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  • Writer's pictureJulian Molteno

BODYBUILDING PHOTOS THAT ARE A PART OF ME: Arm Blaster Arnold


Oh my goodness!! I still smile to myself, and shake my head in admiration, when I look at this amazing photograph. First of all, let’s remind ourselves that this photo would have been taken in the early-to-mid seventies!! That is more than 40 years ago, and yet it still has the power to stop me in my tracks, and fill me with admiration and respect. No wonder then, that I used to stare with awe at those slab-like pecs, cascading shoulder muscles, python-thick biceps, and vascular forearms. The striations, the density, the thickness — the sheer SIZE of the man! Apart from Arnold’s physique, let’s admire his manly expression! His Teutonic determination! His single-minded focus! (I can imagine him visualising his biceps — as big as Austrian mountain peaks!) His ARNOLDNESS! (My Big. Dick. Energy. post covers the unique attitude and personality of the great man himself.) Knowing Arnold, we can look at this photo and be certain it was not posed, not set up for the camera. This is Arnold in genuine curling action! And where is this action taking place? By looking in the background of the photo, at the walls, covered by those wonderful images of technical machinery, we can immediately identify this place as Gold’s Gym in Venice, Santa Monica. The original Gold’s Gym! Not for nothing was Gold’s known as the “Mecca of Bodybuilding” — it was the first, and it was the the best!  

Opened in 1965 by former bodybuilder and US Marine Joe Gold, Gold’s Gym was originally a place for him and his friends to train. (I am going to do a post on Joe soon as part of my “Bodybuilding Pioneers we all owe a Debt of Gratitude to”.) Joe kept costs down by making his own gym equipment, skimping on the heating, and recruiting every bodybuilder worth his salt as a member. Dick Tyler, a columnist of Joe Weider’s, wrote the following about Joe’s new gym; “ Now this is going to be a gym for men. No fancy rugs or chrome — just plain old-fashioned weights and the greatest apparatus you ever saw.” He went on to predict the success of this new venture, and how right he was. The 60’s, 70’s and 80’s saw every bodybuilding great enter its hallowed doors.  

Some classic photos of the 70’s bodybuilding scene. The camaraderie of a more simple time, where all the guys felt a kinship of iron. Where training was fun and healthy and pure.  And finally, to the Arm Blaster itself, to this brilliantly (and brutally) simple piece of equipment. The Arm Blaster is a piece of curved aluminium about 24” long and 4” high that is designed to be worn around the neck when performing bicep curls. The Blaster keeps your arms in a fixed position against your trunk, promoting proper form while also isolating your biceps.  

Arnold loved the Arm Blaster so much he even used it for Pushdowns! Arm Blasters have been around for over 50 years and seem to fall in and out of fashion. While they definitely do isolate the biceps and give a great pump and feeling, they can be irritating to use. If you move your elbows forward at all the Blaster can move position and become lopsided, it also presses against your stomach and rib cage which can be distracting. Actually, it is at its best when used with a moderate weight, as is shown in our brilliant photo of Arnold (who was a great fan of the Blaster), curling a fairly light weight, but with very strict form. Arnold loved to do very heavy cheat curls as part of his routine and would have appreciated how the contrast between those loose and heavy curls, and the much stricter movement with the Arm Blaster, would encourage muscle growth. So there you have it — what seems at first to be a simple photo of a bodybuilder curling a weight, when we look past it, is actually a window into the history of bodybuilding, a reminder of a forgotten piece of bodybuilding equipment and a celebration of the era of friendships formed through iron. Bravo! 


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