Arnold Schwarzenegger: Steroids Give Same Advantage as a Suntan in Bodybuilding

Arnold Schwarzenegger has released a new autobiography this month entitled “Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story.” Most people want to know the gossipy details about Arnold’s extramarital affairs. But most bodybuilders want to know if Arnold reveals any new details about his history of anabolic steroid use during his time as a competitive bodybuilder.

Bodybuilders seeking steroid information from the book will be highly disappointed. Schwarzenegger only spends a couple of pages in his 656-page book discussing the performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). No discussion of specific steroid dosages. No discussion of specific steroids e.g. Dianabol, Primobolan, Deca Durabolin, etc. And unfortunately, Arnold’s commentary and the evolution of his perspective on steroids is likely to disappoint many.

To Arnold’s credit, he never felt compelled to apologize for his steroid use. He recognized that steroid use was pervasive in bodybuilding. Steroids were essential to success in the sport of competitive bodybuilding. Steroids were required. Arnold accepted this fact without complaint. He just did it.

“All I needed to know was that the top international champions were taking steroids, something I confirmed by asking the guys in London. I would not go into a competition with a disadvantage. “Leave no stone unturned” was my rule. And while there wasn’t any evidence of danger— research into steroids’ side effects was only getting under way— even if there had been, I’m not sure I would have cared. Downhill ski champions and Formula One race drivers know they can get killed, but they compete anyway. Because if you don’t get killed, you win. Besides, I was twenty years old, and I thought I would never die.”

But then Schwarzenegger attempts to minimize the significance of his use of steroids. He distinguishes his steroid use during the 1970s and 1980s from that of subsequent generations of bodybuilders.

When Arnold used steroids, he could legally obtain them for bodybuilding purposes with a prescription from a doctor.

When Arnold used steroids, he only used them for six to eight weeks as part of a pre-contest steroid cycle leading up to the competition.

When Arnold used steroids, he only used relatively small dosages of the drugs compared to later bodybuilders.

When Arnold used steroids, the side effects of steroids were allegedly unknown.

When Arnold used steroids, they only made a trivial difference in one’s physique. The difference was comparable to having a suntan!

“I learned to use the drugs in the final six or eight weeks leading up to a major competition,” wrote Schwarzenegger. “They could help you win, but the advantage they gave was about the same as having a good suntan.”

When Arnold used steroids, they weren’t a problem in the sport of bodybuilding.

Steroids only became a problem after Arnold retired from bodybuilding. That is why Schwarzenegger has been working hard with the International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB) to eliminate steroids from the sport.

“Later on, after I retired from bodybuilding, drug use became a major problem in the sport. Guys were taking doses of steroids twenty times the amount of anything we took, and when human growth hormone came on the scene, things really got out of hand. There were instances where bodybuilders died. I’ve worked hard since then with the International Federation of Bodybuilding and other organizations to get drugs banned from the sport.”

Schwarzenegger didn’t discuss the progress he’s made towards this goal.

Total Recall - Arnold Schwarzenegger and Anabolic Steroids
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s discussion of steroids in Total Recall is disappointing.

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