Most people have trouble finding ways to work out, whether it’s early in the morning, middle of the day, or late at night. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger is not most people. 

In a wide-ranging interview discussing his habits, routines, and heart surgery that went wrong, Arnold opened up about gym behavior 50 years ago.

“No one trained in the morning. People went to work in the morning and no one trained until later,” recalled Schwarzenegger

He admitted that gyms were never open until after 10 am, and it wasn’t until he spent time with his idol, Reg Park, that he started training in the morning. 

The former 3-time Mr. Universe invited Arnold to live with him when he was 19, and that included 4:45 wakeup calls, protein powder mixed in Corn Flakes (pre-Ladder days), and Arnold squatting 500 pounds by 5:30 am.

 

“It was the most brutal wakeup call I ever had,” said Schwarzenegger. “My body was shaking. But, after 3 weeks training with him...it became normal.”

“I then brought that style back to Munich and this became the routine. People heard. Bodybuilders started changing their beliefs,” added Schwarzenegger

Next thing you know, everyone was training in the morning.

“People thought they didn’t have as much strength in the morning, but they were wrong”

Arnold’s lesson was that your body is capable of training hard at any time of the day. 

That revelation paid off down the road. 

When Arnold’s acting career took off, many of the films required 80 or more days of shooting in the middle of the night, which meant sleeping during the day and flipping your schedule. 

It might have been excusable for Arnold to back off on his training, but — as he shares — it was his teenage experiences with Park that allowed him to easily adapt. 

“Breakfast is at 6 pm, you go into makeup, and then you start shooting until you break for lunch around midnight or 1 am,” says Schwarzenegger. 

“Instead of lunch, I would train at 1 am for an hour. If they didn’t need me after lunch, I would train for 2 hours.”

You might think that habit ended with time, but the 72-year-old actor reveals it's something he still does today.

“Many times they said they don’t need me until 6 am — and it’s still 3 am or 4 am. I’ll get my workout in because I’m still awake. When we did Terminator 6 in Budapest, that’s exactly what we did.”

Arnold’s big lesson: many of the limitations you think exist for your mind or body are self-imposed. And if you want to change for the better, you need to make habit automatic and not let yourself off the hook.

Exercise is like breathing. You shouldn’t think about it — you just need to do it. 

“You have to get over these barriers where you say, ‘I can never do this in the morning,’” warns Schwarzenegger

“You have to say, ‘Just do it. This is my goal. And this is what I’m doing.’ 

“You can get much more done in life when you don’t set limits and if you’re doing it automatically.”