Today, representatives of the younger generation do not even know that Arnold was once a bodybuilder and trained hard in the gym. They consider him a Hollywood actor who managed to break out into the governorship of California. However, you and I, dear readers, are well aware that Arnold Schwarzenegger is perhaps the greatest athlete in the history of our sport. And it’s not even that he managed to win not one, not two, not three, but seven Mr. Olympia titles, remaining the best bodybuilder in the world for an entire era. Arnold made our sport popular in the most remote corners of the planet, promoting it from movie screens around the world.
Before Arnold, big muscles were considered the antipode of intelligence. Even Arnold himself in his first comedy film had to portray a dimwitted strong man. However, the outstanding charisma of the great champion made Hollywood rewrite the usual scenarios. The epic muscle power of Arnold has become the centerpiece of action films, and he himself is the hero of numerous blockbuster films that have awakened the interest of millions around the planet for bodybuilding.
However, today we present to you a completely different Arnold. He trains hard, just like you, our dear readers, and does not yet know that bodybuilding and training will become for him the Archimedes’ lever that will help him turn the world …
How Did It All Start?
According to the famous champion Bill Grant, who immediately became friends with Arnold, at first he settled in a tiny room in the suburbs of Los Angeles and from there got out to the “City of Angels” in a battered red Volkswagen. In other words, Arnold Schwarzenegger led the same life as hundreds of thousands of other unknown migrants from Europe who came to America for a piece of bread. However, in the year of his arrival, Arnold struck down Grant with a bold statement.
They were sitting in a crowded cafe, and Arnold, looking wistfully over Grant’s head, said, “You know, the time will come when all these people will extol me as much as Steve Reeves.”
Grant almost choked on his eggs. Steve Reeves by that time was at the very zenith of his fame, but it was no longer sports at all, but cinematic.
The former champion bodybuilder became world famous for his starring role in the Hollywood blockbuster Hercules. Moreover, it was over 10 years ago, and over the past decade, Reeves managed to star in a lot of other films, becoming a recognized movie star. As Grant recalls, he treated Arnold’s elephants as an empty teenage fantasy. However, time passed, and Grant realized that a huge faith in his own strength was precisely the main trump card of Arnold, who helped him achieve success, and, moreover, on a much larger scale …
The famous Mr. America title holder Michael Katz who co-starred with Arnold in Pumping Iron confirms: “Arnold’s hallmark has always been extremely high self-esteem, or, if you like, exorbitant self-esteem. However, we, his friends, cared little. You cannot win in sports if you consider yourself a wimp. So we all had a very high opinion of ourselves. After many years, I can add only one thing: apparently, not high enough when compared with Arnold …”
High self-esteem is natural for a 7-time Mr. Olympia title holder, but where did it come from an emigrant who spoke poor English and could barely make ends meet?
“It is generally believed that Joe Weider gave Arnold everything,” says Bill Grant. – However, this is not the case. Joe himself was dashing enough in his youth, and therefore he knew that life’s difficulties are the crucible that forms a strong character. A person freed from difficulties will never become a real fighter. So it never crossed Joe Weider’s mind to make Arnold a dependent.
Arnold Schwarzenegger tried all kinds of different types of income together with his friend Franco Colombo. They laid bricks at the construction site and even mastered the carpentry trade! In addition, Arnold studied in the evenings. Believe my word, Arnold turned out to be a surprisingly punchy and grasping guy from the first day!”
In those days, Arnold trained in the mornings, and then went to the construction site to work as a bricklayer. In the evening, he went to preparatory courses, as he intended to go to college. If there were competitions on the nose, then in the afternoon he managed to find time for a second training, and in addition he participated in magazine photographs, working out the terms of the contract concluded with Joe Weider.
According to people who knew him, difficulties poked a paradoxical effect on Arnold: they inspired him. Moreover, he himself did not tolerate whiners next to him who gave in to problems …
Once Michael Katz, who in those days was not only one of the most famous bodybuilders in America, but also a school teacher with a small salary in provincial Connecticut, began to complain to Arnold about the lack of funds that prevented him from moving his family to Los Angeles … Arnold didn’t want to listen to him. “He interrupted my complaints with a gesture,” recalls Katz. – and then added a phrase that became a sign of cold water for me. ” “Listen, Mike! Arnold said. “In all my life I have not yet met a single Jewish failure!” According to Katz, he never again allowed himself the weakness to complain about difficulties in the presence of Arnold, as well as other people …
An optimistic attitude towards life attracted many to Arnold, and he was always surrounded by friends. Everyone admits that Arnold knew how to be friends and was ready to take off his last shirt for the sake of a friend. However, in friendship, he remained himself, businesslike and extremely purposeful.
“Oh, Arnold is a big sly! – laughs Frank Zane, 3-time winner of the title “Mr. Olympia”. – He began to be friends with me when he heard that I was teaching mathematics to high school students. He had problems with math in college, and I started giving him lessons as a friend. Understood, completely free. Do you know who his girlfriend was in those days? Barbara, English teacher! She taught him English. And it’s free too!”
The Golden Era of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Training
Arnold had no equal in training intensity. He performed sets one after another, practically without rest. Moreover, most of the exercises were combined into supersets, trisets and giant sets … The main rule was combining muscles with the opposite function into a superset. Even the pectoral muscles and the muscles of the back fell under this rule. Arnold wowed his fellow trainers by doing hard basic exercises like the bench press and bent-over rows, one after the other without a second of rest.
According to Katz, Arnold performed as many reps and sets in a little over an hour as other bodybuilders did in 3.5-4 hours. “Arnold revolutionized our training style,” Katz says. – “Looking at him, many switched to high-volume training. Meanwhile, in those days, the law for everyone was considered to be slow execution of a set, and then a long rest until complete recovery.”
