Arnold Schwarzenegger Shares Career-Changing Lesson from Bodybuilding Legend Reg Park

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Bodybuilding legend Arnold Schwarzenegger reached the pinnacle of the sport during his time in competition. Featured in an excerpt from his newsletter, Arnold reflects on the help Reg Park offered him en route to building an Olympia-caliber physique. 

Known for having some of the best biceps of all time, Schwarzenegger admittedly left no stone unturned during his rise up the ranks in bodybuilding. Kicking off an incredible career, Schwarzenegger captured four Mr. Universe titles. In addition, Arnold won six Mr. Olympia titles in a row, spanning from 1970-to 1975. In 1980, Schwarzenegger defied all odds in his return and defeated Chris Dickerson to secure his seventh and final Sandow trophy.  

Arnold parlayed his success in bodybuilding and began a successful career in the film industry. He rose to international fame after starring in the hit action film, The Terminator. A man of many talents, Schwarzenegger also assumed office as the Governor of California in 2003. As of late, Schwarzenegger enjoys hosting the annual Arnold Classic, a mega-event that features a variety of different shows and activities.

Reg Park also reached incredible heights as a Pro. During his time in bodybuilding, he managed to capture the Mr. Universe title on three separate occasions (1951, 1958, 1965). Arnold believes the lessons he learned from Reg in the past have helped him in every facet of his life today.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Reveals How Reg Park Criticism Changed His Outlook on Life

Recently published in his newsletter, Arnold reflects on constructive criticism offered by Reg Park. While Arnold (at the time) was a Mr. Universe champion, Reg maintained that even proportions were essential to going ‘all the way’ in the sport. 

“I actually love hearing criticism, because that’s how we improve. I told one of the redditors this story, and I thought it might be a good lesson for all of you.

When I went to train with my hero, Reg Park, he pulled out a tape measure and measured my calves and my biceps. He said, “Arnold, your calves are 19 inches and your biceps are 21 inches. You might win Mr. Universe like this, but you’ll never go all the way. You need to build up your calves. Every step you take is a 250 pound calf raise. So to grow, you are going to have to go as heavy as possible, and you’re going to need to do 10-15 sets every single day.” Arnold Schwarzenegger shared.

According to Reg Park, Arnold’s arms and legs were disproportionate. After training his calves to match his arms, Schwarzenegger turned off his ego and listened to Reg’s advice to bring up his lower body. 

It rattled my cage so much because I was young and at first I thought, “I’m a Mr. Universe, why is he giving me a beating?” But I put aside my pride and I listened to him. I trained the hell out of my calves. I was loading the calf raise machine up to 700 pounds, doing 15 sets every day. I was hitting them with donkey raises with half the bodybuilders in the gym on my back. I left no stone unturned. I was relentless. I trained like Reg Park told me to, and the results were exactly what he said they would be: My calves were 21 inches and because of that, my body was much more symmetrical. Naturally, I thanked Reg for his advice. Even though it was painful to hear at first, it made me better, and I learned to turn off my ego and be grateful for criticism.

At the end of each show, win or lose, Arnold requested criticism from the judges. 

“After every competition, I went to the judges and asked them to point out my flaws. Even when I won. I never wanted to hear about my strengths. I wanted to hear everything they thought was wrong so that I could continue to improve. I needed to hear my weak spots.

Bodybuilders (hell, everyone) love to focus on their strong points, when we grow the most by doing the opposite. So when I criticize stomachs or calves, I’m hoping to be what Reg Park was for me. Honest criticism is how I grew.” Schwarzenegger said. 

As a commentator for the Arnold Classic, Schwarzenegger has been criticized in the past for pointing out weak points of bodybuilders who perform on stage. Schwarzenegger emphasizes that honest criticism is how he grew as a bodybuilder and in life. 

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Clearly, Reg Park’s advice paid dividends for a young Arnold Schwarzenegger. After taking criticism from Reg Park, Arnold brought up his lower body, and reached the top of the sport with an evenly proportioned physique. 


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