The Mr. Olympia is the most prestigious and highest paid competition in the world of bodybuilding. After winning it, you’ll get money, sponsor ships and your fanbase on the social media will grow heavily.
It’s quite interesting that almost every Mr. Olympia is also a successful business man. Dorian Yates, with his supplement company, Lee Haney with his speaking seminars and Schwarzenegger as a political force and actor.
We can learn from these greats and adapt their golden ways into our own daily routines to become a better person and athlete. And so in this article I analyzed the golden and hard road of every Mr. Olympia Winner! Here I’ll mix up bodybuilding successes with the economic wins.
How It All Began (1)
Joe Weider, American entrepreneur and publisher of various magazines, is the founder of the highest paid bodybuilding championship, the Mr. OLYMPIA. Weider also developed the popular training principles, the ‘WEIDER’S PRINCIPLES’ and made a name for himself as the trainer of champions.
Does Joe have a bachelor degree in business administration or nutrition?
No, he dropped school at the age of 12, but the most influential tool for his success was working hard, reading and adapting!
From whom did Weider get the inspiration and money for his concept? Did Joe Weider have an investor aka an angel investor?
Joe Weider was born on November 29, 1919, and grew up in Canada. At the age of 13 he weighed around 110 pounds (50Kg) at a height of 5 feet 11 inches. In school sports, he excelled in running, but compared to his classmates, he lacked strength and involuntarily became a target of bullying.
The young Joe Weider owes his first contact with the world of muscle to author George F. Jowett. He published courses and books about the strength athletes of both the American and European continents and developed his famous training principles based on those strongman from that time period.
Jowett’s courses were best-sellers in the field of strength training. For example his booklet “Molding Mighty Muscles” sold 25 million copies over the counter for 25 cents each, which would be $7.00 in today’s dollars.
Joe Weider came from a poor background, and to purchase a set of Jowett’s courses, he had to work hard as a messenger. He invested his first earnings in buying George F Jowett’s booklets.
Joe Weider was more of a shy and introverted boy, and kept his passion for strength training a secret. Silently and secretly he followed the training instructions of Jowett.
At a magazine stand, Joe discovered the first muscle magazine called “Strength” published by Milo Barbell Co.’s.
Joe read a lot and also dreamed of publishing his own magazine. At the age of 12 he was expelled from school and from then on had to do hard physical labor, but he never gave up on his dreams.
His budget was limited and he got the necessary weights from the scrap yard and welded the necessary training utensils with the help of a blacksmith. He would use pipes as dumbbells and attach the necessary weights.
Weider underwent an incredible transformation and added 25 kilos of muscle mass.
In 1938, when he was 19 years old, he reached a body weight of 165 pounds/75kg. He won numerous championships and this was the birth of his ‘weider’s principles’! Later he would publish his own magazine and act as the organizer of various competitions.
Larry Scott: 1965 + 1966
The first Mr. Olympia competition was staged on September 18, 1965, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City. Larry Scott competed against Harold Poole and Earl Maynard.
Larry Scott was trained and taught by Vince Gironda, the Hollywood fitness guru. He brought Larry Scott up from a 157-pound weakling with average genetics to a 207-pound winner. 
Larry entered Vince’s gym for the first time in 1959, after winning the title Mr. Idaho . This introduced the exercise known as the “Preacher Bench Curl”. It is a unique and legendary fitness apparatus to fully stimulate the biceps. Larry Scott swears by this exercise and wrote :
“From that moment in July of 1959 until today, I have never given up the preacher bench. I have varied my curls, changed from barbell to dumbbells and back, but always I have remained with the preacher bench. Why? Because nothing else was ever the equal of it for building not just big but beautiful arms.” 
Larry Scott also had a role model: A Mr. America title holder named Clarence Ross. He had the opportunity to train with Ross and of course they talked about their favorite topic: bodybuilding!
Larry Scott stated about his diet: ” Fats and proteins compose the major portion of my diet, Clarence. I try to avoid carbohydrates completely. I realize most of my foods consisting of meat, eggs and dairy products do contain some carbohydrates; so a few weeks before a contest I cut down on dairy products to help me improve my definition.” 
