We see a lot of wild things. But if there was one thing we didn’t see coming, its longevity doctor Peter Attia, M.D., going ham on the preacher curl machine at Gold’s Gym with fitness legend Arnold Schwarzenegger, age 75, whispering sweet nothings in his ear.
While we’re certainly here for Attia showing his hard-earned bicep pump on the ‘gram, there’s a little more substance to this post than appears to the naked eye.
Though The Governator and The Longevinator have strikingly different origin stories, their workout goals are near identical: to train now to maintain their fitness far into old age. Here’s exactly how they’re training to fight aging, and live a longer, healthier life.
Their Routines Are Less Intense and More Balanced
Back in his heyday, Schwarzenegger lifted weights for nearly five hours a day—a practice that snagged him numerous Mr. Olympia titles and lead roles in movies like The Terminator and Predator.
While Attia’s routine is not nearly as infamous, he spent his younger decades chasing one daunting cardio feat to the next. In his book Outlive, Attia details swimming to Catalina Island from Los Angeles, covering an impressive 21 miles in a mere fourteen hours. After his run with open-water swimming, he poured his energy into becoming the best he could at cycling, clocking in hours every day on his bike.
But in their infinite wisdom, Attia and Schwarzenegger have recently pulled back.
“I’ve chosen to adapt to my age, make my workouts a little bit different and focused on staying lean, and avoiding injury,” he told Men’s Health in 2021. He’s slashed his workouts down to a slim 90 minutes: cycling for 45 to 60 minutes, and lifting weights for another 30 minutes, he told Insider.
Attia cut back on the obsessive cardio. “The truth was that I had become pretty useless at everything except pedaling my road bike as fast as possible for twenty kilometers,” he says in Outlive. “I possessed a high VO2 max and I could produce a lot of power through the pedals, but I was not truly strong or flexible, and I didn’t have great balance or stability.” All essential elements of what he’s coined the Centenarian Decathlon—his training regimen that focuses on training to have the most function possible in our marginal decade of life.
They’re More Focused on Movement Quality
The 30 minutes Schwarzenegger spends pumping iron? It’s not nearly as high impact as it once was. “I’ve moved away from free weights and stick to the workout machines,” he told Men’s Health.
Attia’s approach to training mimics the Hippocratic oath: “First, do no harm.” He argues strength is important, but stability training should come first. “We need to change our approach so that we are focused on doing things right, cultivating safe, ideal movement patterns that allow our bodies to work as designed and reduce our risk of injury,” he writes in Outlive. “Better to work smart than too hard.”
He recommends dynamic neuromuscular stabilization (DNS), which involves teaching your body and brain the patterns of perfect movement we learned as kids. He’s also a big proponent of building grip strength and eccentric control through exercises like farmer’s carries and weighted steps ups.