Five Reasons Arnold Schwarzenegger Became The Most Successful Bodybuilder Of All Time
By all accounts Arnold Schwarzenegger is hugely successful. His life began in a rural little village in Austria. One of his most celebrated childhood moments is when his family got a refrigerator. Though he grew up in a poor and abusive environment, he went on to become a millionaire (before ever making a movie), a movie star, a politician and the most successful bodybuilders of all time.
Arnold’s life story is an amazing tale, and his autobiography is well worth reading. I actually first learned about his life story from this book. I listened to it as an audiobook while lifting weights at the gym. It was one of the most inspirational fitness books I have read and played a big role in pushing me to being a more consistent and informed weight lifter.
If you read about Schwarzenegger’s life, you see that he has very distinct personality traits that helped him become a success. The following is a list of specific examples from Schwarzenegger’s life, showing why he was able to achieve greatness. These are some things you might not have known about Arnold Schwarzenegger.
He Was Obsessed
Schwarzenegger started lifting weights while a teenager. His first exposure to weight lifting and bodybuilding was through magazines and a few older boys who were into weight lifting. Naturally an athlete, Schwarzenegger quickly gave up soccer and began to focus solely on bodybuilding. He learned as much as he could about gym routines and techniques and hung out with older boys who showed him how to properly lift weights.
Soon Schwarzenegger was going to the local gym every day. He would break in to the gym to work out on weekends when the gym was closed. In his own words “It would make me sick to miss a workout… I knew I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror the next morning if I didn’t do it. “
His obsession led him to do research, find mentors and work as hard as possible.
He was also obsessed with winning. Later on in life he would use every tool he could to win. He would use mind games with fellow bodybuilders. He nonchalantly mentioned a body part that his competitor might be struggling with, and used that to get into the head of the competitor. The competitor would then stress and focus on something Arnold said, throwing the competitor off his game. Most bodybuilders used only their bodies as tool for winning. Arnold used every tool he could find, because he was obsessed with being the best.
He Took Risks
Arnold joined the military for one year, as was required of every 18 year old at the time. That same year he was scheduled to take part in his first real bodybuilding competition, the Junior Mr. Europe contest. He attempted to get leave from the military, but his requests were denied. So Arnold took a chance and illegally left his military base and took part in the competition.
Going AWOL from military service is a serious offense and Arnold spent a week in jail upon his return to the military base. This was a serious risk and Schwarzenegger could have had a much harsher punishment. But he knew that bodybuilding was his dream and his future, and at the time he felt it was worth the risk.
Even getting into bodybuilding in the first place was a huge risk. Schwarzenegger is naturally athletic, and had a chance to do well in a more popular sport such as soccer. At the time that Schwarzenegger was a teenager, bodybuilding was a much smaller sport than it is now. There were few professional bodybuilders and most of the general public did not know anything about the sport. It was a risk to even pressure something as obscure as bodybuilding.
One reason the pursuit of bodybuilding did pay of is the role Schwarzenegger himself played on popularizing the sport.
He Did Not Let Others Deter Him
As mentioned, bodybuilding was not a common sport. There were plenty of people in Schwarzenegger’s life who did not understand his goals. They thought that he had some crazy dreams that would never work out, and instead told him to focus on the “real world” which was his village life in Austria.
One was in which Arnold motivated himself was by putting up posters of bodybuilders on the walls of his room. This worried his parents. Other boys had pictures of beautiful women, while Arnold had posters of half-naked men. His mother called a doctor to ask what was wrong with Arnold. His father physically beat him. But Arnold did not let this stop him from perusing his dreams. He later admitted that when people told him he could not do something, they drove him even harder. He wanted to rebel against the naysayers and show them that they were wrong.
He Was Focused
Being obsessed is one thing, being focused is another. To be focused, one must have clear goals and a clear path to achieve those goals. Schwarzenegger was not only obsessed with bodybuilding, he also had specific goals in mind. He made out specific plans and paths to reaching those goals.
He knew that he wanted to move to the United States and make lots of money. Growing up poor, this was an ultimate goal of his. He knew that the best way for him to make it to the United States was through bodybuilding. He set a specific path to win bodybuilding competitions. He won smaller competitions, to be able to qualify for larger competitions and eventually went on to be the youngest ever Mr. Universe at the age of 20.
His bodybuilding career saw him moving first to London and then to the United States to train with the world’s best bodybuilders. In 1968 at the age of 21, Schwarzenegger achieved one of his greatest life goals, and made it to the United States. Bodybuilding was the path to get there. From that point he continued to use bodybuilding for its own sake, becoming the sport’s greatest star. He also used bodybuilding as a springboard to other successes.
Before he ever became an actor, Schwarzenegger became a millionaire. He started a bricklaying business and hired fellow bodybuilders to work for him. When potential customers saw how big and strong the bricklayers were, they were happy to hire Schwarzenegger’s team. From there he was able to invest in real estate and was soon a millionaire. Again, Schwarzenegger had a goal of becoming rich, and he realized the steps needed to reach that goal.
Acting is just another example of this. When he first tried to become an actor, no one wanted to hire a guy with the last name Schwarzenegger and a thick accent. But Arnold persevered, and is now more well known for his active career than anything else he has done.
He Enjoys What He Does
Arnold used bodybuilding for even greater goals. If it was not for bodybuilding he would likely not have even made it to the US, let alone become a rich and successful actor and politician. But he genuinely loves and enjoys bodybuilding and all types of fitness. This is clear in how strongly he has pushed for fitness programs in politics. Arnold is no longer a politician, yet he continues to support fitness programs in schools and across the country. He does this simply because he cares and loves fitness.
Arnold is also responsible for helping bodybuilding become much more popular than it used to be. He used his fame to spread bodybuilding around the world. He is famous for saying that the pump one gets from lifting weights is better than sex. This is an exaggeration. He has admitted that he used to say outlandish things like that to help get publicity for the sport and help grow the sport of bodybuilding. And it worked. As Arnold’s fame grew, so did that of bodybuilding, and vice versa. But he also really cared about the sport.
Arnold continues to do things that show that he clearly enjoys his life and all the things that he has done in the past. He is well known for being a Redditor and talking to fans on the site. He does not do this through a publicist and is not advertising anything specific. He simply enjoys interacting with his fans.