It was not until half a century ago that bodybuilding came to be recognized as an international sport. However, what most people don’t know is that it was pioneered by some people who dared to venture into something new. The sport has gradually grown in popularity and is now found in virtually every corner of the globe. In this article, we are going to highlight interviews with the three most successful bodybuilders in the world of fitness. We hope you will get inspiration from their sentiments to take your fitness career to a new level.
Sometimes considered the most successful and greatest bodybuilder of all time, the former governor of California is a household name. Arnold Schwarzenegger immigrated to the united states to look for a better life. After a few years of trying to figure out what to do with his life, the former heavyweight champion finally found a place in fitness. Arnold has been interviewed numerous times but we are going to highlight one interview conducted by David Greene of NPR. This particular interview was very objective as it highlighted many aspects of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career and life.
We may not be able to cover every detail of the interview but we shall highlight parts that are most relevant to bodybuilding.
On What Motivated Him to Venture In Bodybuilding
Like most successful sportspeople, Arnold’s bodybuilding career started by taking a rough path. Every one has an idol and his was Reg Park. In his own words, he stated.
- “I saw this magazine that had my idol on the cover, Reg Park, who became Mr. Universe three times and won, and then ended up in the Hercules movie in the 60s. And so he kind of became my idol. And so then I started cutting out pictures of these bodybuilding magazines and weightlifting magazines and put them up on the wall above my bed, kind of to remind me every day this is what I ought to look like, train every day, and one day, I will be like that. So it was a kind of motivation vehicle for me.”
From his sentiments, we can see that he started looking up to someone he considered mightier, but look who he became. His was a matter of having a goal, in form of his hero, and working hard to accomplish it.
On Handling Challenges to His Career
People are hardly noticed in the early years of their career. It is at this stage that they get to enjoy a little bit of privacy. Once their star starts shining, they will be subjected to every kind of scrutiny. It was not any different for Arnold Schwarzenegger. As his star begun growing, so did the opposition, from within and outside. Here is what he had to say about his mother.
- “But my mother looked at it in a different way… I took her into the bedroom, and I said look how I decorated my bed above here, the wall. She shook her head and, you know, didn’t say much. And I was kind of concerned why she didn’t really say something or didn’t compliment me of how well I decorated the wall. The next thing I knew was she flagged down the doctor, who every Wednesday, came with his little Fiat by our house. And she asked him to come up to the house and to look at my bedroom wall. And so… he came to the bedroom, and he looked at the wall, and she said: ‘Look at this. I mean, my son has all these naked pictures of men …’ “
Despite all the opposition from his mother, he still went ahead to prove her wrong by becoming the best.
Source: Talk of the Nation, via www.npr.org
Frank Zane is another successful bodybuilder who won Mr. Olympia three times. Also considered one of the greatest of all time, this moving mass can only be compared to legends of Hercules, Zeus and Poseidon. With incredible physique that djrove women crazy, Zane was some kind of demigod between 1977 and 1979. It was at this period that he won the three Mr. Olympia titles consecutively. Fran,k Zane was interviewed by FLEX and this is what he had to say about his life and career.
It is important to know that Zane’s career spanned almost 40 years, but he was most active in the 70s and early 80s.
On How He Formulated His First Training Routine
- “It was all by people I’d met, things I’d read and trial and error. When I first started out, I was about 18 actually younger I was about 16 or17 when I really got serious. I worked out every other day after school, doing upper body one day, legs the next. I kept that routine for a while and it worked well for me. Then, in the mid-late 60s, when I was living in Florida, I increased the number of workouts so that I was training six days a week, but it was still upper body one day, legs the next.”
When Asked About His Preferred ab Exercises
- “Usually crunches and/or Roman-chair situps for upper abs. Leg raises or hanging knee-ups for upper abs, seated twists for obliques.”
His Response to Why the Current Generation of Bodybuilders Don’t Give Much Time to ab Training
- “Worked for me. I just went by the example of those who had been training at Gold’s Gym in Venice when I got there. You know, in the late 60s Zabo Koszewski was there and he had the best abs and I figured, well, I’ll try it. He would do 500 Roman-chair situps in the morning and 500 leg raises in the afternoon and so that’s what I did. I figured if you had great abs and you had everything else, you’d look even better, and it worked.”
How Diet Played a Role in his Conditioning
“My diet was always very good, but volume training in itself really conditions you. If you go heavy, you’ll grow too, but boy, volume training really works you down to your core. To this day, I still practice volume, except now I will train three days a week or so.”
Comparing His Training Today and 30 Years Ago
“On the whole, it is, with lighter weights and less volume, of course. I have to say that I rely heavily on muscle memory these days, and it is a pretty amazing thing. I don’t have to train that much anymore to stay in decent shape, which is good because my joints couldn’t handle a lot of this work now. But there comes a point in your 60s when you hit a kind of age barrier, and the gains come slower and the accumulated stress you put on your body all those years adds up. It’s a bit of a balancing act – knowing how much to train to elicit results without aggravating old injuries.”
Source: Flex Magazine 2008
3. Flex Wheeler
We couldn’t leave the Sultan of Symmetry out of our best three for obvious reasons. Flex Wheeler was interviewed by bodybuilding legend Kevin Levrone. This was a very unique interview because it was just two legends having a chat and digging into the past. There are a few points we can pick from the chat. Here is how the interview went down.
When Asked Who Was the Most dreadful Competitor He Ever Faced
On this, Wheeler did not hesitate to mention Ronnie Coleman and Dorian Yates. He also went ahead to state that he could have easily defeated Ronnie Coleman in the 1999 contest but admitted that Ronnie was a great Mr. Olympia.
Related Article:: 6 Famous Mr. Olympia of All Time
About Back-to-Back Weekly Competitions
Like most bodybuilders of his time, Flex Wheeler didn’t find it difficult to compete every week. He had to squeeze in time for training every week in anticipation of the next contest. It was a time when bodybuilding as a sport was picking momentum so there was motivation all around.
The Hardest Training Partner Flex Ever Had
A training partner plays a crucial role in shaping and influencing one’s mindset. He/she instills the spirit of competition and this goes a long way in preparing you for major contests. Flex Wheeler revealed that Chris Cormier was the hardest person he ever trained with. Being one of the strongest bodybuilders at that time, Cormier pushed Flex to his limits, thus turning him into a beast.
As you may have noticed, the three interviews have valuable lessons any bodybuilder can use to make an extra stride in their career. We have tackled unique aspects of bodybuilding in each, from personal struggles to training routines. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane, and Flex Wheeler all looked up to someone and worked their way up to reach that level. And in most cases, the prodigy goes ahead and becomes better than their idol. That is a hell of a motivation for any bodybuilder who wants to put their name on the world map. You can follow up on the full interviews from the sources indicated.