Book Review: The Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding by Arnold Schwarzenegger

This genius of bodybuilding and human achievement in everything he has set himself – Arnold Schwarzenegger – has produced the bible of muscle building workouts. With more than 850 photographs of exercises, this book is organised by muscle group and continues to stun me with its wealth of practical advice on building muscle.

As a personal trainer in London, I refer to this book often. The anatomical detail the book provides is a great refresher of my knowledge, especially when a client wants to focus on a particular body part which needs strengthening.

I have a personal link with Arnie, having met one of his early mentors, the late Wag Bennett, who owned a bodybuilding gym in Forest Gate, London E7. Arnold Schwarzenegger came to England in the late 1960s and trained at Wag’s gym, lived in the flat above, and received valuable instruction on how to win bodybuilding competitions. The gym has closed down now, but it was an honour to meet Wag Bennett and see the gym Arnie trained in all those years ago.

The book provides a wealth of detail on the principles of muscle growth (hypertrophy), such as the importance of progressive overload, correct technique through the full range of motion, the importance of rest and sleep between workouts, the importance of stretching after each workout.

Arnie then explores the advanced training principles, how to analyse your progress, how to exercise each muscle group, and how to optimise your nutrition for muscle growth.

Looking back at his teens, he says: “I was a quick learner. I was hungry for knowledge, desperate for new information.” On achieving his physique goals, he says: “Where the mind goes, the body will follow. You have to have a picture in your mind of the kind of physique you want. In this way you develop a single-mindedness of purpose that ultimately gives you the will… to put yourself through the most punishing workouts possible.”

For anyone wanting to build muscle and achieve an impressive physique, I highly recommend this book.

(Dominic Londesborough is a personal trainer in London, with clients in Hampstead, Highgate, the City of London, Chelsea, Belgravia and Knightsbridge.)

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