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Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder Paperback – January 1, 1993


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (January 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671797484
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671797485
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Arnold Schwarzenegger served as governor of California from 2003 to 2011. Before that, he had a long career, starring in such films as the Terminator series; Stay Hungry; Twins; Predator; and Junior. His first book, Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder, was a bestseller when published in 1977 and, along with his Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding, has never been out of print since.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

"Arnold! Arnold!"

I can still hear them, the voices of my friends, the lifeguards, bodybuilders, the weight lifters, booming up from the lake where they were working out in the grass and trees.

"Arnold -- come on!" cried Karl, the young doctor who had become my friend at the gym...

It was the summer I turned fifteen, a magical season for me because that year I'd discovered exactly what I wanted to do with my life. It was more than a young boy's mere pipe dream of a distant, hazy future -- confused fantasies of being a fireman, detective, sailor, test pilot, or spy. I knew I was going to be a bodybuilder. It wasn't simply that either. I would be the best bodybuilder in the world, the greatest, the best-built man.

I'm not exactly sure why I chose bodybuilding, except that I loved it. I loved it from the first moment my fingers closed around a barbell and I felt the challenge and exhilaration of hoisting the heavy steel plates above my head.

I had always been involved in sports through my father, a tall, sturdy man who was himself a champion at ice curling. We were a physical family, oriented toward training, good eating, and keeping the body fit and healthy. With my father's encouragement, I first got into organized competitive sports when I was ten. I joined a soccer team that even had uniforms and a regular three-days-a-week training schedule. I threw myself into it and played soccer passionately for almost five years.

However, by the time I was thirteen team sports no longer satisfied me. I was already off on an individual trip. I disliked it when we won a game and I didn't get personal recognition. The only time I really felt rewarded was when I was singled out as being best. I decided to try some individual sports. I ran, I swam, I boxed; I got into competition, throwing javelin and shot put. Although I did well with them, none of those things felt right to me. Then our coach decided that lifting weights for an hour once a week would be a good way to condition us for playing soccer.

I still remember that first visit to the bodybuilding gym. I had never seen anyone lifting weights before. Those guys were huge and brutal. I found myself walking around them, staring at muscles I couldn't even name, muscles I'd never even seen before. The weight lifters shone with sweat; they were powerful looking, Herculean. And there it was before me -- my life, the answer I'd been seeking. It clicked. It was something I suddenly just seemed to reach out and find, as if I'd been crossing a suspended bridge and finally stepped off onto solid ground.

I started lifting weights just for my legs, which was what we needed most for playing soccer. The bodybuilders noticed immediately how hard I was working out. Considering my age, fifteen, I was squatting with some pretty heavy weight. They encouraged me to go into bodybuilding. I was 6 feet tall and slender, weighing only 150 pounds; but I did have a good athletic physique and my muscles responded surprisingly fast under training. I think those guys saw that. Because of my build I'd always had it easier at sports than most boys my age. But I had it tougher than a lot of my teammates and companions because I wanted more, I demanded more of myself.

That summer the bodybuilders took me on as their protégé. They put me through a series of exercises, which we did together beside a lake near Graz, my hometown in Austria. It was a program they used simply to stay limber. We worked without weights. We did chin-ups on the branches of trees. We held each other's legs and did handstand push-ups. Leg raises, sit-ups, twists, and squats were all included in a simple routine to get our bodies tuned and ready for the gym.

It wasn't until the end of the summer that I got into real weight training. Once I started, though, it didn't take long. After two or three months with the bodybuilders, I was literally addicted. The guys I hung out with were all much older. Karl Gerstl, the doctor, was twenty-eight, Kurt Manul thirty-two, and Helmut Knaur was fifty. Each of them became a father image for me. I listened less to my own father. These weight lifters were my new heroes. I was in awe of them, of their size, of the control they had over their bodies.

I was introduced to actual weight training through a tough basic program put together by these bodybuilders. The one hour a week we had trained for soccer was no longer enough to satisfy my craving for working out. I signed up to go to the gym three times a week. I loved the feel of the cold iron and steel warming to my touch and the sounds and smells of the gym. And I still love it. There is nothing I would sooner hear than the sound of heavy steel plates ringing as they are threaded onto the bar or dropped back to the rack after a strenuous lift.

I remember the first real workout I had as vividly as if it were last night. I rode my bike to the gym, which was eight miles from the village where I lived. I used barbells, dumbbells and machines. The guys warned me that I'd get sore, but it didn't seem to be having any effect. I thought I must be beyond that. Then, after the workout, I started riding home and fell off my bike. I was so weak I couldn't make my hands hold on. I had no feeling in my legs: they were noodles. I was numb, my whole body buzzing. I pushed the bike for a while, leaning on it. Half a mile farther, I tried to ride it again, fell off again, and then just pushed it the rest of the way home. This was my first experience with weight training, and I was crazy for it.

