Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Bodybuilding Seminar

The following piece of bodybuilding history was published in ‘Muscle Up’ (1980 June). Bodybuilding reporter ‘Dean Camenares’ visited Arnold’s seminar. It’s a must read! Arnold talks about mind set, steroids and training!!! – Mr. Berg

Arnold’s Brooklyn Bodybuilding Clinic 
“Ever wish you could be face to face with your favorite bodybuilder and ask him just about everything you could think of concerning your physical development?

Well, on Saturday, December 8, 1979, some lucky individuals did just that when Arnold Schwarzenegger came to Brooklyn, New York, to hold his first New York-area training seminar at John Barbero’s Bath Beach Bodybuilding Gym.

For the aspiring bodybuilder who paid $35 for the privilege of meeting his idol, the event surely was a memorable one. Beyond that, some real “hard core” training advice was offered by Arnold that could, as he put it, “correct your bodybuilding mistakes.” The theme of the seminar was that by understanding your body, and how its muscles inter-relate, you can “change your body in a short period of time.”

After the usual flurry of activity at his arrival, and after the obligatory photos and autographs, Arnold took a quick tour of the gym and gave some helpful comments to a few of those training at the time. This was well-received by the crowd of local fans. Schwarzenegger then made his way to the private seminar room, where a waiting audience of perhaps one hundred gave him a warm greeting. He then began his seminar.

“Women should participate in sports just as much as men,” he began, and then went into a short talk on the importance of women in sports. By and large, this part of his talk went unappreciated. The two or three women in the audience did seem to enjoy his remarks, however. But Arnold soon caught the spirit of the entire audience with his confident, off-the-cuff manner of speaking. 

The makeshift stage from which Arnold spoke was fitted with various benches, barbells and dumbbells and he utilized them to demonstrate some of the techniques to which he referred. He looked lean and well-tanned and although he wore a jogging suit, his impressive physique was clearly visible. When, later, he stripped down to his T-shirt, revealing his very athletic upper body with its great symmetry, the crowd gasped and applauded. In no way, though, did he possess his well-known massiveness of years ago; he now weighed in at only about 210 pounds.

The substance of Arnold’s talk was directed towards the trainee who seeks to develop himself into competition material. To this end, Arnold proposed ideas that seemed to be new to the crowd. He briefly mentioned some of the routines of other stars like Franke Zane, Robby Robbinson, and Franco Columbo, and made comments on each. While he spoke on a multitude of subjects and covered points about how to develop each body part, some of his more important ideas follow.

According to Arnold, the best way to build a super physique is to utilize what he termed the “shocking principle.” In practice, this means exercising the muscles so hard and so long that they are actually forced to grow. So instead of three or four sets per body part, Arnold suggests performing ten to fifteen sets or ten to twelve reps per body part on the average.

This, he claimed, will force the muscles to respond by getting larger, quicker. He, for instance, trained his calves “with up to 1.000 pounds,” seven days a week. Of course, he stated that you must know your own physical capabilities and provide for the proper amount of recovery time you need per body part as well.

Schwarzenegger seemed to startle the audience when he stated, “Bulking and definition are solely functions of diet.” He also said that muscle size is not related to the number of sets or reps one performs. The audience couldn’t quite accept this, it seemed, and a number of questions were thrown at Arnold. Although he attempted to, he couldn’t satisfactorily answer them. Interestingly, on other questions about nutrition, he revealed a lack of knowledge about the body’s chemistry, and confessed that he had someone plan his entire nutrition program because he didn’t like “to bother with it.”

When it came down to the questions of steroids, Schwarzenegger very artfully sidestepped any indication of how prevalent their usage is or what effect they have on the body. He saw justifiable reasons for their use, but did say that their inclusion in a “normal” training program was “stupid.”

When working body parts, Arnold’s advice is to never work the same part with two different exercises. He feels that the workout should concentrate enough intensity in one type of movement to be sufficient. He did recommend, however, that you be sure to work the different aspects of each body part: i.e., the three heads of the deltoid, or the four areas of the abdomen. Use of exercise variation helps work these parts.

Here is Arnold’s own “countdown program” for the eight weeks he claims it takes him to get into contest form.

Phase one – 8 sets per body part, 4 times a week. 
Phase two – 12 sets per body part, 4 times a week
Phase three – 15 sets per, 6 times a week
Phase four – 15 – 20 sets per, twice daily, 6 times a week.

What a workout!

At the end of two and a half hours, and with all questions asked, Arnold’s seminar came to a close. For the participants, it was personal instruction from Arnold himself, and for that, they gave him a hearty round of thankful applause.

Arnold put it all together for them when he said, “Train effectively, train hard…How far you go depends on how hungry you are!”

Note by neckberg: You may be wondering about the low price for entering Arnold’s seminar in the end of the 70s! Only 35 dollars! I did some research and Arnold became an international star with ‘The Terminator’ (1984). Today Arnold is quite well known as a bodybuilder veteran and movie star and I would guess you have to pay thousands $$$$ to enter some of his seminars. 

source:
photo thumbnail; uncredited. But I would guess Bob Gruskin.
Left: John Barbero (beach owner), right: His dad

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