Natural Bodybuilding

Q: If I want to stay natural, what's the key to gaining some quality size?

A: Let's take a look at the training routines of some of the past bodybuilding stars before drug use got out of hand. Each one of these champions had a strong body part. See if you can spot any similarities between the routines:

Arnold Schwarzenegger — Arm Routine

1. Cheat Barbell Curl 6 x 6

2. Seated Dumbbell Curl 6 x 6

3. Concentration Curl 6 x 10

4. Triceps Pressdowns 6 x 10

5. Barbell French Presses 6 x 8

6. Single-Arm Triceps Stretch 6 x 10

Franco Columbu — Chest Routine

1. Bench Press 7 x 6-8

2. Incline Barbell Press 4 x 6-10

3a. Flat-Bench Dumbbell Flyes 2-3 x 8-12

3b. Parallel-Bar Dips 2-3 x 10-15 

Larry Scott — Shoulder Routine

1a. Standing Dumbbell Press 4-5 x 6

1b. Prone Incline Dumbbell Laterals 4-5 x 6-8

1c. Cable Bent Laterals 4-5 x 6-8

2. One-Arm Laterals 5 x 8

Sergio Oliva — Back Routine

1. Wide-Grip Chin-Ups 4-6 x 10

2. Close-Grip Chin-Ups 4-5 x 10

3a. Wide-Grip Pulldowns 4 x 6-8

3b. Close-Grip Pulldowns 4 x 6-8

4a. Wide-Grip Pulley Rows 3-4 x 6-8

4b. Close-Grip Pulley Rows 3-4 x 6-8

5a. Wide-Grip Pulldowns 3-4 x 6-8

5b. Close-Grip Pulldowns 3-4 x 6-8

6a. Deadlifts 3-4 x 6-8

6b. Good Mornings 3-4 x 6-8

Casey Viator — Forearm Routine

Day 1

1. Zottman Curls 5 x 6-10

2. Barbell Wrist Curls 5 x 15-20

3. Barbell Reverse Wrist Curls 5 x 15-20

Day 2

1. Barbell Reverse Curls 5 x 6-10

2. One-Arm Dumbbell Wrist Curls 5 x 15-20

3. Supported Barbell Reverse Wrist Curls 5 x 15-20

Mohamed Makkawy — Abdominal Routine

1. Lying Leg Raise 5 x 15-25

2. Hanging Leg Raise 5 x 15-25

3. Hanging Knee-Ins 5 x 15-25

4. Bent-Knee Sit-Ups 5 x 15-25

5. Twisting Sit-Ups 5 x 15-25

6. Cross-Ankle Crunch 5 x 15-25

Tom Platz — Leg Routine

1. Back Squat 2 x 25-50

2. Hack Squat 4 x 20

3. Leg Extension 4 x 20

4. Leg Curl 4 x 20

Chris Dickerson — Calf Routine

1. Seated Calf Raises 3-5 x 25-30

2. Standing Calf Raises 3-5 x 25-30

3. Donkey Calf Raises 3-5 x 25-30

Two things really stick out in my mind: volume and exercise selection. (Also, that last pic is kinda gay.) First of all, you see many of the big-bang movements including squats, deadlifts, chin-ups, dips and presses. Yes, there are some cable and machine exercises, but not that much compared to today's standards!

And talk about volume! Checkout the number of exercises and the number of sets these guys performed. Although the rep brackets may have varied somewhat, by the end of the day that's a ton of reps no matter how you look at it! Remember, I just listed one body part. They may train several a day, and each body part got hit two to three times a week.

Granted, these guys weren't saints and drugs were in use, but they knew a thing or two back then. Lots of hard work is the key to success!

[This Q&A piece originally appeared in T-Nation on Jan. 6, 2005 and can be accessed online at http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=541537.]