In the first installment of a special two-part series, we take you back to Gold's Gym, Venice, in July 1973, for a detailed look inside the life and training of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Relive the blood, sweat and brutal training that forged a legend.
By this point in time, Arnold Schwarzenegger has been analyzed, scrutinized, dissected and inspected to a degree unlike any bodybuilder who has come before, or probably any after. He is the ultimate bodybuilding icon: five-time Mr. Universe, seven-time Mr. Olympia winner, successful contest promoter, worldwide ambassador for his sport and celebrity of the highest order.
Topping off that impressive resumé, the former Mr. World oversees one of the world's largest economies in his role as governor of California.
It might stand to reason, then, that all that's to be written about The Austrian Oak's training has been written, several times over. Actually, that's not the case. Myriad articles have explained how he peaked his biceps, swept his quads and capped his deltoids, but there has never been a comprehensive story that truly takes a revealing look at what went into building the physique that would become the one by which all others would be measured.
Moreover, lost in so many of those reports on his calf training is the human aspect of it all - the pain, the sweat, the occasional vomit. Well, maybe you don't need to read about the vomit, but fact is, Schwarzenegger trained as hard as any bodybuilder in history and fit more sets and reps into a week than most of today's pros could even fathom.
Summer Of 1973
During the summer of 1973, Schwarzenegger was deep into his training for the upcoming Mr. Olympia contest. He was shooting for his fourth consecutive title, which would break the record of three, one he held at the time with perennial rival Sergio Oliva. Schwarzenegger was the favorite going into the September show, but Arnold, being Arnold, never took anything for granted.
His best pal, Franco Columbu, despite giving up nine inches in height to The Oak, posed a formidable threat, with his bat-wing lats and split pecs. France's Serge Nubret was steadily improving each year and was one of the few pro bodybuilders whose physique outfinessed even Schwarzenegger's. Then there was Oliva.
It wasn't clear whether he could or would enter the 1973 Mr. Olympia, but if he did, looking anywhere close to the awesome form he showed the prior year, Schwarzenegger would have a tooth-and-nail battle on his hands. So the reigning Mr. O took to the weights with immeasurable ferocity that summer.
Schwarzenegger's training ground of choice was Gold's Gym, a 3,500-square-foot concrete box erected eight years earlier by Joe Gold. It sat a few feet back from Pacific Avenue and a few hundred yards off the Pacific Ocean.>
In a handful of years bookending 1973, Schwarzenegger, along with a few dozen other pioneers who would brave the unfriendly wilds of a misunderstood sport, made Gold's his home, his temple, his refuge. It was in this place at this time that Schwarzenegger's legendary status within bodybuilding would be cemented.
The following pages portray one day in the gym life of Arnold Schwarzenegger, professional bodybuilder, during that summer. Although the actual events are fictionalized, these are faithful representations of the myriad personalities involved, and the workouts described are true to those performed by Schwarzenegger and his training partners during their competitive prime.
Step with us through the doors of the most famous gym in the world in its glorious heyday for a workout with the icons of bodybuilding.
Ready to go inside for this unique glimpse into Schwarzenegger's bodybuilding heyday? Pick up the February 2006 issue, on newsstands January 9.