I vividly remember my first training session. It was during grade school years, the early 90’s.
My friend down the street had the only weight, although it couldn’t have been more primitive. A SEARS catalogue special offer, the barbell was really just a small diameter pipe. There was no knurling, no collars. Concrete and plastic plates were clamped down on either side with small twist-screws.
It’s was a very humble start. We held no concept of motion, form, tension, progression or anything, really. It was still mostly just play. We pumped ourselves up and pretended to be much bigger and stronger than we really were. We held our mentors high and aspired replicate their success, so of course our efforts began with crafting 20 inch biceps of our very own.
That first session began with a copy of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding. I wish I would have just read the book, but instead we just shuffled the pages in search of cool arm exercises. In the end we “programmed” a vicious couplet of biceps curls and seated Arnold presses, because why not start by building gigantic biceps and cannon-ball deltoids, eh?
That workout was pretty bad. I should have started by mastering the squat and all, sure, but at least we were too weak at the time to do any real harm to ourselves.
It was an experiment. It was play. No, we didn’t make much progress in the beginning, but this first action was powerful still. It made a giant impression, at least in my life. It was the first domino to fall, and eventually it would reshape my life in amazing and wholly unexpected ways.
An interview you can’t miss.
This week on Barbell Shrugged we had the pleasure of hanging out with New York Times Best Selling Author, Tim Ferriss. Like us, Tim is a child of the 80’s. He has his hero’s, and of course “The Governor” is very high on that list. Better still, Tim recently got the chance to interview Arnold Schwarzenegger for his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show.
We couldn’t be more jealous, but how knows. Barbell Shrugged will be at the Arnold Classic this year, armed with media passes no less (wink, wink).
Tim’s interview with Arnold was great. The man is just as alpha and confident as he ever was, and apparently, he still has plenty of wisdom to share. In fact, there are 5 nuggets from this interview that can benefit anyone, not just the gym rats.
First, you need balls.
Tim teased this story on Barbell Shrugged, and it was his first question from the interview. “You’ve mailed sculptures of bull testicles to people before, is that right?”
Turns out, that’s completely true. All through his career, even while in office, Arnold has made a habit of practical jokes. That has included mailing giant cow testicles to colleagues, yes. But there was a very good reason to do so.
First, tough decisions are a part of life. You must be ready for any opportunity. You have to face your challenges head on, with confidence. And you can’t afford to take things too seriously. If you can laugh and break the ice then you can take on anything. You can do anything. Give it try and see.
Confidence creates more confidence.
What made Arnold Schwarzenegger such a legendary bodybuilder? What’s more, how did he also do so well in business, in acting, and even in politics?
The answer is vision. You have to know exactly where you want to go. You need to dream big, figuring all of the steps between your giant pie in the sky and where you stand now. See it done first and you can greatly increase the odds of it actually happening.
In Arnold’s case, every tough training session was a step closer to making his vision real. To do 200 sit-ups was to be 200 sit-ups closer to being Mr. Olympia, for example. By the time he stepped on stage, in front of a camera, on the podium, he already projected the image of a confident champion.
If you knock over just one domino, just work on being more confident. Work on your vision, and do what it takes to step forward. It’s amazing how wide the world will open up for you.
Psychological warfare is fair game.
Arnold has worked incredibly hard for his success, but he’s never been above playing mind games with fellow competitors.
He gave one great example on the show. “Hey, is there something wrong with your knee? …Maybe some injury? Your thighs are looking a little slim lately, so I figured there was some problem keeping you from your squats.”
Even big tough guys can be vulnerable. Most times Arnold would watch, laughing, as his target would hurry back the mirror to insect his lower half. Again, he had effectively won that competition way in advance.
I don’t think Arnold ever played these games to be mean, or to undermine anyone. He was just abiding by a core truth in sport and in life – You need to be physically strong and prepared, but that means very little if you do not also have a very strong mind.
Since I moved to America, I’ve collected boots. Sometimes it takes a little work. A photo posted by Arnold Schwarzenegger (@schwarzenegger) on
Be unapologetically you.
It’s amazing how Arnold won acceptance as an actor. To think, a meaty farm boy from Austria grows up to become an A-list Hollywood celebrity. How is that possible?
It happened because Arnold embraced himself 100%. He kept his accent and avoided auditions. He wasn’t interesting in competing for the roles everyone else was wanted, and he especially didn’t want to become more like everyone else to make that happen.
Instead, he played a Barbarian, a Terminator, an Alien hunting badass in Predator, the list is long now. And he didn’t have to change at all to get there.
The same is true for you. If you want to achieve something extraordinary in life, start with all of the obvious things that make you unique. Play it up and people will love and appreciate you for it.
And finally, don’t ask reward up front.
So many people undermine their opportunities with heavy expectations. They want to become a great weightlifter, an amazing coach, businessman, teacher, whatever, but they want reward far too soon. If you take nothing else away from this article listen to this…
Create value in life first and the rewards will follow.
A great illustration of this is “Twins.” Would you believe that this is the movie that has made Arnold Schwarzenegger the most money? The reason is that the core players all deferred payment up front. They took the minimum, but why? Because this was the easiest way to get the movie made. They were very confident it would be a hit, and it was.
You can be anything you want in life. You can do anything you want, but you’re going to have to make sacrifices.
Decide what it is that you want to do and then do it. Expect nothing upfront. Just trust your vision. Work as hard as you can and generate as much value for other people as possible. Do that and you’ll have all you can ask for and more. Hell, you might even be able to afford a giant tank and a righteous cowboy boot collection of your very own some day.
Stranger things have happened.
Don’t miss episode 162 of Barbell Shrugged with Tim Ferriss.
Again, make sure to subscribe and listen to Tim’s show. It is fantastic. Also, if you haven’t already, go out and pick up a copy of The 4-Hour Work Week. Now that you’re confident and primed, that book will give you some tools for making your own unique, crazy vision become a reality.
See for yourself.
- Subscribe to The Tim Ferriss Show. It’s an excellent podcast, particularly the episode with Pavel Tsatsouline.
- Don’t miss episode 162 of Barbell Shrugged featuring Tim Ferriss. We had an amazing conversation.
I enjoy your articles
Good article Chris beneficial to not just us fitness lot! but to other people trying to find their own path in life.
So I’m not sure how many times you’ve been asked this, but when the Hell are you guys getting Arnold on your show… if Tim got him, bring that Austrian Oak to us in a podcast! We’d love to hear you guys interview him. Let us know, seriously!
I’ll be back,
I’m working on it now.
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Hi Chris ,
Awesome as always , I think I really did not understand how all is related in life and the fact that being healthy is not just about being fit until I started learning from listening and following you guys. I am honestly having a kind of “serendipity” moment in my life , I am a Phd student now immersed in the “lean thinking world ” manufacturing Related and I must admit too I had no idea how my work is related to my fitness learning too , It’s awesome , thanks a lot for sharing your wisdom.Gracias Chris!