"Think of Your Biceps as Mountains" - Arnold Schwarzenegger
Jul 20, 2016 | by: Team A8
Let's be honest. We all want bigger and stronger biceps - aka big guns, right? Now, how do you go about achieving that? Through training? Yes. Well, we are going to discuss the specifics of how we can train the biceps in the near future.
In this post, however, we will discuss what we can learn from Arnold Schwarzenegger when it comes to things we can and should do before workouts. Without further ado, let's start with the legendary bodybuilder's quote:
"Throughout my bodybuilding career, I was constantly playing tricks on my mind. This is why I began to think of my biceps as mountains, instead of flesh and blood. Thinking of my biceps as mountains made my arms grow faster and bigger than if I’d seen them only as muscles."
That's a pretty profound statement. How can we apply his principle? We have identified 2 ways by which we can put the uniquely-gifted bodybuilder's philosophy into practice. Of course, there are a lot more we can learn from the Austrian Oak, but we would rather want to give you in a small dose so you can soak up one thing at a time. Especially since this subject is pretty deep. Let's start with Point #1.
1. Start with the Mind
In the above quote, Arnold Schwarzenegger said that in order to grow your muscles, you must see past the flesh and blood. It means you must go deeper. Everything starts with the mind. You have to work with that little guy down there. And that is why Arnold is recognized, not just as one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time, but one of the history's hardest thinking athletes that the world has ever known. And he applied it 'throughout his bodybuilding career.' So this is the first key to understanding Arnold's accomplishments. He constantly played tricks on his mind. We should be humble enough to recognize that most of us can't emulate what he did, but we should try and see what we can glean from his example.
Many mental-health experts agree that our thoughts produce our feelings. You can't have a feeling without a thought. For example, Dr. Wayne Dyer points out that "you cannot have a feeling (emotion) without first having experienced a thought." And this truth always governed Arnold's style and approach to bodybuilding. And he applied this important principle - 'everything starts with the mind' - to his biceps-building efforts. After all, when he had his first workout at age 15, the future Oak was 6 feet tall and 150 pounds. It's not meager, but it shows you don't have to be born with big guns. But he says,
"When I was 10 years old, I was already flexing my arms every day. By the time I started bodybuilding at age 15, biceps were the most noticeable muscle group on my body. By flexing my biceps so much, I'd learned to control them more completely."
He then took himself to the level where very few people can reach. He played the mind games on himself. Remember the quote mentioned at the outset? The Austrian Oakwent on to say:
"When you think of biceps as merely muscles, you subconsciously have a limit in your mind, which for biceps is something in the area of 20" or 21". When you limit yourself to that measurement, it is very hard to get to that level and, needless to say, impossible to get past it. But when you think about mountains, there is no limit to biceps growth, and therefore you have a chance of going beyond normal mental barriers."
The lesson? It starts with the mind. Think beyond the flesh and bones. But never forget to set realistic
goals and set a time limit.
2. Shock Your Muscles
Arnold Schwarzenegger was very analytical in his biceps development. By the time he was 19, he had already developed a method of training biceps in a way nobody had attempted or even envisioned. He brought incoherence to the muscle workout routine.
What do we mean by that? Many athletes try to be systematic at the gym and while this method works, it could be trite, and the result is your muscles could get complacent. By shocking the biceps, however, Arnold Schwarzenegger was able to achieve great success. In the Styrian Oak's words:
"A typical training program would include barbell curls, dumbbell curls (seated or standing), preacher bench curls and concentration curls. Keep in mind, though, that the way I trained changed a lot of times, because I’d always try to shock the muscles. I recall days when my training partners and I would do 20 extremely heavy sets of biceps work, with only four or five reps each set. Another day maybe only two days later we would do 10 more sets, 15 reps each, using a lighter weight. "This shocking method was extremely important to my training. Your muscles tend to become complacent and resist growth if you are constantly doing the same workout for them. But if you try all different types of training methods, exercises, weights, set-rep combinations and training tempos, you keep the muscles off balance. They sort of say to themselves, 'Wow, there’s a new thing here. He just did 10 sets of 20 reps, and the next workout he'll do 20 sets of five reps. I'll never get used to this. I can never build up a resistance to the training, so I guess I'll have to grow!'"
And this incoherence worked. By infusing a number of alterations into his training system, his arms grew to 17" when he was 17, 18" at 18, and past 19" at 19. So, what can we learn from Arnold Schwarzenegger? First, start with your mind. Be determined to have some goals that are attainable and hit them within a reasonable period. Second, shock the muscles. Always strive to do pump more and don't be afraid to do something different. Learn from others, but be yourself. Think of your biceps as mountains. See beyond the pains and endure with the blazing hope that you will be rewarded for your hard work!