Founders

#193 Arnold Schwarzenegger (his first autobiography)

Episode Summary

What I learned from reading Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Episode Notes

What I learned from reading Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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I knew I was going to be a bodybuilder. It wasn't simply that either. I would be the best bodybuilder in the world, the greatest.

I'm not exactly sure why I chose bodybuilding, except that I loved it. I loved it from the first moment my fingers closed around a barbell and I felt the challenge and exhilaration of hoisting the heavy steel plates above my head.

The only time I really felt rewarded was when I was singled out as being best.

I had it tougher than a lot of my companions because I wanted more, I demanded more of myself.

I was literally addicted.

I learned that this pain meant progress. Each time my muscles were sore from a workout, I knew they were growing.

I could not have chosen a less popular sport. My school friends thought I was crazy. But I didn't care. My only thoughts were of  going ahead, building muscles and more muscles.

I remember certain people trying to put negative thoughts into my mind, trying to persuade me to slow down. But I had found the thing to which I wanted to devote my total energies and there was no stopping me.

My drive was unusual, I talked differently than my friends; I was hungrier for success than anyone I knew.

Reg Park looked so magnificent in the role of Hercules I was transfixed. And, sitting there in the theater, I knew that was going to be me. I would look like Reg Park. I studied every move he made. From that point on, my life was utterly dominated by Reg Park. His image was my ideal. It was fixed indelibly in my mind.

I had this insatiable drive to get there sooner. Whereas most people were satisfied to train two or three times a week, I quickly escalated my program to six workouts a week.

With my desire and my drive, I definitely wasn't normal. Normal people can be happy with a regular life. I was different. I felt there was more to life than just plodding through an average existence. 

I'd always been impressed by stories of greatness and power. Caesar, Charlemagne, Napoleon were names I knew and remembered. I wanted to do something special, to be recognized as the best.

My dreams went beyond a spectacular body. Once I had that, I knew what it would do for me. I'd get into the movies and build gymnasiums all over the world. I'd create an empire.

This inspired me to work even harder. When I felt my lungs burning as though they would burst and my veins bulging with blood, I loved it. I knew then that I was growing, making one more step toward becoming like Reg Park. I wanted that body and I didn't care what I had to go through to get it.

My weight room was not heated, so naturally in cold weather it was freezing. I didn't care. I trained without heat, even on days when the temperature went below zero.

From the beginning, I was a believer in the basic movements.

Most of the people I knew didn't really understand what I was doing at all.

My mind was totally locked into working out, and I was annoyed if anything took me away from it.

I started this practice early in my career and continued it for as long as it served to help me maintain a clear focus and drive myself toward a fixed point.

In two or three years I had actually been able to change my body entirely. That told me something. If I had been able to change my body that much, I could also, through the same discipline and determination, change anything else I wanted.

I know that if you can change your diet and exercise program to give yourself a different body, you can apply the same principles to anything else.

Every day I hear someone say, "I'm too fat. I need to lose twenty-five pounds, but I can't. I never seem to improve." I'd hate myself if I had that kind of attitude, if I were that weak.

By observing the principles of strict discipline that bodybuilding taught me, I can prepare myself for anything.

My desire to build my body and be Mr. Universe was totally beyond their comprehension. 

I listened only to my inner voice, my instincts.

Even people's ideas were small. There was too much contentment, too much acceptance of things as they'd always been.

I felt I was already one of the best in the world. Obviously, I wasn't even in the top 5,000; but in my mind I was the best.

At that point my own thinking was tuned in to only one thing: becoming Mr. Universe. In my own mind, I was Mr. Universe; I had this absolutely clear vision of myself up on the dais with the trophy. It was only a matter of time before the whole world would be able to see it too. And it made no difference to me how much I had to struggle to get there.

They paid and came to the gym. But it was a disgusting, superficial effort on their part. They merely went through the motions, doing sissy workouts, pampering themselves.

I went right down the line, trying to figure out who I might beat. I got to eighth or ninth place and figured I might have a chance if I tried hard enough. It was a loser's way of looking at it. I defeated myself before I even entered, before I'd even completed the year's training. But I was young. I hadn't yet pulled together my ideas about positive thinking and the powers of the mind over the muscles.

Once I was over the initial disappointment of losing, I began trying to understand exactly why I had lost. I tried to be honest, to analyze it fairly. I still had some serious weaknesses. For me, that was a real turning point.

