16 incredible facts about Arnold Schwarzenegger

Titelbild Unglaubliche Fakten Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a legend: 7x Mister Olympia, 4x Mister Universum, self-made millionaire, successful real estate investor, best known and best-paid actor of the 90s, governor of California, and much, much more.

Many people see Arnold Schwarzenegger as a stupid bodybuilder, who apparently got into the movie business by accident and then became one of the most powerful men in the world because of the stupid American voters. But if you take a closer look at this incredible personality you will soon realize that there is so much more to this man than just muscle mass. Therefore, we would like to tell you more about this man with the following 16 facts about Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Arnold Schwarzenegger began his career in bodybuilding at the age of 15

Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger, as the man’s full name is, was born on July 30, 1947, in Thal, in beautiful Austria. His childhood was not always easy. Unlike today, there was not enough food in post-war Austria and to get water, young Arnold usually had to walk several kilometers to the nearest well.

Whether the constant dragging of water provided the boy with strong muscles at an early age cannot be said with certainty. But his early interest in various sports certainly did. At the age of ten, he was already playing soccer in a club, swimming, and boxing with friends regularly.

Arnold Schwarzenegger discovered his great passion – bodybuilding – at the age of 15. He started weightlifting to train his thin legs – as his soccer coach always claimed at that time.

A short time later he even gave up playing soccer completely to devote himself entirely to the still young bodybuilder scene. On his way to his first NABBA Mr. Universe title at the age of 20 (Arnold Schwarzenegger still holds the record of being the youngest Mr. Universe), he was not always supported by his friends and family.

Quite the opposite: Again and again he was told that he could never make it in bodybuilding because it was not his sport. Skiing or cross-country skiing would be the sports Austrians are good at and therefore he should rather try it in this field.

Break the rules. Not the law, but break the rules.

However, Schwarzenegger did not let himself be distracted by these paradigms. He broke the rules. He did not become a skier. Instead, he became the greatest bodybuilder of his time, and that only because he did not follow the rules. “Break the rules. Not the law, but break the rules” has since become his mantra and one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most famous success quotes.

2. Arnold Schwarzenegger usually never sleeps more than six hours per night

A short speech at the University of California in 2009 should not be forgotten by the students there. At the microphone stepped no one else but Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to deliver a speech in the context of his just received honorary doctorate.

It didn’t take long for the words spoken there to quickly achieve cult status via social media. If you would like to listen to them for yourself, you can find them here (really recommendable to motivate yourself).

During his speech, Arnold Schwarzenegger told the following story: One day during his time as governor of California, a student made him aware of the ever-increasing cost of studying. Mr. Schwarzenegger immediately replied to what the problem was and the student pointed out that he now had to work part-time in order to afford his studies. What then followed really surprised all the participants.

Arnold dug a little deeper and wanted to know how many hours the student would have to be at the university each day. The answer: two to three hours. “And how many additional hours do you study?” was Arnold’s next question. Again, the student replied “About two to three hours”. “That adds up to a maximum of six hours. What do you do with the rest of the day?” Arnold Schwarzenegger now wanted to know.

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The student did not quite know what was happening to him and so the governor of California charged him: A day has 24 hours, of which he must learn six hours and sleep six hours. This leaves 12 hours for work or further learning. The student was quite surprised by this calculation and only replied “But I don’t sleep just six hours a day!” Mr. Schwarzenegger’s incredible answer to this? “Then why don’t you just sleep faster!”

A sentence that could only stem from Arnold Schwarzenegger. While the students were still laughing at the remark, he explained to them what his life as a young man was like. Every day he trained for five hours, then he had four hours of acting lessons, several hours of work on the construction site, and late at night he went to college and did his homework. A lifestyle that allowed him only six hours of sleep a night, a lifestyle that few people can cope with. But for the youngest Mr. Universe, it was everyday life.

