Since I trained at the original Gold's Gym in Venice, California, and knew many of the elite bodybuilders of that era, I'm often asked about how they trained and dieted to get into top condition. I've read many articles and books written by some of these bodybuilders over the years, and I'm often appalled about their lack of honesty in relating their past training techniques and dieting practices. For example, Arnold Schwarzenegger often mentions and writes about how he trained "7 hours a day" during his bodybuilding heyday. But I was there during the years when Arnold was at his best, and I even often trained with him at Gold's gym. While there is no question that Arnold trained intensely prior to a contest (he started his pre-contest training about 3 months prior to a contest), I never saw him spend 7 hours in the gym. Never, not once. His workouts actually lasted between 1-1/2 and 2 hours. On certain days, he would train twice a day, but those workouts were shorter, about an hour each. I cannot speak for Arnold, so I cannot explain why he exaggerates the extent of his training. You would think the superlative results he obtained from that training would speak for themselves.
People often wonder if the bodybuilders of the past trained harder than do current bodybuilding champions. I would say in answer that the level of intensity is about the same, but years ago there were none of the modern distractions in the gym, such as people constantly taking "selfie" photos of themselves, or sitting down on a bench for a prolonged time playing with various smartphone "apps." In defense of today's bodybuilders, those who are successful in bodybuilding competitions don't engage in such useless waste of time games in the gym. Like their predecessors of years past, current bodybuilding champions are all business when they are in the gym and it shows in their rates of progress and how they look.
Another major difference between current bodybuilders and those of the past is the present emphasis on aerobic training. Most of today's bodybuilders use some type of aerobic training in addition to their usual weight-training routines when they want to maximize their level of muscular definition. This is based on the notion that aerobics is superior for purposes of "fat-burning," or to put it more accurately, "fat oxidation." And it's true that body fat is most effectively burned in the presence of larger amounts of oxygen, which is needed to spark the molecular reactions in body fat that lead to mobilization and oxidation of stored body fat. Fat is lost when the amount of calories you burn through activity exceeds the number of calories you ingest through food intake. And aerobics is a relatively simple way to burn off calories. Some skeptics note that since a pound . . .