The next morning I couldn't even lift my arm to comb my hair. Each time I tried, pain shot through every muscle in my shoulder and arm. I couldn't hold the comb. I tried to drink coffee and spilled it all over the table. I was helpless.

"What's wrong, Arnold?" my mother asked. She came over from the stove and peered at me. "What is it?" She bent down to look closer as she mopped up the spilled coffee.

"I'm just sore," I told her. "My muscles are stiff."

"Look at this boy!" she called out to my father. "Look what he's doing to himself."

My father came in, doing up his tie. He was always neat, his hair slicked back smooth, his mustache trimmed to a line. He laughed and said I'd limber up.

But my mother kept on. "Why, Arnold? Why do you want to do it to yourself?"

I couldn't be bothered with what my mother felt. Seeing new changes in my body, feeling them, turned me on. It was the first time I'd ever felt every one of my muscles. It was the first time those sensations had registered in my mind, the first time my mind knew my thighs, calves and forearms were more than just limbs. I felt the muscles in my triceps aching, and I knew why they were called triceps -- because there are three muscles in there. They were all registered in my mind, written there with sharp little jabs of pain. I learned that this pain meant progress. Each time my muscles were sore from a workout, I knew they were growing.

I could not have chosen a less popular sport. My school friends thought I was crazy. But I didn't care. My only thoughts were of going ahead, building muscles and more muscles. I had almost no time to relax and think about bodybuilding in any other terms. I remember certain people trying to put negative thoughts into my mind, trying to persuade me to slow down. But I had found the thing to which I wanted to devote my total energies and there was no stopping me. My drive was unusual, I talked differently than my friends; I was hungrier for success than anyone I knew.

I started to live for being in the gym. I had a new language -- reps, sets, forced reps, presses. I had resisted memorizing anatomy in school; now I was eager to know it. Around the gym my new friends spoke of biceps, triceps, latissimus dorsi, trapezius, obliques. I spent hours going through the American magazines Muscle Builder and Mr. America. Karl, the doctor, knew English and I had him translating anytime he was free. I saw my first photographs of Muscle Beach; I saw Larry Scott, Ray Routledge, and Serge Nubret. The magazines were full of success stories. The advantages of having a well-developed body were incomparable. Guys like Doug Stroll and Steve Reeves were in the movies because they had worked out and created great physiques.

In one of those magazines I saw my first photograph of Reg Park. He was on a page facing Jack Delinger. I responded immediately to Reg Park's rough, massive look. The man was an animal. That's the way I wanted to be -- ultimately: big. I wanted to be a big guy. I didn't want to be delicate. I dreamed of big deltoids, big pecs, big thighs, big calves; I wanted every muscle to explode and be huge. I dreamed about being gigantic. Reg Park was the epitome of that dream, the biggest, most powerful person in bodybuilding.

From then on in my mid-teens, I kept my batteries charged with the adventure movies of Steve Reeves, Mark Forrest, Brad Harris, Gordon Mitchell, and Reg Park. I admired Reg Park more than the others. He was rugged, everything I thought a man should be. I recall seeing him for the first time on the screen. The film was Hercules and the Vampires, a picture in which the hero had to rid the earth of an invasion of thousands of bloodthirsty vampires. Reg Park looked so magnificent in the role of Hercules I was transfixed. And, sitting there in the theater, I knew that was going to be me. I would look like Reg Park. I studied every move he made, every gesture....Suddenly I realized the house lights were on and everyone else had walked out.

From that point on, my life was utterly dominated by Reg Park. His image was my ideal. It was fixed indelibly in my mind. All my friends were more impressed by Steve Reeves, but I didn't like him. Reg Park had more of a rough look, a powerful look, while Steve Reeves seemed elegant, smooth, polished. I knew in my mind that I was not geared for elegance. I wanted to be massive. It was the difference between cologne and sweat.

I found out everything I cou...

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Customer Reviews

The Education of a Bodybuilder is one of the greatest books I've read.
J. Malinn
In addition he went into the promotion side of bodybuilding, running competions such as Mr. Olympia, Mr. Universe, and of course, the Arnold Classic.
Tristan Heberlein (vatolocouno@juno.com)
This great autobiography shows everyone who reads it that not giving up on a goal can help them achieve anything in life.
student

