Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Top Reasons to Build Muscle for Your Health

Arnold Schwarzenegger muscle
Image via Instagram @schwarzenegger

Bodybuilding legend Arnold Schwarzenegger explains why building muscle is crucial for your health. 

Everyone would love building muscle and burning fat to look good. But what about the health benefits? And who better to take advice on building muscle than the face of the golden age of bodybuilding himself? In The Pump Daily (Schwarzenegger’s newsletter), Arnold Schwarzenegger shared why building muscle is more than just pumping iron and building bigger biceps — it’s important to live longer and promote optimal health! 

Arnold Schwarzenegger dominated bodybuilding in the 70s and 80s, claiming 7 Mr. Olympia titles. But, of course, he went on to do much more, including being a governor and becoming an action-star icon. And even though he’s long past due to his bodybuilding prime, Schwarzenegger has made still made weightlifting a priority in his life. 

And outside of crafting his physique, he prioritized health — despite the recent surge of bodybuilding deaths that emerged in 2021. So let’s see what the legend says about building muscle and its role in your health. 

Full Name: Arnold “The Austrian Oak” Schwarzenegger 
Weight Height Date Of Birth
235lbs 6’2″ 07/30/1947
Division Era Nationality
Men’s Open  70s, 80s Austrian-American


Arnold Schwarzenegger Names the Importance of Building Muscle for Your Health 

In The Pump Daily, Arnold Schwarzenegger diverged why building muscle is essential and its advantages over storing fat for your health. He admitted that the benefits of building muscle for your metabolic rate are small, despite the constant efforts of fitness experts preaching how much more calories your body will burn while holding muscle mass. 

However, Schwarzenegger did point out that although the benefits of speeding up your metabolism are marginal, he noted that having muscle far outweighs fat for your health. He listed many benefits of having muscle compared to fat, including a longer lifespan, healthier cardiovascular health, improved blood sugar levels, less inflammation, better cognitive functioning, and stronger bones. Schwarzenegger wrote: 

“Ever wonder how many calories a pound of muscle burns? For nearly 30 years, the most common answer is that a pound of muscle burns about 50 calories per day. While the Internet is great for many things, this isn’t one of them. In reality, on average, a pound of muscle will burn about six calories per day (potentially up to 10 calories). What’s crazy is that the real metabolic value was first established in 1998 and then determined again in 2010.

For comparison, a pound of fat burns about two calories per day. This might cause you to question the value of building muscle, but that would be a mistake. In addition to the metabolic advantage, having more muscle is connected to expanding lifespan (see the next item), maintaining a healthy weight (especially after losing fat), processing food (including sugar) more efficiently, improving blood sugar, protecting against cardiovascular disease, reducing inflammation, improving brain health, and strengthening bone health.” 

He added:

“Plus, muscle-building workouts can elevate your calorie burn up to 48 hours after you stop your workout. The lower calorie burn is just a good reminder that even if you’re adding muscle, the metabolic change isn’t enough to rationalize overeating too much, which is something that commonly happens that causes people to feel stuck despite their hard work.”

So even though the difference in calories burned from fat compared to muscle isn’t huge, he alluded to the fact that working out does elevate your caloric expenditure for up to 48 hours after training.

What Does the Research Say? 

Does research back what Arnold Schwarzenegger claims about muscle’s health benefits? Of course, many studies back the benefits of physical activity for your health (1). 

Furthermore, a plethora of research proves the detrimental effects of too much body fat on your body (2). But what do studies say about muscle specifically? 

Well, we know that the more muscle you have, the less fat you have. So that will already reap many of the health benefits Schwarzenegger mentioned. And research supports weight training for building muscle and having many health benefits (3). And this 2016 study says that skeletal muscle mass is vital for longevity (4). 

So what’s the verdict? Everything Arnold Schwarzenegger is preaching about the benefits of building muscle for your health is true! 

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Checklist for a Healthy Diet and Tip on Recovery

Even though bodybuilding isn’t known for being the healthiest sport — due to drug abuse, crash diets, and overtraining — Schwarzenegger has prioritized health. Recently, he disclosed a checklist for a healthy diet and the best tips for recovery

Here are some of the things he does to stay healthy:

  • Eats more than 400g of fruits and vegetables per day
  • Keeps dietary fats under 30% of total calories
  • Limits saturated fats to 10% or less of daily calories
  • Limits sugars to 10 % or less of daily caloric intake
  • Consumes at least 25g of fiber each day
  • Ingests more than 3500mg of potassium per day

According to Schwarzenegger, 

“The diet habits provide some good recommendations without telling you exactly what to eat. and that’s a great reminder that the best diet is the one that you can follow. so don’t overthink the need for one style of eating, and instead focus on the bigger picture categories.”

In addition to sharing his healthy diet practices, Schwarzenegger revealed how to get more of your training with less recovery. He said it’s a common misconception that people must wait 48 hours between lifting sessions before training the same muscle group again. Instead, your experience as a lifter and workout intensity determines how much recovery you need. 

Final Word

Arnold Schwarzenegger has accomplished many incredible feats. And although building the most aesthetically pleasing physique played a considerable role in his success in his life, he doesn’t neglect his health. Schwarzenegger named many reasons why building muscle can benefit anyone, including increasing lifespan, controlling blood sugar levels, and improving cardiovascular health. 

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  1. Ruegsegger, G. N., & Booth, F. W. (2018). Health Benefits of Exercise. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine, 8(7), a029694.
  2. Maffetone, P. B., Rivera-Dominguez, I., & Laursen, P. B. (2017). Overfat Adults and Children in Developed Countries: The Public Health Importance of Identifying Excess Body Fat. Frontiers in public health, 5, 190.
  3. Winett, R. A., & Carpinelli, R. N. (2001). Potential health-related benefits of resistance training. Preventive medicine, 33(5), 503–513.
  4. McLeod, M., Breen, L., Hamilton, D. L., & Philp, A. (2016). Live strong and prosper: the importance of skeletal muscle strength for healthy ageing. Biogerontology, 17(3), 497–510.
Terry Ramos
As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ISSA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.