I am a huge Arnold nuthugger and the criteria for a good Arnold Schwarzenegger Book are easily met in my eyes. Disjointed ramblings about fulfilling your dreams, punctuated with pictures of the Oak lifting weights, and I’m sold. Regardless, this book didn’t fully meet my expectations.
The Education of a Bodybuilder starts off with Arnold’s life story, which (at that point in time) meant going from being a teen in Barely-on-the-Map Austria to the world’s most successful bodybuilder. He talks about his motivation for getting into bodybuilding, how he reacted to success and failure, and even his relationship with girls in high school. You’d feel like a creep asking some of this stuff in an interview, but here he lays it all on the table.
Sometimes it’s sanitary enough to be untrustworthy (apparently, Arnold’s dad was never anything more than a police chief), although you’ll be happy to know there’s lots of dirt. A interesting part deals with how a gym owner tried to seduce him. You can see how some of these things affected him (such as how he turned his back on his religion, and disappointed his parents), despite all the success he had later in life. In all, fascinating and it really puts you inside the man’s head.
…But that’s only half the book. The second half is a generic “How to get big muscles fast” manual that isn’t half as interesting as the bio. If you’re an experienced lifter you’ll find nothing new here. If you’re a novice, you’ll find far better and more up-to-date info on the internet. The writing and presentation is downright sloppy, and sometimes there are actual factual errors. In one part, he says that if you weigh 150 pounds, doing a push-up is as good as bench pressing a 150 pound barbell. Earlier in the book he talks about an exercise called “the Arnold Press” and says he’ll explain what it is later in the book. The Arnold Press is never mentioned again. In another section he emphasises that you must do calf-raises with a lot of weight, but in the accompanying picture he’s doing calf-raises with only four plates. This kind of stuff really sends the wrong impression.
Otherwise, it suffers from vagueness. He talks constantly about “tuning” and “tightening up” your body. What does that mean? Bigger muscles? Less fat? He talks about the power of the mind and how to have the will of a champion, and while that’s useful, I think new bodybuilders would be helped more by an explanation of macronutrient ratios and correct posture and form. And needless to say, all of his training advice must be viewed in light of the fact that he’s a steroid user with really good genetics.
So I guess you can treat this like an album with a few bonus tracks on the end. Read the bio. Do whatever you want with the training advice.