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If Arnold Schwarzenegger visualized it, it came true. His goal to be the best bodybuilder of all time—to leave a legacy so great that he would always be remembered—was so clear in his mind that everything else faded away. The actualization of his vision took sweat, sacrifice, and pain, but ultimately, it led to triumph.
In this video, you'll get to view never-before-seen footage of Arnold building his legacy, including some classic tape from the golden age of bodybuilding and new, exclusive interview footage. Follow Arnold's path so you can learn how to build your own.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's Blueprint To Cut: Program
Watch The Video - 15:02
Can't get enough Arnold? Check out the director's cut of this video!
Arnold the Visionary
"The most important thing is to have a vision," says Arnold. "You have to have a goal. I had the vision that I wanted to be the greatest bodybuilder of all time. Your goal doesn't have to be the same that mine was, but it has to be there. That's why I always recommend to people to sit down, take your time, and think about what you want."
Arnold's power of vision was put to the test when he was approached by director Bob Rafelson to play the role of Joe Santo in the movie "Stay Hungry." Rafelson told Arnold that he had to weigh less than 210 pounds in order to have the role.
"So, I started visualizing myself very clearly as a lean athlete," says Arnold. "Because that's the only way I could lose the weight and get more interested in running. Up until that point I was running three miles or so before or after training. Now I was running five, six, seven, even eight miles so I could lose the weight."
Arnold didn't have the supplements that we have today to help with fat loss, so his way of getting carved muscular definition—in addition to running like a champ—was to do a hell of a lot of sets in the gym. "So, I went all out. I piled on as many sets as possible," he says.
Arnold spent months doing everything he could to achieve his vision. "I knew all along that it didn't really matter if I went down to 200 pounds or 160 pounds. Because, if I made my mind up, I'd lose the weight," he says.
The day before shooting began, Arnold stepped on a scale. It read 209 pounds.
Arnold's incredible transformation demonstrates the power and impact of clear vision. "It just shows what is possible if you visualize exactly what you want," Arnold reflects.
Focus and enthusiasm
Along with a very clear vision, you'll need enthusiasm to achieve your goal. Arnold was always excited about his progress and excited about the work he was doing in the gym.
"That's why I always smiled when I was in the gym," says Arnold. "People always asked me why I was smiling. Other guys had a sour face or they were pissed off that they had to do another rep or another set. But I looked forward to the work. Why? Because I knew that with every rep that I did, every set that I did, with every weight that I that I lifted, I got one step closer to turning my vision into reality.
"Because I was so enthusiastic about achieving my vision and winning one championship after the next, there was always excitement," Arnold says. "So, when I went into the gym, I put my gym bag down and immediately attacked the weights."
Enjoying yourself as you work toward your vision is an essential part of success. Every little step should feel like a victory. Any PR, great set, pound lost, or new vein should be cause for celebration. If you're not happy, then you can't enjoy your progress.
Although he smiled and enjoyed the process of building his physique, Arnold was also laser-focused. "There's nothing worse than knowing you didn't reach your goal because you didn't do everything you could do. This is why it's so important that you pay attention to everything you do," says Arnold.
If you want to make consistent forward progress, then your diet, supplementation, and training have to be on point every single day. Every hour you spend in the gym, every meal that you eat, and every choice you make should contribute to your ultimate goal. Stay focused on your end goal, on that one mental image, no matter what happens.
5 Rules To Achieving Your Vision
Building up or carving out your best body takes extreme dedication to your vision. Without a clear mental image of what you want to look like, of what you want to achieve, you won't ever get where you want to be. Once you have that vision, keep it in the forefront of your mind.
Building your best self also takes a little help from the Austrian Oak himself. Who could ask for a better mentor or role model? Here are Arnold's five rules for turning your vision into reality.
1 Have a deadline
One of the most important aspects of Arnold's success is that he always had a deadline. "When I had a competition in the middle of September, and it was the beginning of summer, then there was no more time to screw around. I couldn't slack off at all because the day of the competition, I had to be in the best shape possible."
You don't necessarily have to have a competition in mind for your deadline, but whatever it is, make sure it creates a sense of urgency. "A sense of urgency will help you take your training seriously," says Arnold.
"A deadline also helps you to have a specific plan; otherwise, you wander around. You can have the best ship or plane in the world, but if you don't have a goal or plan of where you're going and how you're going to get there, then you just drift around and never get anywhere."
2 Get a training partner
"I always thought that having a training partner was one of the most important parts of my success," says Arnold. "Your training partner is always responsible to challenge you in all things. He or she should challenge you in a fun way, but it should be a challenge so you don't slack off and give yourself a break. In my day, Franco Columbu was my training partner. He was responsible for getting me pumped."
Your training partner will also hold you accountable and give you support when you need it most. "Help each other," says Arnold. "Help each other, even though you may compete against each other."
3 Do supersets, trisets, and giant sets
Doing straight sets of 10-12 reps will definitely help you add muscle, but sometimes your body will need an extra kick. Training techniques like supersets, trisets, giant sets, and others intensify your pump and create a strong training effect.
Regarding the superset, "If you do a pushing exercise and then immediately do a pulling exercise, say the bench press and pull-up, you get more definition and muscle separation," advises Arnold.
"Sometimes, we did trisets or giant sets to get that extra pump," he adds. "The body doesn't really respond if you make it do the same things over and over."
Tough training techniques, progressive overload, and maximum mental intensity will ensure continued physical progress in the gym.
4 Make time
For most people, time management is the biggest challenge. Because their schedules are so hectic, many busy adults claim they don't have time to work out. Yes, spending an hour or so in the gym can be difficult, but it's totally possible.
"When I came to this country, I went to school, I worked construction, I was training for hours each day, and I was taking acting classes from 8 p.m. to midnight. I was doing all of those things. I wanted to make sure that I didn't waste one single hour," says Arnold.
"You have time," he says. "You make the time. When the president of the United States has time to work out, when the pope has time to work out, you have time.
"I think the biggest mistake people make is that they go to the gym and just go through the motions," says Arnold. "They don't have their mind inside the muscle. There were guys next to me who trained just as long as I did, but they looked like shit because they didn't concentrate. They did the same exercises that I did, but they weren't paying attention. They didn't know why they were training; they weren't inside their biceps. You have to be inside the muscle."
"You train or you don't," says Arnold. "If you do something, then do it. Go all out."