However, the attempts of many bodybuilders to repeat the workouts of Arnold Schwarzenegger inevitably led them into a dead end of overtraining. The explanation for this phenomenon seems to lie in the area of mental motivation. Arnold himself has repeatedly emphasized that training gives him pleasure. “How can you get tired of doing what you like?” – he was sincerely surprised in response to questions about the secret of his amazing endurance.
Indeed, no one has ever seen Arnold in training dejectedly doing hard work. The energy overwhelmed him, and this led to the birth of an unusual style of training, when he challenged other bodybuilders to competition. For example, Ed Corney and Michael Katz initially outnumbered him in leg strength. Arnold undertook to squat with them, trying to surpass his comrades in at least one repetition. However, when it comes to the strength of other muscle groups, Arnold was second to none. The strength of his back especially surprised his friends. According to Michael Katz, he more than once saw Arnold barefoot pulling to the barbell belt weighing 150 kg, doing 10 repetitions in a set. It should be emphasized that in the style of that time, Arnold pulled the barbell while standing on a narrow gymnastic bench!
Fans often debate who should be considered the best in bodybuilding history. However, there is little reason to compare Arnold, and the rest of the champions of the 70s with subsequent generations. Bodybuilders of that era stand apart in the history of our sport. Bodybuilding representatives have never been so strong. They often took part in power shows, along with powerlifters and weightlifters, and won! For example, Franco Colombo trained pectorals by doing bench presses weighing over 225 kg. The “lightest” Olympia winner Frank Zane, with his own weight less than 90 kg, rocked his legs with a barbell weighing 180 kg, performing in sets of 10 repetitions. And this was considered quite common!
The Main Secret
Arnold’s victories on the podium were overgrown with legends over time. Many of them are true, but some are not.
By scrapping Michael Katz, he saw with his own eyes how indignant Sergio Oliva was in the locker room when he realized how easily Arnold played him. It was about Olimpia, where Arnold won his first victory.
In those years, the behavior of bodybuilders on the stage of the tournament was not strictly regulated. Participants posed, listening to the reaction of the audience. The competition was a kind of interactive show, in which the reaction of the audience significantly influenced the assessment of the judges.
Left on the podium alone with each other, Arnold and Sergio Oliva, as the two main contenders for the Olimpia crown, vied with each other to demonstrate their best poses to the applause and jubilation of the audience. Moreover, the audience did not want to appease, and in addition, many unanimously chanted the name of Sergio Oliva. As a result, posing became overly prolonged and tiresome for both participants. Arnold bent down and whispered in Oliva’s ear: “That’s it! I’m out of breath! I’m leaving!” Oliva nodded his head in agreement, waved his hand to the audience and, turning his back to Arnold, went backstage. As for Arnold, he did not even think of leaving the stage. On the contrary, he began to pose with a vengeance.
The audience understood the situation as if Oliva could not stand the tense fight and surrendered. In response, she burst into another flurry of applause and began loudly chanting the name of Arnold Schwarzenegger. That’s how he became the champion of Olimpia.
But the well-known story of how Arnold, as if at the most tense moment of the “Olympic” posing, deliberately joked, making Frank Zahn laugh and thereby lose his fighting concentration, is denied by Zan himself. “Nothing of the kind! He says. – All this is fiction! It was I who asked Arnold how it felt for him to play at Olimpia after a long break? He replied that the performance was very difficult for him. I smiled in return, and we were photographed. That’s all!”
“If we talk about the pressure of Arnold, his desire to always be the first. – Zan continues, – these qualities annoyed many. However, at the same time, Arnold was very charming. Not a single bodybuilder has ever heard a single bad word from him in his address.
To all of us, no matter what place we occupy in the table of ranks, he was emphatically respectful. He won a competition where he did not have a single worthy opponent, and then he said in an interview: I am happy that I managed to win this tournament …”
“All these years I watched with great pleasure how Arnold Schwarzenegger trains and rises higher and higher in life. Says Frank Zahn. – I think he will not be offended if I give out the main secret of his success, which he once shared with me. Once he told me: Something always happens in life, but you shouldn’t rush to stick labels that this is, they say, good, and this is bad. It all depends on how you are able to use the experience gained. Usually, when some kind of drama occurs in a person’s life, he freaks out or sheds tears in vain. Personally, when something happens to me, I always sit down and think about what positive lesson I can learn, so that I can then definitely apply it in practice. As a result, everything, both good and bad, works for my further growth …”
How Did Arnold Schwarzenegger Manage to Defeat Frank Zane?
“Arnold Schwarzenegger, of course, knew what a big role diet plays in our business, but in those days he clearly underestimated this factor. He believed that the main thing in a set of competitive form is still hard training. Once, on the very eve of Olympia, we had breakfast with him in a cafe. I counted every calorie I ate in my head. Well, Arnold suddenly said: “You know. Frank, it makes no difference what you eat. Anyway, everything in the stomach will mix. ” And then he filled a tray with a whole bunch of “unhealthy” food like fried potatoes, sweet buns, etc. As a result, he went to the Olympia podium looking like a huge fat seal. Well, my “relief” was exemplary!”
What is The Secret of Muscle Definition?
“It’s true, we didn’t know that for the sake of ‘relief’ we need to pedal a bicycle ergometer. We ran along the beach from time to time, but only for the sake of maintaining our overall health. Today bodybuilders lose fat with long jogging, and I’m honestly surprised that aerobics has become an integral part of bodybuilding. In our years, we all relied on diet. In the offseason, no one overeats, as it was an honor to always be in good shape. Before the competition, we trained a lot – two or even three times a day. And a small accumulated fat burned without a trace.”