Check out the full notes for Arnold: The education of a bodybuilder
I picked up “Arnold: The education of a bodybuilder” yesterday after seeing it in David Perell’s newsletter. He said he devoured it in a few days. I started reading it and can see why. Very fun read so far. Some quick ramblings.
- It was published before the internet was a thing — The book was published in 1993 and he’s writing about the 70s so it just doesn’t resemble today at all. There’s just things like how he’s in London for a bodybuilding competition and he can barely speak English so he just repeats the hotel name over and over. (He gets to that hotel but, of course, there’s another with the same name that he’s supposed to go to.) Cell phones solve a lot of problems. But not back then.
- Arnold had a vision and a mission: become Mr. Universe — He becomes obsessed with bodybuilding early on and has the goal to become Mr. Universe. He tried team sports and different individual sports but didn’t love them the way he loved lifting weights. And then with lifting weights, he also tried Olympic limping but didnt’ love it the way he loved bodybuilding.
- A lot of hard work (and of course some luck) — He acknowledges that he was blessed with good genetics: a “perfect metabolism”. But he worked incredibly hard pretty much from the start of his bodybuilding career. 8-mile trek to the gym when he lived with his parents, 6 hours of working out in the army, then his AM/PM split with each workout being 2 hours.
- Learning mindset: you don’t know what you don’t know — Early on he mentions reading as much as he could from magazines. Learning about American bodybuilders who become movie stars. Then he learns from the older men he started lifting weights with. Then on his trip to bodybuilding competitions he tries to absorb what he can with limited English. The main lesson he learns: he has a whole lot more to learn.
- His body is a sculpture, shaped over years — A part that sticks out to me is that he’s super happy about gaining 5 pounds in 3 months. This is a bodybuilder Mt. Rushmore guy and that’s the type of growth he is happy about. You’d probably be able to find that kind of promise on a magazine cover. It just made me think about the ridiculous expectations I have with results when working out vs. how long it actually takes. (That said, I definitely don’t work out hard enough and use age and injury prevention as a little too much of an excuse. Gotta find the right balance.)
Oh yeah he also had this quote:
“People who would never benefit from what I told them kept taking my time. 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. And there was so much I wanted to do with those wasted hours.”
It was great because I read it while walking on a treadmill at 3.0 (but with a 1% incline baby!!!!)