Check out the full notes for Arnold: The education of a bodybuilder
This morning I’m trying a mushroom coffee with powdered MCT oil. I rarely do hot coffee but I’ve also been drinking way too much coffee so maybe going hot for some will slow it down a bit. Let’s see how the writing goes.
As I mentioned a few days ago, I want to go through good material more rather than trying to find more new material. But I also just haven’t really nailed down what I want to focus on learning. Doing a little too much exploring.
There are benefits to generalism and exploration. But there’s always a second part to it.
Explore then exploit. Generalize but with short term specialization.
It could be worth switching a few times before focusing. From David Epstein’s Range:
For professionals who did switch, whether they specialized early or late, switching was a good idea. “You lose a good fraction of your skills, so there’s a hit,” Malamud said, “but you do actually have higher growth rates after switching.” Regardless of when specialization occurred, switchers capitalized on experience to identify better matches.
Arnold Schwarzenegger knew the posing routine was critical to winning bodybuilding competitions. He wanted to look graceful. He had one of the smoothest posing routines among his bodybuilding peers, so he looked elsewhere to learn more about posing technique.
What’d he specialize in? Ballet.
I went to a dancer at UCLA and started taking ballet lessons to further improve my posing. This dancer showed me how to move my hands gracefully, when a hand should be opened and when it should be closed. We talked about what a fist represents, what an open hand represents, how you should move for the greatest impact, using your hands as a signal. For instance, if you start a circular movement you should open your hand, and if you come down in a sweeping movement you should close it in a fist.
If you’ve seen Pumping Iron, the documentary about the 1975 Mr. Olympia competition (spoiler: Arnold wins), you might remember brutal workouts and Arnold being sort of a jerk (but a charismatic one!) to his competitors.
But the very first shot is of Arnold and Franco Columbu with ballerinas.
Arnold became the best bodybuilder in any room of bodybuilders. So he looked for other rooms where he could be a curious novice.