Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Approach to Diet and Training for a Healthy Physique

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the iconic bodybuilder and actor, has always been an open book when it comes to sharing his experiences and insights on how to maintain a healthy physique at any age.

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger (Image source: Twitter)

In a recent Q&A session, he discussed his unique approach to gaining or losing size for film roles and his aversion to tracking macronutrients. Let’s delve into his methods, diet changes, and fitness philosophy in this article.

Turning the Dial: Arnold’s Approach

Schwarzenegger describes his approach to adjusting his physique as “turning the dial.” Instead of rigidly counting calories or following strict diets, he prefers a more intuitive method. He explained, “I add just a little or cut out just a little, maybe cutting bread or adding bread… see how it goes, and then turn the dial more if I need.”

This flexible approach allows him to make gradual changes based on how his body responds, without feeling restricted by a fixed regimen. It’s a testament to his deep understanding of his own body.

No Calorie Counting

Unlike many in the fitness world who meticulously track their calorie intake, Schwarzenegger takes a different approach. He admitted that he often has “no clue” about his daily caloric intake. Instead, he relies on how he feels and the physical results he observes. His philosophy is simple yet effective: “I really have never known anything and just turned the dial.”

A Unique Approach to Cutting in Bodybuilding

During the Q&A, Schwarzenegger also shared insights into his approach to cutting during his competitive bodybuilding days. While modern bodybuilders often focus on intense cutting phases, Arnold took a different route. He incorporated a two-mile run in the sand after his morning weightlifting sessions. He emphasized that he wasn’t cutting aggressively but rather building muscle and adding weight while staying lean in the months leading up to competitions. This approach was the opposite of what contemporary bodybuilders do.

Evolving Diet: From Garbage Disposal to Greens

Schwarzenegger’s diet has evolved significantly over the years. He humorously referred to his earlier eating habits as “garbage disposal” days, where he consumed copious amounts of food. However, he has now shifted his focus towards a healthier diet that includes more greens and vegetables.

Notably, Arnold has become an advocate for a meat-free lifestyle, driven by both environmental and personal health reasons. He firmly believes that you can build muscle and maintain strength without relying solely on meat as a protein source.

He stated, “There’s this misperception that that’s the only way you get big and strong.” As he has aged, he’s found that he actually “feels better” with a diet that includes less meat.


Arnold Schwarzenegger’s approach to diet and training is a testament to the effectiveness of listening to your body and making gradual adjustments. His flexible “turn the dial” method, lack of calorie counting, and unique bodybuilding approach provide valuable insights for anyone looking to maintain a healthy physique. Furthermore, his shift towards a more plant-based diet showcases the importance of adapting to changing health and environmental concerns.

In summary, Arnold’s fitness philosophy can be summed up in one phrase: “Listen to your body and make informed choices.”


1. How does Arnold Schwarzenegger approach diet and training for film roles?

Arnold uses a flexible approach, known as “turning the dial,” where he makes gradual dietary changes based on how his body responds. He avoids strict calorie counting.

2. Did Schwarzenegger count calories during his fitness journey?

No, Arnold has admitted that he often has no idea about his daily caloric intake. He relies on his intuition and physical results.

3. What was Arnold’s approach to cutting during his bodybuilding days?

Contrary to modern bodybuilders, Arnold focused on building muscle and adding weight while staying lean. He incorporated a two-mile run in the sand after morning weightlifting sessions.

4. How has Schwarzenegger’s diet evolved over the years?

He has shifted from a diet he humorously calls “garbage disposal” to one focused on greens and vegetables. He is now an advocate for a meat-free lifestyle.

5. What is the key takeaway from Arnold’s fitness philosophy?

The key takeaway is to listen to your body, make gradual adjustments, and prioritize health and sustainability.

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