Arnold Schwarzenegger used every tool at his disposal to become one of the most elite bodybuilders of all time. While his priorities have shifted at 76, health and wellness still dominate his life. In a recent YouTube video published by Rich Roll on October 2, 2023, Schwarzenegger opened up about his vegetable-based diet and the mindset he adopted to become a seven-time Mr. Olympia champion.
As one of the busiest men in the world, it’s no surprise Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken a keen interest in optimizing performance and longevity. Following an illustrious career filled with highlights, Schwarzenegger switched to a nutrition plan that would lend itself to a better life. For over five years now, “The Austrian Oak” has fueled himself with a mostly plant-based diet.
Schwarzenegger has stuck to this plant-based food regimen mainly for blood pressure and cholesterol benefits. Having overcome multiple open-heart surgeries and other operations, Schwarzenegger has made healthy living his number one priority.
Arnold Schwarzenegger Talks 70/30% Veggie Diet Plan
According to the bodybuilding legend, his doctors recommended he cut back on meat and he obliged.
“I cut my meat intake because of in the medical profession it’s very clear that you get away with this shit for so long and eventually it starts backfiring. They thought that I’m at an age where I should just cut back because my cholesterol level should come down a little bit and blood pressure — and that’s exactly what I did.
I started cutting out some, my diet is pretty much, if I put a percentage on it and I’m pretty good at that, I’d say around 70% I cut down my meat intake. And the other 30% is only because of my – every so often once a month maybe I make a steak at home and we watch the UFC fights, it somehow fits together with all the meat. Even though there are a lot of UFC fighters out there that are vegetable-based.”
Schwarzenegger Talks Conquering Ego, His Parents, and Special Olympics
Even though he always tried to exude confidence, Schwarzenegger admits there were times in his bodybuilding career when he’d have to make himself “feel like” Mr. Olympia despite the flaws he saw in the mirror.
“It could have [ego could have destroyed my life]. I could have. The only thing that maybe that helped me is that I never really felt that I had arrived to be honest with you. Not in bodybuilding, not in – I mean I pretend – and I do the big spiel right, ‘I’m the greatest bodybuilder.’ I do all of that yes but I mean in reality… I feel like when I work for instance on a movie, I really don’t feel like it’s any different than being a plumber.”
“You go to work. They put all the makeup and I’m sitting there like an idiot at five in the morning so that I’m ready at 8 o’clock. Then you go out and you do your work, you do your scenes, then you go and have your lunch. It’s the same, going to work and then going back home. I don’t see myself as the star, I just see myself as a worker.”
“The reality settles in right away where I put myself back in the place and even when I remember where I have to make myself kind of feel like I’m the Mr. Olympia but when I look in the mirror I see so many flaws. So many flaws and your delts are never big enough and the thighs, oh come on. How am I going fake my way thought here? That’s the way I talked to myself but then when I go out and say I’m going to show then the best body int he world that they have ever seen. I do the spiel.”
Having high expectations was always a part of Arnold’s playbook but he prefers to keep a level head.
“I’m fortunate that I’m in this situation but I don’t get like big-headed because of it,” added Schwarzenegger.
Looking back, Schwarzenegger remembers his parents attending two of his bodybuilding contests: one in Graz, Hungary, and then again when he won his third Olympia title in Germany, shortly before his father passed away at 66.
“The only competition that my parents ever watched was that one competition in Graz, and then the one competition in Essen, in Germany when I won Mr. Olympia for the third time. And then right after that, my father passed away. So I was fortunate that he saw that.”
Schwarzenegger was called to be the weight training coach for athletes in the Special Olympics, which he credited as one of the most fulfilling experiences of his life.
“You first have to build yourself. And it became clear to me the more I built myself and the bigger I become, the more I can give back. So when I became Mr. Olympia six times and Special Olympics called me and said could you come and train our Special Olympians, you know kids that are intellectually challenged that don’t have the best coordination, they have problems doing sports a lot of times.
And they wanted to study what effect weight training would have. I was called to do that because I was Mr. Olympia. I was somebody. I was the number one authority in bodybuilding. That’s why I was called,” Schwarzenegger explained. “I all of a sudden became now — not something I was bargaining for or shooting or, it was never my goal, I became then the national coach, the world coach for Special Olympics strength training.”
Lastly, Schwarzenegger touched on the importance of being open-minded and discovering new exercises:
“Vince Giranda, you’ve maybe heard of him because you’re a fitness fanatic yourself. He had a gym over in the valley, Vince’s Gym. I saw him doing an exercise, a triceps exercise, and I looked at him and said, ‘What are you doing?’ He says ‘This is for the outside tricep that splits one head from the other.’ I said, ‘This looks like a kind of Mickey Mouse exercise, Jesus Christ, it doesn’t look like a heavy lift or sort.’ He said, ‘Just try it.’ I said to myself, the way I tried it in those days I would do an exercise for 40 sets of 20 reps,” said Schwarzenegger.
“The next day this muscle here was just jumping all over the place,’ added Scharwzenegger. “I realized he absolutely correct.”
This wasn’t Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first health update of the 2023 season. Just days ago, the movie star discussed longevity and aging in a candid interview. While elaborating on lessons about motivation, Schwarzenegger revealed that he plans to live to 100 with ‘really healthy’ living.
With a sincere devotion to clean nutrition and regular exercise, Schwarzenegger is managing all he can to fight off the natural aging process whilst staying on top of his demanding schedule.