Arnold Schwarzenegger: A Growing Influence!

'Expect to train hard, and over time your hard work will pay off in dividends.' - Arnold

July 30, 1947, would be a great day for the sport of bodybuilding and the world of fitness. On this day a champion was born. This champion would soon have one of the greatest influences over the bodybuilding and fitness community of all time and help change the society in which he lived, and in which we exist today.

This champ needs no last name. Just say "Ah-nold" and everyone knows who your talking about. This champion goes by the Austrian name of Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger. Although the sport of bodybuilding still lacks the extreme popularity that other well-known, time-tested sports enjoy, Arnold Schwarzenegger has helped propel it, as well as fitness to new levels never seen before. He revolutionized the sport as it is presently known.


Born in the outskirts of Graz, Austria, Schwarzenegger began lifting weights at the age of 15. At this time he was a skinny boy weighing a mere 160 pounds. Inspired by the physique and success of Reg Park and encouraged by his father, he soon began to rapidly build up his body training as much as five hours per day (Arnold). In a short three years, he had already won the Austrian Junior weightlifting championship, as well as, the Junior Mr. Europe title. This was just the beginning of his reign of supremacy. Soon afterward he ran a gym and health club in Munich.

Arnold had left Graz to broaden his perspective on bodybuilding. A decade of intense training paid off in pounds. Arnold increased his weight from 160 pounds to a solid and well-defined 240 pounds and began dominating the bodybuilding stage. He became the rage of Europe and won every amateur title for which he had the chance(Lincoln 77).

His intense training style and hunger for success could be seen in one of his daily workouts. He attributes much of his success to his vivid visualization techniques. "When I am working my biceps, I have illusions. I picture my arm pumping up and filling the room. It's a crazy thought, but when you want something badly, you always see it bigger than it really is" (Schwarzenegger 151).

Pro Status

Eventually Arnold's persistence and success caught the attention of promoter and bodybuilding tycoon Joe Weider. With the help of Joe, Schwarzenegger could finally make a worldwide name for himself. In exchange for an endorsement of Weider's training and exercise equipment, Arnold was brought to the United States. It was not long before Arnold, taking full advantage of his opportunity, turned pro. This was the dawning of a new era for Arnold Schwarzenegger. His career was filled with many accomplishments and unprecedented victories.

After dominating the world of bodybuilding in 1976, Arnold retired from competitive bodybuilding to follow a different calling as an actor. However, this was not the end of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the impact he had on society. For years to come society would feel the touch of his extremely considerable predominance in both acting as well as bodybuilding.

Without his many profound accomplishments it would have been impossible for Schwarzenegger to elevate bodybuilding and fitness to the new heights it saw during his reign, and for him to have the impact on society that he did. It was his accomplishments that made his name truly a dinner table name. Without accomplishments considered impressive by society, it is difficult for an individual to become influential.

Accomplishment could have been Arnold's middle name as you can see by his success story, which is described by M.G. Stoddard as one "that millions of once impoverished immigrants to our "golden door" have envisioned." The reason for his many accomplishments was that Arnold always had a plan and always thought big (O'Connell 63). At the age of 20 he became the youngest Mr. Universe ever. By his mid-20s, he reigned as the No. 1 bodybuilder in the world. He was also in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most perfectly developed physique in the world (

Arnold's bodybuilding success came so quickly because he knew what he had to do to be number one from the beginning. He did not fall into the various traps that so many new bodybuilders do. Like any true gym warrior Arnold knew there were no shortcuts to success so he took the quickest route to any destination: a straight line.

He once wisely said, "forget the notion of shortcuts and mystical exercises. Expect to train hard, and over time your hard work will pay off in dividends." His success also came from his understanding that to be successful in the sport, all body parts must be artfully sculpted into a well-proportioned whole. He knew it would take years of daily intense workouts, an unbreakable physical and mental discipline, and a strict, clean, and hard followed diet regimen.

In addition to success in his physique and body opposition events, he created a competition of his own. It is known as the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic, and is one of the most famous bodybuilding competitions in the world. It has been held in February every year since 1989 with grand prize swelling from an initial $1,000 all the way to a worthy $100,000 going to the big winner (Classic).