I was relying on one thing. What I had more than anyone else was drive. I was hungrier than anybody. I wanted it so badly it hurt. I knew there could be no one else in the world who wanted this title as much as I did.

I had thought perhaps he had some special exercises, but that wasn’t true. He concentrated on the standard exercises. That was his "secret" —concentration.

Being around Yorton [the winner] backstage for a few minutes made me painfully aware of my own shortcomings.

They asked when I was going to get a real job, when I was going to become stable. "Is this what we raised," they asked, "a bum?"

I continued doing precisely what I knew I needed to do. In my mind, there was only one possibility for me and that was to go to the top, to be the best. Everything else was just a means to that end.

If I expected to make it big in the field, I had to become a showman.

I had a photographer take pictures at least once a month. I studied each shot with a magnifying glass.

I started training in an area where there were no distractions. That gave me enough time to concentrate and find out what bodybuilding was really all about.

I was determined and constant. I never wanted to pause or stop training.

I sacrificed a lot of things most bodybuilders didn’t want to give up. I just didn't care, I wanted to win more than anything. And whatever it took to do it, I did.

You are a winner, Arnold. I wrote this down and put it where I would see it. I repeated it a dozen times a day.

I had lists and charts of the things I needed to concentrate on pasted all over. I looked at them every day before I began working out. It became a twenty-four-hour-a-day job; I had to think about it all the time.

We made it a regular thing. We brought girls out there to cook. We made a fire outdoors and turned the whole thing into a little contest. We worked hard but we had a good time. After the muscle-shocking sessions we drank wine and beer and got drunk and carried on like the old-time weight lifters back in the 1800s or early 1900s. Sometimes it became pure insanity.

It was a great time. We cooked shish kebab, sat around the fire, and made love. We got into this trip that we were gladiators, male animals. We swam naked out in nature, had all this food, wine and women; we ate like animals and acted like animals. We got off on it so much it became a weekly routine-eating fresh meat and drinking wine and exercising.

It's important that you like what you do, and we loved it.

They weren't mentally prepared for intensive championship training; they weren't thinking about it. I knew the secret: Concentrate while you're training. Do not allow other thoughts to enter your mind.

When I went to the gym I got rid of every alien thought in my mind.

I knew that if I went in there concerned about bills or girls and let myself think about those things I'd make only marginal progress.

It was then I started seriously analyzing what happens to the body when the mind is tuned in, how important a positive attitude is.

53. I began looking at the difference between me and other bodybuilders. The biggest difference was that most bodybuilders did not think I'm going to be a winner. They never allowed themselves to think in those terms. I would hear them complaining while they were training, “Oh, no, not another set!" Most of the people I observed couldn't make astonishing advances because they never had faith in themselves.

They had a hazy picture of what they wanted to look like someday, but they doubted they could realize it. That destroyed them. It's always been my belief that if you're training for nothing, you're wasting your effort. Ultimately, they didn't put out the kind of effort I did because they didn't feel they had a chance to make it, And of course, starting with that premise, they didn't.

You talk yourself into it. You tell yourself you are going to be the hero.

I came in second. That did a little number on my mind. I went away from the auditorium overwhelmed, crushed. I remember the words that kept going through my head: "I'm away from home, in this strange city, in America, and I'm a loser." I cried all night because of it. I had disappointed all my friends, everybody, especially myself. It was awful. I felt it was the end of the world.

Business fascinates me. I get caught up in the whole idea that it's a game to make money and to make money make more money.

Now I had to reach out to the general public, to people who knew nothing about bodybuilding, and educate them to the benefits of weight training.

Working in the same way I had to build my body, I wanted to create an empire. I felt I was equipped to go ahead with my own enterprises.

I've come to realize that almost anything difficult, any challenge, takes time, patience and hard work, like building up for a 300-pound bench press. Learning that gave me plenty of positive energy to use later on. I taught myself discipline. I could apply that discipline to everyday life.

Gradually a conflict grew up in our relationship. She was a well-balanced woman who wanted an ordinary, solid life, and I was not a well-balanced man and hated the very idea of ordinary life. She had thought I would settle down, that I would reach the top in my field and level off. But that's a concept that has no place in my thinking. For me, life is continuously being hungry. The meaning of life is not simply to exist, to survive, but to move ahead, to go up, to achieve, to conquer.

The same with business. I'm so determined to make millions of dollars that I cannot fail. In my mind I've already made the millions; now it's just a matter of going through the motions.

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