Larry Scott adored him, and during his explanation, he felt uncomfortable teaching his expertise to such an educated and qualified athlete.
Larry Scott’s ego did not realize that Clarence Ross was listening out of kindness and respect. But Larry expressed:
“Here was Clarence Ross, the winner of every physique title of importance really zeroing in on nutrition. He had recognized the physiques of today cannot be built on cokes and hot dogs or even “three square meals a day.” 
It takes an education in biochemistry to understand what kinds of foods provide you with what you need to “Build a Strong Body 8 Ways.”
With that knowledge, you need empirical data gathered on yourself, your reaction to different supplements. EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT.
My greatest gains were made on milk and egg protein. Don Howorth and Dave Draper could not use it without “smoothing out.” They made terrific gains on meat product proteins. I grew stale and lost weight on meat product protein. 
EACH PERSON IS DIFFERENT, EACH PERSON MUST KNOW HIMSELF.”
Sergio Oliva: 1967 – 1969
Sergio Oliva won the Mr. Olympia title under the most difficult of conditions. The weightlifter grew up in Cuba and due to the political climate he escaped to Miami, America and successfully obtained asylum.
Sergio did not have a typical 9-to 5 job office job, he worked physically very hard in a steel foundry factory. He stated that the temperature in summer was unbearable.
“It felt like 500 degrees. When the work was done, I would go straight to the gym (Duncan YMCA) where I would train for 3-4 hours” 
“Weightlifting gave me the foundation of the physique I now have” 
He first combined weightlifting with bodybuilding and competed in competitions like Mr. Florida. A little later he decided to concentrate only on bodybuilding and according to him, his muscles grew like a weed 
Sergio Oliva worked physically hard during his career. He changed jobs and worked as a meat packer in a slaughterhouse. “I froze all day long instead of sweating like a pig. I transported and stored meat all day long in the cold environment, 12 to 14 hours a day”
Sergio Oliva saved a lot of money and would use the money he saved to take some time off to train full-time. . Six months before the Mr. Olympia competition, he was fired up to beat Larry Scott.
In 1966 Sergio Oliva took fifth place, Larry Scott first. In 1967 and 68 Sergio placed first. In 1969 he would compete against Schwarzenegger and won!
Sergio was recognized world wide and used to travel throughout the world. He was in Germany, Essen several times to hold guest poses and seminars. The above German magazine contains beautiful pictures of that seminar. Sergio’s is explaining the barbell curl and is surrounded by a huge crowd. The bunch of German bodybuilders seemed to be infatuated and astonished by Sergio’s muscle size.
Sergio Oliva was a simple man and lived a simple life. He didn’t make an effort to commercialize himself by making big money. He basically flew from Cuba to America to live a safe life.
Due to the language barrier, he would not trust anybody. Sergio’s path to commercial prosperity was limited. It is rumored that Sergio got a role in the movie “Predator” but he wanted too much money and they dropped him.
Arnold Schwarzenegger: 1970 – 75 + 1980
He is one of the richest and best-built Mr. Olympia winners ever. It is just quite interesting that all the physiques from the Golden Era do not have a similar look. Even when a picture is heavily blurred you can easily say that it is Arnold’s body! But what’s Arnold’s secret for his wealth and body?
I know there are a lot training routines apparently developed by Arnold. But just following them is nonsense. Arnold’s biggest secret for things to make happen was visualizing and believing in yourself.
What is the secret behind Arnold’s success? I am currently reading the book “Arnold Hautnah”, which was published by two Austrian Journalists and close friends of Arnie. It is a magnificent collection of numerous unpublished photos and exclusive interviews.
On the page 40, Arnold states that he used to do calisthenics at the Austrian lake “Thaler-see”. He mentioned exercises such as air squats, push ups, pull-ups and the traditional retro fitness equipment chest expander.
In Graz, Austria there was only one ‘Strength Club’, where Arnold used to train. The first weightlifting club was established by Kurt Manul in 1958 . In his heart Manul was a bodybuilder, but he knew about the bad reputation of being a muscle-head in Austria.
