The Most Influential Figure in the History of Bodybuilding - Arnold Schwarzenegger
Before the glamorous triumphal procession of a self-confident Austrian, bodybuilding represented a largely unknown subculture, without any noteworthy social acceptance or economic significance. During his playing career, Mr. Olympia's prize money increased twenty-five times. Soon after, fitness and bodybuilding became serious industries, and millions and millions of men around the world began to steel their bodies in sprouting gym. We take a look back at Arnold Schwarzenegger's incomparable sporting career and the resulting social influence.
Arnold was born in the summer of 1947 in a small Austrian town near Graz. Although large parts of Europe were badly affected by the recently ended war, the sports-loving boy grew up in a middle-class family - his father was the local police chief. In his early youth, Arnold was reportedly an extremely talented footballer, who, however, caught the weight training fever at the age of 14 after he had access to a kind of makeshift gym as part of a training camp.
After meeting Kurt Marnul, the founder of what was probably the first real bodybuilding studio in all of Austria (which, however, still slumbered under the guise of weightlifting, as it was almost impossible to get a sports facility for a club, which at best was the one in Western Europe devoted to the sport of bodybuilding with a smile on his face), the career of the future world star slowly moved into its childhood shoes. Arnold joined the Athletic Union Graz and got to know common training methods and other basics of sport.
Legendary stories about break-ins in the studio on weekends - sports clubs were not yet allowed to work outside of working days - illustrate how serious the ambitious young athlete has always been in achieving his goals. Bodybuilding-born film stars like Reg Park or Steve Reeves encouraged Arnold to become the greatest bodybuilder of all time. The young Austrian was so persistent that Kurt Marnul finally managed to get a special permit for his exceptional talent - the future film star was allowed to train alone in the studio on Saturdays and Sundays.
Arnold did his military service at the age of 17. This circumstance implied that he was not allowed to leave his homeland. However, when he was given the opportunity to take part in the International Junior Championship in Stuttgart in 1965, he stole away and won his first major title as a bodybuilder abroad. In addition, immediately after the competition, he got to know the juror and businessman Rolf Putzinger, who offered him the opportunity to work as a trainer in his Munich studio after his military service and, at the same time, to train under optimal conditions - for European conditions at the time. In addition, he first met the Italian weightlifter and later two-time Mr. Olympia Franco Columbu, with whom he would live and train in the USA a few years later for a longer period of time.
Back in Austria, the conscript was initially punished for his misstep and had to stay in prison for a good week. When high-ranking officials found out about the victory, however, he was pardoned and given all his support in his plan to become an internationally successful bodybuilder. Until the end of his military service, Arnold was allowed to devote himself to training with weights.
The later governor of California then actually moved to Munich, worked as a trainer in Rolf Putzinger's Herkules studio and devoted himself to a training session both before and after his shift. Arnold established the aforementioned routine of two split workouts years later in the legendary Gold's Gym and was supposed to catapult conventional volume training into completely new dimensions.
In 1966, at the age of 19, Arnold took part in the European version of the NABBA Amateur World Championship in London ("Mr. Universum") and took second place. So that the talent could start the journey, sponsors such as his later best man Albert Busek, the then incumbent Mr. Germany Reinhard Smolana and other training partners were ready to support the Austrian financially. During the aforementioned trip to England, Arnold was very fortunate to meet his idol Reg Park in a studio in East London. The British bodybuilder and actor took the time to do a workout and a joint posing with the Austrian and even years after his active bodybuilding career had ended, Arnold often emphasized the great influence said encounter had on his future career.
After his unexpectedly high placement, the later action star came back to Munich highly motivated, and thanks to some modifications to the training routines, he improved his appearance again in the coming months and achieved overall victory the following year - as a twenty-year-old and thus the youngest athlete of all Times.
Reg Park then offered the new European model bodybuilder to accompany him through England and Ireland as part of a few shows. Arnold enthusiastically accepted and was suddenly forced to communicate in English and speak to hundreds of people via microphone. In addition, he learned to appreciate the charismatic and always positive aura of his new mentor and took the actor, who became world-famous through the role of Hercules, as a role model. The Austrian was even allowed to go on a three-week trip to South Africa, the adopted home of his great idol.
In 1968 Arnold had to compete as the reigning amateur world champion with the professionals and again secured the title of European (NABBA) Mr. Universe. There was a certain Joe Weider in the audience looking for European talent. The American businessman and co-host of the two big competitions of the IFBB competition association, Mr. Olympia and (IFBB-) Mr. Universum, offered the Austrian to travel to the USA immediately after the competition and take part in the IFBB's Mr. Universum Show.
