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Arnold Schwarzenegger Training in the Gym: History and Philosophy

written by: Angela Atkinson • edited by: KJ Fitness,Ink • updated: 5/18/2011

Have you always wanted a body like Arnold Schwarzenegger had in his bodybuilding prime? Here, learn Schwarzenegger's bodybuilding secrets, including why he feels that fitness is important for both body and mind.

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    Arnold Schwarzenegger: Brief History of Bodybuilding Career

    In addition to his current political career, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is a veteran actor and perhaps most notably a legendary bodybuilder. His professional bodybuilding career began in 1968 when he made the move from Austria to the United States at the age of 21.

    Since he was self-conscious of his thick accent and didn’t know anyone, Schwarzenegger began to spend his free time at the now famous Gold’s Gym. There, he met workout buddies like pro wrestler Ric Drasin and started working out on a very intense level.

    Within just two years, Schwarzenegger achieved the title of Mr. Olympia, which he went on to win an additional six times.

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    Schwarzenegger, The Bodybuilder

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    Arnold Schwarzenegger: Bodybuilding Philosophy

    According to fitness specialist Ian Lee, Schwarzenegger’s philosophy in bodybuilding was much the same as his philosophy to life: all or nothing. His approach, says Lee, was more mental than physical.

    Schwarzenegger himself was once asked to define his success, to which he replied, “The secret is to make your mind work for you -- not against you."

    His workout philosophy was more practical. Ian Lee says that Schwarzenegger frowned upon the belief that bodybuilding success was all about gaining mass. In fact, Lee affirms, Schwarzenegger felt that correct form and execution was more important than strict routines.

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    Arnold Schwarzenegger Training in the Gym: Tips for the Body and Mind

    Schwarzenegger stuck to a very strict training regimen during his bodybuilding years. He worked out every day, and sometimes even twice a day.

    Ian Lee reports that Schwarzenegger liked to do forced repetitions and pyramids, which he did by adding weight with each set. And, says Lee, he would do 6 to 10 reps per set in general, but to break through plateaus, would do 20 sets for each muscle group.

    Schwarzenegger often reminded beginning bodybuilders to focus on every body part, not just specific muscles. He knew from his own experience that this could cause problems. When he first moved to the United States, his upper body was quite muscular and large, while his legs were still very thin—causing an unnatural looking physique.

    Schwarzenegger is said to have worn only pants to hide this little flaw, until one day when he changed his mind. It occurred to him that hiding his legs wasn’t helping him to fix the problem—so he started wearing shorts immediately.

    Putting it all out there seemed to work for him, since he ended his bodybuilding career with calves that were called legendary.

    Schwarzenegger’s advice, then, is to “face your flaws." By doing so, Schwarzenegger believes, you can overcome them with ease.

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