Training With Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Austrian Oak!
In 1970 I first met Arnold in the parking lot of Bill Pearl's gym in Inglewood, CA. He was sitting in a car waiting for someone as I came out and was introduced to him. At that time he was around 260 lbs, as huge as you could imagine and in amazing shape.
We shook hands talked for a bit and then a few months later I ran into him again at Gold's in Venice where we were both training.
Training Chest & Back
A few days went by and I was working chest, doing bench presses. I was a very good bench presser and had a high of 455 lbs. at 204 bodyweight.
Arnold was ok in the strength department, but not as strong as I was. He asked to work in with me and I said, "Sure", being the polite nice guy that I am. That workout became somewhat competitive and we pushed each other pretty hard. I think he was a bit upset that I could outlift him, but it also motivated him at the same time.
We worked in some other exercises and then he asked what I was working next. I said, "Back". So, we hit a back workout together. I guess I motivated him so much with my drive and my humor that he took a liking to me and asked if we could train together the next day.
Breakfast & Another Day Of Training
He called me early that following morning and came by to pick me up for breakfast before the workout. Most of us were big fans of Zucky's Delicatessen in Santa Monica so we went there to eat. We always ran into someone from the gym or some actors and other interesting people. It was a gathering place and a place to hang out either for breakfast or a snack around 10 pm.
Breakfast back then consisted of a cheese omelette, hamburger patty, cottage cheese and coffee. This was pretty much the standard diet we used back then.
Basically meat, eggs and cottage cheese and low carbs. Pastas, rice, breads were rarely ever eaten. Lunch was usually a big beef patty, eggs and again cottage cheese. In between we used Blair's protein for drinks and then dinner was mostly chicken and sometimes a barbecued steak with salad and baked potato.
After we ate, we were off to the gym for a training session. The workouts were of basic exercises. For example, Chest was basically Bench, Incline Press, Dumbbell Flyes, and Cable Crossovers. 4 sets of each. That's pretty basic. Sometimes we'd add in 4 sets of dips to finish off chest.
Arnold was always big on not cheating and keeping the focus on the working muscle. We sometimes did a 2-second pause on the bottom stretch of bench press and dumbbell flyes and made sure we were fully stretched all the way out for growth. All the other body parts were done the same way.
Arnold would pump up right away and looked enormous. He'd flex his bicep in the mirror and say, "Look at that peak Ric". It was like two mountaintops. Arnold was known for his huge biceps, but I rarely ever saw him curl over 50 lb. Dumbbells.
The Master Blaster
One day Joe Weider brought in a new device called the 'Master Blaster' which hooked around your neck and prevented your arms from swinging while curling. We all liked it and tried it out.
This convinced Joe to go ahead and advertise it in the magazine. Arnold did however vary his workouts by changing exercises a lot but not really anything exotic. He just did basics, but at that point added the Master Blaster to the arm routine. Changing constantly really worked for him and he seemed to grow right before my very eyes.
I always threw a lot of humor in our workouts, but that's the way I am. I like to make things fun. Arnold enjoyed it as it took the edge off but we still trained hard. He wasn't real sure about his English, so he used a lot of my jokes and some of my sayings on other people as if it were him coming up with them.
It was really funny coming out of his mouth. To this day, I still hear him on some of the talk shows using phrases and some catch phrases that I used back then.
Shooting A Car Commercial
We had been at the beach one day in 1971 and we were asked to come in for a Chevy commercial by a representative of an ad agency. When the studios wanted bodybuilders for any films, commercials, print, etc, the first place they came was Venice Beach and Gold's gym. I got a lot of jobs just answering the pay phone on the wall.
Arnold, Myself and a slew of bodybuilders shot this commercial for Chevy in one day and had to lift this huge car, which of course was cheated by cables. This was a national spot that paid well and aired later on that year.
We got the taste of the business and decided to pursue more. After that Arnold was asked to read for some sort of Gladiator movie and asked me to come with him on the reading. So I went and we met the producer and writer. He read the script as we sat there and he stumbled on word after word, laughing all the way through it.
