by Arnold Schwarzenegger as told to Gene Mozee
This article originally appeared in the November 1993 Issue of IRON MAN Magazine
The first thing you see when you look at a well-developed body is the midsection—that's where the eyes are drawn. A fantastically cut-up midsection adds a tremendous amount of attractiveness to the overall appearance. It makes the whole upper body appear much more muscular from the front and the entire physique more balanced.
Bodybuilding has always been a constant learning process for me. The longer I continued to compete, the more I learned. That is why I continued to improve year after year, always striving for greater perfection. Every year after the Mr. Olympia contest I evaluated my strong points and weaknesses. I decided which areas I needed to focus on to make substantial improvement for the coming year. Then I planned my training strategy accordingly. My goal was to always show some new and dramatic improvement at the next contest.
In 1972, after I had won my third straight Mr. Olympia, which took place in Essen, Germany, I realized that I was fortunate to have beaten Serge Nubret and Sergio Oliva. In looking at the pictures from that contest, it was very obvious that I was not as cut up as I could have been. My abdominals, in particular, lacked razor-edged sharpness. I knew right away that if I were to defend my title the next year as the world's premier bodybuilder, I would have to improve my abdominals considerably.
For the first time in my life I began to realize the importance of well-sculptured abdominals. In the past, even though I had always tried to maintain a small, hard midsection, I had never placed much importance on the idea of having rippling definition there. Year by year I had been adding more size to my arms, chest, shoulders, back, thighs and calves as well as more shape and definition. There was no doubt that I had been neglecting my midsection.
I had always relegated abdominal training to the position of least importance in my workout schedule. The last six weeks before the Mr. Olympia contest was the only time I would do any gut work at all.
The more I thought about improving my midsection, the greater my enthusiasm for the idea became. I began to visualize myself on the posing platform with fabulous abdominals. I thought of all the poses in my routine that I could improve with sliced-up abs, rather than just sucking in my waist for my usual abdominal vacuum. I decided right then and there to begin training this bodypart in January rather than waiting until July, as I had done in the past.[story continues ...]