At this point in time we have more advice about bodybuilding than we know what to do with, everybody on the internet appears to know the true secret to success. But who should you really follow?
There is a case for you to listen to scientific journals, follow fitness experts such as Alan Aragon, Bret Contreras, and Brad Schoenfeld.
It is undeniable that they have contributed to Bodybuilding with a scientific approach that has raised Bodybuilding from a hobby to a science. However, none of these experts have won a Bodybuilding contest.
So while their knowledge is astounding when it comes to the science, their practical experience of winning a competition is non-existent.
This is not meant as a criticism, just as a reason why you should learn from them about the science behind training, but look to Bodybuilding greats such as Ronnie Coleman, Dorian Yates, Arnold, and Lou if you want to learn how to win.
Here is a collection of tips and quotes from some of the most famous and successful Bodybuilders of all time.
Tip #1. “Focus on Form not Weights” – Lou Ferrigno
Lou Ferrigno won Mr Universe in 1973 and 1974 and is most famous for his on-screen rivalry with Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1977 Bodybuilding documentary “Pumping Iron“. He also played the Hulk in the television show “The Incredible Hulk“.
This tip is very important for potential Bodybuilders because bad form is one of the biggest issues with most people’s training.
Removing your ego and choosing a weight that you can lift without cheating will have a large impact on hypertrophy.
As a recent study found the eccentric part of a lift can produce the greater Hypertrophic response when used correctly  (i.e. lower your weights slowly and under control if you want bigger muscles).
Tip #2. “Utilize cheat reps once you’ve reached failure” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger is the most famous Bodybuilders of all time, and also the most successful Bodybuilder turned actor.
The guy was truly driven, and his level of dedication to the sport, while not in any way unique, has become legendary. This has translated into all aspects of his life, and led to him becoming governor of California in 2003.
On the surface this tip by Arnie directly contradicts the tip by Lou in that Cheat reps are the exact opposite of good form. But really both points can co-exist.
Training to failure is used often in Bodybuilding to activate more motor units and create more muscle damage, the idea is to ignore a rep-range and just keep going until you can’t perform another rep.
What Arnie did was reach that point and then modify his technique so that he could keep going.
This is completely different to not having form to begin with, which is what Lou was talking about. Schwarzenegger would have perfect form until he physically couldn’t perform another rep and then would change his form to squeeze out an extra couple of reps.
The point of this tip is to concentrate on form, but not let it prevent you from training to your full potential.
Tip #3. “Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but nobody wants to lift no heavy-ass weights” – Ronnie Coleman
Ronnie Coleman was Mr Olympia for 8 straight years (1998-2005), he now runs his own supplement business.
There are two ways to interpret this quote, either literally meaning you need to lift heavy to gain muscle size. Or metaphorically, meaning that everyone wants the success but very few are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices.
Tip #4. “If it’s not working, it’s not working” – Dorian Yates
Dorian Yates was Mr Olympia from 1992 to 1997 when he retired. He now owns multiple gyms and also has his own supplement business.
When Dorian Yates said “If it’s not working, it’s not working” he was talking about following other people’s advice without stopping to think whether it was actually working or not.
Later on in the interview he stated that “a lot of people will just persevere and because Arnold said so or Lee Haney said so and because it was all over the magazines, it must be right.”
This article is based around learning from Bodybuilders and whilst there is a lot that you can take away from these greats, it is important to understand that if something isn’t working for you it might just be the wrong way to go.
Arnold and Lou, and Coleman are different to you, in how they trained and the results they got.
This means that you can learn a lot from them, but you will probably get different results.
Dorian Yates won 6 Mr Olympia titles without following any other Bodybuilders’ routine, he created one that worked for him.
 Roig, M., O’Brien, K., Kirk, G., Murray, R., McKinnon, P., Shadgan, B., Reid, D. 2008. The effects of resistance training on muscle strength and mass in healthy adults: a systematic review with meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine 43(8): 556-68