It was really something. As we left and got in the car, he said to me, "Maybe there's a part in here for you too". I said, "With the way you read that, you better forget being an Actor!" Should I shoot myself now? Who ever knew where it would lead?
Blind Date Chaperone
Arnold had a certain way about him that people liked, but he also liked to have his friends around, or at least he did then. He had a blind date set up and asked if I would come along 'cause his English wasn't too good.
Rheo Blair who was the supplement king back then set up this date. He came up with the Cream and Protein diet that put on muscle and cut fat. His products were expensive but one of the best.
One day that summer we drove over to Rheo's store front Arnold introduced me to Rheo and set me up on a comp list in exchange for product shots. I got all the supplements I wanted free from then on.
Back in those days Rheo's supplements were top quality and very expensive. He had many bodybuilders on the program including Larry Scott and Don Howarth just to name a few. I felt fortunate to be able give him an endorsement for trade of products.
I went on the date with Arnold that Rheo set up and we ended up at Cafe Figuero in Hollywood. The girl was really pretty and I thought, well, if he doesn't like her, I'd take her. It didn't work out, he wasn't really interested and I never got her number.
In 1972 I invited Arnold out to my Mom's house for dinner in the valley as I thought he'd enjoy meeting my Grandmother. She was Austrian as well and grew up in the same town he was from. They hit it off and had a great conversation. Arnold plunked himself down on a recliner and broke all the springs out of it. My Mom made him a real Jewish dinner, which he loved and always talked about that day for a long time after.
Training For The Olympia
Our training continued on a daily basis whilst he was training for the Olympia and I was training for the wrestling shows that I was doing. I will say, that I was in the best shape of my life at that time.
Arnold came up with a deltoid workout which consisted of going up and down in line twisting dumbbell presses (now called the Arnold Press) and then immediately following up with the same process of lateral raises, twisting the hands forward whilst raising the dumbbells. That was all we needed to have really round powerful delts.
It was a hard routine but very short and effective. He'd set the pace and I'd follow right behind him. This delt work out would make our shoulders scream.
After our workouts, Arnold, Ken Waller a few others and me would go to the Jamaica Bay Inn for lunch in the Marina, then we'd all go out by the pool and lay out in the sun. They had a great 1/2 chicken lunch on the menu which we all had and then out to the pool. What a great life we led. It was like being retired.
We were all friends and went to parties together and had a great deal of fun. Every weekend after we trained we would all hang out down on Venice Beach together and lay in the sun. It was crowded like it is now and of course the weather was always beautiful.
Joe Weider would come down on Sundays and train with us. He would immediately go to the 65 lb. dumbbells and start curling them. I have no idea how or why he started so heavy but he did. Arnold introduced me to Joe when we first met and Joe was kind enough to give me free ads in Muscle & Fitness for my T-shirt designs in trade for photo shoots with his products.
Arnold's Movie Career
In 1976 Arnold did "Stay Hungry" after a few low budget films and things took off for him. He came into the gym when he was in town, but it got to be less and less.
Wally Boyko ran huge bodybuilding events at Disneyland in 1983 and Arnold was his first guest one year. I had a booth selling Big Boy Clothing and as they marched Arnold around with his followers he spotted me and came to my booth to say hi. He told Wally that I was a great training partner, a terrific artist and was glad to see me there doing this. Then they pushed him on down the isles.
But Arnold never does forget his friends and his roots. Each time we had a mutual friend who would pass away, there was always a 'memorial' at World Gym and Arnold would show up to pay his respects and socialize with all of us as if it were the old days.
I ran into him at a signal in Venice in 2001 and rolled my window down to say hi. He looked at me and didn't recognize me at first with my shaved head and tattoos. I said, "It's Ric". He then smiled and said, "Ric Drasin?"
He was like a little kid and said, "What did you do, shave your head and trade your triceps in for tattoos? We have to get together and gossip, give me a call or I'll call you." Shortly after that he ran for Governor and won. I got a few calls from his office regarding a book that I wrote and a very nice letter in 2007.
But, what can I say? Arnold is a superstar and he's made it beyond the top. I'm thrilled for him and I can say he was always nice to me and I will always appreciate that. He's an inspiration to many and always will be.
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