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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Getting an Education

Arnold around the time we first met him in Pittsburgh.


It was about 1971. A couple buddies and I decided to skip a day of school to drive down to Pittsburgh for an educational opportunity we couldn't miss. Arnold was coming to the YMCA and he was going to tell us all of his secrets and answer all of our questions about getting big and strong. We had been lifting in our garage for several years and faithfully reading the popular lifting magazines of the day. Because of our close proximity to Muscletown USA as York, PA was then known around the world, we were partial to Bob Hoffman and Strength and Health. But that didn't stop us from looking at the Weider magazines like Muscle/Builder Power now and then too. While were mostly interested in getting stronger for football and track, we also competed in local Weightlifting and Powerlifting meets and dreamed about looking like Arnold or Dave Draper. The idea that strength, power, or hypertrophy might require differences in training had never occurred to us at that time. We wanted it all. Besides, at that time it was not uncommon for someone to compete in all three iron disciplines. A local lifting hero, Tony Fratto, was an example of that. Anyway, a chance to meet Arnold and learn some of his secrets was too much for us to resist. While Arnold was already becoming legendary to the small population of iron athletes, he was still relatively unknown outside of that fraternity. He was not yet a movie star and had "only" won Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia a few times. His english was still rough and his accent heavier than now but he looked amazing. As he spoke to the couple dozen of us that afternoon in the Y weight room, we were a little surprised that he was doing basically the same exercises as we were. Squats, presses of various kinds, rowing and even pulls. He told us he started as a competitive lifter when he was a teenager. We were waiting for the secret methods, but in the end we decided that the secret was not in his exercises. Maybe it was what he was eating. Again we were somewhat disappointed to find out he ate cornflakes for breakfast and pretty much the same stuff as we ate. Finally during the question and answer time at the finish we asked him how many cans of Super Pro 101 he drank each day.

We saw the pictures of him and Dave Draper draining cans of the stuff with bikini babes hanging all over them. It was in the magazines every month. We saved our lunch money and bought the stuff as often as we could.It was about $1.25 a can. Pretty expensive for that time. It didn't taste very good either but we faithfully downed the stuff, worried that we weren't getting enough. Well, Arnold reared his head back and let out a huge laugh, ...."I don't drink that s*#%t!!!." "It's business, Joe Weider, he pays me and takes my picture, I don't drink that s#*&t!!!!" Talk about losing our innocence! Arnold doesn't drink Super Pro 101? Is the Pope really Catholic? Our faith was sorely tested that day but we learned a valuable lesson at a relatively young age. You can't believe everything you read in the magazines. Imagine that! As time passed we discovered that the secret that we didn't know about then was spelled with a big D. That was a long time ago, but things really haven't changed. Arnold is still in business. There are still no secrets, the basic exercises still work the best, and you can't believe everything you read, even if it's on the internet.
Unless, of course, you read it on Haske Warrior Strength!!

Tony Fratto was a world powerlifting champion from western Pennsylvania in the early 70's who also competed in weightlifting and bodybuilding.


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