It is not difficult to name a few of his past competitive successes that brought his name to the forefront of the bodybuilding scene. He was runner up at the Steiner Hof Competition in 1963; in 1965 he was the winner of the Junior Mr. Europe; he was the winner of the 1966 International Powerlifting Championships in Germany. That same year he was also Mr. Europe and Mr. Universe. He took the title of Mr. Universe again the following year. In the next eight years he would go on to win another 16 competitions including one Mr. World victory, five Mr. Universe victories, and the most impressive seven Mr. Olympia titles (Bodybuilding).

The movie star

These victories gave him the name he needed to start laying the foundation of influence that he had been building and would continue to build over modern culture. Starting in 1970 with Hercules in New York, Arnold has starred in more than 27 movies including the likes of Pumping Iron in 1977, Conan the Barbarian in 1981, The Terminator in 1984, The Running Man in 1987, Twins in 1988 and True Lies in 1994.

These movies were important in getting his name out to the public and throwing bodybuilding in the faces of the population. With his bodybuilding successes, the seeds of influence had been planted. It was his acting career, however, that allowed that influence to grow. He also spread his word with his writing. His most famous book, which still sells just as good today as it did when it was released, is called New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding.

What made one man experience this kind of success? He was able to make such great improvements because he figured out early on that "bodybuilding is a 3D sport that requires extreme dedication, discipline, and drive," and that there are no shortcuts or secret formulas and supplements.

Over the past few decades bodybuilding and fitness have soared to popularity heights never imagined leaving skeptics and all other opposition in the dust. Much of that change can be attributed to the Austrian, Arnold Schwarzenegger. "Before Arnold, bodybuilding had been around the whole century but didn't gain much popularity until Arnold thrust it into the public consciousness, legitimizing the sport" and positioning it as a healthy activity for anyone.

Early on he appeared at exhibitions and classes around the world and worked as an associate editor of a muscle-building magazine to help spread the good word of health and bodybuilding and transforming the image of the sport. With all of his work and support of bodybuilding, Arnold Schwarzenegger almost "single handedly" propelled bodybuilding out of obscurity.

"His tireless support and charisma spurred the evolution of bodybuilding from a cheesy sideshow marked by paltry cash prizes to a full-fledged professional sport offering top-dollar awards," Lynne Hall wrote.

Prizes jumped to $50,000 back in 1986 as Schwarzenegger and his business partner Jim Lorimer began promoting the Mr. Olympia. This sudden spring in prize money encouraged a plethora of young new talented athletes to take the stage. As the Incredible Hulk, Lou Ferrigno recalls, before Arnold "it was more like a shadow sport. It was like a freak show, and it's not a freak show anymore. The fact is that the mainstream got involved."

The Arnold Classic

Before the publication and release of his book and movie Pumping Iron, bodybuilding was still "what they say—in the closet." This is just another of many examples of how Arnold Schwarzenegger had a long lasting impact on the world of bodybuilding and on fitness in society. After retiring from competition, he met with Jim Lorimer to create and promote his own contest known as the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic, one of bodybuilding's premier events. It has been said that the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic brings together the past and future of pro bodybuilding, cashing in on "the marquee value of the legend himself—the man that brought a personable manner, quick one-liners, and gigantic muscles to bodybuilding."

Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic forever changed the image of bodybuilding. The competition sees sellout crowds of more than 40,000 avid fans who pay up to $250 per ticket. Arnold thinks that the sport will continue to grow if it is promoted as a recreational sport like swimming, basketball, and tennis. To further promote exercise, fitness, and bodybuilding many side events take place at the Schwarzenegger Classic. To name a few there is an arm-wrestling tournament, Fitness International, Ms. International, Martial Arts Festival, Arnold Gymnastics Challenge, Arnold Classic Training Seminar, Cheerleading Classic and Dance Team Competition, Dragon Radovic Challenge, 5K Pump and Run, and Fitness Fashion show. He also poses for photos with fans to keep them encouraged.

In a recent survey he was named the most influential fitness personality of the millennium and the person most responsible for the fitness revolution. He effortlessly out placed runners up Richard Simmons, Jane Fonda, and Jack LaLanne, taking 36 percent of the total votes distributed to the 21 nominees. To further his influence he worked as chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports from 1990-1994. He is spreading the healthiness of bodybuilding by working with inner-city kids and teaching them about weightlifting. He urges gym owners to open their gyms to and encourage seniors, children, inner-city youth, and Native Americans. He is trying to get health club owners to begin conducting classes for senior citizens especially.