Olympia Frank Zane. He was then signed by Joe Weider - in addition to his work as an organizer of competitions, Joe published a few bodybuilding magazines and already sold a few dietary supplements - and from then on he was based in California. The first few months he trained in Vince Gironda's gym, which was a little remote in the San Fernando Valley. But at the latest after his move to Venice Beach, the then Mecca of physical culture, the legend of Arnold's reign in Gold's Gym was born.
The Austrian made friends with his new training partners very quickly. Qualities such as openness, self-humor and a radiance of pure zest for life were reported to have helped the Austrian immediately after his arrival to establish himself surprisingly quickly among the other athletes despite a notable language barrier. At the latest after the arrival of Franco Columbu - Arnold convinced Joe Weider to let the talented Italian fly to the USA - the Austrian was surrounded by friends.
In 1969 Arnold finally won the NABBA's European Mr. Universe title as well as the IFBB trophy and competed in the subsequent Mr. Olympia competition in New York City. A few years earlier, the said competition had been introduced to hold a showdown between the different Mr. Universes and to determine the ultimate winner (but as early as 1971 the IFBB excluded all athletes who started in parallel for another association and also established themselves with it this measure as the sole umbrella organization). The winner of the past two years, a Cuban exile named Sergio Oliva, just got the upper hand and was crowned Mr. Olympia for the third time in a row.
Arnold then asked the Cuban to train together. He visited Sergio in Chicago and lifted irons with his competitor. As before during the joint workouts with Reg Park, the Austrian accepted the alternative approach of the more successful athlete and was impressed to see how positively his muscles reacted to the unknown stimuli. After this valuable experience at the latest, the Austrian established his training principle "Shock the muscle".
Reg Park trained with significantly more weight and fewer repetitions than Arnold in 1966. Sergio Oliva, on the other hand, devoted himself to significantly more sentences in 1969 than the conventional three and experimented with supersets, for example. The Austrian was probably also influenced by other training partners. In any case, at the end of the sixties he introduced the said “shock the muscle” principle in Gold's Gym: Supersets, pyramid training, triple sets, changing - and therefore often extremely short - pauses between sets and many other new ideas refined this Bodybuilders volume training. The main thing was to give the muscles new and preferably unknown stimuli to stimulate stronger growth.
The European had previously established his famous “split routine”, ie dividing the training day into a morning and an afternoon workout, in the top California studio. Whatever ideas Arnold came around the corner with, Franco Columbu, Mike Katz, Serge Nubret and numerous other top Californian athletes of the seventies always enthusiastically followed. After all, the Austrian was the most successful athlete of all and also had a certain talent for convincing people of his cause.
In 1970 Arnold's great triumphal procession followed: In the competition for the title of Mr. Universe, he defeated his great idol Reg Park, among other things, and was once again crowned Europe's bodybuilding king, and he didn't give his competition a chance in the USA either. The greatest challenges were probably once again the duels with Sergio Oliva, but this time the self-confident Austrian got the upper hand. Europe's Mr. Universe, North America's Mr. World (as a winner you were initially not allowed to compete again in the IFBB-Mr. Universe, which is considered an amateur competition, which is why Arnold and Sergio simply reported to the counterpart to Mr. America, the Mr. World because they had not won this yet) and finally Mr. Olympia - the Austrian could defeat anyone who stood in his way.
Incidentally, Arnold did not finance the first few years of his overseas adventure solely from the sponsorship contract with Joe Weider. He worked as a bartender, founded a design office (“European Brickwork”) together with his friend Franco and at times kept himself afloat with other small jobs. He also attended community college and later took English and acting classes to prepare for a career after working as a bodybuilder. Arnold was a workaholic, extremely determined and self-confident - to this day, according to the latest statements from the Terminator, nothing has changed.
A good example of Arnold's willingness to devote himself to new projects is an anecdote from 1970. The Austrian had just won the title of Mr. Olympia for the first time and was so pleased with the organization of the event that he unceremoniously approached organizer Jim Lorimer and informed him that he wanted to organize competitions after the end of his active career. At first Jim didn't really take the Austrian seriously, and when Arnold called him five years later to make his announcement true, the businessman was amazed. The facts that Jim and Arnold already hosted the Mr. Olympia competition side by side in the following year (1976) and that the Arnold Classic competitions, which were introduced in the late 1980s, can hardly be surpassed in prestige to this day, testify to the enormous success of said business relationship.