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How to Use Habits Like Arnold Schwarzenegger to Build a Consistent Fitness Routine

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been a household name for the better part of 50 years. His is arguably one of the most iconic representations of the “American Dream” that exists, as his rise to fame has ranged across a host of industries and fields. Originating in Austria, Arnold moved to the USA in hopes of becoming a successful bodybuilder. He achieved that dream several times over, winning the Mr. Olympia title a record 7 times.

After dominating the fitness industry for over a decade Schwarzenegger moved into the film industry and Hollywood launched him into the mainstream spotlight. He got his first big break when he starred as Conan the Barbarian. Shortly afterward, his acting career took off and he has since starred in several blockbusters including The Terminator series, Total RecallKindergarten Cop, and many more.

A shift towards the political arena culminated in Schwarzenegger becoming Governor of California between 2003 and 2011. With an estimated net worth of $300m, Schwarzenegger has been able to forge a personal brand that is globally recognized from essentially nothing.

Why Arnold Schwarzenegger makes a habit of a daily routine

If you’ve been following our articles you’ll know that most, if not all, successful businesspeople have some form of routine or daily habits that they practice and attribute to their success. However,  it will be difficult to find an individual whose life has been so heavily shaped by such a repetitive routine, both inside and outside of the gym as Arnold’s.

Schwarzenegger has long praised the benefits of a strict daily routine, claimed that it’s “a good way of introducing more discipline and control in the rest of your life.” Having a routine that you follow religiously ensures that you not only get things done on a consistent basis, but also that you make the most of the hours you have in each day.

How to make a habit of a daily routine like Arnold Schwarzenegger

As with success in general, shaping your daily routine isn’t going to happen overnight, so don’t expect it to be easy. However, as Schwarzenegger points out, there are a few small tasks or sub-habits that you can use to build foundations for a strict daily routine that you’ll be able to stick to for years to come.

1. Clean and tidy your home

Cleaning probably sounds mundane and boring – for many people it is, particularly young people. However, for Arnold it forged part of his everyday routine when he was building his physique in the early years. In his autobiography “Total Recall,” he outlines his typical cleaning routine:

“We vacuumed regularly; the dishes were always done, with nothing piling up; and the bed was always made, military-style. We were both into the discipline of getting up in the morning and straightening up before you leave the house. The more you do it, the more automatic it becomes, and the less effort it takes. Our apartment was always way cleaner than anyone else’s I went to, men or women.”

You might be thinking, “what does cleaning have to do with fitness?” Well, as Arnold points out, it’s all to do with forming the discipline around a task you hate or dislike doing: the more you do it, the automatic it becomes. It becomes second nature to you, rather than something you have to actively pursue and motivate yourself to do each day. These principles can be carried over to fitness, and other aspects of your day. You can start putting this sub-habit into practice when you:

Spend 10 minutes cleaning up before you leave the house in the morning

Obviously, depending on how messy your house is, 10 minutes might not be enough to tidy it completely, but that’s fine. If you gradually increase the time each day you’ll end up having parts of your house tidied that you didn’t know were dirty!

2. Workout at the same time every day

For most of his life, Schwarzenegger has prioritized fitness above all else. He has built his daily routine around the gym and his workouts rather than fitting them in whenever he can. Showing up at the exact same time every morning for a hard workout before work shows dedication of the highest order according to Schwarzenegger, “but it’s this kind of dedication that yields the best results.”

Work out(!)

It’s as simple as that – work out: something that Richard Branson – using those two very words – has been a strong advocate of as well. Be realistic if you aren’t already in the habit (or have never been in the habit) of working out. For example, pick two or three days per week to start, gradually increasing the frequency of your workouts over time.

3. Create an environment to support your habits and routine

It’s not easy to start building a tough routine or new habits alone, so finding someone, or people, to help you achieve the regularity of a routine can be a big help. This person might just be a training partner with similar goals, or it could be a friend who you live with who is also motivated to succeed.

Arnold trained at a gym with other aspiring bodybuilders. As you can imagine, it probably wasn’t too hard to find the motivation to show up every day when your competitors are training in the same space.

“Franco would just do his 5 sets of squats and 5 sets of leg extensions, and he would just walk out because he had naturally big thighs, but I had to do my 25 sets,” Arnold explained.

“Franco would leave three-quarters of the way through the workout. Sometimes in the evening, he wouldn’t come. So I said to myself, well, I’ve got to go, since I’ve only got 8 or 9 weeks left to and to train for the Olympia, I’ve got to get someone who’s as hungry as I am”

This is a great example of how Arnold used his training partner to a) motivate himself to improve, but b) realize that he needed to change his partner to improve further. For your fitness goals, you could:

Workout with a training partner [x] days per week

You can apply this to things other than fitness as well. Having a friend or colleague who acts as support for your business or when you’re studying for an exam or preparing for a new role can be helpful. In that case you could tweak the habit to say “meet with business partner [x] times per week to discuss career progress or strategy,” for example.



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