3. Arnold Schwarzenegger has always dreamed of being a machine even before the Terminator.

For Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the greatest idols in the field of sports was certainly the deceased Mohammed Ali. He was once asked in an interview in the 1970s how many sit-ups he would do a day and his answer to this question was: “I have no idea. I do not count my sit-ups. I only start counting when it hurts!”

Governor Schwarzenegger at the announcement of “Operation Welcome” on the USS Midway. Source: Wikipedia/Dale Frost of the Port of San Diego

An unconventional statement from an unconventional athlete and the young Arnold Schwarzenegger would make this saying his personal pearl of wisdom. In every area of his life, Arnold Schwarzenegger did not want to be the loser just because he did not make enough effort before.

Whether in his acting career, in bodybuilding, or during his time as governor, the exceptional talent Schwarzenegger always gave his best. And he always remembered that “when you’re out partying, horsing around, someone out there is working hard,” and he always wanted to be that someone himself.

When you’re out there partying, horsing around someone out there at the same time is working hard.

When he took on the role of the Terminator, he always wished he could be a robot himself so that he would never have to sleep and thus be able to achieve more in life. Learning a new language, learning a new skill or doing something for the community. Ask Arnold Schwarzenegger for a quote of success and he always mentions the following statement from Ted Turner – the media mogul and founder of the news channel CNN – “Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise”.

4. Professional movie agents did not believe that Arnold Schwarzenegger would ever make it to a successful actor in Hollywood.

The road to success was not always easy for Arnold Schwarzenegger. When he decided to become the next bodybuilding champion, people laughed at him. They told him that he would never make it, that this was not a sport, that it was ridiculous, and that he should do something useful. Nevertheless, he chose this way and the rest is history.

It was similar when he decided to become a professional actor. The agents all rejected him and made it clear again and again that he would never make it in Hollywood. His body would be too monstrous, he would intimidate people and his accent would be a disaster. Even his name was unpronounceable to the American people. “Schwarzenegger” – or as he was mocked by agents again and again: “Schwarzenschnitzel” – would not be a name that would appear on a big movie poster.

For his first role in “Hercules in New York” he therefore still bore the name “Arnold Strong”. By the way, this was an extremely entertaining film in which Arnold Schwarzenegger fights with a bear. A great summary of the best moments can be found in the video above. His accent was even more entertaining at that time than in later years.

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And even when he told his closest confidant that he himself would run for governor of California in the election campaign, he was laughed at and told time and again that he would never make it. But he did. He became governor of California, he became the most famous actor of the ’90s and he became the greatest bodybuilder of his time and that just because he always believed in himself, no matter what the others thought of him.

5. Every year Arnold Schwarzenegger writes a list of the most important goals he wants to achieve in that year.

During his time as a bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger quickly realized what the key to learning a new skill and thus to success is: repetition, repetition, repetition. To make his chest muscles grow, he had to do hundreds of sets of bench presses and hundreds of sets of squats for his legs. A wisdom that had accompanied him all his life.

Whenever he took on a new challenge, he always set clear goals and considered how he could achieve them. Before a competition, for example, he developed a precise training plan that specified which exercises he had to do and how often. After each training session, he struck off his own targets and continued to keep a close eye on what he still had to do to reach his goal.

It would never have come to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s mind to deviate from this plan, and the success speaks for his methodology. Even today, once a year, the multi-talent writes down exactly what he wants to achieve in the next twelve months and how he will achieve it.

Work your butt off! You never want to fail because you didn’t work hard enough!

Then he meticulously works through every single point and hopefully has reached his goal in the end. Therefore, one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most important success quotes is: “Work your butt off! You never want to fail because you didn’t work hard enough!

6. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s father always demanded that his son do something meaningful with his life.

No matter which of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s success rules you like most, they all express the same thing: Make an effort in your life and you will achieve something. A pearl of wisdom he learned early on from his father.

