5 Business Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Bodybuilders

After all, what can you possibly learn about business from a pastime that involves grunting in the gym and covering yourself in tanning spray?

Arnold Schwarzenegger, former bodybuilder turned actor and politician, once said that he learned everything he knows from bodybuilding. If you’re a business man or woman then this is something worth taking note of. After all, Schwarzenegger has proven himself a savvy businessman over the years and through a number of small businesses and shrewd investments actually managed to make his first million before he first graced our screens in Pumping Iron.

But surely this is just hyperbole! After all, what can you possibly learn about business from a pastime that involves grunting in the gym and covering yourself in tanning spray?

Well, surprisingly a lot actually. Read on and we’ll look at some powerful business lessons you can learn from the bodybuilding industry.



One thing that bodybuilders and entrepreneurs definitely have in common is a steadfast commitment to their vision and their passion. Sure, for a bodybuilder that vision might be 21’’ biceps, but the principle remains the same.


Photo: © satyrenko
Photo: © satyrenko

Having a vision and staying committed is what makes it possible to wake up while the world is still sleeping; to get a gym session in before work or to meet with international clients on Skype. Either way, this is your fuel and you won’t get anywhere without it.


Goal Setting

What’s key to consider with regards to vision is the way you craft your goals. The easiest way to miss your goals in bodybuilding is to focus on distant and abstract goals. Instead, you keep your goal setting focused on things that are entirely under your control. A great goal, for example, would be to go to the gym four times a week every week. If you can do that, you’ll find the rest just works it out!

The same goes for business. Have a distant ‘end goal’ in mind, sure. But more important is to focus on the steps that it takes to get there.


Laser Focus

Schwarzenegger says that when he was at the height of his bodybuilding career, he used to imagine his biceps swelling up as big as the entire gym while he was training. More recently he referred to texting in the gym as ‘Mickey Mouse stuff’.


Photo: © Ammentorp
Photo: © Ammentorp

Either way, the message is clear: you need to be focused on what you’re doing if you’re going to accomplish anything. This is what leads to the coveted “flow state” that is such a buzz word at the moment.


No Pain, No Gain

This is one of the most popular mantras among lifters and if you head to any gym you can expect to hear it yelled out at least a few times a day.

And of course this is true: to be successful in the future – either in the gym or in the shark tank meeting with investors – you need to be willing to put in the work here and now. Really, the sport of bodybuilding is a sport of preparedness. The winner of each competition is decided long before anyone steps up onto the stage.


Train Smart

But the best bodybuilders don’t just train hard, they train smart. The top players are athletes and scientists rolled into one – constantly checking Pub Med for the latest research they can use to enhance their training.

This is absolutely key in business and is what makes the ‘80/20’ law so valuable. If 80% of your profits come from 20% of your clients, it makes sense to focus on that 20%!


This article has been edited and condensed.

Josh MacDonald is a Canadian Internet entrepreneur and the owner of ShoutOur.Biz, an Instagram and Twitter shoutout brokerage that helps corporate brands connect with the most cost-effective social media publishers. Josh also owns other B2B software and iPhone app brands. He is currently enrolled in Computer Science at the University of Toronto. Connect with @JoshMacDonald19 on Twitter.


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