An Important Life Lesson From Arnold

Winning, losing, and why we all need struggles and failures

Welcome to the positive corner of the internet. Every weekday, we make sense of the confusing world of wellness by analyzing the headlines, simplifying the latest research, and offering quick tips designed to make you healthier in less than 5 minutes. Today is a special exclusive message from the Pump app.

Today’s Health Upgrade

  • A special message from Arnold

Note From Arnold

I love how we’ve built the positive corner of the internet. More than 800,000 people now receive this email each week. But there’s a smaller village that gets to interact with me, Adam, and Daniel. This newsletter will always be free. But for those who want a little bit more, we created the Pump app. It’s a paid experience that costs as much as 3 cups of Starbucks coffee a month. In the app, I give access to all the workouts I’ve never published, a habit builder, live Q&As, challenges, nutrition advice, and so much more.

I’ve done 32 Q&As, but last week, I felt I needed to have a heart-to-heart conversation. Many people in the app said it was the best thing I’ve shared in the village, so I decided to share it with all of you. Enjoy!

Some Life Lessons

I want to give you all a pep talk. Warning: this will be kick in the ass Arnold, not pat on the back Arnold.

Every week, I have a check in with the boys to see what the most common issues you are all raising are. Since Daniel is our point man for all customer service, I know I’ll hear the real info.

This is a good window into my leadership style. I don’t join the team on their multiple calls about the app technology because I’d be unhelpful at best. I don’t know technology, so I stay out of the weeds. But I want a 30,000-foot view.

So, the same way I did in the Governor’s office, I ask for the big, repeating comments or complaints. 

I know in the last month, one of the most common concerns is the workout schedule. Adam shared an update yesterday about how you can make your own schedule. I think it should help a lot of you.

But I’ll also be honest: I was totally opposed to it.

That’s another window to my leadership style — we are moving forward with the update because I was outnumbered.

But I want to tell you why I didn’t like it because it might help you in the app and in life.

Adam and I wrote these workouts, and we gave every single one a default schedule: the perfect schedule.

We also know that life happens. 

And I am a firm believer that if you have not been working out, and you are now working out once per week, that is a huge win you should celebrate all week. Sure, you didn’t do our ideal schedule, but 0 to 1 is BY FAR the hardest progression, so if you’re working out once a week, I am as proud of you as I am the people hitting their 6 workouts a week in the Throwback.

But I also don’t think we should pretend you’re doing a perfect schedule. If we do that and your whole week is green, where is the joy when you progress to two workouts a week? Where is this excitement when you actually get to 3 training days a week as the program is written?

That’s why I oppose so many of the things we do with our kids. Making everyone a winner means nobody has to learn from losing. And let me tell you, losing is what makes winning fantastic. 

Our successes don’t have meaning without our struggles. 

We have to stop clearing the path to make people feel better because, sure, it works temporarily. But removing the struggles, the failures, and the barriers does two things in the long run:

It weakens people. Just like our biceps grow from struggling against the weight of a biceps curl, our brains grow from struggle. They become more resilient. We lose that when we try to insulate people from even the possibility of failure.

It takes away meaning and joy from their lives. I’ll make this one simple: say you wanted to get to the top of a mountain. Do you think you would feel a greater sense of accomplishment if you sat in a comfortable helicopter that plopped you at the peak or if you schlepped your way up there, struggling, sweating, and hating some of the climbs?

That’s the thing about life. Sometimes — a lot of times — it f*cking sucks. Life has more discomfort than comfort. But that’s what makes the highs of life feel so fantastic. 

Training our brains to love discomfort is part of why we train. Like my mentor Fredi Gerstl said to me when I started training, I want you to train your minds as much as your bodies.

So, I understand that people hate seeing a red X on their calendars. But if that throws you off and makes you not want to workout, instead of giving you the fuel to make sure the next day is green, we have to train your mind.

Life is going to be a lot of red x’s. No matter how rich and successful you are, there will always be someone doing you wrong, health issues throwing you off, and barriers put on your path. It’s going to suck. 

I have started to believe that the secret to happiness isn’t a life of comfort. It is learning to love or, at least, accept discomfort.

Here’s another way to look at this. If somebody wants the ultimate life of comfort, they can just lie on the couch all day watching TV. But what happens when they get up - to get food, water, or go to the bathroom? They’re out of breath. Every step hurts.

Discomfort will find you. My mission is to prepare you for it. You can either choose to make yourself uncomfortable and do those reps of stuff that doesn’t feel great, or you let it sneak up on you.

So that’s one reason I opposed this. I always worry about all of these changes that are designed to make everything easier.

The other reason is something I have talked to you guys about before. 

I don’t want you to get stuck in the weeds. The weeds freeze people. 

When you major in the minor, you are thinking too damn much to have enough energy to train.

Repeat this every time you find yourself analyzing the little details: 

It doesn’t f*cking matter!

All that matters is the big details:

Are you training? Are you eating well? Are you sleeping? Are you moving?

That’s it. Nothing else f*cking matters.

So your workout schedule says Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. But you want to train Monday, Wednesday, and Friday?

Just do it. It doesn’t matter.

This week you’re traveling and can only train 2 days?

Just do it. It doesn’t matter.

The problem with getting tied up in details is it is a trick our minds play on us. 

I don’t know the science, but the way I imagine it is our brains figure out we are going to exercise and then freak out that our body is taking the energy instead of them. So they say, “Hold on, is this the right schedule? Wait, should you eat before you workout? Just a second, is this the right plan for you?

None of it matters. We only care about the big picture. 

Did you train? Yes. It is the only answer that matters.

I hope kick in the ass Arnold doesn’t shock you too much. I just hope I can stop everyone from overthinking.

And everybody does it. This weekend, Ketch sent me a video of a fantastic deadlift. The first 20 seconds, he stares at the bar. Then he tries to lift, and it moves an inch before he gives up. Failure. He stood up, took a deep breath, and grabbed the weight again - it went up.

I FaceTimed him immediately. First, I told him, fantastic lift. But then I told him he has to stop thinking and just f*cking do it. That was the difference between the first and second rep. The first rep, he stood there and let his mind win. “Can you get this weight up? It’s been a while.” The second rep, he just breathed and lifted.

If you can’t train on the perfect schedule, just train when you can. Don’t overthink. You can do it. And no matter when you train, no matter how many red x’s you see, I’m going to be proud of you if you just train.

Plus, I lost the debate about the schedule customization, so once they finish working on that, you’ll be able to make your own schedule. 

I just ask that you don’t use the pause feature or the schedule to make it too easy on yourself. 

Train your mind. You’ll thank me one day.

Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Editors-in-chief: Adam Bornstein and Daniel Ketchell