Kurt Manul said in an interview, that he’d never get the chance of any support, if he told the Austrian sport’s federation about establishing a club for bodybuilders. So he just told them it would be a weightlifting club. So Mr. Marnul got a small room (stationed at “Liebenauer Stadion.”) and some training equipment. Kurt was in his early 30s at that time and Mr. Schwarzenegger would later join the club at the age of around 14.
Luckily I found an old German interview  by Schwarzenegger in which Arnold describes the atmosphere training there.
“Question: Your Austrian weightlifting club seems to be very successful , especially the athlete Adolf Ziegner. What’s the reason?
Arnold: “In Graz we have a great group of weightlifters, who train three hours daily. They are pushing & screaming at each other. I think the key-factor for success was there were no distraction.”
Karl Kainrath, one of the members of that club, covered the feeling of training in his German book and on Youtube as follows:
“It was a small weightlifting club. We had no machines. We had a barbell and a bench. Later we would build our own incline-bench. That was all the whole equipment.
We trained hard and had no rep-set-scheme. The only music there was the clipping of the plates.
The club was really small and it was just a fitting room with some weights. In winter it was cold, around 10 Celsius (50°F) and in summer it was very hot, highest peak was 35 Celsius (95°F)
“Schwarzenegger was not the biggest guy.”
Just Google pictures of me with Arnold! And the star of that Club was Helmut Cernic, he was quite strong in the bench.
We read the American magazines, but nobody of us was versed in English. We had a guy, who would translate it for us. So then we would follow the instructions from Joe Weider mags.”
Now you got the impression of how limited the access to bodybuilding equipment, nutrition and information they were then.
The neighboring country to Austria, Germany, was way ahead. Back in the day, there were German entrepreneurs like Busek, Fasching and Putziger, who did a great deal to promote bodybuilding with their magazines.
“Sport und Kraft” was established in Munich by Rolf Putziger with co-worker Albert Busek. They owned a gym, in which Arnold trained and was hired as an instructor.
The name changed two times to “Kraft Sport Revue” and then later to Sport Revue. The magazine had a high reputation for exclusive content and pictures of Arnold and survived till 2016.
Der Muskelbilder (later Athletik Sport Journal) was created by Peter Fasching in Essen. His magazines survived till 1983. Both promoters had a great relationship with American Joe Weider.
Arnold competing in Germany
One day Arnold was invited to come over to Germany, Stuttgart to compete at an international bodybuilding competition. All sources indicate that the entrepreneur Peter Fasching invited him. 
To make a long story short, Arnold was the sensation there and won it. The entrepreneur Albert Busek was there too and has a great sense for upcoming stars. So he took the opportunity and offered Arnie a job as an instructor.
Of course Arnold took that job, because he’d live in mecca of muscle magazines: Munich, Germany.
Arnold in Munich, Germany
How was it to work for German entrepreneurs Rolf Putziger and Albert Busek? During my research I found this great picture. Due to the great success of his magazines Albert Busek ran a “bodybuilding party”. As you see they enjoyed life and drank some German beers and proudly read the magazine “Sport Revue”.
Arnold’s bosses seemed to be really cool and relaxed, so you could imagine, Arnold worked hard but had still a lot of fun!
Arnold The Instructor
Finally he was allowed to make money with his passion! Arnold invited his weightlifting friends Karl Kainrath and Adolf Ziegner to come over to Munich. They ate meat, trained twice a day and after a hard workout they would drink German beer  and the famous mass gaining shake TRANKERL!
After a hard day, Arnold finished his day off with resting on the bed and reading books. His room was filled with posters of Bill Pearl and Paul Wynter!
Arnold was not self-centered and would share his secrets to his students. Here’s a letter by Antonio Trovato’s , who was trained by Arnie. He basically wrote:
“I am a big fan of reading the magazine KRAFTSPORT REVUE and would love to distribute. My name is Trovato. I am from Sardinia, Italy and have been training since 3 years in Munich, Germany.