During his term as chairman he also organized and held the Great American Workout. It's purpose was to raise the consciousness of Americans on the importance of exercise and physical fitness, clearly indicating his insatiable love for the sport and his long lasting impact. During this event, he filled the south lawn of the White House with various sports celebrities, amateur athletes, and a grand fitness launch. The lawn was filled with the likes of Mary Lou Retton, Arthur Ashe, Sam Snead, Jane Blalock, Bruce Jenner, Scott Hamilton, Dorothy Hamill, Eric Dickerson, Jack LaLanne, and Louis Sullivan, Secretary of Health and Human Services, to name a few.

In addition to the event, Arnold came up with some new phrases to help the fitness craze stick in the minds of the people. "Fitness is fun and fitness is for everyone" and "Read my hips; No More fat" were spoken by the man who's accent can only be imitated but not duplicated. "We vant you all to pump up to lose those extra inches, to get fit, and to begin right now!" was another line uttered by the Austrian Oak. President George H.W. Bush was impressed with Arnold's seriousness, compassion, and determination to set a good example. With his deep history of accomplishments and his desire to change society by bringing about a consciousness of bodybuilding, exercise, and fitness, his persona has truly been intricately woven into the fabric of modern society.

Arnold's legacy

Bodybuilding and fitness today are much a product of their recent past and the works of Arnold Schwarzenegger. It has come a long way since Charles Atlas beckoned 90-pound weaklings in the back of dime magazines. Bodybuilders are bigger and leaner than ever, contests are beginning to be televised, and the fans are piling in. Today the Arnold Fitness weekend draws more than 40,000 people, making it the most popular bodybuilding event in the world.

Since the 1960s bodybuilding has become a means to fitness, strength, and increased athletic performance in other sports. Home gyms are everywhere and more Americans train, are going to gyms, health clubs, and working out. Correspondingly the gym and supplement industries are flourishing. World renowned weightlifting guru Mike Katz has people in their 70s and 80s training with weights and conditioning at his World Gyms in Connecticut.

Cash prizes are through the roof, and "the new generation of bodybuilders is as fired up about fitness as physique." People from all ends of the characteristic scale including the young and old, brawny and lean, and male and female enjoy the sport. Fairly recently bodybuilding has even emerged a new division of women's bodybuilding.

Former Ms. Olympians such as Cory Everson and Tanya Knight have seen success in this area and drew their own crowds of fans. The success seen by the sport is largely a result of marketing efforts, but even more largely the result of an even larger man; the man with 22-inch guns, a 57-inch barrel chest, 28.5-inch tree-trunk thighs, and 20-inch calves the size of cows; the Austrian Oak, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It is difficult to understand the profound influence that a single man can have over an entire population of people. Throughout the world Arnold Schwarzenegger is known as the charismatic bodybuilder, committed actor, and extreme motivator that he has built himself up to be. When Arnold began bodybuilding at the age of 15 he not only began to build his body, but his character, his reputation, his individuality, and his strong ever-lasting influence.

His effect on society was extremely positive and will be felt for many years to come as family, races, and nations project themselves forward with healthy lives of exercising and fitness. The sport of bodybuilding has been set in motion and will continue to grow as it is pressed onward through the unending strength of time.

  1. "The Arnold Classic." 7 Jan. 2002. Online. Internet. 7 Jan. 2002.
  2. Bebbington, Jim. "Getting Classic With Arnold." Saturday Evening Post Jul. 1993.
  3. " - Arnold Schwarzenegger." 16 Sep. 1999. Online. Internet. 10 Jan. 2002.
  4. Braun V., Lori. "Bodybuilding." 12 Nov. 2000. Online. Internet. 10 Jan. 2002.
  5. The Greatest Bodies. Prod. Robert Bahedry. TLC Home Video, 2001.
  6. Hall L., Lynne. "Classic Arnold." Physical March 2001. 74+.
  7. The Lincoln Library of Sports Champions. Vol. 16 Columbus: 1989
  8. O'Connell, Jeff. "End of Days." Muscle & Fitness Jan 2000: 62-65.
  9. Stoddard, M.G. "Marketing Fitness With the President and Arnold Schwarzenegger." Saturday Evening Post Aug. 1990.
  10. Schwarzenegger, Arnold. "The Flex Gun Club." FLEX Apr. 2001: 151
  11. "The Shortcut to Muscular Growth." Muscle & Fitness Aug. 1997: 186.
  12. "" 7 Jan. 2002. Online. Internet. 7 Jan. 2002.