Connect
To Top


More Than Sets and Reps


I’ve just returned from the ’10 Olympia Weekend in Las Vegas, and once again the event underscored for me one of the reasons I have invested a lifetime into bodybuilding—the people. In the late ’50s, when I first read Iron Man and later the Weider publications, I was struck by the sense of community that was portrayed in the magazines. The core of the community was a shared obsession that could only be understood by becoming a part of it. It was a community I wanted to be a part of, a special club that seemed to be held together by strength and muscle but was really about how strength and muscle made you feel.

Even deeper was the ­workout itself, the process. The simple tools, the barbell and dumbbells—as Vince Gironda was fond of saying, “It looks dumb, but you have to be smart to use it”—could be a metaphor for the community. The plates at either end joined by the bar and people joined by the common tool.

This year we celebrated the 45th anniversary of the Mr. Olympia contest, and all of the winners except Arnold were present. I spoke with many of them about our shared obsession—how they got started, what motivates them, and so on—and I found that the core values are essentially the same. Only genetics and ultimate goals separate them from the rest of us.

It was inspiring to see Larry Scott’s face light up when he talked about the first time he worked out—triceps with only an old tractor axel in a root cellar in Pocatello, Idaho—and what it felt like to discover the thing that would lead him to lifetime involvement in bodybuilding, as well as the first Mr. Olympia title. Bodybuilding, we all learn, is not only about physical transformation but also about the transformative life lessons that are acquired through the workout.

As I talked with the Olympia champions, another common thread emerged—for each of them a particular photo provided the turning point that started him down the path. Larry Scott talked of Steve Reeves and Clancy Ross, Chris Dickerson remembered the singular image of Lee Roy Saba, Samir Bannout talked of Frank Zane and Arnold. Arnold spoke of Reg Park and Larry Scott. Jay Cutler spoke of Chris Dickerson. If I ever needed proof of the power of the image to capture the imagination and fuel the want, that was it.

To me the world of bodybuilding has always been more than sets and reps. It’s about inspiration and exhilaration. In IRON MAN’s Iconic Images, our new continuing feature, we pay tribute to great physique photography and its power to inspire. This month’s selections begin on page 150. I hope you find them as powerful as I do. IM

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Magazine

  • Total Knockout!

    You already fell for Lindsay Christiansen with one simple glance. Are you man enough to dive into who she really is?...

    Sharon OrtigasOctober 16, 2017
  • Danny Hester: King of Consistency

    If you want results, you do the work. If you want to be one of the fittest men on the planet...

    Sharon OrtigasOctober 12, 2017
  • Dream Big, Win Bigger

    Jeff Seid takes us through his life, fitness, nutrition, and how to win in business.   Making it to the top...

    Sharon OrtigasSeptember 15, 2017
  • Win A Photo Shoot with IronMan Magazine

    Iron Man magazine is proud to announce a partnership with a new socially driven platform Kompetes. Kompetes is a brand-new and...

    Natalie MinhNovember 1, 2016
  • June 2016 Table of Contents

    SUBSCRIBE to Iron Man The first-ever IFBB Men’s Physique Pro from across the pond, Ryan Terry gives us his British-eye view...

    Iron Man MagazineMay 31, 2016
  • May 2016 Table of Contents

    In this month's issue, get acquainted with the inspirational Markus Kaulius, the founder and CEO of Magnum Nutraceuticals, and his mission...

    Iron Man MagazineApril 26, 2016
  • Final Word

    More Celeste Braun Celeste Braun looked so hot in the last issue of Iron Man.  So many fitness girls are scrawny...

    Iron Man MagazineApril 25, 2016
  • A Breath Of Fresh Air

    Even though I’m a strong believer that there is no future in the past, being a part of this sport...

    Iron Man MagazineApril 25, 2016
  • Final Word

    Now We’re Cooking I loved the profile on Steve Cook. It’s interesting to know that Physique athletes can have long and...

    Iron Man MagazineMarch 29, 2016