Lifting weights is my only hobby and I am training for 2 years in the Gym, in which Arnold is working as an instructor. I made great gains due to Arnold’s training wisdoms. “
Young Schwarzenegger and the Supersets
Reinhard Smolana, Mr. Germany 1960, trained in Munich too and met Schwarzenegger. He analyzed and wrote about him as follows in his great German book:
“Arnold Schwarzenegger came to Munich, Germany and watched me training with Poldi Merc. Schwarzenegger wondered why we were so running quickly from one exercise to another, as if we were under time pressure.
At first he believed that this would make us train very unfocused and hastily and that we would not be able to achieve any training effect.
Curious and inquisitive as he was, Arnold tried out this training and noticed that it is optimal , because you not only save time, but also build large, shapely muscle.”
So, it really seems that in Austria, Arnold just trained without using Supersets, Drop sets, HIT. It was really instinctive and primitive. In Germany, Munich he would analyze the training of champions and adopted his own successful style.
As you might remember Peter Fasching invited Arnold to come over to Germany. Fasching was known for his legendary magazines! He published two kind of magazines: DER MUSKELBILDER and later ATHLETIK SPORT JOURNAL.
The first one is quite similar to the American version of Joe Weider’s “MUSCLEBUILDER”.
Mr. Fasching was once in America and encountered that magazine. He loved it and decided to translate it into German.
Arnold, a big American himself but still lacking some English skills, definitely loved the German format of Muscle Builder too. During my research I found a rare letter from Arnie addressed to Mr. Fasching. He’s basically congratulating the long-run of the mags and his company!
ARNIE IS READING Mr.Fasching’s Mag
You might thinking he only “copied and translated” the American magazines, but that’s wrong. He would travel through Germany with Photographer Benno Dahmen and included the training philosophy from German and Austrian athletes! Further he would invite and pay athletes from America to come over and to hold seminars in Germany!
Now you might be hungry to know what kind of magazine Schwarzenegger is reading and luckily I have that piece of bodybuilding history in my collection!
The magazine Athletik Sportjournal (52, August 1978) is about Franco Columbo’s private side, Bill Grant is training in Essen, a new Gym in Cologne, Mike Mentzer will guest posing in Switzerland and great exclusive muscle-pictures by German photograph Benno Dahmen!
As you might know, Arnold was successful as a businessman and of course he read the proper lectures on that field. German Photographer Benno Dahmen asked him in the late 70s about his favorite topics and Arnold answered as follows:
“I am waking up at 06:30 am, then doing sport for two hours – it’s mostly sprinting/cardio 5 miles then lifting weights. Then breakfast and then I am reading books and magazines. Every week I am reading Time and Newsweek, every page. Topics, which I am interested are politics, philosophy, psychology and economy” 
So again, the key factor for Arnold was reading and visualizing! Reading is an active process, while scrolling through social media is something passive and it will drag the energy out of you.
Arnold’s golden secrets:
- Stay Hungry
- Reading lectures in your niche
- Mixed up training with different sports
- Changed training environments
- Surrounded by successful athletes
- Searched for tips and improvement
- Used to give wisdom back to his pupils
- Believed in himself
- Worked out like a demon
Arnold’s Business and Training Partner
One of the most best tools to achieve goals in life is having a partner! Arnold remembered the great days with Franco Columbo in Munich. They trained hard, laughed and enhanced their muscle size. Later Arnold moved to America and Columbo would follow him to continue their legacy
In the year 1976, Columbo won the most prestigious title in bodybuilding MR OLYMPIA and was one step closer to living the American dream.
Franco Columbo grew up at a small Italian island. At first Franco fell in love in boxing. He trained hard and beat the Sardinian boxing-champion, further he mixed up his training with lifting weights.
For me reading Franco Columbo’s biography is like experiencing Déjà vu! Franco’s path is quite similar to Schwarzenegger. Both shared the deep passion for reading. Both shared the same dream and were not shy to publish it!
Schwarzenegger told his Austrian friends, that he’d move to America and become an actor. Franco Columbo told his Italian friends he would move to America and fight at the famous Madison Square Garden, where all champions used to fight.
Nobody believed in them and their friends told them they were just “crazy”.
Both decided to move to Munich, Germany for a better life.
In Munich there were only two gyms and so one day they’d meet each other. Of course, they developed a strong and lasting friendship due to the same character and mindset they have.
