Health & Fitness | January 10, 2023 6:35 am

Arnold Schwarzenegger Has a Great Tip for How to Start the Day

It isn't intermittent fasting. But it's similar.

Arnold Schwarzenegger grinning at a podium.
You can call him Papa Substack.
Photo by Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images

In case you missed it, Arnold Schwarzenegger now has a free newsletter called The Pump Daily, which is well worth a look. The mission statement is clear and resonant:

“For more than 50 years, I’ve been on a fitness crusade to help people be healthier. Despite the rising interest in wellness, we are less healthy than ever. It’s time for more honesty, and fewer gimmicks. The Pump Daily is a way for anyone to access health tips that will make you a little better every day.”

His content is excellent, interspersing nuggets of wellness wisdom with concrete workout plans. At the end of each week, Schwarzenegger offers up a simply bodyweight circuit that can be completed outside of a gym, and modified based on your fitness level (beginner, intermediate, advanced.)

Last week’s involved alternating between rep-counts of push-ups and lunges — from 15 reps a round down to one rep, for the advanced trainees — and completing the whole circuit for time. If that lift doesn’t seem convoluted or lengthy enough…well, think about who’s advising you to do it. Less is more, especially in the gym.

It’s Never Too Late to Start Lifting. Here’s How.

As intimidating as strength training may seem, it's relatively easy to get a steady regimen off the ground

Another great thing about Schwarzenegger reinventing himself as a Substack guru is that the 75-year-old has fantastic wellness instincts outside of the gym floor, too. Consider his recent tip on how to start the day, which he says has helped kept him motivated and disciplined for years.

“Each morning, I make the coffee and feed the dogs and Whiskey and Lulu,” he wrote, referring to his miniature horse and donkey. “While I drink my coffee, I check my emails and read a couple of newspapers. And as soon as my coffee is finished, I ride my bike to the gym and exercise, and then I eat breakfast. That’s the first time of the day that I let myself start thinking.”

That last line is the important bit. Delaying (or outright nixing) breakfast has surged in popularity over the last five years, as intermittent fasting has earned millions of acolytes. Here’s a bit of a riff on that concept; Schwarzenegger is urging his followers to delay their thinking. It’s a tiny tip, but one that makes a ton of sense.

You don’t need to start work within five minutes of opening your eyeballs to another day. You can check it, if you’re so inclined, to get an idea of what the workday holds, but if you start engaging with it — scheming, solving…thinking — what becomes of all those other little habits? Would Schwarzenegger have the time (or undivided focus) to treat his pets right, sip his coffee, hop on his bike, do a circuit of push-ups and lunges, what have you, if he was already thinking?

That doesn’t mean that thinking is a bad thing in itself. It’s just an acknowledgment that it can be a pretty taxing enterprise, and one that has a nasty tendency of pulling us away from things that are otherwise really good for us. There’s a time and a place for it, and ideally, that’ll come after robust period of just being.

In your own life, what sort of runway can you create in your mornings (or at some other point in the day) to delay or “pause” your thinking? What sort of little tasks or events can you plug in, which relax you, test you, or just give the the boost you need, without you needing to think much about them? As Schwarzenegger says: “You need discipline until your routine is so automatic that you never think about it. Because once you start thinking, your mind will fight with itself.”

Arnold’s still got it, trust us. Seek him out for the workouts, perhaps, and those definitely won’t fail you. But the man will flip your mornings upside down, too, if you just let him.