If you haven’t seen Pumping Iron, you should watch it immediately. It’s a great glimpse into the mind of one of the most powerful alpha-males of his time, 7-time Mr. Olympian Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was, at the time of the documentary, at the height of his powers, the best bodybuilder in the world. In the film, we see what makes him tick, then get to witness some full psychological warfare with Lou Ferrigno during the Mr. Olympia competition…
There’s a scene earlier on where he’s spotting his friend Eddie, who’s doing squats. The guy is going past the point of no return, ready to drop, trying to impress Arnold. Arnold counts, “Seven, eight, keep going.” The guy is about to die.
Then Arnold goes, “Let’s get serious. Two more.” The guy, miraculously, does the two reps and almost falls to the ground.
Then Arnold goes, “One more. No matter what.” And the guy ends up squatting one more time, somehow making it back up again. Then drops the bar on the rack and collapses to the ground.
This is what you have to do.
In a candid interview following this display, Arnold gives a glimpse on what goes through the mind of a champion…
“The body isn’t used to maybe the ninth, tenth… eleventh, and twelfth rep with a certain weight.
“So that makes the body grow, then. Going through this pain barrier. Experiencing pain in your muscles and aching… and just go on and go on.
“And this last two or three or four repetitions… that’s what makes the muscle then grow. And that divides one from a being a champion and one from not being a champion.
“If you can go through this pain barrier, you may get to be a champion. If you can’t go through, forget it.
“And that’s what most people lack, is having the guts. The guts to go in and just say, ‘I’ll go through and I don’t care what happens.’
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As I say to the guys on a regular basis, c’mon, let’s get serious now… The mind is the strongest muscle in the body, and it’s up to you how strong you want to make it.