Arnold’s Art Of Psychological Warfare

by Adam Smith

The mind is a powerful thing to waste. The mental game. It’s an important concept in any athletic endeavor, yet most onlookers tend to focus more on the physical aspect of the sport. It’s not their fault really. They’re called onlookers for a reason aren’t they, so they can watch in amazement as high level athlete perform feats they could only dream of. In that time of being an observer you’re really only going to focus on what an athlete does with their body, whether it’s a boxer, running back, a basketball player, or a bodybuilder, paying closer attention to the physical form is only natural. But it’s not the physical prowess that brings them to the table, at least not only the physical, but their mindsets as well. The mind can be a powerful tool if utilized correctly.

So what’s all this talk about the mind set anyways? Well,  bodybuilding is as much about the mental game as the physical. Not simply in terms of food prep or monitoring their macro nutrition. We’re talking about the psychology of competition, the mind set that can crush an opponent before they even choose to get on stage. Arnold Schwarzenegger was a master of it, able to toy with fellow competitors to the point that their performances ended up being lackluster on stage.

Take for instance Arnold’s chief rival during the 1975 Mr. Olympia competition Lou Ferrigno. Lou was blessed with the right genetics and had the diligent work ethic that could’ve easily made him a champion. There was only one problem; he was up against Arnold who was pretty much an unbeatable entity at that point. Arnold had Lou beaten from the start and nothing highlighted his psychological edge than the breakfast scene from Pumping Iron.

By the end, Lou was already conceding defeat on a subconscious level. He doubted himself and all because Arnold injected that bit of fear into him. It wasn’t the only reason Arnold took the victory, but it went a long way to ensuring that Lou’s head wouldn’t be in the game. Arnold’s mental prowess along with his physique is the reason behind his major success in and outside of bodybuilding. So if you’re a bodybuilder looking to compete, don’t just work on your lats or biceps or quads when you get into the gym. You have to work your mental game as well. There’s no room for doubt or error. If you want to claim the top spot, you better have your mind in the right place.

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