Schwarzenegger competed in Europe and become a sensation! He drew the attention of Joe Weider. America was far ahead at promoting bodybuilding, and so Schwarzenegger got a contract and signed it.
Arnold, quite genius in nature, knows that becoming successful you’d need a partner. So he got the Weiders to bring his long-time friend Franco Columbo to the States.
So finally both lived in America and enjoyed the American dream. They were sponsored by the Weiders but that money was not enough.
On YouTube, there’s an great interview entitled ” Arnold Sunday Showcase & Coffee With The Champions” in which Schwarzenegger reveals how he established a company with Franco Columbo and made money! 
Schwarzenegger: “I remember Weiders gave us $65 a week. We were grateful for that money. But we had to go out and do construction work”
Schwarzenegger remembered that Franco used to be a construction worker and bricklayer in Italy, and so he suggested they establish a company.
An earthquake happened in Los Angeles, and Arnold remembered a lot of gyms had fallen off and walls has been broken. For days and nights, they used to get jobs and money to repair earthquake damage.
During that time Franco recalls that they both got definition due to the hard labour work they were doing.
Arnold said that he wrote all the business stuff in German, so nobody could understand him. And both would argue in German to throw off California customers and charge them double what they should have paid.
Schwarzenegger invested his first bucks into real estate and Franco into education. Franco later won the Mr. Olympia title and become a doctor. He would run a highly successful chiropractic practice in the States.
So I described some business tips and now I want to talk about muscle building. Franco Columbo won the Mr. Olympia title in 1976 and I searched in my German magazine archive for some unpublished tips by Columbo!
Franco’s System for the novice
Franco wrote: “There is no magic rep/set scheme. For various exercises like benchpress, barbell curls, presses with dumbbell, or standing presses I would say 4 x 8 reps are great for the novice. 4 x 10 are great too.
One of the greatest system for a novice is the 10-8-6-15 System.
You are doing benchpress und using 60kg for 10 reps. In the next set you’d enhance your weight to 70kg and doing 8 reps. In the third set enhance the weight to 80kg and do 6 reps. In the last set you would lower the weight to 55kg and doing a pump set with 15 repetitions.” 
Frank Zane: 1977 – 1979
The same identification phenomenon you can say about Mr. Zane’s body. The picture is heavily blurred but you can easily guess it’s Frank Zane’s stature! How he did achieve that body?
Recently I read an old article published in Ironman, 1993 and it just astonished me! Doug Young, heavy weight Powerlifting Champion from Texas, basically coached Mr. Zane in 1977 and helped him to gain solid 7-8 pounds of muscle mass.
Frank Zane wrote: “The training with Doug Young in 1977 definitely helped
my thickness and size. I gained EIGHT POUNDS of true muscle by working with Doug.”
Doug Young was a fan of Mike Mentzer’s Training Philosophy!
He wrote: “The one that makes the most sense to me is Mike Mentzer’s. He knows
that you’ve got to train heavy to get big.”
Further, Mr. Zane was not a full-time bodybuilder. In 1964, he received a Bachelor of Science from Wilkes University and he used to teach mathematics and chemistry.
Due to Frank’s education in chemistry, he really understood what kinds of foods helped him build a golden body! He combined practical training with science so he developed a beautiful and unique body.
Further he commercialized his body with great success and is dedicated to bringing Golden Era Bodybuilding back into the mainstream today.
In addition to his commitment , he operates a commercial site selling books, supplements and training equipment!
Note: The Article “Golden Way of Bodybuilding” Will Be Continued On January/February 2021. So don’t forget to check my website again!
Thumbnail (Arnie) Pic by photographer John Corlett (May 15, 1998 in front of the California State Capitol Building), EDITED by neckberg
- Your Physique May 1947
- Ironman Jan. 1975
- Ironman September 1975
- Flex Dec 87
- Muscle Builder July 1968
- 1968, Athletik Sport Journal
- Arnold Hautnah, page 66 (Drinking Beer in Munich)
- Athletik sport journal 1979 december
- Youtube (timestap 01:30:00)
- Franco’s System: Athletik Sport Journal number 34
- Muscle Builder June 79