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Arnold Schwarzenegger Breaking The Pain Barrier

Posted by: Ray


by Arnold Schwarzenegger

Sometimes I go to the gym thinking I am going to have a bad workout...during the first few sets the body refuses to co-operate with the mind. I began to question myself and think maybe I should just quit and forget the whole thing. There's always tomorrow.

However, as often happens, the body starts to warm up quickly...I get a visual prod when I see some other big animal in the gym pumping iron and pouring sweat, and that stimulates me. Goals are important. How much are you driven by your goals? How important is it for you to complete them? If your drives are strong, your body becomes a willing slave to them. I enter the gym each day carrying with me my main goal. This is supported day to day by many smaller stimuli. I may change my routine around and do things a bit differently here and there. I may have it in mind one day to do 20 reps with 315 lb bench press. The next time I may set a goal of 20 repetition chins, until I can't hold onto the bar anymore. I look forward to those little daily trips. I like to get into hand-to-hand combat with an exercise. I'll get into a curl-fest with somebody, handing the bar back and forth curling to fatigue with each set, until one of us checks out. All those little things help dispel any negative feeling. Am I too tired? Am I in shape? Can I push the weight? You should only be open to torture and hard training and doing your thing. When I begin to feel pain during a set of repetitions, my muscle is telling me to stop. I don't stop, of course, rather changing this pain to a positive experience. Pain is gain, I tell myself. I am humping after it. The important thing is to reach the pain and break through it.

I am waiting for the muscles to grow. The first few painless reps serve only as a warm up for the main thrust. After you have reached the point of fatigue with the pain shrieking in your brain you stop...but only if you're satisfied to take home the 2nd or 3rd place trophies.

If you like 1st place trophies, you continue your effort into the area of forced reps. How many can you do? Usually one, maybe as many as four. But by that time you are vibrating from head to foot, and you have reached the point of exhaustion. There's a destination between fatigue and exhaustion. At the point of fatigue the muscle is still hiding some of its reserve from you. You've got to take it away with forced reps.

Muscles are stubborn, and to his day I have never found them submissive. They fight you every time. Their weapon is pain, but once you break through that defence, you've got it made.

Bodybuilding is a sure test of moral fibre. I could never understand why nature instilled in us such a strong resistance to progress. Perhaps it was a way of selecting the best for survival. I am going to survive in bodybuilding because when my muscles say 'NO', I say 'YES'.

This article was originally pulished in Flex Magazine, September 1987

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