Arnold Schwarzenegger Credits His Bodybuilding Success to the Rival Who Left Him Crying From a Devastating Defeat: “Showed Me His Tricks”

Arnold Schwarzenegger was a bodybuilding prodigy. The Austrian Oak started setting records early in his competitive career. Schwarzenegger won his first Mr. Universe title at 20, becoming the youngest bodybuilder to do so. The record still stands to this date. However, even someone as immensely talented as Arnold Schwarzenegger got a reality check when he came to America. After winning the 1967 Mr. Universe, Arnie was confident he would blow away a competition in 1968. It was his first show after arriving in America. However, the Austrian Oak had counted out Frank Zane.

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That was a mistake, as Frank Zane was the more complete bodybuilder that night and defeated Arnie. The defeat devastated Arnie and left him in tears, but he later teamed up with Zane. In his latest book, Schwarzenegger credited Zane and his best friend Franzo Columbu and wrote about their contribution to bodybuilding.

Arnold Schwarzenegger on how Frank Zane and Franco Columbu’s guidance


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While Schwarzenegger was genetically gifted, Zane defeated him in 1968 because the Austrian Oak lacked definition. Schwarzenegger never denied that legends like Zane and Columbu did certain things better than him. Hence, he trained with them. In his book, Schwarzenegger credited them for his record-setting Mr. Olympia run, saying he couldn’t have done it without them.

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Arnie said, “If I hadn’t had Franco Columbu pushing me as a training partner,” then he might not have pushed himself beyond the limit. On the other hand, Frank ‘The Chemist’ Zane taught Arnie various techniques. In Be Useful: The Seven Tools for Life, Arnie wrote that Zane “lived with me for a few months and showed me his tricks to get better definition.”

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He also credited them for helping put the sport on the map. “Bodybuilding reached the heights that it did because a whole group of us trained together,” wrote the five-time Mr. Universe. In fact, the 1970s was a revolutionary decade for bodybuilding.

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Besides Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu, and Frank Zane, many other elite bodybuilders trained at the Gold’s Gym. Arnold Schwarzenegger also trained with bodybuilding icons like Ed Corney, Dave Draper, Robby Robinson, Ken Waller, and many others. All contributed to creating a community that attracted people to the sport.

Besides fellow bodybuilders, the seven-time Mr. Olympia also trained under veterans. Vince Girnoda, the founder of another legendary California gym, Vince’s Gym, mentored Schwarzenegger. Gironda helped the former Mr. Olympia improve his weaker body parts.


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It’s easy to look at Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime and be in awe. However, the seven-time Mr. Olympia credits other bodybuilding legends like Frank Zane and Franco Columbu for his success.

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