When we think of Arnold Schwarzenegger as a young man, stepping on the tables of the best bodybuilding competitions in the world in the 70s, it is hard to imagine that he was not satisfied with his body and muscles.
In his latest Netflix documentary ‘Arnold’, the bodybuilding legend is seen flexing and displaying the statuesque image of perfection we all remember. However, while talking about his Mr. Olympia victories, he also reveals some of his fears and insecurities.
“I was never really satisfied with my body,” Schwarzenegger confesses. “I looked in the mirror and said to myself, ‘I don’t know how this fucking body could win that competition.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and muscle dysmorphia
According to a study published by the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, perfectionist tendencies are related to being more susceptible to muscle dysmorphia. This, in combination with external pressures, could have played a role in Schwarzenegger’s body dissatisfaction at the time.
“Many times I thought everything was crap. It’s like the other me that I want the world not to see. Actually, when I’m alone, I look at it and I say to myself: ‘It hasn’t arrived yet. It’s not happening.” And I think that’s what made me always push myself on the edge and always want more, surpassing myself.”
Moving to the US and training at the mythical Gold’s Gym, he tells how he faced criticism for his “balloon gut” and the emptiness he experienced after finishing second in Mister Universe USA. “I was so devastated that I was laying there in the middle of the night in bed, in that hotel room, and I thought the world was coming to an end. I cried all night,” he recalls.
But he never gave up, and the rest is bodybuilding history…
Kate is a fitness writer for Men’s Health UK where she contributes regular workouts, training tips and nutrition guides. She has a post graduate diploma in Sports Performance Nutrition and before joining Men’s Health she was a nutritionist, fitness writer and personal trainer with over 5k hours coaching on the gym floor. Kate has a keen interest in volunteering for animal shelters and when she isn’t lifting weights in her garden, she can be found walking her rescue dog.