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Lessons from the Olympians

The title of Mr. Olympia is annually awarded to the best bodybuilder in the world. But what can we learn from the men who stood out among the best of the best?

Only 13 men have won the coveted Sandow trophy in the history of the Mr. Olympia contest, the ultimate measure of success in bodybuilding. Some of the winners were Larry Scott, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dorian Yates, Lee Haney, Ronnie Coleman and Phil Heath. Each of these men imparted valuable lessons about the sport of bodybuilding:

Larry Scott was the first Mr. Olympia, winning the title in 1965 and 1966: ““No matter how much you think you have designed a perfect training system, your body will prove to you that you are wrong.” Never a slave to the mundane, Scott believed in constantly surprising the body in order to make improvements. “Change your exercises at least every week because the changing stress provides much better growth, and it rejuvenates the ligaments and tendons so you don’t get injured.” Recognised for his exceptional arm development Scott said, “My arms got so big, they were hard to carry around. My traps just got exhausted carrying them. I used to tuck my thumbs into my belt loops just to give my traps a rest.”

Seven-time Mr. Olympia winner Arnold Schwarzenegger is without a doubt the most influential bodybuilder of all time. He introduced the sport to the masses. The Austrian Oak believed in training weaker body parts to bring them up to par with the rest of the body. “Work your weak areas first, when you are fresh and capable of generating the greatest amount of intensity,” he wrote in ‘The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding’. Schwarzenegger also suggested prioritising a weaker muscle group by doing it first after your rest day.

Dorian Yates won six Sandows and was an advocate of shorter more intense workouts.

“Each workout is like a brick in a building, and every time you go in there and do a half-ass workout, you’re not laying a brick down. Somebody else is.”

Both Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman won the Mr. Olympia title eight times. Lee Haney’s most famous advice was “to train to stimulate, not to annihilate”.

Ronnie Coleman’s bodybuilding success was the result of incredible hard work, determination and dedication. “I loved challenging myself every day. The weight room was my therapy for everyday life stresses. No matter what I was doing, I always wanted to be the best.”

Phil Heath is the reigning Mr. Olympia with seven titles under his belt. “Hard work beats talent all day, but talented people with great work ethic become unstoppable!”

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