The Mindset Of Success In Bodybuilding And In Life


Let’s face it, when it comes to success stories, few can rival Arnold’s. His tremendous climb to the pinnacle of success was directly tied to his mindset. Perhaps not surprisingly, Rich Piana shared similarities with Arnold. Rich also had the right mindset and achieved much more than many people might realize. In this article, we’ll look at these titans of the sport and see the mindset of success in bodybuilding and in life that helped them both achieve the improbable. 

The 6 Points Of Success

What does it take to be successful? According to Arnold, there are 6 key points. (1)


Have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Success can’t happen if you don’t know what you want. Not just a vague idea, but a detailed concept.


You have to be able to see your success in your mind. If it’s a bigger, better physique, you should have a detailed mental image of how you want to look. If it’s something else, what will achieving that goal do for your lifestyle? Again, have a detailed image. See exactly what you want to achieve and see yourself achieving it. See it, hear it, experience it in your mind. Visualization was always a big part of Arnold’s mindset. 

Having Role Models

Every great bodybuilder or successful person has a role model, some more than one. For Arnold, it was John Grimek. For Rich, one role model may have been the person who pulled him out of a negative lifestyle and taught him about mutual funds. This makes sense because it started him on the path to financial freedom. When it came to bodybuilding, his Mom was a bodybuilder, and he used to watch her train when he was only 9 years old. The huge 80s bodybuilder Bill Cambra also inspired him.


This is the driving force that pulls you into the gym and any other endeavors you’re focused on. For Arnold and Rich, it was physique-related but also success-related. Motivation is the difference between just going through the motions and giving it your all. 

Training Strategy

Arnold and Rich had somewhat similar ideas about training. Both of them focused on heavy weights initially, but Rich moved into the idea of quality of execution. Arnold also believed in perfect form and quality rep performance, but he may have chased heavy weights and intensity a little more. One thing Arnold has said is that this is the stage where you have to personalize your workouts to fit your needs and goals, and that makes perfect sense.

The Mind-Muscle Connection

Finally, when it comes to working out, the mind-muscle connection is critical. There’s a big difference between Rich and Arnold and the guys who never train hard. You know, the guy who haphazardly knocks out a bunch of easy reps only to stop long before his muscles are really working. They typically stop when the pain starts. On the other hand, for guys like Arnold and Rich, every rep of every set counts. 

Similarities Between Two Giants

Arnold’s 6 points were devised with bodybuilding in mind. Of course, Arnold was successful in every endeavor he undertook. Rich Piana had a similar mindset. What some people may not know is that while Rich may not have achieved what Arnold did in terms of contest wins, he was successful in bodybuilding and in life. Look at the things he did: 

  • He was a successful actor who did a number of popular commercials.
  • He was a successful investor, primarily through mutual funds and “day trading”.
  • Like Arnold, he was a very successful real estate investor.
  • He envisioned and founded 5% Nutrition, one of the most innovative supplement companies in existence. One thing that Rich believed in was the idea of real food. 5%'s protein and carb powders use only real food sources, there’s no whey and no “designer” carbs. 
  • Similar to Arnold, Rich has been an inspiration to countless bodybuilders. 

Arnold had a reasonably comfortable life in Austria, came over here and became who many call the greatest bodybuilder of all time. Rich came from a poor background and lived in low-income welfare housing. He had it rough for a while, but he made the choice to change his life and he did just that. 

Applying The Mindset Of Success 

This drive to succeed and the determination to be the best you can be will lead you to success in the gym and in your life. Rich was succeeding in other endeavors before and during his competitive years. Once Arnold came to this country, he succeeded in real estate, went to night school, and co-owned his own business - all while dominating bodybuilding. 

Both Arnold and Rich thought beyond the gym. Their paths were a little different, but once they made the choice to retire from competition, their success did not stop. Rich, like Arnold, was always planning. He didn’t rest on his accomplishments, he kept moving forward. That’s the goal you need to have for yourself. Get out of your rut, have a vision, and make it happen. 


If you’re reading this, no doubt you’re a serious bodybuilder. Use the inspiration of Arnold and Rich to help you reach your goals, both physique goals and life goals. Make sure you heed Rich’s advice, and have goals beyond working out. Set yourself up for a successful future by using the mindset of success in bodybuilding and in life.


  1. Arnold’s Encyclopedia, p 229 Mind Over Matter, The Mind, The Most Powerful Tool.
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