15-minute workouts from The Pump Club and even took on 50 Arnold presses every day for a week (it hurt, a lot). You never need an extensive home gym set-up, nor do you need to train for hours in the gym like The Terminator to build strength and muscle and improve your cardiovascular fitness. 

This one is short, accessible and efficient, and although Arnie is famed for his double-split daily workouts, you could benefit from prioritizing shorter workout stints more often.

 As published by Nature Medicine and cited by Arnold’s Pump Club, micro-workouts involving short and intense bursts of exercise (even up to one minute) repeated several times throughout the day could help you live longer. That could include ‘bursts of very fast walking’ or stair climbing. 

Professional bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger posing at the top of his form in October 1976

(Image credit: Bill Mitchell/Getty)

Moving more often contributes toward your daily NEAT total (how many calories you burn throughout the day) and reduces sedentary time, which studies have shown negatively impacts your metabolism. Basically, move more to burn more.

Enter — the farmer’s walk, squats and push-ups. Three strength and conditioning compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups, build strength and muscle and improve cardiovascular health and muscle endurance between them. 

In the words of Arnie’s team, ‘This workout includes the exercises you need to become stronger and increase the likelihood that you can live longer.’

How to do The Longevity Workout 

The workout includes two circuits and two exercises per circuit.

Circuit 1: 3-4 rounds

  • 1A Farmer’s walk: 20-30 steps
  • 1B Push-ups: 10-30 reps

Choose two heavy weights for the farmer’s walk and walk for 20-30 steps. Set the weights down, then move immediately into your push-ups. Rest for 2-3 minutes, then repeat for 3-4 rounds.

You can learn how to do push-ups here. Replace weights with groceries or filled water bottles if you want to, but ensure the weight is challenging to grip.

Circuit 2: 3-4 rounds

  • 1A Farmer’s walk: 20-30 steps
  • 1B Squats: 10-30 reps

Use the same format as the first circuit, saving your rest between rounds, not exercises. To progress the squats, add weight by holding one or two dumbbells, kettlebells or using a barbell. We cover squats and how you could be doing squats wrong here. 

I just tried Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 3-move full-body workout — here’s what happened 

Expect to feel these three exercises everywhere, including your chest, shoulders, back, arms, core, glutes and legs. This short but effective workout with weights ticks boxes for the upper and lower body, functional training, weight training and bodyweight exercise — all helping build muscle, strengthen bones and joints and test cardiovascular endurance.

If you don’t have quality home gym equipment or alternatives, I did Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2-move 360-rep bodyweight workout, which is just as tough to complete and offers plenty of scaling opportunities.

I like to believe that I can bank a quality number of push-ups, but this one literally had me on my knees. Scale reps to your ability, starting at 10 for beginners and increasing when it feels too comfortable. I split them into three sets of 10, minimizing the rest between. Remember, the first round might feel doable, but you’ve got three or four to contend with, so find a maintainable pace — this trick will help you master a push-up.  

The farmer’s walk tests your grip and forearm strength. Avoid leaning over to one side or excessively leaning forward or back. Instead, maintain a tall posture and take measured steps. Pull your shoulders back and down, and try not to hunch as you walk, as this strains your back and encourages poor posture and lower back pain.

Man walking through a park holding two kettlebells performing a farmer's walk

(Image credit: Getty images/ Unknown)


I tried this in a small flat — not conducive to long walks — so I measured how many steps it would take to cross the room and walked back and forth instead. The farmer’s walk torches your core and shoulders quickly, so reset the weights on the ground if your form slips, or take it to the stairs for an extra leg burn. 

I found it easier to grip dumbbells, so if you struggle to hold kettlebells (here’s how to hold a kettlebell properly), use grip gloves or chalk for extra support. If the farmer’s walk intrigues you, find out what happened when I did the farmer’s walk every day for one week (spoiler: it hurt a lot). 

Like all of Arnie’s workouts, this one is no joke. Accumulative reps play the long game to work muscles hard, and you don’t need to spend your entire lunch in the gym, either. I suggest substituting the squats and push-ups in this workout for other moves like lunges, overhead presses or even the Arnold press in homage to the man himself, if you want to repeat the session regularly and mix it up.

Remember to use your body weight until you feel comfortable with your form, then add weights to increase intensity. 

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Sam Hopes
Senior Staff Writer - Fitness

Sam Hopes is a level III qualified fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and senior fitness writer at Future PLC, the publisher of Tom's Guide. She is also about to undertake her Yoga For Athletes training course. Having trained to work with mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and fitness, and their impact on performance. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and building sustainable training methods.  When she's not writing up her experiences with the latest fitness tech and workouts, you’ll find her writing about nutrition, sleep, recovery, and wellness.