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Tristan Heberlein (vatolocouno@juno.com) on April 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
The book is an autobiography of Arnold, up through the mid-70s. It is interesting to be inside the mind of a super-athlete such as Schwarzenegger. He conveys how and why he rose to become what many believe to be the greatest bodybuilder of all-time. He writes about many of the distractions of the early days -- girls, school, parental disaproval, a year of army duty -- and how he dealt with these and managed to stay focused on his dream to be the best at the sport.
Within five years he became Mr. Universe. He perservered to become more than just a great bodybuilder. He became a superstar. After he had beat every other bodybuilder of his time, he decided to do away with competing and accomplish his next set of goals. He went into acting, and as we all know, became an international moviestar. In addition he went into the promotion side of bodybuilding, running competions such as Mr. Olympia, Mr. Universe, and of course, the Arnold Classic. He also set up many gyms in several countries.
The second half of the book is a rough guide on how to begin a progressive resistance program, additional motivational advice, nutrition and the like.
Throughout the book he demonstrates the many benifits he obtained from bodybuilding -- optimal health, discipline, mind control, etc. Basically, I found it very inspirational to read. However, I would suggest not to solely rely on the information in the second half for workout planning. Though it is good information, it is somewhat brief, and it is WHAT WORKED FOR HIM. Everyone varies in their response to weight training (i.e. how quickly their muscles grow) due to genetic predispositions, such as natural metabolism level, and and I would suggest getting additional, more comprehensive information, such as Gold's Gym Mass Building Training and Nutrition System, or check your local bookstore and do some browsing through the selection to see what appeals to your interest.
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110 of 118 people found the following review helpful By Charles Runels Md on September 25, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I finished my first year of college, I had dropped to 135 pounds (at 6 feet and 2 inches...more than 100 pounds lighter than Arnold and the same height). I was over motivated in my studies of chemistry in a premedicine curriculum and finished that first year exhausted with mononucleosis but with a 4.0 average.

But, I decided I would take a different strategy my second year of college. I bought this book (the summer of 1979) and studied it carefully. Here's what happened...

I spent the summer resting and then started school at 145 pounds. I determined to follow the book to the letter (even the going to bed and getting up at the same time...which doesn't make for the best social life for a college sophomore). I also watched my thoughts carefully and practiced some of the techniques that Arnold suggests as well as experimented with a few of my own.

When I finished that school year, I weighed 198 pounds and still sported a 29 inch wasit. People who saw me the summer after my second year of college who hadn't seen me since the previous summer, sometimes didn't recognize me.

I gained 53 to 63 pounds of muscle in one year (depending on when you start counting) and did it eating the diet described in this book. I even started with 6 weeks on the non-weights/calesthenic routine before lifting the weights. Then I spent the rest of the year doing the "beginner" routine. Oh, I didn't touch any anabolic steriods but supplemented with brewer's yeast, descicted liver, vitamin C, and Bee Pollen.

I took to heart the advice about record keeping and about eating at the same time with strict adherence to the diet recommended.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By "rjgrib" on March 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
Actually, Arnold wrote this book long before his Hollywood career took off. He tells an honest story about his life and career as a bodybuilder back in a time when bodybuilding was considered strange and obscure. Arnold helped shatter all the myths and stereotypes about the sport and realistically tells us how gruelling and demanding the sport really is. He is correct in accessing that certain body types have a better chance at succeeding while others have many obstacles to overcome. Sheer muscle mass is only part of the sport. Just as important is definition and symmetry. Arnold was blessed with just about perfect body symmetry so he was a natural. This doesn't mean he didn't work hard. In fact you'll gather inspiration as you read about him always pushing himself and striving to do better. Arnold is also not shy about some of the seedier elements that were around at the time he was in competition. Promises of contracts, endorsements, and money could disappear as fast as the unscrupulous businessman who took advantage of them. This is a great book about a great man and brought bodybuilding the dignity it deserves.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on August 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
When this book was first released in the late 1970s, Arnold had yet to embark on a serious movie career, with only the starring role in "Pumping Iron" under his belt, and that being a limited success at that, playing only in art cinema houses and in limited distribution. It was long before his actual starring role in "Conan" (which had been rumored for years in bodybuilding circles before it finally came to fruition in the early 1980s. So it is interesting to read of the specificity of his plans and his supreme confidence in himself and his ability to succeed at anything he chooses in this well-scribed ghostwritten autobiography published long before.
Those of us who had become familiar with Arnold and his progress in the public domain knew the world was hardy prepared for this steamroller of a human being, a man for whom the normal rules simply do not seem to apply. Other famous bodybuilders had tried to use their muscles and brawn to jump-start a Hollywood career, and although several such as Steve Reeves and Gordon Scott had been major stars in action films during the 1960s, neither was able to translate what was in actuality a brief spurt of public interest in men with superior physiques into a sustaining career.
Yet from the beginning there was something about Arnie that defied the rules other mortals belabored under. Using the modest investment cash gained from the sale of his small gym in Munich to start himself, Schwarzenegger bought an apartment building and soon bought more property, growing up into the booming California real estate market in a way that propelled him into the ranks of the wealthy long before he ever read a movie script.
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