His father – Gustav Schwarzenegger – had to live through the sufferings of World War II and repeatedly urged his son to do something useful. In doing so, he was not able to show much love. On the contrary: he brought up his two sons, Arnold and Meinhard, with rigor and discipline. His brother could hardly live up to his father’s expectations – he died at the age of 25 – but Arnold made these two attributes his philosophy of life.

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“No pain – no gain” is a popular saying and Arnold Schwarzenegger is the living example that you can achieve everything if you work hard enough on yourself. He was ridiculed for his sport and eventually became the greatest bodybuilder of his time. No agent wanted to sign him as a professional actor and a little later he was the best paid Hollywood star of the 90s.

And even as a politician, nobody wanted to take him seriously at first, and his successes were attributed to his wife Maria Shriver – a daughter of the Kennedy Clan. But still, he proved to everyone that he could be successful on the political stage.

You can’t climb the Ladder of success with your hands in your pockets!

He was a non-partisan activist and committed to the youth of California. He always worked hard on himself to develop the greatest possible potential at all times. Therefore, one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s rules for success is: “You can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets!”

More incredible facts about Arnold Schwarzenegger

7. The role of John McClane in “Die Hard” actually went to Arnold Schwarzenegger – however, he declined the role.

8. There is a programming language called ArnoldC, which consists only of quotes by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

9. Arnold Schwarzenegger was meant to play the role of Kyle Reese in the movie “Terminator”.

10. In the Spanish dubbed version of “Terminator 2”, the terminator does not say “Hasta la vista, baby”, but “Sayonara, baby”.

11. When Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote a veto letter to the State Assembly of California during his time as Governor of California, it turned out that the first letters of each line formed the word “Fuck You”. At first, Schwarzenegger claimed that this was just a coincidence, but in his biography, he later confirmed that he had intentionally placed this hidden message.

12. Arnold Schwarzenegger broke into the fitness studio “Liebenauer Kraftkammer” in 1963 because it was closed on Sunday and he wanted to train.

13. In order to be able to participate in a bodybuilding competition during his time in the military, Arnold Schwarzenegger secretly snuck out of the barracks and won the title of Junior Mr. Europe. However, since he had left the troupe without permission, he had to spend seven days in a military prison as punishment for this.

14. American law currently only allows people born in the USA to become president, so Arnold Schwarzenegger could not become president of the United States of America. Nevertheless, Schwarzenegger was already portrayed as President of the USA in “The Simpsons” and the film “Demolition Man”.

15. Arnold Schwarzenegger won the bodybuilder title of Mister Universe at the age of 20. This makes him the youngest athlete to receive this title to date.

16. Arnold Schwarzenegger only received a Golden Globe during his entire film career, and this not for one of his most famous roles, but for the 1977 film “Stay Hungry”.

17. Arnold Schwarzenegger regularly received a new uniform during his time in the military, as the old one became too tight due to his muscle gain.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is and remains an exceptional talent who has enriched the world in so many areas. We raise our hat to him for so much energy and wish him ongoing success in life. We hope that our 16 facts about Arnold Schwarzenegger have given you an understanding of this incredible personality.

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For those of you who would like to learn more about the person of Arnold Schwarzenegger, we can strongly recommend his biography (*). On more than 600 pages you will get to know the illustrious history of this incredible man and at the same time get so many insights into showbiz, the bodybuilding scene, and the US political scene. We hope you enjoyed this article and we would be happy if you would share it with your friends. If you have something to say about Arnold Schwarzenegger or know some other incredible facts about him, please feel free to write us a message.

(*) This is an affiliate link. I.e. if you buy via this link we will receive a small commission of the purchase price. But for you the purchase will not be more expensive.


I joined Only Fun Facts at the beginning of 2020. My passion is having a closer look on our unbelievable facts. When I read a startling fact, it is not unusual that I discover a mind-blowing background story behind it. That’s what I love to share with you, and I hope that you enjoy our findings.

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